Revolutionary-Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Revolutionary-Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry


a transitional type of state power established after the victory of a democratic revolution in which the working class has hegemony.

The idea of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry was advanced and substantiated by V. I. Lenin on the basis of an analysis of the distinctive features of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the age of imperialism. In describing the balance of class forces in the Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia, Lenin noted that under the new historical conditions, with the working class coming to the fore in the revolutionary struggle, the bourgeoisie was losing its former revolutionary character, and the severity of the agrarian problem was propelling the peasant masses toward a profound democratic upheaval. “Such an alignment of social forces inevitably leads to the conclusion that the bourgeoisie can be neither the motive force nor the leader in the revolution. Only the proletariat is capable of consummating the revolution, that is, of achieving a complete victory. But this victory can be achieved only provided the proletariat succeeds in getting a large section of the peasantry to follow its lead. The victory of the present revolution in Russia is possible only as the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 15, p. 332).

The revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry is the means of consolidating the gains of the democratic revolution and carrying the revolution through to completion. The attainment of these objectives logically necessitates such profound socioeconomic and political transformations as the nationalization of the leading branches of industry and the banks, radical agrarian reforms, and the democratization of various aspects of social life. These measures place severe limitations on the influence and opportunities of big capital and pave the way for a transition to a socialist revolution. In carrying out these measures, the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship acts as a lever to transform the democratic revolution into a socialist revolution.

After the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry has carried out the general democratic tasks, the proletariat can unite with the peasantry as a whole and with the middle urban strata. At the same time, the bourgeois elements seek to limit the scope of the revolution. However, the majority of the working people rally around the proletariat to support the implementation of socialist reforms. The hegemony of the working class in the democratic revolution creates the conditions for the victory of the proletarian line in the development of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry and for the gradual transformation of this dictatorship into a dictatorship of the proletariat. With this in mind, Lenin called the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry “the beginning of the conquest of political power by the proletariat relying on the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie, particularly the peasantry” (ibid., vol. 19, p. 214).

After World War II, a transitional state power of the revolutionary-democratic type was established in a number of European and Asian countries during the early stages of people’s democratic revolutions and national democratic revolutions.

Under present-day conditions the Marxist-Leninist parties in a number of capitalist countries, proceeding from the Leninist idea of a revolutionary-democratic state (ibid., vol. 34, p. 191), are working for the creation of a state based on democratic unity, the establishment of an antimonopoly democracy, and the formation of a government through a coalition of left forces, whose mission would be to ensure the implementation of far-reaching democratic changes and to create favorable conditions for the struggle for socialism.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.