Lenin arrived in Petrograd from political exile in Switzerland on April 3 (16), 1917. In the Bolshevik organ of Pravda on April 7 (20), 1917, he published his Bolshevik Party program for a revolutionary strategy that was to prevail until the Bolshevik seizure of political power on October 25 (November 7), 1917. Formally published as The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution, the program is popularly known as Lenin’s April Theses (henceforth referred to as the April Theses).In Thesis (1) Lenin declared that “without overthrowing capital it is impossible to end the war by a truly democratic peace, a peace not imposed by violence.” 1 This first thesis has reference to the shift in emphasis from Great Russian chauvinism as the Tsarist motivation for Russia’s participation in the war to the Kadet capitalist profits as a bourgeois partner in Anglo-French imperialist capital. In Thesis (3) Lenin added that Bolsheviks must expose the “illusion-breeding ‘demand’ that this government, a government of capitalists, should cease to be an imperialist government.” 2 From this, Lenin argued that the Provisional Revolutionary Government must be completely deposed with the call of: “All Power to the Soviets.”
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On the 7th of April 1917th, the Pravda publishes « The April Theses » by Lenin, who after 10 years exiled, undertakes his return to his homeland. With the German authorities’ help, who were at war against Russia, the revolutionary Bolshevik’s Party leader crossed by train Germany, Sweden and Finland to Saint-Petersburg. He calls the people to overthrow the provisional government set up after the February Revolution and Nicolas II abdication. Lenin exposes his April Theses, a strategy that 6 months later, leads to the October Revolution and to the Bolshevik empowerment. Lenin takes the leads of a country that covers more than 15% of the whole world surface area with 160 million people.
100 years after these events that turned upside down Russian History and by extension, the World History, Davide Monteleone had the deep desire to trace this return from exile. In looking for the original April Theses, he retraces, creates again, and sometimes plays Lenin’s travel, from records of the RGASPI (National Russian archives about the political Soviet History), and from books as To the Finland Station by Elmund Wilson and as The Sealed Train by Micheal Pearson. In the guise of a landscape collection, of pictures from archive, and of self-portraits staged, Davide Monteleone, invites to a voyage through space and time.
Lenin’s April Theses was written when he arrived back in Russia in April 1917. He argues that the working class, leading the exploited peasantry, should take power and begin to carry out a socialist transformation of society. All other options would end with a brutal counter-revolution.
Now new revolutions are taking place. Millions have risen up across the Middle East demanding democracy and an end to poverty. Imperialism is colluding with the national capitalist classes to ensure that no regime comes to power that threatens their interests. These ongoing revolutions demonstrate beyond doubt that capitalism does not offer a way forward. The main ideas outlined by Lenin apply just as much to Tunisia and Egypt today as they did to Russia in April 1917.