Enemy of the people
The term enemy of the people
is a designation for the political or class
opponents of the subgroup in power within a larger group. The term implies that by opposing the ruling subgroup, the "enemies" in question are acting against the larger group, for example against society as a whole. It is similar to the notion of "enemy of the state
". The term originated in Roman
times as Latin
: hostis publicus
, typically translated into English as the "public enemy
". The term in its "enemy of the people" form has been used for centuries in literature (see An Enemy of the People
, the play by Henrik Ibsen
, 1882; or Coriolanus
, the play by William Shakespeare
, c. 1605). Currently this form is mostly used as a reference to Soviet phraseology
The expression dates back to Roman times. The Senate declared emperor Nero a hostis publicus in AD 68.
The words "ennemi du peuple" were extensively used during the French revolution. On 25 December 1793 Robespierre stated: "The revolutionary government owes to the good citizen all the protection of the nation; it owes nothing to the Enemies of the People but death". The Law of 22 Prairial in 1794 extended the remit of the Revolutionary Tribunal to punish "enemies of the people", with some political crimes punishable by death, including "spreading false news to divide or trouble the people".
The Soviet Union made extensive use of the term (Russian language: враг народа, "vrag naroda"), as it fit well with the idea that the people were in control. The term was used by Vladimir Lenin after coming to power, as early as in the decree of 28 November 1917:
all leaders of the Constitutional Democratic Party, a party filled with enemies of the people, are hereby to be considered outlaws, and are to be arrested immediately and brought before the revolutionary court.
Other similar terms were in use as well:
This page was last edited on 15 March 2018, at 23:21.
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