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Revolutionary terror (also referred to as Revolutionary terrorism, or a reign of terror) refers to the institutionalized application of force to counterrevolutionaries, particularly during the French Revolution from the years 1793 to 1794. The term Communist terrorism has also been used to describe the revolutionary terror, from the Red Terror in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) to the reign of the Khmer Rouge, and others.

German Social Democrat Karl Kautsky traces the origins of revolutionary terror to the "Reign of Terror" of the French Revolution. Lenin considered the Jacobin use of terror as a needed virtue and accepted the label Jacobin for his Bolsheviks. This, however, distinguished him from Marx.

The deterministic view of history was used by Marxist regimes to justify the use of terror. Terrorism came to be used by Marxists, both the state and dissident groups, in both revolution and in consolidation of power. The doctrines of Marxism, Marxism–Leninism, Maoism and anarchism have all spurred dissidents who have taken to terrorism. Marx, except for a brief period in 1848 and within the Tsarist milieu, did not advocate revolutionary terror, feeling it would be counterproductive. Communist leaders used the idea that terror could serve as the force which Marx said was the "midwife of revolution", and after World War I communist groups continued to use it in attempts to overthrow governments. For Mao, terrorism was an acceptable tool

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