Bolshevik Press

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bolshevik Press


(pre-October Revolution period), a new kind of revolutionary press created by V. I. Lenin and the Bolshevik Party.

The term “Bolshevik press” meant primarily the periodical press of the Communist Party, although in a broader sense it referred to all Party publishing from the moment Bolshevism appeared, including the Party book-publishing business. Beginning with Iskra, the Party press led by Lenin became not only a collective propagandist and agitator but also a collective organizer of a Marxist party in Russia. The printing of illegal revolutionary literature abroad and in underground printing houses in Russia and its storage, transportation, and dissemination under constant police persecution required an efficient organization. The Party had organizers of printing houses, warehouses of literature, collectors of money, people who transported literature abroad, people who distributed it around the country and in cities, and people who delivered dispatches. Their activity demanded “true heroism” (see V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 4, p. 195), revolutionary courage, selflessness, resourcefulness, and knowledge of the traps and methods of the police. Experienced professional revolutionaries were assigned to this difficult and responsible work.

The Bolshevik press was inseparably linked with the heroic history of the CPSU. It helped the Party to fulfill the tasks that confronted it at every historical stage of the revolutionary struggle. Lenin devoted more than 30 works, excluding letters, to problems of the organization and content of the Party press in the pre-October Revolution period. These same problems had an important place in the work of the governing bodies of the Bolshevik Party. Special decisions on the central organ and the Party press were adopted by the Second and Third congresses of the RSDLP, the First Conference of Military and Militant Organizations of the RSDLP, the Fifth All-Russian Conference (1908), the Sixth All-Russian Conference (Prague, 1912), plenary sessions of the Party’s Central Committee in 1908 and 1910, a meeting of the expanded editorial board of Proletarii (1909), two conferences with Party workers (1913), a conference of foreign sections of the RSDLP (1915), and the All-Russian Conference of Frontline and Rear Organizations of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) (1917). The growth of the revolutionary movement and the Party’s political influence on the masses was accompanied by an increasing role for the Bolshevik press as collective organizer of the proletarian masses. The Party itself was managed through the press. “With the present gigantic, incredible growth of the movement,” wrote Lenin in 1905, “the Party can be led only through the press” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 47, p. 100).

Consistent practice of the principle of Communist Party spirit, fidelity to Marxist-Leninist theory, and close contact with the masses were characteristic of the Bolshevik press. It propagandized and explained the Program and Rules of the Bolshevik Party and the most important propositions of Marxist-Leninist theory, and it educated the masses in the spirit of proletarian internationalism. The Bolshevik press published the most important Party documents, which substantiated the strategy and tactics of the Party at the stages of the bourgeois democratic and socialist revolutions. It formulated slogans calling the masses to a struggle through strikes, political activities, and an assault on autocracy and capitalism.

The prerevolutionary Bolshevik press elucidated the difficult situation of the working class and the peasantry. It exposed the tsarist oppression of nationalities, the antipopular character of the compromise made by the bourgeois and then the petit-bourgeois parties, and the pseudosocialist theories and petit-bourgeois revolutionary qualities of the Narodniks (Populists), Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), and anarchists. At every stage in the history of Bolshevism the Bolshevik press waged a consistent struggle against opportunism “from the right” and “from the left.” It exposed the failure of the “economists” to give leadership and the tactical, organizational, and programmatic opportunism of the Mensheviks. It fought for the purity of Marxist-Leninist theory against the subjective idealism of the Machists and the bogostroiteli (god creators), who organized the anti-Party Capri school, and the Vpered faction (1909). The Bolshevik press waged an implacable struggle against the worst variety of Menshevism—Trotskyism—and it exposed centrism and conciliationism. The Bolshevik press contributed to the ideological and organizational rout of the August anti-Party bloc, which was led by Trotsky, and to the expulsion of opportunists from the Party in 1912.

During the new revolutionary upsurge and World War I the Bolshevik press played a very important role in the Bolshevik Party’s winning of the masses in the struggle against the social chauvinism and opportunism of the Second International. The press united consistently internationalist forces in the international workers’ movement as the basis of the future Third International. After the overthrow of the autocracy, the Bolshevik press explained to the masses the essence of the course toward a socialist revolution as set forth in Lenin’s April theses. It exposed the conciliationist tactics of the Mensheviks and SR’s and mobilized the masses to prepare an armed uprising. On all political questions the Bolshevik press waged a consistent and sharp struggle against the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois press. The Bolshevik press played a major role in preparing and carrying out the Great October Socialist Revolution and in establishing and solidifying Soviet power throughout the country.

The Bolshevik press had different forms. In addition to the periodical press (newspapers, magazines, weeklies, and bulletins), leaflets, pamphlets, and books were published. There were publications that were put out periodically on a temporary basis—leaflets, bulletin leaflets, and pamphlet leaflets. Under constant tsarist persecution, the Bolshevik Party used all the possibilities for legal and illegal publications. A number of peculiarities of the Bolshevik press are associated with this, including the brevity of publication and frequent changes of the names of legal periodical publications, their Aesopian language, false information on the places and dates of illegal publications, and a single name for different organs.

Uncensored publications of the Bolshevik press were printed in underground printing houses in bourgeois printing houses without prior permission of the RSDLP, and under the protection of people’s guards and abroad in 13 cities in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, and the USA. In Russia legal and illegal organs were printed in more than 100 populated places. Important industrial centers were permanent places of publication. In St. Petersburg about 100 titles of Bolshevik periodical publications were issued at various times before October 1917; in Moscow, about 50; in Baku, 23; in Riga, 22; in Tiflis, 21; in Ekaterinburg and Nizhnii Novgorod, 8 each; and so forth. Villages and industrial settlements were also sites of publication.

A total of about 500 periodical publications and tens of millions of copies of leaflets, including Bolshevik trade-union publications, came out in the pre-October Revolution period.

Periodical publications. In the 1880’s, with the appearance of the Russian Social Democrats and the development of the workers’ movement, the first attempts were made to create an uncensored social democratic workers’ press in Russia (the newspaper Rabochii, issued by Blagoev’s group, 1885, St. Petersburg; Sankt-Peterburgskii rabochii listok, 1897; and others). In 1914, Lenin called these publications “the direct and immediate predecessors of the present workers’ press” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 25, p. 97).

The first general Russian illegal mass Marxist newspaper was Iskra, which was founded abroad by Lenin in 1900; it was the ideological and organizational center of the Russian revolutionaries and the leader of the Russian workers’ movement (until November 1903; beginning with no. 52, the newspaper became Menshevik). After the Second Congress of the RSDLP (1903), the main Bolshevik organs, which consistently pursued revolutionary tactics and exposed the opportunism of the Mensheviks, were the newspapers headed by Lenin: Vpered (December 1904 to May 1905, Geneva) and Proletarii (May to November 1905, Geneva). During the Revolution of 1905–07 the Bolsheviks gained the opportunity to issue legal publications. From Oct. 27 to Dec. 3, 1905, the first legal daily newspaper, Novaia zhizn’, was published in St. Petersburg. In spring 1906 in St. Petersburg the Bolshevik editors, led by Lenin, began publishing the legal daily newspaper Volna (April 26 to May 24). After Volna was suppressed, it was replaced by the newspaper Vpered (May 26 to June 14), then Ekho (June 22 to July 7). In February 1907, Ekho was replaced by Novyi luch and later by Nashe ekho (March 25 to April 10).

After the Fourth (unifying) Congress of the RSDLP, the illegal newspaper Proletarii (Vyborg-Geneva-Paris, 1906–09) became the central organ of the Bolsheviks. From February 1908 to Jan. 31, 1917, the central organ of the RSDLP was the illegal newspaper Sotsial-demokrat (Vilna-St. Petersburg-Paris-Geneva). On Mar. (18), 1917, the newspaper Pravda became the central organ of the Party. Between 1912 and 1914 it came out as a daily legal mass workers’ newspaper and was in fact the organ of the Central Committee of the RSDLP; during those years Pravda was suppressed eight times and forced to come out under other names. Lenin headed Pravda and wrote a great deal for it; between 1912 and 1914, 284 of his articles, speeches, and documents were printed in the paper; in 1917, 207 of them appeared in the newspaper. Pravda played an outstanding role in politically educating the proletariat of Russia and winning it over to the side of the Bolshevik Party.

In addition to the central organ, the central newspapers and magazines of the Bolshevik Party were very important. In 1901–02 the editors of Iskra issued the social democratic scientific and political magazine Zaria in Stuttgart. The illegal newspaper Rabochii was the publication of the Central Committee of the RSDLP between August and October 1905 in Moscow. From 1906 to 1908 the editors of the central organ Proletarii issued the illegal mass workers’ newspaper Vpered. In the struggle against the liquidators, the Bolsheviks used the resources of Menshevik party members, cooperating with them in Rabochaia gazeta (Paris, 1910–12) and Zvezda (St. Petersburg, 1910–11). Between December 1910 and April 1911 the Bolsheviks, who were fighting the liquidators, issued a legal monthly philosophic and socioeconomic magazine, Mysl’, in Moscow; its actual editor was Lenin. After Mysl’ was suppressed, the magazine Prosveshchenie (December 1911 to June 1914) became the theoretical organ of the Bolsheviks. In 1915 the editors of the central organ Sotsial-demokrat issued the magazine Kommunist, and in 1916, Sbornik sotsial-demokrata. Under the leadership of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, the legal weekly journal Voprosy strakhovaniia was published from Oct. 26, 1913, to July 12, 1914, and from Feb. 20, 1915, to Mar. 18, 1918, in St. Petersburg. During World War I (1914–18) it was the only legal all-Russian publication. In 1914 a legal Bolshevik mass magazine for women, Rabotnitsa, was founded on Lenin’s initiative. It came out until the imperialist war began; on May 10, 1917, it resumed publication as a magazine of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik).

During the Revolution of 1905–07 the Bolshevik military and trade-union press was born. Bolshevik military organizations of the RSDLP issued more than 30 newspapers before October 1917. The central organ of the RSDLP military organization was the newspaper Kazarma, which was published illegally on a monthly basis in St. Petersburg from February 1906 to March 1907. Between April and July 1917 Soldatskaia pravda was published, and from July to October the organ of the military organization under the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) was published in Petrograd under the names Rabochii i soldat and Soldat. In 1917 the most important Bolshevik military newspapers were Volna, Priboi (Helsingfors), and Okopnaia pravda, which was issued from August to November under the name Okopnyi nabat (Riga; Cēsis). On the eve of the October Revolution, Derevenskaia bednota (Petrograd) and Derevenskaia pravda (Moscow) began to be issued for peasants, cossacks, and soldiers. About 50 trade-union periodical organs came out in the pre-October Revolution period under the leadership of the Bolsheviks. Some important legal local newspapers— Bakinskii rabochii (1906, 1908, and 1917), Gudok (Baku, 1907–08), Nash put’ (Moscow, 1910–11), and others—were issued as trade-union organs, but they were actually platforms for the Bolsheviks.

Local Party organizations in Russia issued more than 300 newspapers and 30 magazines from December 1900 to October 1917. An important role in winning and mobilizing the masses was played by the magazines and newspapers of Bolshevik organizations in the capital, including the magazine Vestnik zhizni (1906); Rabochii golos (1914), renamed Proletarskii golos (1915–16), organ of the Central Committee of the RSDLP; Metallist (1911–14 and 1917), organ of the trade union of metalworkers; Izvestiia Moskovskogo Soveta rabochikh deputatov (1905); and Bor’ba (1905). During the Revolution of 1905–07, Bolshevik newspapers began to come out in all of the large industrial centers. In 1905, Rabochii (Kazan), Zabaikal’skii rabochii (Chita, 1905–06), Viatskii listok, Kavkazskii rabochii listok, and Listok Rizhskogo komiteta were issued; in 1906, Arkhangel’skii rabochii, Izvestiia Ivanovo-Voznesenskoi organizatsii RSDRP, Zheleznodorozhnik (Kiev), Minskii letuchii listok, Izvestiia Chernomorskogo komiteta (Novorossiisk), Samarskaia luka, Donetskii kolokol (Lugansk, 1906–07), and Ufimskii rabochii (1906–08); and in 1907, Ural (Orenburg, in the Tatar language), Ural’skii rabochii (Ekaterinburg-Ufa, 1907–08), Ural’skaia gazeta (Ekaterinburg), Novorossiiskii rabochii, and others. Between 1905 and 1908 a local military and peasants’ Bolshevik press appeared: Brianskii soldatskii listok (1906), Soldatskaia volia (Grodno, 1906), Zhizn’ soldata (Ekaterinoslav, 1906–07), Soldat (Sevastopol’, 1906–08), Soldat (Orel, 1907), Krest’ianskii listok (Saratov, 1905), Nizhegorodskaia Krest’ianskaia gazeta (1905), and others. Published in 1907–10 were Izvestiia prikamskogo rabochego (Izhevsk, 1907), Rabochii listok (Izhevsk, 1907), Kaluzhskii rabochii (1907–08), Permskii rabochii (1907), Golos rabochego (Cheliabinsk, 1908), Rabochii (Kazan, 1905, 1908, and 1917), Zheleznodorozhnyi proletarii (Kiev, 1908), Odesskii rabochii (1908), Revel’skii voennyi listok (1907–08), Severnyi rabochii (Iaroslavl’, 1908), Krasnoe znamia (Zlatoust, 1908–09), Molot (Vologda, 1910), and others. For the most part during these years the central Bolshevik press developed abroad. Published during the new revolutionary upsurge and World War I were Tashkentskii rabochii (1913), Zvezda (Ekaterinoslav, 1914), Iuzhnaia pravda (village of Kamenskoe, Ekaterinoslav Province, 1915), Golos sotsial-demokrata (Kharkov, 1916), Prikubanskie stepi (Ekaterinodar, 1915–17, weekly), Pravda truda (Voznesensk Mine, Donbas, 1916), and others.

After the February Revolution of 1917 the local Bolshevik press was widely distributed. Issued for the first time were Astrakhanskii rabochii, Krasnoe znamia (Vladivostok), Voronezhskii rabochii, Rabochaia Sibir’ (Irkutsk), Nashe slovo (Kineshma), Bol’shevik (Kolomna), Golos Pravdy (Kronstadt), Sotsial-demokrat (Lys’va), Burevestnik (Minsk), Tovarishch (Minusinsk), Krasnoe znamia (Mogilev), Pskovskii nabat, Simbirskaia pravda, Tovarishch (Syzran’), Sibirskii rabochii (Tomsk), Netsuk (Shusha), lur’evskaia pravda, Proletarskaia pravda (Tula), and others. Previously suspended publications, including Prikubanskaia pravda, Rabochii (Kazan), Donetskii proletarii, and Ural’skaia pravda, were resumed.

Before October 1917 more than 60 Bolshevik newspapers and magazines were published in ten languages of the peoples of Russia; several were published in European languages. Twenty-one publications came out in Latvian, 16 in Estonian, 16 in Armenian, 11 in Georgian, and five in Lithuanian. Bolshevik periodical publications were also issued in Azerbaijani, Polish, Tatar, Ukrainian, Finnish, German, and French. The most important ones were the central organ of the Latvian Social Democrats, the newspaper Zihr¡a (1904–17, Riga, Brussels, London, Boston, and Petrograd); the Georgian newspaper Brdzola (Baku and Tiflis, 1901–02), which joined the Armenian newspaper Proletariat and formed the organ of the Caucasus Union of the RSDLP, Proletariais brdzola (Baku-Tiflis, 1903–05); the Armenian Kaits (Tiflis, 1906); the Estonian Kiir (Narva-Revel, 1912–14; renamed four times; 1917); the Lithuanian Vilnis (Riga, 1913–14; 1917); and others.

The Bolshevik press had a large network of correspondents, which had been founded by agents of Iskra. As the Bolshevik press developed, it was joined by tens and hundreds of correspondents from the workers, peasants, and soldiers, as well as by professional revolutionaries. The Bolshevik press was a school for training Bolshevik publicists. An inspiring example for them was the publicistic work of Lenin—organizer, inspirer, editor, and regular author of publications of the Bolshevik press. For the central Bolshevik newspapers alone, not counting magazines, he wrote more than 900 articles and notes. About 800 Party functionaries participated directly in the publications of Bolshevik organs. Among them were V. D. Bonch-Bruevich, V. V. Vorovskii, P. A. Dzhaparidze, N. K. Krupskaia, A. V. Lunacharskii, M. S. 01’minskii, G. I. Petrovskii, N. I. Podvoiskii, Ia. M. Sverdlov, I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov, S. S. Spandar’ian, J. V. Stalin, P. I. Stuchka, A. I. Ul’ianova-Elizarova, V. L. Shantser (Marat), S. G. Shaumian, Em. Iaroslavskii, and others. D. Bednyi and M. Gorky actively contributed to the Bolshevik press, as did leaders of the international workers’ movement—R. Luxemburg, K. Liebknecht, M. Cachin, P. Lafargue, and others.

Nonperiodical publications. Nonperiodical, with rare exceptions uncensored, publications of the pre-October Revolution period—books, pamphlets, and leaflets—were part of the Bolshevik press. In 1905, Lenin wrote: “Literature must become a constituent part of organized, planned, unified Social Democratic Party work” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 12, p. 101). Bolshevik literature reflected the pressing problems of the struggle for the victory first of the bourgeois democratic revolution, then of the socialist revolution. The problems to which a central place was given in the literature changed with the period. Bolshevik literature is subdivided into general—for all categories of readers—and intra-Party literature. It character and content are rich and varied.

Many works by Marx and Engels had been published for the Russian reader before. The first were “The Charter of the International Workingmen’s Association” in E. Becher’s book (published 1869) and “The Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in a translation by M. A. Bakunin (published 1869). In 1872 the first volume of Marx’ Das Kapital came out in an edition by N. P. Poliakov. The works of Marx and Engels were systematically printed by the Bolsheviks. The regularly published works of Lenin (leaflets, pamphlets, and books) held an important place in the publications. A large number of works by various authors on the most important questions of political economy, philosophy, scientific socialism, the class struggle, and the theory of the party of the proletariat were published. Literature for mass agitation was issued. It contained political, legal, and economic indictments of autocracy and capitalism. (Forexample, Lenin’s leaflet May 1, published in 1904, was issued by a number of social democratic organizations; S. Dicksztajn’s pamphlet Who Lives by What was issued several times.) A number of publications were devoted to events of the revolutionary struggle of the toilers of Russia and foreign countries (for example, I. V. Babushkin, In Defense of the Ivanovo-Voznesensk Workers, Munich, Iskra printing house, 1901; Amvrosii, The Truth About the Rostov Events, Stuttgart, published by Zaria, 1903; and A. V. Lunacharskii, Essays From the History of the Revolutionary Struggle of the European Proletariat, Central Committee of the RSDLP, 1905). Many publications were devoted to an explanation of the Party’s strategy and tactics (for example, The Election Platform of the RSDLP, published by the Moscow committee, 1906; and Lenin, The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution [Draft Platform of the Proletarian Party], published by Priboi, St. Petersburg, September 1917). Many books, pamphlets, and leaflets were issued on problems of Party life, Party construction, the Party program and rules, the intra-Party struggle (for example, Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Geneva, Social Democratic Party printing house, 1904; V. Orlovskii [Vorovskii] Advice Against the Party, Geneva, Social Democratic Party Literature Publishing House of V. Bonch-Bruevich and N. Lenin, 1904), and the exposure of opportunism. Also issued were historical research, chronicles of revolutionary events, speeches by workers, reminiscences of revolutionaries, reference works, catalogs of Party publishers, calendars for workers, and instructions on street-fighting methods and the use of weapons (for example, A Catalogue of the Publications of G. A. Kuklin and the Social Democratic Organization “Life” [1902–1904], Geneva, 1905; V. Severtsov, The Application of Tactics and Fortification to Popular Revolt, Geneva, Central Committee of the RSDLP, 1905), and so forth.

The Bolshevik press published documents of the leading bodies of the Party, local organizations, general Party and regional congresses, conferences, and meetings, as well as notices, announcements, resolutions, and minutes (for example, The Second Regular Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party: Full Text of Minutes, Central Committee, Geneva, 1903; The First Conference of the Transbaikal Area, Chita, 1906). The Bolshevik press also published general Party reports (for example, The Report of the Delegation of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party to the Amsterdam International Socialist Congress, Geneva, RSDLP, 1904), reports of individual organizations abroad and in Russia (for example, The Report on the Activities of the Ekaterinoslav Committee of the RSDLP for September 1904, Ekaterinoslav Committee of the RSDLP, 1904), monetary reports, reports on propaganda and agitation, and so forth.

Central and local Party organs published the Program and Rules of the RSDLP several times. The Bolshevik press issued educational programs for workers in Marxist circles and materials on mass organizations of working people, such as the statutes of trade unions, documents of their congresses and meetings, and materials on peasants’ organizations. Documents of political trials were issued (for example, The Indictment in the Zlatoust Case, Geneva, Iskra printing house, 1903). Secret documents of various bodies of state power that fell into the Social Democrats’ hands were made public.

The range of authors of sociopolitical literature published by the Bolsheviks was wide. A large part of Lenin’s works was issued in the pre-October Revolution period. Translations of the works of a number of Western European Marxists were published: A. Bebel, J. Longuet, W. Liebknecht, R. Luxemburg, K. Kautsky, F. Mehring, C. Zetkin, and others. Also published were works by the Social Democrats of Russia, including P. B. Aksel’rod andG. V. Plekhanov, and works by members of the Bolshevik Party, including I. V. Babushkin, N. E. Bauman, A. N. Vinokurov, V. V. Vorovskii, F. E. Dzerzhinskii, L. B. Krasin, N. K. Krupskaia, V. K. Kurnatovskii, A. V. Lunacharskii, M. N. Liadov, la. M. Sverdlov, J. V. Stalin, M. V. Frunze, and S. G. Shaumian. Unfortunately, the authorship of a number of works to this day has not been established, since this literature (especially leaflets) came out primarily on an anonymous basis or under pseudonyms.

Bolshevik organizations also systematically published fiction with accusatory and revolutionary content; such as novellas, stories, essays, plays, satirical tales, and revolutionary poems. A number of works by L. N. Tolstoy, M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin, M. Gorky, V. V. Veresaev, L. N. Andreev, V. G. Korolenko.G. Hauptmann, W. K. Küchel-becker, and others were printed. Folk songs and revolutionary songs were issued in pamphlets and leaflets (for example, Four Marseillaises, RSDLP, Barnaul group, 1905; Songs of Labor, Rybinsk group publisher and printing house, 1905; and Songs of Revolution, Moscow committee publisher and printing house, 1905). The Bolshevik press also published portraits of prominent individual figures in the Western revolutionary and social democratic movement and of some Russian revolutionaries (Marx, G. V. Plekhanov, A. I. Herzen, P. P. Shmidt, and others), as well as political cartoons.

The publishing activity of the Bolsheviks was preceded by the work of Russian revolutionaries and progressive figures in the publication of Marxist literature. Between 1882 and 1884, Moscow’s Society of Translators and Publishers issued a number of works by Marx, Engels, Plekhanov, W. Liebknecht, and others. In 1883 the Plekhanov group, Emancipation of Labor, began to publish systematically the series The Library of Modern Socialism and The Workers’ Library and the collection Social Democrat. In the 1880’s and early 1890’s books, pamphlets, and leaflets were printed by the first Marxist organizations: in St. Petersburg, by D. Blagoev’s Party of Russian Social Democrats and M. I. Brusnev’s group; in Kazan, by N. E. Fedoseev’s group; in Moscow, by the group of A. N. Vinokurov, S. I. Mitskevich, and M. N. Liadov, by the Moscow Workers’ Alliance, and others. The Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, founded by Lenin in St. Petersburg, put out a number of pamphlets and 79 leaflets. This literature was a new type of uncensored workers’ press. Books, pamphlets, and leaflets were also issued by unions of struggle (the Moscow and Northern) and social democratic organizations in Kiev, Ekaterinoslav, and elsewhere.

To publish revolutionary literature, Russian Marxists sometimes resorted to help from Russia’s progressive publishers. The publishing house of P. P. Soikin issued a collection including Lenin’s work “The Economic Content of Populism and Criticism of It in Mr. Struve’s Book” (1895), and M.I. Vodovozova’s publishing house put out a work by Vladimir Il’in (Lenin), The Development of Capitalism in Russia: The Process of the Formation of a Domestic Market for Large-Scale Industry (St. Petersburg, 1899). M. A. Malykh’s publishing house printed certain works by the founders of Marxism-Leninism and pamphlets by Western and Russian Marxists (for example, works by A. Bebel, W. Liebknecht, and N. K. Krupskaia).

The printing of Marxist mass agitational and Party literature abroad for illegal transportation into Russia expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was published by the Union of Russian Social Democrats (founded in 1894) and the Emancipation of Labor group. On Lenin’s initiative, the two organizations also published six issues of the collection Rabotnik. The Union of Russian Social Democrats printed 22 quires in 1895, 36.5 quires in 1897, and 41.5 quires in 1898. In 1901 the Foreign League of Russian Revolutionary Social Democracy was founded. It published the Workers’ Library and The Library of Modern Socialism. Publishing activity was developed by G. A. Kuklin and the social democratic organization Zhizn’ (Life; founded in 1900). From 1902 to 1904 they published series of books and pamphlets: The Library of Life (20 titles), The Library of the Russian Proletarian (43 titles), and a number of collections and books by individual authors.

The publishing work of the Bolshevik Party began at the time of the Party’s formation (1903). Under conditions of the Mensheviks’ disorganizing activities and according to Lenin’s proposal, the independent Bolshevik Publishing House of Vladimir Bonch-Bruevich was organized in Geneva in 1904. It was later renamed the Social Democratic Party Literature Publishing House of V. Bonch-Bruevich and N. Lenin. It devoted particular attention to the exposure of Menshevism, the struggle for a new type of revolutionary Marxist party, and “the defense of the fundamental positions of the majority of the Second Party Congress” (“Statement” of the publishing house, signed by V. Bonch-Bruevich and N. Lenin). Lenin drew up the plan of publications, looked over and selected manuscripts, and chose authors. The publishing house established ties with a number of Bolshevik organizations in Russia.

The Bolsheviks gave systematic attention to the printing of books, pamphlets, and leaflets. The Second Congress of the RSDLP adopted a special decision, “On Party Literature” (see KPSS v resoliutsiiakh . . . , 7th ed., part 1, 1954, p. 54). The Third Congress directed the Party’s Central Committee to “concern itself with the publication of propaganda and agitation literature” (KPSS v resoliutsiiakh 7th ed., part 1, 1954, p. 84).

Beginning in summer 1905 the printing of Marxist literature in Russia itself intensified. Formerly under a strict ban, Marxist literature began to be printed by private publishers. Some of them, such as E. Miagkov’s Kolokol Publishing House and O. N. Popova’s Molot Publishing House, published the literature of different parties. The Znanie Publishing House, in which Gorky and a number of Bolshevik writers collaborated, issued a series of Marxist pamphlets (59 titles) in The Inexpensive Library in 1905–06. In summer 1905 in Odessa the first legal Bolshevik publishing house, the Utro Publishing House, appeared; at the end of 1905 it was transferred to St. Petersburg, where it became the Bolsheviks’ Vpered Publishing House. In 1905, V. D. Bonch-Bruevich founded the Nasha Mysl’ Publishing House, and in May 1906, on his initiative, which was endorsed by Lenin, a new Bolshevik Vpered Publishing House was founded in St. Petersburg. It was closed by the police in 1907. Individual pamphlets that were threatened with confiscation were published under the trademarks of fictitious publishing houses—Novaia Volna, Vtoraia Duma, and other trademarks. From 1907 until summer 1908 the Zerno Publishing House of the Bolshevik M. S. Kedrov operated in St. Petersburg. In 1907 it began publication of a three-volume collection of works by Lenin under the title For 12 Years. Only the first volume (autumn 1907) and part 1 of the second volume (early 1908) were issued. During the years of reaction Bolshevik literature was printed mostly abroad.

In 1913 the Poronin Conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP wrote in a resolution, “We call the attention of Party publishing houses to the extreme necessity for wide publication of popular pamphlets on problems of social democratic agitation and propaganda” (KPSS v resoliutsiiakh . . . , 17th ed., vol. 1, 1954, p. 312).

In 1908, on the eve of a new revolutionary upsurge, on the initiative of V. D. and V. M. Bonch-Bruevich, the legal Party Zhizn’ i Znanie Publishing House was founded in St. Petersburg. In November 1912 the legal Party Priboi Publishing House, which specialized in mass workers’ literature, was organized; in January 1913 it began to publish books. In 1913 the Priboi Publishing House issued The Worker’s Companion, a popular manual for workers. This publishing house was closed by the police at the beginning of World War I. During the war the publication of literature declined sharply. Primarily leaflets, and rarely pamphlets, were published.

In the period of the preparation and carrying out of the socialist revolution in Russia (February-October 1917) the Bolsheviks’ publishing activity increased greatly. After the February Revolution of 1917 the Zhizn’ i Znanie Publishing House and the Priboi Publishing House resumed their work in Petrograd. Also founded were the publishing houses called Volna (Moscow), Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (Kiev), Proletarii (Kharkov), Zvezda (Ekaterinoslav), Donetskii Proletarii (Lugansk), and many others in a number of cities in the country.

In the pre-October Revolution period uncensored Party literature was also published in the underground printing houses of Russia. Local organizations issued leaflets and pamphlets, using primitive printing equipment: typewriters, hectographs, mimeographs, shapirographs, and so forth. Literature was published in many languages of the peoples of Russia. The Bolsheviks’ active publishing work played a great role in the consolidation of the Party’s forces, promoted the growth of its influence on the masses, and ensured the Party’s leadership of the revolutionary movement.

The traditions of the Bolshevik press and its experience in leading the masses and mobilizing them to carry out the tasks set by the Party are being continued by the Party press and Soviet press.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. O pechati (collection). Moscow, 1963.
Lenin, V. I. O pechati. Moscow, 1959.
KPSS v rezoliutsiakh i resheniiakh s’ ’ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 7th ed., part 1. Moscow, 1954. Pages 17–21, 47–48, 54, 83–86, 205, 209, 230, 239–40, 284, 2%, 311–12, 330–31, 364–65.
Istoriia KPSS, vols. 1–3 (book 1). Moscow, 1964–67.
Bol’shevistskaia pechat’: Sb. materialov, issues 1–4. Moscow, 1959–61.
Bol’shevistskaia pechat’: Kratkie ocherki istorii, 1894–1917. Moscow, 1962.
Bol’shevistskaia pechat’ v dooktiabr’skii period: Sb. st. Moscow, 1959.
Iz istorii mestnoi bol’shevistskoi pechati: Sb. st. Moscow, 1961.
Voprosy teorii i istorii zhurnalistiki. Leningrad, 1960.
Zhdanovskaia, Z. V. “Literatura o dooktiabr’skoi bol’shevistskoipechati (Bibliograficheskii obzor).” Vestnik MGU, series 7, 1965, no. 3.
Bol’shevistskaia periodicheskaia pechat’ (dek. 1900-okt. 1917): Bibliographicheskii u kazatel’. Moscow, 1964.
“U istokov partii: Materialy o sotsial-demokraticheskikh organizatsiiakh v Rossii nakanune II c”ezda RSDRP.” Voprosy istorii KPSS, 1963, nos. 3, 9, 10, 12; 1964, nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.
Literatura Moskovskogo rabochego soiuza: Materialy i dokumenty. Moscow, 1930.
Listovki bol’shevistskikh organizatsii v pervoi russkoi revoliutsii 1905–1907 gg, parts 1–3. Moscow, 1956.
Barenbaum, I. E. “Izdatel’skaia deiatel’nost’ marksistskikh revoliutsionnykh organizatsii.” In 400 let russkogo knigopechataniia, 1564–1964. Moscow, 1964.
Barenbaum, I. E. “Knigoizdatel’stvo v Peterburge 1895–1917gg.” In 400 let russkogo knigopechataniia: 1564–1964. Moscow, 1964.
Kalekina, O. P. Ocherki po istorii izdaniia marksistskoi literatury v Rossii (1870–1917). Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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