Lars T Lih

After receiving a BA from Yale (1968) and a B. Phil. from Oxford (1971), Lars T. Lih worked six years in the office of US Representative Ronald V. Dellums (D-California). He then returned to academia and got his Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton (1984). After teaching at Duke University and Wellesley College, he moved to Montreal, Quebec, where he now lives. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, but writes on Russian and socialist history on his own time.

Latest articles by Lars T Lih

Supplement: Back to Nevsky!

Lars T Lih uses an eyewitness account to dispose of some old myths and to show how, if they were to rewin their majority, the Bolsheviks had to adjust to the shock of finding themselves in a minority

For or against ‘AGREEMENTISM’?

In his third and final article in this series Lars T Lih analyses the duel over support for the Provisional Government that divided the Bolsheviks from the Mensheviks before Lenin’s return from exile in Switzerland

Lenin in his own words

Consistent Bolshevik message

Did Lenin’s April theses lead to a complete change of policy? Lars T Lih continues his series, arguing that the opposite is the case


Lev Kamenev in March-April 1917

A curious case

Were the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Kamenev supporters of the Provisional Government and hostile to soviet power? Lars T Lih puts the story straight

The centrality of hegemony

150 years after his birth, how to evaluate Lenin and his ideas? Lars T Lih emphasises his consistency

Supplement: Biography of a sister slogan

The demand for the ‘publication of the secret treaties’, which represented a key turning point in support for the Bolsheviks, predated the April theses by several weeks, writes Lars T Lih. This is the seventh and concluding part of the series, ‘All power to the soviets!’

The character of the Russian Revolution

This article by Lev Trotsky was first published in August 1917 as part 5 of his pamphlet What next?

Supplement: Trotsky 1917 vs Trotsky 1924

Did the Bolsheviks believe the Russian Revolution to be ‘bourgeois-democratic’ or ‘socialist’? asks Lars T Lih in part 6 of his series, ‘All power to the soviets!’

Lenin refutes a misreading of the April theses

Reproducing a historic polemic

Lenin glosses the April theses

In this fifth part of his series, Lars T Lih focuses on Lenin’s April 21 1917 Pravda article, ‘A basic question’

Supplement: Thirteen to two?

Did the Petrograd Bolsheviks overwhelmingly reject Lenin’s April theses when they were first proposed? The records show otherwise, argues Lars T Lih

First stage of the first revolution

Lenin’s ‘Letter from afar’, as printed in Pravda, March 21 and 22 1917

Corrections from up close

Censorship or retrofit? In the third part of the series, ‘All power to the soviets’, Lars T Lih looks at Lenin’s ‘Letters from afar’ and the reaction of the Bolsheviks

‘All power to the soviets!’

In the second article in the current series, Lars T Lih demonstrates that the Bolshevik strategy of a revolutionary alliance between the proletariat and peasantry was upheld by Karl Kautsky

Draft of a mandate

For use in electing delegates to the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies

‘All power to the soviets!’

Did Lenin’s April theses mark a fundamental change in Bolshevik strategy? In this series of articles Lars T Lih demonstrates that this was not the case

Only one path to socialism

Translation of Grigorii Zinoviev’s review of Path to power

A perfectly ordinary, highly instructive document

Lars T Lih introduces Zinoviev’s review of Kautsky’s 1909 book, Path to power

Bolshevism was fully armed

Were Lev Kamenev and Pravda ‘semi-Menshevik’ before Lenin’s return to Russia in April 1917? Lars T Lih looks at what they were saying a month earlier

The strange case of the closeted Lenin

According to comrades in the Socialist Workers Party, Lenin was a hypocrite who did not say what he thought. In this article, based on a speech to a London Communist Forum, Lars T Lih puts the record straight

True to revolutionary social democracy

It is sometimes claimed that Lenin retired from political activity at the start of World War I in order to rethink the foundations of Marxism. In this extract from his contribution to a book to be published later this year, Lars T Lih argues that nothing could be further from the truth

The 'new era of war and revolution'

Did the outbreak of World War I cause Lenin to break with the ‘Marxism of the Second International’? In this extract from his contribution to a book to be published later this year, Lars T Lih argues that the opposite was the case

Democratic centralism: Further fortunes of a formula

While the emphasis inevitably shifted according to circumstances, writes Lars T Lih, for the Bolsheviks democracy was just as vital as centralism

Democratic centralism: Fortunes of a formula

How did 'democratic centralism' become 'democratic centralism'? Lars T Lih looks at the changing use of the phrase by the Bolsheviks

April theses: Before and after April 1917

The April theses represented Bolshevik continuity rather than a break, argues Lars T Lih. This is an edited version of a speech given to a London Communist Forum

Bolshevism and revolutionary social democracy

Lars T Lih completes his series of articles on Lenin's view of the party question by examining the context in 1920 of 'Leftwing' communism

How Lenin's party became (Bolshevik)

Did Lenin seek to exclude Mensheviks from Russia's revolutionary organisation in order to forge a 'party of a new type'? Lars T Lih looks at the reality

A faction is not a party

Did the Bolsheviks seek to create a 'party of a new type' in 1912? Lars T Lih looks at the historical record

SUPPLEMENT: Falling out over a Cliff

Was Lenin a lying manoeuvrer? Were the Bolsheviks a cult led by an all-knowing leader and staffed by narrow-minded minions? Lars T Lih joins in the debate over Tony Cliff's biography and debunks some myths held by both left and right

Lenin, Kautsky and the 'new era of revolutions'

Lenin's vision of world revolution at the turn of the 20th century was inspired by Karl Kautsky, writes Canada-based scholar Lars T Lih

The book that didn't bark

Independent scholar Lars T Lih introduces excerpts from Karl Kautsky's 'Republic and social democracy in France', published in English for the first time

The ironic triumph of 'old Bolshevism'

Using new archival research, Canadian scholar Lars T Lih spoke to a London Communist Forum meeting about the 'April debates' and their impact on Bolshevik strategy through to October 1917

Zinoviev and the Halle Congress

Zinoviev's largely forgotten speech and Martov's counterblast for the first time in English, plus introductory essays by Ben Lewis and Lars T Lih

Scotching the myths

Historian Lars T Lih dissects one of Lenin's most famous but most misunderstood pamphlets, 'What is to be done?'

'April theses': myth and reality

Many on the left see Lenin as undergoing a conversion to Trotskyism in 1917. Lars T Lih takes on this myth and reveals a Lenin, who while converging with Trotsky in certain respects, still has a different strategy. There is also the possible influence Kautsky exerted on Lenin

Light and air of political freedom

North American scholar Lars T Lih explores the varying attitude of Marxists towards universal suffrage, freedom of the press and freedom of association

SUPPLEMENT: Kautsky, Lenin and the 'April theses'

Could Karl Kautsky - the 'pope' turned 'renegade' of orthodox Marxism - have influenced Vladimir Ilych's 'April theses'? Here we print a Karl Kautsky article from April 1917, translated into English for the first time by Ben Lewis. It is introduced by Lars T Lih, a historian based in Canada, who has been at the forefront of re-examining the complex relationship between these two widely misunderstood figures of the 20th century workers' movement

The four wagers of Lenin in 1917

The Bolshevik decision to make revolution was based on four key predictions, or ‘wagers’, says Lars T Lih: international revolution, soviet democracy, peasant followership and progress towards socialism. This is an edited version of the third speech he gave to the CPGB’s Communist University

Lenin, Kautsky, and 1914

In the second of his talks to the CPGB’s Communist University, Lars T Lih takes a closer look at Lenin’s reaction to the betrayal of German social democracy at the outbreak of World War I

VI Lenin and the influence of Kautsky

In the first of three talks given at the CPGB’s Communist University, historian Lars T Lih discussed the relationship between two great Marxists. This is an edited version of his speech dealing with the period 1894-1914