17/4/1917 Lenin delivers his April Theses, denouncing the Provisional Government

Bolshevik leader Lenin returned to Russia yesterday. Today he addresses a joint meeting of the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of the Social Democrats.

The Mensheviks and most of the Bolsheviks support the Provisional Government, believing that Russia needs to go through a period of bourgeois democracy before it can progress to socialism. Lenin however rubbishes such views. He sees the recent revolution as a beginning rather than an end. Socialists should not support the Provisional Government or any attempt to establish a parliamentary democracy in Russia. Instead they should work to establish proletarian rule through the medium of the soviets that have sprung up across the country. He also calls for an end to the war and for radical land reform.

Lenin’s deliberately provocative argument causes uproar, dashing any chance of a rapprochement between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. Many of Lenin’s Bolshevik colleagues think that he has taken leave of his senses, seeing the Bolsheviks as too small to spearhead a push for socialist revolution. But Lenin is confident that the force of his personality will bring the rest of the Bolsheviks with him. And in his argument, which becomes known as his April Theses, he is successfully positioning the Bolsheviks as the leaders of the left opposition to the Provisional Government.

see also: the text of Lenin’s speech, as subsequently published in Pravda

image source: Lenin delivers his April Theses (GlobalSecurity.org)

2 thoughts on “17/4/1917 Lenin delivers his April Theses, denouncing the Provisional Government

  1. I’ve long believed that much of the history of the 20th century, can be traced back to the “Great War”. I wonder how differently it would have turned out, had this man remained in exile in Zurich.

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    • It’s hard to see how he could have remained in Zurich, as the advantages to the Germans of sending him home are too strong for them to miss. If he had remained in Zurich (or died, or been assassinated early, or whatever) then I reckon the Provisional Government would still have fallen and Russia dropped out of the war anyway, just maybe a bit later. The situation post the fall of the Provisional Government is harder to predict. The Bolsheviks might never have taken over or been less hardcore without Lenin at the helm. It’s hard to tell.

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