The Fox and the Hen-Coop
|Written||18 October 1912|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 18, pages 351-352.
The issue of a Balkan war and of “Europe’s” attitude to it is the most burning political issue today. It is important for all democrats in general and for the working class in particular to understand the class interests guiding this or that party in this matter.
The policy of the Octobrists, nationalists and unaffiliated “patriots”, from Novoye Vremya to Russkoye Slovo, is clear and simple. The badgering of Austria, incitement to war against her, and shouts about the “Slav tasks” of Russia are a poorly disguised endeavour to divert attention from Russia’s domestic affairs and to “grab a piece” of Turkey. Support for reaction at home and for colonial, imperialist plunder abroad—such is the essence of this crude “patriotic” “Slav” policy.
The Cadets’ policy is couched in more subtle and diplomatic terms, but in effect their policy is also a reactionary great-power policy of imperialism. It is particularly important to understand this, for the liberals cunningly veil their views with democratic-sounding phrases.
Look at Rech. At first—prior to the “love tryst” of Milyukov and Sazonov—it accused Sazonov of “readiness to bargain” and reproached the nationalists with weakening the “great idea” of capturing Constantinople. But now, after the tryst, Rech agrees with Rossiya, vigorously censuring the “foolish enthusiasm” of Novoye Vremya.
But what is the policy of Rech today?
We must not begin with proud demands, for if we do we shall lose support (from France and Britain), and shall “end by becoming, in spite of ourselves, even more modest than we should be” (No. 278)!!
And so, Rech is against the chauvinists because they “will end by being more modest than they should be”. It is as much as to say: you chauvinists are bragging and you’ll get nothing. But we are in favour of grabbing a big chunk quietly and peacefully, with the support of the French and British bourgeoisie!
“We need” support (from the Triple Entente) “in the interests of our own Balkan protégés”, writes Rech. Mark this: Rech, too, favours the idea of Russia “protecting” the Slavs, of the fox protecting the hen-coop, except that it wants this done more cunningly!
“All that can be achieved has to be achieved only in this way—through the joint efforts of European diplomacy,” declares Rech.
It is clear enough: the essence of Cadet policy is the same kind of chauvinism and imperialism as that of Novoye Vremya, only more cunning and subtle. Novoye Vremya roughly and stupidly threatens war on behalf of Russia alone. Rech, “subtly and diplomatically”, likewise threatens war, but only on behalf of the Triple Entente, for to say “we must not be more modest than we should be” means precisely threatening war. Novoye Vremya is in favour of the Slavs being protected by Russia, while Rech favours their protection by the Triple Entente. In other words, Novoye Vremya wants to see only our fox in the hen-coop, while Rech favours an agreement among three foxes.
Democrats in general and workers in particular are opposed to all “protection” of the Slavs by foxes or wolves, and advocate the complete self-determination of nations, complete democracy, and the liberation of the Slavs from all protection by the “Great Powers”.
The liberals and nationalists are arguing about different ways of plundering and enslaving the Balkan peoples by the European bourgeoisie. Only the workers are pursuing a genuinely democratic policy, for freedom and democracy everywhere and completely, against all “protection”, plunder and intervention!
- Milyukov met Sazonov, Minister of the Interior, in September 1912 to discuss the Balkan policy of the tsarist government.