Various Subjects

A Memorandum for Certain
Newly-Fledged Anglophils

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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An old Russian writer gave a hateful description of the international policy of the British, which, in his words, found expression in a saying by one of the British statesmen: Tout prendre, rien rendre, toujours prétendre (i.e., grab everything, give back nothing, always put in a claim). That means acting exactly in the manner of Nozdrev [Nozdrev is a grasping, bullying serfowner and landlord in Gogol’s Dead Souls.]: what’s on this side of the wood is mine, and what’s on the other side of it is mine, too. It is not possible to go further in this greed for grasping, and it is the first sign of decadence.

Our writer describes the rulers of Britain with some most expressive strokes:

“Thus, in a nation in which trade constitutes the predominant motive for activity, the government will always be oligarchical, the army always mercenary. Freedom for the upper and middle estates of society, ruthless exploitation for the one below – but all on a basis of loudly-proclaimed freedom, which, however, amounts, so far as the latter estate is concerned, to freedom to die of starvation.

“What are the distinguishing features of this mentality? Profiteering, bribery, fraud: money can buy anything. There is no perfidy from which the British would shrink, and they constantly strive to get others to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them. That last trait was graphically revealed all through the period of the Napoleonic wars.

’Another feature of the mentality of the British (i.e., of their ruling classes) is all-round pharisaism and hypocrisy. Whatever they may undertake, unjustly and sometimes quite shamefully, with a view to making money, they always do it in the name of civilisation, in the name of the interests of humanity. They loudly proclaim the rights of man, speak out against all oppression, and yet there is no oppression crueller, more ruthless and more ruinous than that under which Ireland and India are groaning.

“They are fighting the Boers, too, in the name of the alleged interests of humanity, progress and civilisation, but these interests come down to the conquest of gold-bearing deposits. They even set up their notorious concentration camps for the Boers’ families on the grounds that in these camps the families would live more comfortably, and their death-rate would be lower, than if they stayed at home on their farms. And so it is with everything they do.’

Absolutely true: so it is with everything they do. Having now launched a brigand campaign against workers’ and peasants’ Russia, the British pharisees are swearing by the interests of civilisation and humanity. And there are “enlightened” Russians who believe this.

But who is this author whom we quoted, above, on the subject of bourgeois Britain? He is no Bolshevik, no Communist, no Marxist, no revolutionary, but old Dragomirov, a general in the Tsarist army. [1] [2]

It would be no bad idea to inscribe his description of the pharisaical greed of the British ruling classes on the forehead of Dragomirov Junior, who has sold his “sword’, and the blood of the soldiers and officers duped by him, to Anglo-French imperialism.

January 3, 1919
Isv.V.Ts.I.K., No.4


1. The reference is to an atricle by M.I. Dragomirov entitled : The decline in the political power of Britain, which was included in a collection of articles, some original and others translated, by M.I. Dragomirov entitled, Eleven Years, 1895-1905 Vol.I, St. Petersburg 1909.

2. General M.I. Dragomirov had fought in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878, when Disraeli’s Government backed the Turks and obstructed the Russian advance towards Constantinople, and he shared the anti-British sentiments that were common among Tsarist officers of his generation. His son, A.M. Dragomirov, served in the White Army.

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006