V. I.   Lenin

“Freedom of Speech” in Russia

Published: Pravda No. 66, July 15, 1912. Signed: V.. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 173-174.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

The newspaper At Your Service, Sir, commonly known as Novoye Vremya, has reprinted a report received by its worthy colleague, Peterburgskiye Vedomosti, from Ivanovo-Voznesensk.

In our industrial town,” says the report, “foul language in the street has supplanted human speech. It is used by factory workers and cabbies and well-dressed people, and by policemen performing their official duties.”

Commenting on this picture of mores, Novoye Vremya remarks:

A lucky workers’ town, where the most daring Social-Democratic expectations of completely unrestricted freedom of speech have been realised.”

How very instructive, this caddish sally, isn’t it?

Surely it is common knowledge, gentlemen of the editorial board of a newspaper loyally serving the government, that freedom of speech with regard to foul language has been “realised” in the Third Duma precisely by those Right-wing parties closest to the government. Surely everyone knows that the Purishkeviches, Markovs and their colleagues have become famous for this throughout Russia.

It is imprudent of Novoye Vremya to talk like that, very imprudent indeed. Why, it could have played its servant’s role much more adroitly. Yet here is a paper, one sincerely devoted to the government, suddenly reminding us of the kind of “freedom of speech” that Purishkevich and Co.   practise and the kind practised by the Social-Democratic deputies to the Duma.

Freedom of speech for the Purishkeviches in a landlord Duma, and freedom of speech at workers’ meetings.... It is an excellent pre-election topic brought up by Novoye Vremya, which is so clumsy in its zealous servility!


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