V. I.   Lenin

The Briand Cabinet

Published: Pravda No. 14, January 18, 1913. Signed: I.. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 491-492.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). 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.
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The well-known renegade Briand, once an extreme revolutionary and an advocate of the “general strike”, finds himself again at the head of the French Ministry. Like John Burns in Britain, he has betrayed the working class and sold himself to the bourgeoisie.

The composition of his new Cabinet is of interest. It is dominated by the trio of Jonnart, Etienne and Baudin. What sort of men are they?

Take a look at the liberal papers, such as Rech No. 11. You will find there a most detailed account of where the Ministers were educated and where they were employed. You will find shameless advertising and the desire to curry favour: Jonnart is said to be a friend of King Edward, and Baudin, the nephew of a Communard!

Zhomini this, Zhomini that—and not a word about vodka.”[1] Rech says nothing about the crux of the matter. And the crux of the matter is very simple: this trio is a most arrant and shameless band of financial sharks and swindlers. Etienne has had a hand in all the dirty scandals involving millions, from Panama onwards. He is an old hand at financial transactions in the colonies, like the one concerning our own Bashkir lands. Jonnart took part in what was a no less “clean” business—securing the rich iron ore deposits of Ouenza, Africa, as a concession. His kith and kin sit on the boards of some of the largest joint-stock companies. Baudin is a lieutenant of capitalists, contractors and shipyard owners. The Naval Ministry is just the place for him—it is so much closer to contracts and to deliveries for the Navy!

Marx’s statement that bourgeois governments are the lieutenants of the capitalist class[2] has nowhere been confirmed more clearly than in France. And the great progress made by France is that the working class has torn off all sham coverings, that it has made the unclear clear, and “cast off from the chains the false flowers adorning them—not in order that mankind might continue to bear these chains in their form, bare of all joy and all delight, but in order that it might cast off the chains and reach for the living flower”.[3]


[1] Lenin is quoting from D. Davydov’s poem, “The Song of an Old Hussar”.

[2] This refers to the following statement of the Communist Manifesto: “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. 1, p. 36.)

[3] Lenin is quoting from Karl Marx’s Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie (K. Marx, F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 1. S. 379. Berlin. Dietz Verlag, 1958).

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