V. I.   Lenin

Learn From the Enemy

Published: Novaya Zhizn, No. 16, November 18, 1905. Signed: N. Lenin. Published according to the text in Novaya Zhizn.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 60-61.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

The bourgeois democrats of Nasha Zhizn[1] have launched a campaign against “the mixture of Marxism and barbarism”. We strongly recommend all class-conscious workers to look closely into the arguments of the radical democrats.

Nothing facilitates an understanding of the political essence of developments as greatly as their evaluation by one’s adversaries (that is, of course, unless the latter are hopelessly stupid).

Nasha Zhizn does not like “the struggle of one section of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party against the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”, or, to be exact, the struggle of the Social—Democrats against “non—partisan” class organisations, as the newspaper itself puts it. Our radicals say that the workers must unite. That means—that means that the leaders of the Soviet who “are endeavouring to unite the entire proletariat without distinction of political creed” are right. And the radicals triumphantly show us up as contradicting our own principle of the “class struggle”.

Learn from your enemies, comrade workers, who sympathise with the formation of a non-partisan workers’ organisation, or are at least indifferent to this desire! Call to mind the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, which speaks of the transformation of the proletariat into a class in keeping with the growth not only of its unity, but also of its political consciousness.[2] Remember the example of such countries as England, where the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie has been going on every where and at all times, in spite of which the proletariat has remained disunited, its elected representatives have been   bought up by the bourgeoisie, its class-consciousness has been corrupted by the ideologists of capital, its strength has been dissipated through. the desertion of the masses of the workers by the labour aristocracy. Think of all this, comrade workers, and you will come to the conclusion that only a Social-Democratic proletariat is a proletariat conscious of its class tasks. Down with non-partisanship! Non-partisanship has always and everywhere been a weapon and slogan of the bourgeoisie. Under certain conditions, we can and must march together with proletarians who are not class-conscious, with proletarians who accept non-proletarian doctrines (the programme of the “Socialist-Revolutionaries”). But under no circumstances and at no time must we relax our strict Party approach, under no circumstances and at no time must we forget, or allow others to forget, that hostility to Social-Democracy within the ranks of the proletariat is a relic of bourgeois views among the proletariat.


[1] Nasha Zhizn (Our Life)—a daily paper close to the Left wing of the Cadet Party. It appeared in St. Petersburg intermittently from November 6(19), 1904 to July 11(24), 1906.

[2] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 33-45.

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