Lenin’s approach to freedom of assembly: restaurants, tea-rooms, beer-halls and shooting galleries

After the 1905 revolution, the tsar granted limited freedom of assembly, speech and the press. So Lenin, knowing full well the advantages of this new situation for socialist organisation, proposes the following:

It is high time, furthermore, to take steps to establish local economic strong points, so to speak, for the workers’ Social-Democratic organisations – in the form of restaurants, tea-rooms, beer-halls, libraries, reading-rooms, shooting galleries, etc., etc., maintained by Party members (Collected Works 10, p. 35).

Makes you want to ask where the socialist restaurants, tea-rooms, beer-halls are today. Are we missing something? Of course, shooting galleries had another purpose, as he points out in a footnote:

I do not know the Russian equivalent of tir [French], by which I mean a place for target practice, where there is a supply of all kinds of fire-arms and where anyone may for a small fee practise shooting at a target with a revolver or rifle. Freedom of assembly and association has been proclaimed in Russia. Citizens have the right to assemble and to learn bow to shoot; this can present no danger to anyone. In any big European city you will find such shooting galleries open to all, situated in basements, sometimes outside the city, etc. And it is very far from useless for the workers to learn how to shoot and how to handle arms.

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8 thoughts on “Lenin’s approach to freedom of assembly: restaurants, tea-rooms, beer-halls and shooting galleries

  1. “Makes you want to ask where the socialist restaurants, tea-rooms, beer-halls are today. Are we missing something?”

    Since you ask, yes, you are.

    In Deptford, Lewisham, (London SE14 6TA) there is the ‘Come the Revolution Cafe’

    http://www.cometherevolution.org.uk/ check the picture

    ‘Come The Revolution’ is a really fantastic cafe with tasty food, free Wi-Fi, book exchange and political meetings are held there. It makes a difference, and is more than just a cafe. Hope to see you there soon.

    Lewisham People Before Profit

    The cafe is a few yards from Deptford Bridge, the site of the ford mentioned in the Canterbury Tales:

    Sey forth thy tale, and tarie nat the tyme.
    Lo Depeford, and it is half-wey pryme.
    Lo Grenewych, ther many a shrewe is inne!
    It were al tyme thy tale to bigynne.”

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