V. I.   Lenin

“Sleight of Hand” and Unprincipled Politicians

Written: Written May 25 (June 7), 1917
Published: Published June 9 (May 27), 1917 in Pravda No. 67. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 527-528.
Translated: Isaacs Bernard
Transcription\Markup: B. Baggins and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 1999 (2005). 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.

The expression “sleight of hand” has been taken from the editorial in today’s Dyelo Naroda. This newspaper of the “Socialist-Revolutionaries”, to which Kerensky and Chernov are contributors, exposes the tricks of the French spokesmen of “tamed socialism”, saying:

These are old tricks, a very old sleight of hand. which in our country have been repeatedly and unsuccessfully practised by Mr. Plekhanov without deceiving anybody....

Are you sure they were practised only by Plekhanov, my dear sirs?

Are you not going to the elections in a bloc with this very Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo? Are you not helping it to get in, are you not saving it?

It was in your paper (No. 44 for May 9) that S. Mstislavsky wrote of Plekhanov:

When a recent leader of Russian Social-Democracy lends his band to such counter-revolutionary attacks [as those of Russkaya Volya and Novoye Vremya], then it is with, profound regret and sincere sorrow that we are compelled to recognise this fact, since we never really imagined that the degeneration of the International had gone so far.”

We would add: and the degeneration of the Socialist-Revolutionaries who have joined forces with this very “Yedinstvo”.

And in an unsigned, i.e., editorial, note in Dyelo Naroda No. 48, for May 13, we read:

“‘Yedimistvo’s’ political unity with the liberal bourgeoisie is common knowledge.”

Mark that carefully! The “Socialist-Revolutionaries” and the Mensheviks are in unity with that very Yedinstvo   whose political unity with the liberal bourgeoisie is common knowledge. Do not forget this, comrades, men and women workers, and soldiers!

The Menshevik Rabochaya Gazeta for April 20 (No. 35) wrote in an editorial:

We are against the British imperialists. Yendinistvo is against the British socialists. Herein lies the whole difference. Herein lies the reason why Yedinstvo has to argue à la Hottentot.... The Russian workers remember only too well how Plekhanov, during the tsarist regime [there is a misprint in the text: it should read “during the tsarist republican regime”], tried in all manner of ways to dissuade them from going on strike. Then, too, Plekhanov tried to scare us with things even more terrible; ho tried to assure us that such conflicts only played into the hands of the German General Staff.”

And in the issue of the same paper for May 16 (No. 57) the discreetly moderate ministerialist Cherovanin wrote:

Plekhanov and his Yedinstvo are doing everything they possibly can here to compromise the principle of defencism, which has been compromised enough on an international scale thanks to the efforts of the majority of the German, French and other socialists.”

This is how Yedinstvo is estimated by the Narodniks and the Mensheviks, this is how they try to dissociate themselves from it, this is how ashamed they are of it!

Nevertheless they have entered into a bloc with it at the elections, and Plekhanov accepts seats from people who publicly call him names, such as “juggler”, “tamed socialist”, “Hottentot”, “compromised”, “in unity with the liberal bourgeoisie”.

Which member of that bloc is the worst?

Workers and soldiers! Not one vote to the bloc of the Narodniks and Mensheviks, who are shielding and working for Yedinstvo, which is “in unity with the liberal bourgeoisie”!


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