April Theses

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Vladimir Ilich Lenin's "April Theses" was one of the most influential and important documents of the Russian Revolution and Bolshevik history. The main ideas of Lenin's April Theses were first delivered in speeches immediately after his arrival in Petrograd on April 16, 1917, and then formalized in a newspaper article ("The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution") in the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda on April 20. The Theses refused any support for the Provisional Government, attacked the Petrograd soviet (council) leadership's policy of cooperation with the Provisional Government, and declared that the soviets should be the basis for a new, revolutionary government. This latter position soon aligned the Bolsheviks with popular sentiment, which by summer was demanding "all power to the soviets," that is, a government based on the soviets. The Theses also called for immediate radical social and economic reforms and for transforming the international war into civil war. Although Lenin's theses were too radical for the optimistic and cooperative mood of April, they positioned the Bolsheviks to benefit from the discontentment and disillusionment that summer and fall as the Provisional Government failed to solve the war, economic, and other issues. Lenin's April Theses also called for a Bolshevik party congress to revise the party program and to change the party name to communist. Lenin's ideas initially shocked most Bolsheviks as much as other political leaders, but Lenin soon brought the Bolshevik Party to accept them. The Theses, especially those calling for immediate passage into the next stage of revolution and a soviet-based government, significantly redefined Bolshevism.

See also: february revolution; lenin, vladimir ilich; october revolution; provisional government; soviet


Harding, Neil. (1981). Lenin's Political Thought: Theory and Practice in the Democratic Revolution. 2 vols. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Harding, Neil. (1996). Leninism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Lenin, Vladimir Ilich. (1964). "The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution." In Collected Works, vol. 24. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Service, Robert. (19851994). Lenin: A Political Life. 3 vols. London: Macmillan.

Rex A. Wade