V. I. Lenin
The April Theses 
Written in May 1901 Published in Iskra, No. 4, May 1901 From V. I.
Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Foreign Languages
Publishing House, Moscow, 1961 Vol. 5, pp. 13-24.
Eriþ Yayýnlarý tarafýndan düzenlenmiþtir.
Immediately after Lenin's arrival in
Petrograd on April 16, 1917, he
presented his ideas on the development
of the revolution (already outlined in
his letters from Switzerland), to
meetings of Social Democratic members of
the national conference of Soviets.
The document put forward by
Lenin (subsequently known as "The April
Theses") indicated the policy to be
pursued by the Bolshevik Party; together
with a more detailed statement also
written by Lenin at this time,
theses were the main material for
the April (1917) Conference of the
Bolsheviks, and guided their tactics up
to the November revolution.
The April theses are reprinted below,
and also the section of the expanded
statement which deals with changing the
name of the Party from Social
Democratic to Communist.
As I only arrived in Petrograd on the night of April 16, I could, of
course, only on my own responsibility and admittedly without sufficient
preparation render a report on April 17 on the problems of the revolutionary
The only thing I could do to facilitate matters for myself and for honest
opponents was to prepare written theses. I read them, and gave the text to
Comrade Tserteli. I read them twice, very slowly : First at the meeting of the
Bolsheviks, then at the joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.
I am publishing these personal theses, provided with very short explanatory
notes, which were developed in more detail in the report.
1. In our attitude towards the war not the smallest concession must be made to
"revolutionary defencism," for under the new government of Lvov and Co., owing
to the capitalist nature of this government, the war on Russia's part remains a
predatory imperialist war.
The class-conscious proletariat may give its consent to a revolutionary war,
actually justifying revolutionary defencism, only on condition (a) that all
power be transferred tp the proletariat and its ally, the poorest section of the
peasantry; (b) that all annexations be renounced in deeds, not merely in words;
that there be a complete break, in practice, with all interests of capital.
In view of the undoubted honesty of the mass of rank and file representatives of
revolutionary defencism who accept the war only as necessity and not as a means
of conquest, in view of their being deceived by the bourgeoisie, it is necessary
most thoroughly, persistently, patiently to explain to them their error, to
explain the inseparable connection between capital and the imperialist war, to
prove that without the overflow of capital, it is impossible to conclude the war
with a really democratic, non-oppressive peace.
This view is to be widely propagated among the army units in the field.
2. The peculiarity of the present situation in Russia is that it represents a
transition from the first stage of the revolution, which, because of the
inadequate organisation and insufficient class-consciousness of the proletariat,
led to the assumption of power by the bourgeoisie - to its second stage which is
to place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest strata of the
This transition is characterised, on the one hand, by a maximum of legality
(Russia is now the freest of all the belligerent countries of the world); on the
other, by the absence of oppression of the masses, and, finally, by the
trustingly ignorant attitude of the masses toward the capitalist government, the
worst enemy of peace and Socialism.
This peculiar situation demands of us an ability to adapt ourselves to specific
conditions of party work amidst vast masses of the proletariat just awakened to
3. No support to the Provisional Government; exposure of the utter falsity of
all its premises, particularly those relating to the renunciation of
annexations. Unmasking, instead of admitting, the illusion-breeding "demand"
that this government, a government of capitalists, cease being imperialistic.
4. Recognition of the fact that in most of the Soviets of Workers' Deputies our
party constitutes a minority, and a small one at that, in the face of the bloc
of all the petty-bourgeois elements from the People's Socialists, the
Socialists-Revolutionists down to the Organisation Committee (Chkheidze,
Tserteli, etc., Steklov, etc., etc.) Who have yielded to the influence of the
bourgeoisie and have been extending this influence to the proletariat as well.
It must be explained to the masses that the Soviet of Workers' Deputies is the
only possible form of revolutionary government and, therefore, our task is,
while this government is submitting to the influence of the bourgeoisie, to
present a patient, systematic, and persistent analysis of its errors and
tactics, an analysis especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.
While we are in the minority, we carry on the work of criticism and of exposing
errors, advocating all along the necessity of transferring the entire power of
state to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies, so that the masses might learn from
experience how to rid themselves of errors.
5. Not a parliamentary republic - a return to it from the Soviet of Workers'
Deputies would be a step backward - but a republic of Soviets of Workers',
Agricultural Labourers' and Peasants' Deputies, throughout the land, from top to
Abolition of the police, the army, the bureaucracy.
All officers to be elected and to be subject to recall at any time, their
salaries not to exceed the average wage of a competent worker.
6. In the agrarian programme, the emphasis must be shifted to the Soviets of
Agricultural Labourers' and Peasants' Deputies. A separate organisation of
Soviets of Deputies of the poorest peasants. Creation of model agricultural
establishments out of large estates (from 100 to 300 desiatinas, in accordance
with local and other conditions and with the estimates of local institutions)
under the control of the Soviet of Agricultural Labourers' Deputies, and at
7. Immediate merger of all the banks in the country into one general national
bank, over which the Soviet of Workers' Deputies should have control.
8. Not the "introduction" of Socialism as an immediate task, but the immediate
placing of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies in control of social production and
distribution of goods.
9. Party tasks:
A. Immediate calling of a party convention.
B. Changing the party programme, mainly:
(1) Concerning imperialism and the imperialist war.
C. Changing the name of the party.
(2) Concerning our attitude toward the state and our demand for a "commune
(3) Amending our antiquated minimum programme.
10. Rebuilding the International.
Taking the initiative in the creation of a revolutionary International, an
International against the social-chauvinists and against the "centre."
A NAME FOR OUR PARTY WHICH WOULD BE SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND AND CONDUCIVE
TO PROLETARIAN CLASS THINKING
I am coming to the last point, the name of our party. We must call ourselves the
Communist Party - just as Marx and Engels called themselves Communists.
We must insist that we are Marxists and that we have as a basis The
Communist Manifesto, which has been perverted and betrayed by the
Social-Democracy on two important points: (1) The workers have no country;
"national defence" in an imperialist war is a betrayal of Socialism; (2) Marx's
teaching about the state has been perverted by the Second International.
The term "Social-Democracy" is unscientific, as Marx showed repeatedly,
particularly in the
Critique of the Gotha Programme, in 1875, and
as Engels restated in a more popular form, in 1894. Mankind can pass directly
from capitalism only into Socialism, i.e., into social ownership of the means of
production and the distribution of products according to the work of the
individual. Our party looks farther ahead than that: Socialism is bound sooner
or later to ripen into Communism, whose banner bears the motto: "From each
according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
That is the first reason.
Here is my second: The second part of the term "Social-Democracy" is
scientifically wrong. Democracy is only a form of state, while we Marxists are
opposed to every form of state.
The leaders of the Second International (1889-1914), Messrs. Plekhanov, Kautsky
and their ilk, perverted and debased Marxism.
The difference between Marxism and Anarchism is that Marxism admits the
necessity of the state during the transition from capitalism to Socialism; but
(and here is where we differ from Kautsky and Co.) Not the kind of state found
in the usual, parliamentary, bourgeois, democratic republic, but rather
something like the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Soviets of Workers' Deputies of
1905 and 1917.
There is a third reason: Life and the revolution have already established here
in a concrete way (although in a form which is still weak and embryonic), this
new type of "state", though it is not really a state in the proper sense of the
It is now a question of the action of the masses and not merely the theories of
Essentially the state is the power exercises over the masses by a group of
armed men separated from the people.
Our new state, which is now in process of being born, is also a real state, for
we, too, need detachments of armed men; we, too, need the strictest order, and
the ruthless crushing of all attempts at a tsarist as well as a
But our forming, new state is not yet a state in the proper sense of the word,
for detachments of armed men found in many parts of Russia are really the masses
themselves, the people, and not simply privileged individuals, practically
unremovable, placed above and separated from the people.
We ought to look forward, not backward; we ought to look away from the usual
bourgeois type of democracy which has been strengthening the domination of the
bourgeoisie by the means of the old, monarchistic organs of government - the
police, the army, and the bureaucracy.
We must look forward to the advent of the newly born democracy, which is already
ceasing to be a democracy, for democracy means the people's rule, while,
obviously, an armed people could not rule over itself.
The word democracy is not only not scientific when applied to the Communist
Party, but, since March 1917, it has simply become a blinker placed upon the
eyes of the revolutionary people, preventing the latter from establishing
boldly, freely, and on its own initiative a new form of power: the Soviets of
Workers', Soldiers, etc., Deputies, as the sole power in the state and as the
harbinger of the "withering away" of the state as such.
There is a fourth reason: We must take into account the objective international
condition of Socialism.
Its condition is no longer what it was between the years 1871 and 1914, when
Marx and Engels consciously allowed the inaccurate, opportunist term
"Social-Democracy." For history proved that what was most needed in those days,
i.e., right after the defeat of the Paris Commune, was slow work of organisation
and enlightenment. Nothing else was possible. The Anarchists were then, as they
are now, theoretically, economically, and politically wrong. The Anarchists made
a wrong estimate of the time, for they did not understand the world situation:
the worker of England corrupted by imperialist profits; the Paris Commune
destroyed; the bourgeois-national movement in Germany flushed with recent
victory; and the semi-feudal Russia still sleeping the sleep of centuries.
Marx and Engels gauged the hour accurately; they understood the international
situation; they realised the need of a slow approach toward the beginning of the
We, in turn, must understand the peculiarities and the tasks of the new epoch.
Let us not imitate the woe-Marxians of whom Marx himself said: "I sowed dragons
and I reaped fleas."
The objective needs of capitalism which has grown into imperialism have brought
forth the imperialist war. This war has brought mankind to the brink of a
precipice, to the destruction of civilisation, the ruin and brutalisation of
countless millions of human beings.
There is no other way out, except a proletarian revolution.
And just when that revolution is beginning, when it is taking its first awkward,
timid, weak, unconscious steps, when it is still trusting the bourgeoisie, at
that moment the majority (it is a truth, it is a fact) of the
Socialist-Democratic leaders, of the Social-Democratic parliamentarians, of the
Social-Democratic papers, in a word, all those who could spur the masses to
action, or at least the majority of them, are betraying Socialism, are selling
Socialism, are going to fight the battles of their national bourgeoisie.
The masses are distracted, baffled, deceived by their leaders.
And should we aid and abet that deception by retaining the old and worn-out
party name, which is as decayed as the Second International?
It may be that many workers understand the meaning of Social-Democracy honestly.
It is high time that we learn to distinguish between the objective and the
Subsequently, these workers, who are Social-Democrats, are the most loyal
leaders of the proletarian masses.
Objectively, however, the world situation is such that the old name of our party
helps to fool the masses and retard their onward march. Every day, in every
paper, in every parliamentary group, the masses see leaders, i.e., people whose
voice carries far, whose acts are very much in evidence, who also call
themselves Social-Democrats, who are "for unity" with the betrayers of
Socialism, the social-chauvinists, and who are trying to collect on the notes
issued bu Social-Democracy....
Are there any reasons against the new name? We are told that one may confuse us
with the Anarchists-Communists.
Why are we not afraid of being confuse with the Social-Nationalists, the
Social-Liberals, the Radical-Socialists, the foremost, the most adroit bourgeois
party in the French Republic at deceiving the masses? We are told: "The masses
have grown used to the name, the workers have learned to love their
That is the only reason, but this reason goes counter to the teachings of
Marxism, disregards the revolutionary tasks of to-morrow, the objective position
of Socialism the world over, the shameful breakdown of the Second International,
and the injury done to the cause by the pack of "also Social-Democrats"
surrounding the proletarians.
This reason is based solely on laziness, somnolence, and love of routine.
We want to rebuild the world. We want to end this imperialist World War in which
hundreds of millions of people are involved and billions of dollars are
invested, a war which cannot be ended in a truly democratic way without the
greatest proletarian revolution in history.
And here we are, afraid of our own shadow. Here we are, keeping on our backs the
same old soiled shirt....
It is high time to cast off the soiled shirt, it is high time to put on clean