Reformism as a degraded form of socialism

Writing in response to the Social-Democrats’ path of opportunism, Lenin responds to the theoretical critiques of Marxism by Bernstein:

And the reward for this utter humiliation and self-degradation of socialism in the face of the whole world, for the corruption of the socialist consciousness of the working masses–the only basis than can guarantee our victory–the reward for this is pompous projects for miserable reforms, so miserable in fact that much more has been obtained from bourgeois governments!

What Is To Be Done?
by Vladimir Lenin

International Publishers, 1969

Eliminating the forces of state violence

No, democracy is not identical with the subordination of the minority to the majority. Democracy is a state recognising the subordination of the minority to the majority, i.e., an organisation for the systematic use of violence by one class against the other, by one part of the population against another.

We set ourselves the ultimate aim of destroying the state, i.e., every organised and systematic violence, every use of violence against man in general. We do not expect the advent of an order of society in which the principle of subordination of minority to majority will not be observed. But, striving for Socialism, we are convinced that it will develop into Communism; that, side by side with this, there will vanish all need for force, for the subjection of one man to another, and of one part of the population to another, since people will grow accustomed to observing the elementary conditions of social existence without force and without subjection.

State and Revolution
by V. I. Lenin
International Publishers, 1932

Elaboration on Marxist theory regarding the machinery of the state

In the Europe of 1871, the proletariat on the Continent did not constitute the majority of the people. A “people’s” revolution, actually sweeping the majority into its current, could be such only then if it embraced both the proletariat and the peasantry. Both classes then constituted the “people.” Both classes are united by the circumstance that the “bureaucratic and military state machinery” oppresses, crushes, exploits them. To shatter this machinery, to break it up–this is the true interest of the “people,” of its majority, the workers and most of the peasants, this is the “preliminary condition” of a free union of the poorest peasantry with the proletarians; while, without such a union, democracy is unstable and Socialist reorganisation is impossible.

State and Revolution
by V. I. Lenin
International Publishers, 1932

On voting in democratic republics – Lenin QOTD

To decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and oppress the people through parliament–this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary-constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics.

State and Revolution
by V. I. Lenin
International Publishers, 1932

On the working commune

The way out of parliamentarism is to be found, of course, not in the abolition of the representative institutions and the elective principle, but in the conversion of the representative institutions from mere “talking shops” into working bodies. “The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.”

“A working, not a parliamentary body”–this hits the vital spot of present-day parliamentarians and the parliamentary Social-Democratic “lap-dogs”! Take any parliamentary country, from America to Switzerland, from France to England, Norway and so forth–the actual work of the “state” there is done behind the scenes and is carried out by the departments, the offices and the staffs. Parliament itself is given up to talk for the special purpose of fooling the “common people.”

State and Revolution
by V. I. Lenin
International Publishers, 1932

The party’s responsibility to the electorate

The venal and rotten parliamentarism of bourgeois society is replaced in the Commune by institutions in which freedom of opinion and discussion does not degenerate into deception, for the parliamentarians must themselves work, must themselves execute their own laws, must themselves verify their results in actual life, must themselves be directly responsible to their electorate.

State and Revolution
by V. I. Lenin
International Publishers, 1932

On democracy without parliamentarism

Representative institutions remain, but parliamentarism as a special system, as a division of labour between the legislative and the executive functions, as a privileged position for the deputies, no longer exists. Without representative institutions we cannot imagine democracy, not even proletarian democracy; but we can and must think of democracy without parliamentarism, if criticism of bourgeois society is not mere empty words for us, if the desire to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie is our serious and sincere desire, and not a mere “election cry” for catching workingmen’s votes….”

State and Revolution
by V. I. Lenin
International Publishers, 1932