Meeting of the Petrograd Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. (Bolsheviks)

First published in 1925 in the journal Krasnaya Letopis (Red Annals) No. 3 (14).

Speech Concerning an Organ of the Press for the Petrograd Committee

The desire of the Petrograd Committee to have a press organ of its own is something new as far as the Central Committee is concerned. It is difficult to understand how such a question could have arisen at a time when arrangements are being made for a printing-press of our own and an agreement is about to be reached with the Inter-District group for getting Comrade Trotsky to edit a popular organ.

In the West, in the capitals or big industrial centres, there is no division of the press into local and central organs. Such a division is wasteful and harmful. It is not advisable to have a Petrograd Committee organ apart from the Central Organ. Petrograd, as a separate locality, does not exist. Petrograd is the geographical, political and revolutionary centre of all Russia. The life of Petrograd is being followed by the whole of Russia. Every step of Petrograd’s is a guide line for the whole of Russia. In view of this the life of the Petrograd Committee cannot be treated as a local affair.

Why not accept the Central Committee’s suggestion that a Press Committee be formed? In the history of the press in the West, where such committees have existed, there have of course been occasional misunderstandings between the editorial board and the committee, but these were due entirely to disagreements on policy. What grounds are there for any disagreements on policy between the Petrograd Committee and the Central Committee? Whether we want it or not the organ of the Petrograd Committee will always be the leading organ of the Party.

The experience gained in establishing an organ of its own would quickly convince the Petrograd Committee that it is impossible to confine the paper to local affairs. The Central Committee does not deny the need for giving more space to the Petrograd branch in the newspapers. The Central Committee does not deny the need for a popular organ that would bring our slogans home to the masses. But the establishment of a popular newspaper is a difficult job that calls for considerable experience. That is why the Central Committee is enlisting the services of Comrade Trotsky, who has succeeded in establishing his own popular organ—Russkaya Gazeta.

In the history of the West the question of a popular organ has never been so acute as it is with us. The level of the masses there rose more evenly as a result of the cultural and educational work done by the Liberals. In countries like Bohemia there are such popular organs. The purpose of a popular organ is to elevate the reader to an understanding of the leading party organ. If we do not establish a popular organ other parties will win the masses and use them to speculate with. The popular organ should not be of a local type, but owing to postal difficulties it is bound primarily to serve the needs of Petrograd. In order that local needs be adequately served the Petrograd Committee should secure proper representation on the editorial board of the paper.

Draft Resolutions Introduced At The Meeting Of The Petrograd Committee

First Resolution

The Central Committee is to issue two newspapers in Petrograd—the Central Organ and a popular paper with a single editorial board. The Petrograd Committee is to receive a consultative voice on the editorial board of the Central Organ, and a vote in the popular organ. The Central Committee is to devote a definite number of columns in both papers to items of local interest.

Second Resolution

The Petrograd Committee resolves to co-operate in both papers published by the Central Committee on the conditions proposed by the latter, and to make every effort to serve the needs of local activities more fully and widely and to work out in greater detail the general line of the Party. Having reason to fear that the Central Committee or the editorial board appointed by it may place too much trust in the internationalist comrades who have disagreed with Bolshevism in the past, that the Central Committee may cramp the freedom and independence of action of the local comrades, that the Central Committee may not give them the influence they are entitled to as leaders of local activities, the Petrograd Committee is to elect a committee to formulate precise guarantees of the rights of the Petrograd Committee in the local department of both papers.

Source: Marxist Internet Archive.