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The Militant, 28 April 1945

Lenin on May Day

(April 1896)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 17, 28 April 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


One of Lenin’s earliest appeals to the Russian workers is the May Day manifesto which he wrote in 1896 for the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. This was written in prison, from which it was smuggled out by Lenin’s comrades, mimeographed and distributed to workers of 40 factories in St. Petersburg, now Leningrad.

Great strike struggles, inspired by Lenin’s leaflet, eventually grew into those greater battles culminating in the 1905 Revolution, forerunner of the victorious Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Following is part of the text of Lenin’s historic manifesto.

* * *

COMRADES! Let us examine the conditions in which we spend our lives. What do we see? We produce endless wealth, gold and apparel, satins and silks. From the depths of the earth we extract iron and coal. We build machines, we outfit ships, we construct railroads. All the wealth of the world is the product of our hands, of our sweat and blood.

And what kind of wages do we get for this forced labor? ... Our bosses push down wages, force us to work overtime, place unjust fines upon us – in a word oppress us in every way. And then when we give voice to our dissatisfaction, we are thrown into prison without further ado ... Ignorance and slavery – these are the means through which the capitalists and the government that serves them oppress us.

WE CAN RELY ONLY UPON OURSELVES! Our strength lies in opr unity, our method is the united stubborn resistance against the bosses. Our masters realize, of course, in what our strength lies, and they try in every way is divide us ...

We, Petersburg workers, members of the League, call upon all the rest of our comrades to join the League and cooperate in the great task of unifying the working-class in the struggle for their interests. It’s time we Russian workers smashed the chains that the bosses and the government have placed upon us. It is time we joined our fellow-workers of other lands in the struggle – under a common flag bearing the words: “WORKERS OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”

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