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Friedrich Engels

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What is Communism? Communism is the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat. What is the proletariat? The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose sole existence depends on the demand for labor....
Principles of Communism (1847)

Friedrich Engels

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Marx saw the coming of communism (in his sense) as the result of a long series of struggles, transforming conditions and men. The kind of society he envisioned required, as Lenin observed, “a person not like the present man on the street.” Marx saw this new sort of person emerging as a natural result of the sobering process of a social struggle lasting perhaps a half-century. The educational role of adversity and setbacks for the proletariat was a recurrent theme in the writings of Marx and Engles. Lenin, on the other hand, believed that the proletariat would never automatically the necessary class outlook and purposeful unity: “Class political consciousness can be brought to the working class only from without.” Whatever the relative merits, in terms of realism, of the Marxist verses the Leninist conceptions of the working class, this crucial shift of assumptions necessitated a fundamental change, however covert, in the line of march towards communism, both before and after the seizure of power [by Lenin and the Bolsheviks].

Karl Marx

The proletariat should not ignore peaceful methods of struggle — they serve its ordinary, day-to-day interests, they are necessary in periods of preparation for revolution — but it must never forget that in certain conditions the class struggle assumes the form of armed conflict and civil war; there are times when the interests of the proletariat call for ruthless extermination of its enemies in open armed clashes. This was first demonstrated by the French proletariat in the Commune and brilliantly confirmed by the Russian proletariat in the December uprising.

Vladimir Lenin

Marx said that the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat lies between capitalism and communism. The more the proletariat presses the bourgeoisie, the more furiously they will resist. We know what vengeance was wreaked on the workers in France in 1848. And when people charge us with harshness we wonder how they can forget the rudiments of Marxism.

Vladimir Lenin

Power, instrument of the collective force, created in society to serve as mediator between capital and labor, has become inescapably enchained to capital and directed against the proletariat. No political reform can resolve this contradiction, since, according to the avowal of politicians themselves, such a reform could only end by giving more energy and expansion to power, and until it had overthrown the hierarchy and dissolved society, power would not be able to attack the prerogatives of monopoly. The problem consists, then, for the working classes, not in capturing, but in defeating both power and monopoly, which would mean to make rise from the bowels of the people, from the depths of labor, a power greater, an action more powerful which would envelop capital and the State and subjugate them.

Pierre-Joseph (P. J.) Proudhon

By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. By proletariat, the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live.

Friedrich Engels
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