291 | MP conclusion

Austrian friend of mine told me on his return from Russia
that the Russians had decided, in the event of a war with
Germany, not to start "socialist" propaganda among the Germans
at once. They would lose their best men too soon and in the
beginning it would be a sheer waste of effort. The Germans
would become sober only after they had been kicked hard.
First one would have to reply by brutality to their brutality.
Then, after the German people had acquired ample experience
of the more unpleasant aspects of a war, the Russian propa-
ganda could hope to find responsive ears. The Russian bol-
sheviks had a first hand experience of this mechanism in 1917.
For months, as long as there was still a chance of winning
the war against Germany, the average Russian was inclined to
believe that Lenin was a German spy. The bolsheviks gained
the ear of the masses only after several big battles had been
lost, and the peasants streamed back into their villages.
Only then did indignation about the 'secret treaties' (see
page 280) oust the indignation about Lenin's venality and
bad faith.

It would be interesting to calculate mathematically the
point at which privations and social stress break the morale
of a group. Any government would pay a fortune for the
formula. At the present stage of our knowledge we can, however,
say no more than that it is usually unsafe for a propagandist
to disregard objective facts of which his clients have a
first hand experience.

3. Second-hand facts

Our political judgment depends, however, to a great extent