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17 November

On 17 November 1917, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee voted by a majority of 34 to 24, with one abstention, in favour of a Bolshevik resolution voicing unconditional support for the government's policy suppressing the 'bourgeois press'.

November 17, 2009
2 min read

Both Lenin and Trotsky spoke in support of the resolution. According to Trotsky: ‘The victory over our adversaries is not yet achieved, and the newspapers are arms in their hands. In these conditions, the closing of the newspapers is a legitimate measure of defence.’

And according to Lenin: ‘We Bolsheviki have always said that when we reached a position of power we would close the bourgeois press. To tolerate the bourgeois newspapers would mean to cease being a socialist. When one makes a revolution, one cannot mark time; one must always go forward – or go back. He who now talks about the “freedom of the press” goes backward, and halts our headlong course toward socialism …

‘It is impossible to separate the question of the freedom of the press from the other questions of the class struggle. We have promised to close these newspapers, and we shall do it. The immense majority of the people is with us!

‘Now that the insurrection is over, we have absolutely no desire to suppress the papers of the other socialist parties, except inasmuch as they appeal to armed insurrection, or to disobedience to the Soviet government. However, we shall not permit them, under the pretence of freedom of the socialist press, to obtain, through the secret support of the bourgeoisie, a monopoly of printing presses, ink and paper … These essentials must become the property of the Soviet government, and be apportioned, first of all, to the socialist parties in strict proportion to their voting strength.’


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