This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Proletarian revolution" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

A proletarian revolution or proletariat revolution is a social revolution in which the working class attempts to overthrow the bourgeoisie and change the previous political system.[1][2] Proletarian revolutions are generally advocated by socialists, communists and anarchists.


The concept of a revolutionary proletariat was first put forward by the French revolutionary socialist and radical Auguste Blanqui.[3] The Paris Commune, contemporary to Blanqui and Marx, being viewed by some as the first attempt at a proletarian revolution.[4]

Marxists believe proletarian revolutions can and will likely happen in all capitalist countries,[5][6] related to the concept of world revolution. The objective of a proletarian revolution, according to Marxists, is to transform the bourgeois state into a workers' state.[7] The traditional Marxist belief was that a proletarian revolution could only occur in a country where capitalism had developed.[8][9]

The Leninist branch of Marxism argues that a proletarian revolution must be led by a vanguard of "professional revolutionaries", men and women who are fully dedicated to the communist cause and who form the nucleus of the communist revolutionary movement. This vanguard is meant to provide leadership and organization to the working class before and during the revolution, which aims to prevent the government from successfully ending it.[10] Vladimir Lenin believed that it was imperative to arm the working class to secure their leverage over the bourgeoisie. Lenin's words were printed in an article in German on the nature of pacifism and said "In every class society, whether based on slavery, serfdom, or, as at present, on wage-labour, the oppressor class is always armed."[11] It was under such conditions that the first successful proletarian revolution, the Russian revolution, occurred.[12][11][13]

Other Marxists, such as Luxemburgists, disagree with the Leninist idea of a vanguard and insist that the entire working class—or at least a large part of it—must be deeply involved and equally committed to the socialist or communist cause for a proletarian revolution to be successful. To this end, they seek to build mass working class movements with a very large membership.[citation needed]

Finally, there are socialist anarchists and libertarian socialists. Their view is that the revolution must be a bottom-up social revolution which seeks to transform all aspects of society and the individuals which make up the society (see Asturian Revolution and Revolutionary Catalonia). Alexander Berkman said "there are revolutions and revolutions. Some revolutions change only the governmental form by putting a new set of rulers in place of the old. These are political revolutions, and as such they often meet with little resistance. But a revolution that aims to abolish the entire system of wage slavery must also do away with the power of one class to oppress another. That is, it is not any more a mere change of rulers, of government, not a political revolution, but one that seeks to alter the whole character of society. That would be a social revolution."[14]

See also


  1. ^ Liulevicius, Vejas (13 July 2020). "Russia: The Unlikely Place for a Proletarian Revolution". The Great Courses Daily. Archived from the original on 19 January 2022. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  2. ^ Lenin, Vladimir (1918). "Chapter I: Class Society and the State". The State and Revolution – via Marxists Internet Archive.
  3. ^ Blake, William James (1939). An American Looks at Karl Marx. Cordon Company. p. 622 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Spector, Maurice (15 March 1934). "The Paris Commune and the Proletarian Revolution". The Militant. Vol. III, no. 11. p. 3 – via Marxists Internet Archive.
  5. ^ Blackburn, Robin (May–June 1976). "Marxism: Theory of Proletarian Revolution". New Left Review. I (97).
  6. ^ Engels, Friedrich (October–November 1847). The Principles of Communism – via Marxists Internet Archive. Further, it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries – that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany.
  7. ^ Goichbarg, Alexander [in German]. Revolução Proletária e Direito Civil [Proletarian Revolution and Civil Law] (in Portuguese).
  8. ^ Lane, David (22 April 2020). "Revisiting Lenin's theory of socialist revolution on the 150th anniversary of his birth". European Politics and Policy. London School of Economics.
  9. ^ Filho, Almir Cezar. "Moreno e os 80 anos do debate sobre a Revolução Permanente" [Moreno and the 80 years of the debate on the Permanent Revolution] (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  10. ^ Lenin, Vladimir (1918). The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky.
  11. ^ a b Dunayevskaya, Raya (5 June 2017). "Lenin on Self-determination of Nations and on Organization After His Philosophic Notebooks". In Gogol, Eugene; Dmitryev, Franklin (eds.). Russia: From Proletarian Revolution to State-Capitalist Counter-Revolution. Brill. pp. 125–141. doi:10.1163/9789004347618_005. ISBN 978-90-04-34761-8. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  12. ^ Deutscher, Isaac (May–June 1967). "The Unfinished Revolution: 1917–67" (PDF). New Left Review. I (43).
  13. ^ Chácon, Justin Akers (2018). "Introduction". Radicals in the Barrio: Magonistas, Socialists, Wobblies, and Communists in the Mexican American Working Class. Chicago, IL.: Haymarket Books. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-60846-776-1.
  14. ^ Berkman, Alexander (1929). "25". Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism .