Various Subjects

To the Comrade Print-Workers

From the Front

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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The printed word is the most important means for welding our army together, for effecting its political education. However, the trouble is that this printed word not only reaches the front too irregularly and in too small a quantity but, when it does reach the front, it all too often proves to be illegible.

Comrade print-workers, our typographical technique is terrible. Whole pages of type are so badly smudged that it is not possible to make out a single line. The numbers of literals and misplaced lines is beyond counting. A person who has been used for decades to reading newspapers, and grasping the sense of a sentence from a couple of words, finds it hard, sometimes impossible, to decipher the meaning of articles in our newspapers. What about the young Red Army man, who is often not very literate? He has no time to get to the bottom of these mysterious dirty marks on newsprint. It is difficult to conceive the natural and justified irritation that comes over a reader, especially a soldier reader at the front, cut off from the life of the country, when, having in his hands a long-awaited newspaper, he finds he cannot make sense of anything in it. The newspapers Kommunar, Byednota, Golos Trudovogo Krestyanstva [The Communard, The Poor, The Voice of the Working Peasantry], that is, precisely those which are intended, first and foremost, for the broad masses, are distinguished by quite unacceptable typographical technique.

Of course, our technical resources are scanty, but experience shows that it is not merely a question of technical resources, but also of the actual way the work is organised, and of the attitude towards it of the comrade print-workers. In those cases when the comrade print-workers have made it their business to improve the typographical technique of a newspaper, to render it really available for reading by workers, soldiers and peasants, success has always been achieved.

A mobilisation of forces to support our front is now under way. The place of the revolutionary print-workers in this mobilisation is not the one of least importance. Make it your first task, comrade print-workers to provide the front with a newspaper that can be read – with clear and distinct print, without repulsive ink-smudges, without murderous corruptions and literals. Make it your task to achieve this result, at any cost, in the shortest possible time!

Comrade print-workers! Give the front a newspaper!

April 19, 1919

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006