V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written on April 26 (May 9), 1913
Published: Published on May 4, 1913 in Pravda No. 101. Printed from the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 228-229.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

Government newspapers and liberal newspapers are full of news, rumours, speculations and calculations about “Balkan” policy. What a mess! Sensation follows upon sensation, each report is more spectacular than the last. Yesterday, it was said that war was about to break out between Austria and Montenegro, between Bulgaria and Serbia. Today there is a spate of denials of yesterday’s news, and assurances that “peace has been secured”.

Yesterday there were piquant stories about Essad pasha, his secret treaty with the King of Montenegro, and his insidious plans for seizing power in Albania. Today comes denial of these stories, and more piquant reports about agreements between Austria and Essad.

The man in the street, swallowing everything he is told, listens to these fables, taking them at their face value, and blindly following the swindlers who try to divert “public” attention with exactly the kind of thing that serves their interest. The man in the street does not suspect that he is being led by the nose, and that the ringing phrases about “patriotism”, “the country’s honour and prestige” and “the Concert of Great Powers” are a deliberate attempt to cover up the machinations of financial swindlers and all sorts of capitalist adventurers. The sensational reports cooked up daily by the big bourgeois newspapers, whose occupation it is to sell the “latest” and the “most exciting” news at a profit, are designed specifically to distract the attention of the crowd from the really important questions and the real background of “high” politics.

The conservative newspapers in Europe, the   Black-Hundred[1] and Octobrist, and also non-party, papers in our own country, are playing this game crudely and in primitive fashion. In Russia, for example, they carry daily incitements against Austria, and depict Russia as the “ protector” of the Slavs. The liberal press, like Rech and similar other papers, is carrying on the, very same game, only in more subtle fashion, concealing it more skilfully, making its “digs” at Austria with greater caution, assuming the air of statesmen discussing the issues confronting the Concert of Europe.

In reality, all this quarrelling between Austria am) Russia, between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente,[2] all these subtle approaches, are nothing but disputes between capitalist profiteers and capitalist governments over the division of the spoils. They are trying to drag the man in the street into the issue of how “we” can tear off a bigger slice, and how to let “them” have a smaller one; they are trying to get the man in the street to take an interest and show concern in the squabbling.

Nothing is being written or said about the number of skins to be taken off the backs of the peasant and the worker in Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece to cover the expenses of war, or in Austria to cover the expenses of mobilisation, or in Russia for the same purpose and for her imperialist policy; or whether, and how, democratic institutions are to be ensured in the “new” states of the Balkans, or in Armenia, or in Mongolia. That is not news. The profits of the international sharks do not depend on that. Democratic institutions even tend to hamper “steady” profit-making. Instead of exposing the policy of the Great Powers, the newspapers—both conservative and liberal—are engaged in discussing how best to help the sharks have their fill through this policy.


[1] Black Hundreds—monarchist gangs set up by the tsarist police to fight the revolutionary movement. They killed revolutionaries, attacked progressive intellectuals and staged anti-Jewish pogroms.

[2] The Triple Alliance—an imperialist bloc of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, which took shape between 1879 and 1882.

The Triple Entente—an imperialist bloc of Britain, France and Russia, which was formalised in 1907 as a counter-weight to the Triple Alliance.

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