1. What were Lenin’s political ideas?
2. What were the April Theses?
3. What impact did Lenin’s return have on the Russian
• When the Feb rev happened, Lenin was in
exile in Switzerland.
• He was determined to return to Russia by
any means when he heard of the
• In the end he accepted transportation from
the German government to return to
Russia, via Germany and Sweden
• Lenin’s return April 1917 was to TRANSFORM
the political situation in Russia.
• Of all the politicians in Russian History from
1881-1924, Lenin had the clearest vision of what
he wanted to achieve.
• His ambition was nothing short of A COMPLETE
• Without Lenin, there would have been no Oct
Rev and no communist Russia.
• Committed follower of Marxism
• Marxist ideas suggested that History would
follow a pre-determined path through clearly
defined stages.
• By the 19C, most of Europe had entered into
what Marx called the Bourgeois, capitalist
stage of development, where society divided
into the industrial workers (the proletariat) and
the owners of production (bourgeoisie).
• This stage would be replaced by the creation of
a socialist society based on equality.
• But Russia was far from this stage as it was 80%
peasants… so how could Russia become a
socialist society in Lenin’s lifetime?
• Lenin found a solution – he said;
Instead of the industrial class leading a
socialist revolution, this role would be
taken by a small disciplined party of
professional revolutionaries, a
‘vanguard’ party at the head of the
• (Remember his views had split the SDs
into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks)
• Lenin faced many problems
• Much of the Bolshevik leadership lived outside of
• Within Russia, the Bolsheviks were an illegal
• 1905 revolution had come as a surprise
(bolsheviks only played a minor role)
• In 1914, Lenin welcomed the outbreak of WW1,
hoping social and economic demands of the war
would cause socialist revolution across Europe.
• What is to be done? 1902
-advocated the creation of a disciplined party of
professional revolutionaries to lead the socialist
• Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
-Lenin believed capitalism led to the creation of large
monopolies which dominated industry. These groups in
order to gain more economic power would force the
government to resort to war. To Lenin, this marked the
beginning of the end of Capitalism as socialist revolution
would break out in the weakest, not the strongest of
• He returns on a train travelling across
Germany (permission from German gov)
• Placed on a ‘sealed train’ with other
• His arrival back in Petrograd had been
publicised in advance and a large crowd
awaited with expectation of his return.
• What he said came as a bombshell!
• Lenin delivered a 90min speech where he
condemned the PG and demanded an
immediate Social Revolution (this shocked as
just two months earlier the Bolsheviks had
greeted the Feb Rev with enthusiasm)
• His ideas were later published by the
Bolshevik newspaper, PRAVDA (truth) as the
• The war is a greedy war and should be ended immediately
• The revolution is to move to its second stage, which must place
power in the hands of the proletariat and poor peasants
• No support for the Provisional government
• The masses must be made to see that the Soviet is the only
possible form of revolutionary government.
• Abolition of the Police, Army, bureaucracy. The salaries of
all officials should not exceed the average wage of a worker
• Confiscation of all landed estates from landowners and
• Mass Propaganda to win over the poor peasants and workers
• The immediate union of all banks into a single national bank
• All production of goods to come under Soviet control
• An international organisation to be set up to spread
revolution worldwide
• Lenin rewrote Marx’s ideas so they fit in
with Russia. He believed a bourgeois
revolution (like the feb rev) could be
followed by a socialist revolution.
• This ran counter to the views of current
Bolshevik leaders so Lenin’s first task was
to win over the Bolshevies to his view!!
• Lenin exploited the fact the war was very
unpopular to gain support.
• He said there was no opportunity for the
Bolsheviks to participate in the PG.
• He felt political power should be handed
over to the Soviets.
= designed to gain support for the Bols and to
undermine the PG!
-Peace, Land and Bread – popular messages in a
country exhausted by war, with food shortages
=it highlighted the PG’s unpopular support for
the war, and showed their inability to address
the land and food problems
• ‘All power to the Soviets’ – played on the
feeling amongst workers and peasants
that the PG was made entirely of
landowners/middle class
• Lenin suggested a new international
organisation be formed… which would
help lead to worldwide socialist revolution.
• Lenin was the party’s CREATOR and main
political thinker… Lenin had enormous
• April – he made his first bid for power… only a
small number of demonstrators turned up
• June – Bolsheviks tried again. They tried to
exploit unpopularity of the June Offensive…
but failed to win enough support
• Although his early attempts
to seize power failed… Lenin
continued to be a thorn in
the side of the Provisional
• For the rest of 1917 – Lenin
looked for opportunities to
increase Bolshevik support
and oust the PG
TASK: (use p59-62)
Answer these questions;
What were Lenin’s political ideas?
What were the April Theses?
What were Lenin’s slogans and why?
What impact did Lenin’s return have on
the Russian revolution?