A Mote in the Eye

"The Russian ministeriable Narodniks and Mensheviks are in a hopeless muddle; every passing day adds to their self-exposure."

Algeria let them down.... Our ministerial “Socialist-Revolutionaries” had almost succeeded in stunning the public—and themselves—into believing all their talk about “peace without annexations”, but ... Algeria let them down. Dyelo Naroda, a newspaper to which two Socialist-Revolutionary ministers, Kerensky and Chernov, contribute, was incautious enough to invite the views of three Allied cabinet ministers (belonging to the same near-socialist camp) on Algeria. How terribly careless this was on the part of the newspaper of the Kerenskys and Chernovs will be seen from the following.

The three Allied ministers—Henderson, Thomas and Vandervelde of Britain, France and Belgium, stated that they did not want “annexation”, but only “liberation of territories”. The paper of the Kerenskys and Chernovs described this—quite rightly—as a “sleight of hand” on the part of the “tamed socialists”, and poured out on them the following angry and sarcastic tirade:

“True, they [the three ministers] demand the liberation of territories’ only ’in conformity with the will of the population’. Very well! But in that case we ought to demand that they, and we, be consistent and recognise the ’liberation’ of Ireland and Finland on the one hand, and Algeria or Siam on the other. It would be very interesting to hear the opinion of, say, the socialist Albert Thomas on ’self-determination’ for Algeria.”

Indeed, “it would be very interesting to hear the opinion” also of Kerensky, Tsereteli, Chernov and Skobelev on “self-determination” for Armenia, Galicia, Ukraine, and Turkestan.

Don’t you see, you Narodnik and Menshevik members of the Russian Government, that by citing the example of Ireland and Algeria you have exposed the whole lie and falsity of your own position and behaviour. You have shown that “annexation” cannot be interpreted merely as the seizure of territory in this war. In other words, you have refuted yourselves and Izvestia of the Petrograd Soviet which only the other day declared with proud ignorance that the term annexation could be applied only to territories seized in the present war. But who does not know that Ireland and Algeria were annexed decades and centuries before the outbreak of this war?

Careless, very careless of Dyelo Naroda! It has exposed its utter confusion of ideas, and that of the Mensheviks and Ivestia, on such a key issue as annexations.

Nor is that all. You question Henderson about Ireland, and Albert Thomas about Algeria; you contrast the views on annexation of the “French bourgeoisie now in power” with the views of the French people; you call Henderson and Albert Thomas “tamed socialists”—but what about your selves?

What are you, Kerensky, Tsereteli, Chernov, Skobelev, if not “tamed socialists”? Did you raise the question of the Russian Ireland and the Russian Algeria, i.e., of Turkestan, Armenia, Ukraine, Finland, etc., before the government of the “Russian bourgeoisie now in power”? When did you raise this question? Why don’t you tell the Russian “people” about it? Why don’t you qualify as “sleight of hand” the Russian Narodniks’ and Mensheviks’ blether about “peace without annexations” in the Soviet, in the government and before the people, without raising, clearly and unambiguously, the question of all Russian annexations of the same type as Ireland and Algeria?

The Russian ministeriable Narodniks and Mensheviks are in a hopeless muddle; every passing day adds to their self-exposure.

Their “final” stock argument is that we are having a revolution. But that argument is false from beginning to end. For our revolution so far has only brought the bourgeoisie to power, as in France and Britain, with a “harmless minority” of “tamed socialists”, as in France and Britain. What our revolution will produce tomorrow—whether a return to the monarchy, the strengthening of the bourgeoisie, or the transfer of power to more advanced classes—neither we nor anyone else knows. Consequently, the plea of “revolution” in general is a gross deception of the people and of oneself.

The annexation issue is a good touchstone for the Narodniks and Mensheviks, who are entangled in a web of lies. They are just as muddled as Plekhanov, Henderson, Schieidemann and Co.; they are distinguishable from each other only in words, for as far as deeds are concerned they are all alike—dead to socialism.


Source: Marxist Internet Archive.