Down With Imperialist Secrecy Laws!

Free Bradley Manning! Hands Off Wikileaks!

The disclosure of tens of thousands of diplomatic cables by Wikileaks has sent the masters of the American Empire into a frenzy. Some things never change, including imperialism’s reliance on the discretion of its agents and allies in conducting the dirty business of carving up the world. Secret alliances played an important role in the outbreak of World War I, the first global mass slaughter of the industrial age. The cause of that conflict, of course, was inter-imperialist rivalry, of which the secret treaties were a mere byproduct. Yet the real plans of the ruling classes had to be kept from public view if they were to hoodwink millions of workers into the trenches of the “war to end all wars.”

The Bolshevik leadership of the historic October 1917 Russian Revolution, which created the world’s first workers state, was determined to reveal the imperialists’ war secrets. By doing so they demonstrated their rejection of the entire international framework established by the “Great Power” predators. The Bolsheviks’ actions were consistent with their desire to free humanity from capitalist exploitation and the bloody wars it engenders, and open the road to a socialist future in which class distinctions and all forms of social oppression will be eradicated. The statement reprinted below was written by Leon Trotsky who, along with V.I. Lenin, was a central leader of the Russian Revolution.

Socialists today have a duty to oppose imperialist secrecy and defend those who dare to expose the war crimes of the Bushes and Obamas of this world. While Julian Assange, the well-connected head of Wikileaks, is being set up on transparently politically motivated charges, we must not forget that Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the Wikileaks documents, is already languishing in jail. The partial exposure by Wikileaks of some of the behind-the-scenes machinations of the global elites illuminates the sordid nature of contemporary imperialism. Such revelations can embarrass important individuals and the interests they represent, but only the international working class has the power to overthrow the exploiters and smash imperialism.

Free Bradley Manning! Drop the charges against Julian Assange!

Hands off Wikileaks — Exposing imperialist crimes is no crime!

On 22 November 1917, only weeks after the Russian workers seized power, Leon Trotsky issued the following statement explaining the Bolsheviks’ decision to publish the secret imperialist treaties. The text is taken from the Marxist Internet Archive:

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 abolition of secret diplomacy is the primary condition for an honest, popular, truly democratic foreign policy. The Soviet Government regards it as its duty to carry out such a policy in practice. That is precisely why, while openly proposing an immediate armistice to all the belligerent peoples and their Governments, we are at the same time publishing these treaties and agreements, which have lost all binding force for the Russian workers, soldiers, and peasants who have taken power into their own hands.

The bourgeois politicians and journalists of Germany and Austria-Hungary may try to make use of the documents published in order to present the diplomacy of the Central Empires in a more advantageous light. But any such attempt would be doomed to pitiful failure, and that for two reasons. In the first place, we intend quickly to place before the tribunal of public opinion secret documents which treat sufficiently clearly of the diplomacy of the Central Empires. Secondly, and more important, the methods of secret diplomacy are as universal as imperialist robbery. When the German proletariat enters the revolutionary path leading to the secrets of their chancelleries, they will extract documents no whit inferior to those which we are about to publish. It only remains to hope that this will take place quickly.

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 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.’

Posted: 9 January 2011