Draft Resolution on Freedom of the Press

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V. I. Lenin

NOVEMBER 4 (17), 1917



    For the bourgeoisie, freedom of the press meant freedom for the rich to publish and for the capitalists to control the newspapers, a practice which in all countries, including even the freest, produced a corrupt press.

    For the workers' and peasants' government, freedom of the press means liberation of the press from capitalist oppression, and public ownership of paper mills and printing presses; equal right for public groups of a certain size (say, numbering 10,000) to a fair share of newsprint stocks and a corresponding quantity of printers' labour.

    As a first step towards this goal, which is bound up with the working people's liberation from capitalist oppression, the Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to look into the ties between capital and periodicals, the sources of their funds and revenues, the list of their donors, covers for their deficits, and every other aspect of the newspaper business in general. Concealment of books, accounts or any other documents from the Commission of Inquiry, or the giving of any evidence known to be false shall be punishable by a revolutionary court.

    All newspaper owners, shareholders, and all members of their staffs shall be under the obligation to immediately submit written reports and information on the said questions to the Commission of Inquiry, probing the ties between cap ital and the press, and its dependence on capital, at Smolny Institute, Petrograd.

    The following are appointed to serve on the Commission of Inquiry:*

    The Commission shall have the power to co-opt members, call experts, subpoena witnesses, order the presentation of all accounts, etc.

    * Follows space for list of names. --Ed. <"NOTES">

  <"en111">[111] Written by Lenin in connection with a discussion of the matter by the All-Russia Executive Committee on November 4 (17), 1917.
    On October 26 (November 8), 1917, the Revolutionary Military Committee took a decision to close down a number of bourgeois newspapers -- Rech, Dyen and others -- for their counter-revolutionary propaganda. The Decree on the Press was adopted by the Council of People's Commissars the next day. On November 4 (17) the All-Russia Central Executive Committee discussed the question of the press, with Larin and the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries -- Kolegayev, Karelin, Proshyan and others -- opposing the decree.
    Lenin spoke in favour of the measures taken by the Revolutionary Military Committee and the Government (see pp. 284-86 [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Meeting of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee". -- DJR]). By a majority of 34 to 24, with 1 abstention, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee adopted a Bolshevik resolution voicing unconditional support for the Government's policy on the press. The resolution drafted by Lenin was not tabled at the meeting.    [p. 283]