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The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat    in the Revolution

Written: August – September, 1917
Source: Collected Works, Volume 25, p. 381-492
First Published: 1918
Transcription\Markup: Zodiac and Brian Baggins
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1993, 1999

Preface 6 k
Chapter I: Class Society and the State 39 k
The State: A Product of the Irreconcilability of Class Antagonisms
Special Bodies of Armed Men, Prisons, etc.
The State: An Instrument for the Exploitation of the Oppressed Class
The “Withering Away” of the State, and Violent Revolution
Chapter II: The Experience of 1848-51 30 k
The Eve of Revolution
The Revolution Summed Up
The Presentation of the Question by Marx in 1852
Chapter III: Experience of the Paris Commune of 1871. Marx’s Analysis 46 k
What Made the Communards’ Attempt Heroic?
What is to Replace the Smashed State Machine?
Abolition of Parliamentarism
Organisation of National Unity
Aboloition of the Parasite State
Chapter IV: Supplementary Explanations by Engels 56 k
The Housing Question
Controversy with the Anarchists
Letter to Bebel
Criticism of the Draft of the Erfurt Programme
The 1891 Preface to Marx’s “The Civil War in France”
Engels on the Overcoming of Democracy
Chapter V: The Economic Basis of the Withering Away of the State 43 k
Presentation of the Question by Marx
The Transition from Captialism to Communism
The First Phase of Communist Society
The Higher Phase of Communist Society
Chapter VI: The Vulgarisation of Marxism by Opportunists 40 k
Plekhanov’s Controversy with the Anarchists
Kautsky’s Controversy with the Opportunists
Kautsky’s Controversy with Pannekoek
Postscript 4 k


Lenin wrote The State and Revolution in August and September 1917, when he was in hiding from persecution of the Provisional Government. The need for such a theoretical work as this was mentioned by Lenin in the second half of 1916. It was then that he wrote his note on “The Youth International”, in which he criticised Bukharin’s position on the question of the state and promised to write a detailed article on what he thought to be the Marxist attitude to the state. In a letter to A. M. Kollontai on February 17 (N.S.), 1917, he said that he had almost got ready material on that question . This material was written in a small blue-covered notebook headed “Marxism on the State”. In it Lenin had collected quotations from the works of Marx and Engels, and extracts from the books by Kautsky, Pannekoek and Bernstein with his own critical notes, conclusions and generalisations.

When Lenin left Switzerland for Russia in April 1917, he feared arrest by the Provisional Government and left the manuscript of “Marxism on the State” behind — as it would have been destroyed had he been caught. When in hiding after the July events, Lenin wrote in a note:

“Entre nous, if I am knocked off, I ask you to publish my notebook ‘Marxism on the State’ (it got held up in Stockholm). It is bound in a blue cover. All the quotations from Marx and Engels are collected there, also those from Kautsky against Pannekoek. There are a number of remarks, notes and formulas. I think a week’s work would be enough to publish it. I consider it important because not only Plekhanov, but Kautsky, too, is confused….” When Lenin received his notebook from Stockholm, he used the material he had collected as a basis for his book The State and Revolution.

According to Lenin’s plan, The State and Revolution was to have consisted of seven chapters, but he did not write the seventh, “The Experience of the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917”, and only a detailed plan has remained. In a note to the publisher Lenin wrote that if he “was too slow in competing this, the seventh chapter, or should it turn out to be too bulky, the first six chapters should be published separately as Book One.”

Originally, the name F.F. Ivanovsky is shown on the first page of the notebook manuscript as that of the author. Lenin intended to publish the book under that pseudonym, otherwise the Provisional Government would have confiscated it for his name alone. The book, however, was not printed until 1918, when there was no longer any need for the pseudonym. The second edition appeared in 1919; in this revision Lenin added to Chapter IIa new section “The Presentation of the Question by Marx in 1852“.