A Lesson from Lenin: The Last Time Secrecy Was Denounced, We Only Ended Up With More

With all of the trumpeting of the benefits of the Wikileaks revelations and how wonderful it is to get them out in the open, it’s a good idea to take a trip down memory lane and look a previous time when secrecy was at least denounced, if not exposed.

That time, of course, was before the Russian Revolution, and the denouncer was V.I. Lenin.  Here’s an example of that, from May 1917:

We all know that the “revolutionary” Provisional Government’s first word on foreign policy was the declaration that all secret treaties concluded by ex-Tsar Nicholas II with the “Allied” capitalists remained in force, and that the new Russia would regard them as sacred and inviolable.

We know, furthermore, that our “defencists” vehemently support the Milyukovs’ refusal to publish the secret treaties. These so-called socialist have sunk so low as to defend secret diplomacy, and the secret diplomacy of the ex-tsar at that.

Why do the supporters of the imperialist war guard the secret of these treaties so zealously?

Do you want to know why, comrade workers and soldiers?

Familiarise yourselves with at least one of these noble treaties–“our” treaty with Italy (i.e., with the Italian capitalists) signed at the beginning of 1915.

On the basis of material published in Novoye Vremya, Mr. V. Vodovozov, a bourgeois democrat, reveals in Dyen (for May 6, 1917) the contents of that treaty:

“The Allies have guaranteed Italy Southern Tyrol with Trient, the entire coastline, and the northern part of Dalmatia with the towns of Zara and Spalato, the central part of Albania with Valona, the Aegean islands off the coast of Asia Minor, as well as a profitable railway concession in Asiatic Turkey–such is the price for which Italy has traded her blood. These annexations exceed any national claims ever advanced by Italy many times over. In addition to regions with an Italian population (Southern Tyrol and Trieste) of nearly 600,000, Italy, under this treaty, is to receive territories with a population of over a million who are absolutely alien to Italy eghnographically and in point of religion. These include, for instance, Dalmatia, 97 per cent of whose population are Serbs and only slightly over 2 per cent Italians. It is only natural that this treaty with Italy, concluded without the knowledge or consent of Serbia, should have provoked such bitterness and resentment in that country. Pašic, speaking in the Skupshtina, expressed the hope that the rumours concerning the treaty were false, since Italy herself had united in the name of the principle of national unity, and could not therefore do anything that was likely to strike at the very roots of that principle. But Pašic was wrong; the treaty was concluded.

“This is the only treaty concerning the present war whose contents we know of, and this treaty is grossly predatory. Whether similar predatory instincts are or are not reflected in other treaties, we do not know. At any rate, it is extremely important that democracy, on whose banner is inscribed ‘peace without annexations’, should know this.”

“We do not know” to what extent the other secret treaties are predatory? No, Mr. Vodovozov, we know it very well: the secret treaties concerning the carve-up of Persia and Turkey, the seizure of Galicia and Armenia are just as dirty and predatory as the rapacious treaty with Italy.

Comrade soldiers and workers! You are told that you are defending “freedom” and the “revolution”! In reality you are defending the shady treaties of the tsar, which are concealed from you as one conceals a secret disease.

Lenin was famous for his denunciations of secret diplomacy.  But the end result, in reality, was one of the most secretive nations on the planet, the USSR.  One thing for sure, though: with nationalised health care (another thing the USSR pioneered) there won’t be too many secret diseases any more.

Unintended consequences are such nuisances!

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