V. I. Lenin

Draft Resolution On Freedom Of The Press

Written:4 November, 1917
First Published: Pravda November 7, 1932; Published according to manuscript
Source:Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 283-284
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive November, 2000


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 capital and the press, and its dependence on capital, at Smolny Institute, Petrograd.

The following are appointed to serve on the Commission of Inquiry: [Follows space for list of names—Ed.]

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