Revolutionary Vigilance

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Revolutionary Vigilance


the unflagging attention of the revolutionary class and its political party to hostile forces that oppose the establishment and development of a progressive social system. Revolutionary vigilance is an indispensable quality that Communist parties and every Communist and revolutionary fighter must possess.

Revolutionary vigilance helps to reveal the plans and actions of hostile forces and expose disguised class enemies, and it promotes a constant combat readiness to defeat them. Revolutionary vigilance also demands a consideration of weak aspects and negative phenomena in one’s own milieu because they can be used by enemies. The idea of revolutionary vigilance arose during the struggle of the oppressed classes against the exploiters. It was already formulated as a political concept during the bourgeois democratic revolutions of the 17th through late 18th centuries. Since the emergence of the working class as an independent political force and the formation of revolutionary proletarian parties, revolutionary vigilance has rested on the high ideological level and consciousness of the working class and the toiling masses led by the working class; the workers and the toiling masses are led by the communist parties. Revolutionary vigilance also rests on the conviction of the working people that the struggle for the communist reconstruction of society is a just cause. It is one of the principles of action of the revolutionary class and its party in conditions of bitter class struggle.

In their statements and works the ideologists of scientific communism, Marx, Engels, and Lenin, exposed the crafty methods and actions of the exploiting classes, the bourgeoisie and the nobility. They repeatedly showed the proletariat and the popular masses the necessity for revolutionary vigilance, and they advanced slogans to prevent and suppress actions that were hostile to the interests of the working class. Revolutionary vigilance is the basis of the revolutionary Marxists’ successful unmasking of opportunistic tendencies that jeopardize the revolutionary movement at every stage of its development.

The classics of Marxism-Leninism warned the working class of the inadmissibility of a trusting attitude toward the deceitful demagoguery of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois parties and trends. Lenin emphasized that the consciousness of the working masses “is being corrupted by the false friends of the workers, the liberal bourgeois, who divert the masses from the real struggle with empty phrases about a struggle” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 14, p. 216).

In the socialist state, revolutionary vigilance has significance for the whole state. Directed against the subversive actions of the imperialist bourgeoisie and its agents, it helps suppress hostile actions that harm the socialist system. To have revolutionary vigilance means not to be caught by surprise, to perceive in time a trend toward the rise of phenomena dangerous to social progress, and to plan in advance measures that prevent or overcome these phenomena. Calling on the Soviet people to display revolutionary vigilance, Lenin şaid: “The first precept of our policy, the first lesson which must be learned by all workers and peasants, is to be on the alert to remember that we are surrounded by people, classes, governments who openly express the utmost hatred for us” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 44, p. 296).

When the working class of Soviet Russia came to power, it set up special agencies (the Cheka, now the Committee of State Security) that fight against anti-Soviet forces and their agents with the assistance of Soviet citizens. In the USSR revolutionary vigilance is a form of Soviet patriotism and a civic duty of the Soviet people. The CPSU trains the Soviet people in a spirit of revolutionary vigilance that is directed against forces hostile to the socialist system and precludes groundless distrust and suspiciousness.

The revolutionary vigilance of the Soviet people refers to their unflagging attention to the possible dangers that threaten the achievements of the socialist revolution. It also means systematic, vigorous reaction to various forms of subversive activities by enemies of the Soviet state. It includes first, the prompt discernment of secret or secretly prepared enemy encroachments on socialist achievements and the adoption of all necessary measures to prevent the success of these infringements; second, strict discipline and organization in one’s own ranks to prevent actions that might help to bring about encroachments on the achievements of the revolution (for example, the divulgence of state and military secrets); and third, the anticipation of those aspects of the objective processes of social life that might be used to carry out enemy encroachments and the prompt adoption of all possible measures to influence these processes in the desired direction.

The Soviet people do not distinguish between their own interests and those of the peoples of other socialist countries, the international communist and workers’ movement, the national liberation movement, and the peace movement. Their vigilance toward imperialist reaction is directed against its encroachments on the security of any progressive social forces.

Lenin called for revolutionary vigilance in the ideological struggle. On the basis of a profound knowledge of Marxism and the practical experience of the Party, he taught how to unmask attempts to revise Marxist theory; expose viewpoints and actions hostile to communism, no matter what revolutionary phraseology concealed them; and perceive promptly mistakes and delusions, the underestimation of which might have consequences detrimental to the construction of communism. In the report to the Eleventh Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik), Lenin emphasized: “Today we are not being subjected to armed attack. Nevertheless, the fight against capitalist society has become a hundred times more bitter and perilous because we are not always able to tell enemies from friends” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 45, pp. 94_95). The level of revolutionary vigilance depends directly on the degree of political maturity and ideological training of the working class, the Communist Party, and the whole society. A rise in revolutionary vigilance is promoted by the strengthening of the moral and political unity of the socialist society, the development of socialist democracy and political consciousness, and the growth of the general culture and discipline of the toiling masses.

The contemporary stage in the history of society is characterized by a sharp intensification of the ideological struggle between capitalism and socialism. The ruling circles of the imperialist states make use of the vast machinery of anticommunist propaganda (press, radio, television, motion pictures, church, and so forth) to weaken the revolutionary vigilance of the peoples of socialist countries and the international communist and workers’ movement and undermine socialist society from within. The ideologists of the bourgeoisie aim at the restoration of the capitalist system in the socialist countries under the flag of so-called democratic or humanitarian socialism. To bring their ideas into the socialist countries, the bourgeois ideologists take advantage of any mistake, weakness of people’s theoretical training, instability of their convictions, old habits and traditions, the heightened emotionalism of young people, and so forth. By using demagoguery, lies, and misinformation, bourgeois politicians try to lull the revolutionary vigilance of the toiling masses with the aim of maintaining or restoring the capitalist system.

During intensified ideological struggle, constant revolutionary vigilance toward bourgeois ideology and against its penetration into socialist countries assumes great importance. The communist mastery of the experience of the CPSU and the study of the forms and methods of the Party’s struggle against class enemies and their agents for the victory of the proletarian revolution and the construction of socialist society play an important role in increasing revolutionary vigilance. A weakening of revolutionary vigilance is very dangerous. As a rule, it is the result of political ignorance, ideological instability, complacency, an uncritical acceptance of demagoguery, and a sectarian or dogmatic approach to reality. The enemies of socialism take advantage of all these factors.

Revolutionary vigilance is one of the most important conditions for the strengthening of the socialist countries and their cooperation and for the strengthening of the countries that have liberated themselves from colonial dependence and chosen the noncapitalist path of development. Without revolutionary vigilance the working class and popular masses in the capitalist countries cannot wage a successful struggle for peace and democracy and against monopoly capital, militarism, and attempts to restore fascist dictatorships. The CPSU constantly shows the toiling masses the need to display high revolutionary vigilance.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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