Proletarian revolution

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A proletarian revolution is a social and/or political revolution in which the working class overthrows (or attempts to overthrow) capitalism. Proletarian revolutions are generally advocated by socialists - particularly those of the communist variety.

The need for a proletarian revolution is a cornerstone of Marxism. Marxists believe that the workers of the world must unite and free themselves from capitalist oppression to create a world run by and for the working class. Thus, in the Marxist view, proletarian revolutions need to happen in all capitalist countries; see world revolution.

The Leninist branch of Marxism argues that a proletarian revolution must be led by a vanguard of 'professional revolutionaries' - that is, 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 rest of the working class before and during the revolution, so as to prevent the all-too-common situation in which the government defeats a revolution thanks to the superior discipline and organization of its police and army.

Other Marxists 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 in order for a proletarian revolution to be successful. To this end, they seek to build mass working class movements with a very large membership.

Finally, there are the libertarian socialists, who oppose Marxism but agree with Marxists on the point that a proletarian revolution is necessary. Their view is that the revolution must be spontaneous, and must not have any central leadership whatsoever (though it may have various local and temporary leaders).

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