On April 3, 1917, Vladimir Lenin returned from exile to Petrograd and, upon arriving, the leader of the Russian revolution prepared the famous “April Theses”, which had three central pillars to direct the revolutionary process: “Peace, Land and Bread”.

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The slogans called for Russia’s exit from the First World War, the implementation of agrarian reform and the end of hunger in the country. The movement was marked as an important impulse to overthrow the provisional government and unite workers for a socialist revolution.

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After disembarking at Finland Station in Petrograd, the current Saint Petersburg, where he was returning after his nine-year exile outside Russia, Lenin was received with euphoria by a guard of honor, soldiers, workers and members of the Petrograd Soviet. The country was experiencing the atmosphere of the first months after the February Revolution, which overthrew Tsar Nicholas II and established the provisional government, a coalition of liberal and moderate socialists.

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However, the apogee of the Russian Revolution would only happen in October of that year, based on the popular will and the legitimization of the Bolsheviks’ authority. Hence the crucial importance of the events of April 1917, which represented a turning point in the Russian Revolution.

In an interview with Brazil in facthistorian Alexander Reznik, researcher at the High School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, comments that today there is a certain “consensus among historians” that the February and October revolutions are stages of a single process of the great Russian Revolution.

“It is clear that the February revolution was another classic revolt, with a spontaneous profile, which had an anti-monarchical character, in which the main role, in political relations, was that of the moderate socialists, and not the Bolsheviks. But, from the development of the revolutionary process in Russia, which was associated with the unwillingness of the ruling elites to resolve fundamental issues, such as peace, the land question, and, let’s say, a political issue, with the constant postponement of the convening of a constituent assembly , there is a gradual radicalization of the social base”, he explains.

::100 years since Lenin’s death: what is the legacy of the leader of the Russian Revolution? ::

Shortly after his return to Russia, Lenin gave his first speech in the Finland Station square, which is now named after him and where there is a statue that marks this historic moment. His first words to the workers and comrades present set the tone for the revolutionary process that Lenin would lead from then on.

In an archive image from Leningrad state television, a worker and member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Vassily Petrovich Vinagradov, who witnessed Lenin’s arrival in Petrograd, recalls the revolutionary leader’s words upon disembarking at Finland Station.

“[Vladimir Lenin] said that we must move to the next stage of the struggle for socialist Russia. And he ended his speech to euphoric applause from the comrades present: ‘Long live the socialist revolution throughout the world!’, he recalls.

History tells us that, upon arriving from forced exile together with other Bolshevik comrades, Lenin was faced with the reality that his party colleagues, included in the Petrograd Council of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies (Petrosovet), were willing to cooperate with the Provisional Government, led by Alexander Kerensky. In the opposite direction, Lenin believed that it was necessary to move to the “proletarian phase of the revolution”.

Monument in honor of the revolutionary leader, Vladimir Lenin, in front of Finland Station, in Saint Petersburg / Serguei Monin / Brasil de Fato

According to the Russian leader, the February Revolution gave nothing to the people and power was in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Lenin’s call was for a seizure of power in the interests of the proletariat and the peasantry, as well as the immediate end of the country’s participation in the First World War.

Thus, Lenin presents his main ideas in a speech to the workers and, the following day, he elaborates and presents what was later called the “April Theses”, in which Lenin sets out the guidelines for the Russian revolutionary process. This moment was decisive in radicalizing the movement, establishing the legitimacy of the Bolsheviks among the population and giving impetus to overthrowing the provisional government towards a socialist revolution.

According to historian Reznik, the elaboration of the April Theses emerged in the context of a demand for conciliatory national unity, which existed in society after the February Revolution. This demand for “conciliation” came from the different political parties who wanted to “smooth out all class differences”. Lenin is radically against this conciliation, stating “there could be no concessions to the provisional government, the liberals and the bourgeoisie, and the socialists should make their choice towards the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’”.

The April Theses were based on three pillars: “Peace, Land and Bread”. “Peace” represented the demand for Russia’s exit from the First World War; “Land”, the defense of agrarian reform; and “Bread”, the fight for food for the entire population.

In this project, Lenin called for overcoming the bourgeois regime of the provisional government and defended the handover of power into the hands of the proletariat and the poorest layers of the peasantry, represented by the Soviets, the popular councils.

“1) It is impossible to end the war with a truly democratic and non-violent peace without the overthrow of capital; 2) The transition from the first phase of the revolution, which gave power to the bourgeoisie due to the insufficient consciousness and organization of the proletariat, to its second phase, which should hand power into the hands of the proletariat and the poorest layers of the peasantry”, say the first provisions of the April Theses.

Also in April, the conference of the All-Russian Bolshevik Party was held, which determined the party line in the new historical situation, in accordance with the “Theses”. In particular, the resolution on the agrarian question demanded the immediate confiscation of landowners’ lands and their transfer to the peasant and agricultural labor committees, as well as the nationalization of all land in the country.

“Lenin then formulated during this period the famous slogan ‘All power to the soviets!’. In other words, the question is not that one of the parties should take power […] he said that Russia was going through a historical moment, in which the most democratic way of overcoming bourgeois law, the bourgeois State, emerged ‘from below’, that the soviets were a popular power, because they were built from the bottom up and would be built on the principle of evaluating deputies on a permanent basis, that is, it was an organic structure”, explains Reznik.

The historian highlights that at this time, Lenin’s insistence is that “peasants learn to be subjects of political power”.

“This is very important. In all his statements, all his activity at this moment, is not aimed at a dictatorship ‘from above’. He says that without a self-management organization ‘from below’ no dictatorship can sustain itself. Or In other words, the dictatorship of the proletariat, in his view, was a form of workers’ democracy. He saw it that way”, he adds.

“Not a parliamentary republic, but one of Soviets of workers, agricultural workers and peasant deputies throughout the country, from bottom to top. Elimination of the police, the army, the bureaucracy”, says another excerpt from Lenin’s theses.

The April Theses faced a lot of resistance in the party ranks at that first moment, but after intense discussions about the direction of the points presented, Vladimir Lenin and his supporters turned the tide in favor of the Bolsheviks and the “April Theses” were supported at the Bolshevik conference throughout the city of Petrograd, held from April 14 to April 22, 1917. Based on the results of Lenin’s report on the situation and on the basis of the “April Theses”, resolutions were drawn up on the attitude towards the Provisional Government and the war.

The theoretical seeds planted in April 1917 determined the revolutionary process of the next few months to the extent that this process sealed the refusal of concessions to the provisional government and the moderate socialists. And so, the “April Theses” represented not only a theoretical path to overturn the interests of the provisional government, but they determined the practice, the application of policies in Russia, after the triumph of the Bolsheviks in October.

The following years would be very turbulent for Russia, immediately plunging the country into a civil war, provoked by counter-revolutionary forces supported by Western powers. And later, after Lenin’s death, the Stalin era came into play, the period of great repressions, the Second World War and its tragedies, etc. What is indisputable is that the month of April 1917 changed the course of the entire 20th century, in Russia and the world.

What is the echo of the Revolution in Russia today?

The triumph of Lenin and the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution determined the course of history, but the echo of the revolution and Lenin’s importance in today’s Russia is largely muted in politics. According to historian Alexander Reznik, Russian political elites give history a “purely instrumental character.”

“History, for our elites, has a purely instrumental character, using it exclusively to legitimize their actions. The content of history doesn’t matter at all”, he explains.

According to him, the revolutionary process that took place in 1917 is marginalized to the detriment of the idea of ​​State strength, more represented by the Stalin period, and the consequences of the Second World War. “Because there is a sacred theme, which is the Great Patriotic War (as the Second World War is called in Russia), this is our theme”, says Reznik, commenting on the process of silencing the October Revolution.

“In Russia a certain ‘anti-revolutionary’ consensus ended up developing. What sociology says is that practically all [atuais] Mainstream political parties talk about the harms of revolution. From the point of view of our elites, Russia should have been in the place of winners, among the imperialist countries, which would have received their advantages from this war [Primeira Guerra Mundial]. And from the point of view of the ruling elites, imperialism is not a bad thing, it is just a natural state”, says the researcher.

He also highlights that, at that moment, in the months leading up to the October Revolution, “the democratic possibilities that emerged among the people at the front were unprecedented.” Thus, according to him, the idea that at some point in history a popular mass determined its own destiny, that in Russia there was one of the most democratic systems in a certain period of time, “that is very unpopular”. “Because the position of our (today’s) government is that we don’t need unchecked politics,” he says.

The researcher also observes that the moment after the Bolshevik revolution, marked by the Civil War, led to the fact that the democratic component of the revolutionary period “was increasingly reduced”.

“In a civil war that came in the wake of the First World War, when people were tired of living in such difficult conditions, it is very difficult to support democratic ideas”, he adds.

Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho

Source: www.brasildefato.com.br

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