List of ‘Communist Rules for Revolution’ has been widely debunked

19 April 2023
What was claimed

A document written in 1919 shows a list of “Communist Rules For Revolution”.

Our verdict

There’s little evidence to suggest this is a genuine Communist document, and the list has widely been described as a hoax.

A screenshot shared in a tweet by Andrew Bridgen (a former Conservative MP who currently sits as an independent after having had the whip withdrawn earlier this year) purports to show a list of “Communist Rules For Revolution”. Mr Bridgen shared it with the words: “These rules were written in 1919. Over 100 years later people have intrinsically not changed that much. We should all read and study this, it must be resisted at all cost.”

This list dates back several decades, and has been widely labelled a hoax.

The screenshot, which has also been shared a number of times on Facebook, says:

“In May, 1919 at Dusseldorf, Germany, Allied forces captured a very significant document: “Communist Rules For Revolution.” As you read these “Rules” now 50 years later keep in mind what you are reading and hearing every day via news media.

A. Corrupt the young: get them away from religion. Get them interested in sex. Make them superficial; destroy their ruggedness.

B. Get control of all means of publicity, thereby:
01. Get people’s minds off their government by focusing their attention on athletics, sexy books, and plays and other trivialities.
02. Divide the people into hostile groups by constantly harping on controversial matters of no importance.
03. Destroy the people’s faith in their natural leaders by holding the latter up for contempt, ridicule, obloquy.
04. Always preach true democracy, but seize power as fast and as ruthlessly as possible.
05. By encouraging governmental extravagance, destroy the credit, produce fear of inflation with rising prices and general discontent.
06. Promote unnecessary strikes in vital industries, encourage civil disorders and foster a lenient and soft attitude on the part of the government toward disorders.
07. By specious argument cause the breakdown of the old moral virtues, honesty and sobriety.

C. Cause the registration of all fire arms on some pretext with a view to confiscating them and leaving the population helpless. [sic]”

This document has been shared in various forms, primarily in the United States, over more than half a century. But there’s little evidence to suggest that it is a genuine “Communist” document, and its origins have been repeatedly debunked by various sources over the years.

An article published in the New York Times in 1970 described the list as “one of the more durable frauds popular among far right and anti‐Communist organisations”, and found that, despite it having been re-printed in several regional newspapers over the years, “The National Archives, the Library of Congress and the libraries of the nation's universities have no copy or trace of the [original] “document.””

According to the article, the FBI and CIA had both also been unable to authenticate the document, while then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover reportedly said of it: “We can logically speculate that the document is spurious.”

An article published in the Washington Post, also in 1970, reported that the list had been used as evidence that a “Communist plot” was responsible for “civil disorders, sexual permissiveness, pornography or even gun control legislation,” and the rules also featured in a book titled “The Hoaxers: Plain Liars, Fancy Liars, and Damned Liars”, published in the same year, which says there is “no question” that the list is a “fraudulent concoction”.

These articles were challenged in 1973 by Ashley Halsey Jr., then-editor of the National Rifle Association magazine American Rifleman, who claimed in an article that the document was obtained and translated by a US Army captain, who passed it to New World News—the magazine of the “Moral Re-armament” religious movement—where it was published in 1946.

While we can’t verify the claims made in this article, it stands at odds with the findings of several other reputable sources mentioned in this fact check. 

More recently, fact checkers Snopes wrote that it appears “far more likely this list was compiled by Americans in 1946 than by Russians in 1919”, citing the fact the the earliest known versions of the document appeared around the same time as Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech, in which he called on Western nations like the US and the UK to unite to prevent the spread of Communism.

If an MP makes a false or misleading claim on social media, they should correct this quickly in a clear and transparent manner, including on the same platform where the claim was made. We’ve contacted Mr Bridgen about his tweet and will update this article if he responds.

Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew

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After we published this fact check, we contacted Andrew Bridgen to ask him to clarify on Twitter that the origins of this document are widely disputed.

Mr Bridgen did not respond.

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