Workers Hammer No. 213

Winter 2010-2011


Quote of the issue

WikiLeaks and "secret diplomacy"

The furious reaction to the WikiLeaks exposures points to the importance the rulers of capitalist imperialism place on secret diplomacy. This was exposed in 1917, two weeks after the Bolshevik-led Russian Revolution, when Leon Trotsky, then People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, announced the Soviet government’s publication of secret treaties, exposing the machinations of the prior tsarist and Provisional Government regimes and their imperialist allies. Published after the Soviet government had declared Russia’s withdrawal from the carnage of World War I, a war of competing imperialist powers for redivision of the world, the revelations helped foment a wave of struggle by the imperialists’ colonial victims. Most importantly, the Bolsheviks advanced the fight to end the war through proletarian revolutions in the advanced capitalist countries.

In publishing the secret diplomatic documents from the foreign policy archives of Tsarism and of the bourgeois coalition Governments of the first seven months of the revolution, we are carrying out the undertaking which we made when our party was in opposition. Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests. Imperialism, with its dark plans of conquest and its robber alliances and deals, developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest level. The struggle against the imperialism which is exhausting and destroying the peoples of Europe is at the same time a struggle against capitalist diplomacy, which has cause enough to fear the light of day. The Russian people, and the peoples of Europe and the whole world, should learn the documentary truth about the plans forged in secret by the financiers and industrialists together with their parliamentary and diplomatic agents. The peoples of Europe have paid for the right to this truth with countless sacrifices and universal economic desolation....

The workers’ and peasants’ Government abolishes secret diplomacy and its intrigues, codes, and lies. We have nothing to hide. Our programme expresses the ardent wishes of millions of workers, soldiers, and peasants. We want peace as soon as possible on the basis of decent coexistence and collaboration of the peoples. We want the rule of capital to be overthrown as soon as possible. In exposing to the entire world the work of the ruling classes, as expressed in the secret diplomatic documents, we address the workers with the call which forms the unchangeable foundation of our foreign policy: “Proletarians of all countries, unite.”

— “Statement by Trotsky on the Publication of the Secret Treaties”,
22 November 1917, reprinted in Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy,
vol 1 (1917-1924), edited by Jane Degras (1951)