Bolsheviks

The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists[1][a] or Bolsheviki[3] (Russian: большевики, большевик (singular), IPA: [bəlʲʂɨˈvʲik]; derived from bol'shinstvo (большинство), "majority", literally meaning "one of the majority"), were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) which split apart from the Menshevik faction[b] at the Second Party Congress in 1903.[4] The RSDLP was a revolutionary socialist political party formed in 1898 in Minsk in Belarus to unite the various revolutionary organisations of the Russian Empire into one party.

In the Second Party Congress vote, the Bolsheviks won on the majority of important issues, hence their name.[5] They ultimately became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[c] The Bolsheviks, or Reds, came to power in Russia during the October Revolution phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and founded the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). With the Reds defeating the Whites and others during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922, the RSFSR became the chief constituent of the Soviet Union (USSR) in December 1922.

The Bolsheviks, founded by Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov, were by 1905 a major organization consisting primarily of workers under a democratic internal hierarchy governed by the principle of democratic centralism, who considered themselves the leaders of the revolutionary working class of Russia. Their beliefs and practices were often referred to as Bolshevism.

History of the split

Kustodiev The Bolshevik
Bolshevik, Boris Kustodiev, 1920

In the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP held in Brussels, Belgium and London, UK during August 1903, Lenin and Julius Martov disagreed over the membership rules. Lenin wanted members who financially supported the party[6] and personally participated in it. Martov suggested "by regular personal assistance under the direction of one of the party's organisations". Lenin advocated limiting party membership to a smaller core of active members as opposed to card carriers who might only be active in party branches from time to time or not at all. This active base would develop the cadre, a core of professional revolutionaries, consisting of loyal communists who would spend most of their time organising the party toward a mass revolutionary party capable of leading a workers' revolution against the Tsarist autocracy.

A main source of the factions could be directly attributed to Lenin's steadfast opinion and what was described by Plekhanov as his inability to "bear opinions which were contrary to his own".[7] It was obvious at early stages in Lenin's revolutionary practices that he would not be willing to concede on any party policy that conflicted with his own predetermined ideas. It was the loyalty that he had to his own self-envisioned utopia that caused the party split. Lenin was seen even by fellow party members as being so narrow-minded that he believed that anyone who didn't follow him was his enemy.[8] Leon Trotsky, one of Lenin's fellow revolutionaries (though they had differing views as to how the revolution and party should be handled), compared Lenin in 1904 to the French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre.[8] Lenin's view of politics as verbal and ideological warfare and his inability to accept criticism even if it came from his own dedicated followers was the reason behind this accusation.

The root of the split was a book titled What Is To Be Done? that Lenin wrote while serving a sentence of exile. In Germany, the book was published in 1902. In Russia, strict censorship outlawed its publication and distribution.[9] One of the main points of Lenin's writing was that a revolution can only be achieved by the strong leadership of one person (or of a very select few people) over the masses. After the proposed revolution had successfully overthrown the government, this individual leader must release power to allow socialism to fully encompass the nation. Lenin also wrote that revolutionary leaders must dedicate their entire lives to the cause in order for it to be successful. Lenin said that if professional revolutionaries did not maintain control over the workers, then they would lose sight of the party's objective and adopt opposing beliefs, even abandon the revolution entirely.[9] Lenin's view of a socialist intelligentsia showed that he was not a complete supporter of Marxist theory, which also created some party unrest. For example, Lenin agreed with the Marxist idea of eliminating social classes, but in his utopian society there would still be visible distinctions between those in politics and the common worker. Most party members considered unequal treatment of workers immoral and were loyal to the idea of a completely classless society, therefore Lenin's variations caused the party internal dissonance. Although the party split of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks would not become official until 1903, the differences originally began to surface with the publication of What Is To Be Done?. Through the influence of the book, Lenin also undermined another group of reformers known as "Economists", who were pushing for economic reform while wanting to leave the government relatively unchanged and who failed to recognize the importance of uniting the working population behind the party's cause.[10]

Other than the debate between Lenin and Martov, Lenin felt membership should require support of the party program, financial contributions and involvement in a party organization whereas Martov did not see the need for joining Party organizations, internal unrest also rose over the structure that was best suited for Soviet power.[11] As discussed in What Is To Be Done?, Lenin firmly believed that a rigid political structure was needed to effectively initiate a formal revolution. This idea was met with opposition from his once close followers including Julius Martov, Georgy Plekhanov, Leon Trotsky and Pavel Axelrod.[12] Plekhanov and Lenin's major dispute arose addressing the topic of nationalizing land or leaving it for private use. Lenin wanted to nationalize to aid in collectivization whereas Plekhanov thought worker motivation would remain higher if individuals were able to maintain their own property. Those who opposed Lenin and wanted to continue on the Marxist path towards complete socialism and disagreed with his strict party membership guidelines became known as "softs" while Lenin supporters became known as "hards".[13]

The base of active and experienced members would be the recruiting ground for this professional core. Sympathizers would be left outside and the party would be organised based on the concept of democratic centralism. Martov, until then a close friend of Lenin, agreed with him that the core of the party should consist of professional revolutionaries, but he argued that party membership should be open to sympathizers, revolutionary workers and other fellow travelers.

The two had disagreed on the issue as early as March–May 1903, but it was not until the Congress that their differences became irreconcilable and split the party.[14] At first, the disagreement appeared to be minor and inspired by personal conflicts. For example, Lenin's insistence on dropping less active editorial board members from Iskra or Martov's support for the Organizing Committee of the Congress which Lenin opposed, the differences grew and the split became irreparable.

Origins of the name

The two factions were originally known as "hard" (Lenin's supporters) and "soft" (Martov's supporters), but the terminology soon changed to "Bolsheviks" and "Mensheviks", from the Russian bolshinstvo ("majority") and menshinstvo ("minority").[15] On the other hand, Martov's supporters won the vote concerning the question of party membership. Neither Lenin nor Martov had a firm majority throughout the Congress as delegates left or switched sides. At the end, the Congress was evenly split between the two factions.

From 1907 on, English language articles sometimes used the term "Maximalist" for "Bolshevik" and "Minimalist" for "Menshevik", which proved confusing since there was also a "Maximalist" faction within the Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party in 1904–1906 (which after 1906 formed a separate Union of Socialists-Revolutionaries Maximalists) and then again after 1917.[16]

Composition of the party

The average party member was very young. In 1907, 22% of Bolsheviks were under 20, 37% were 20–24 and 16% were 25–29. By 1905, 62% of the members were industrial workers (3% of the population in 1897).[17][18] 22% of Bolsheviks were gentry (1.7% of the total population), 38% were uprooted peasants, compared with 19% and 26% for the Mensheviks. In 1907, 78.3% of the Bolsheviks were Russian and 10% were Jewish (34% and 20% for the Mensheviks). Total membership was 8,400 in 1905, 13,000 in 1906 and 46,100 by 1907 (8,400, 18,000 and 38,200 for the Mensheviks). By 1910, both factions together had fewer than 10,000 members.[19]

Beginning of the 1905 Revolution (1903–1905)

The two factions were in a state of flux in 1903–1904 with many members changing sides. The founder of Russian Marxism, Georgy Plekhanov, who was at first allied with Lenin and the Bolsheviks, parted ways with them by 1904. Trotsky at first supported the Mensheviks, but he left them in September 1904 over their insistence on an alliance with Russian liberals and their opposition to a reconciliation with Lenin and the Bolsheviks. He remained a self-described "non-factional social democrat" until August 1917, when he joined Lenin and the Bolsheviks as their positions assembled and he came to believe that Lenin was right on the issue of the party.

All but one member of the Central Committee were arrested in Moscow in early 1905. The remaining member, with the power of appointing a new one, was won over by the Bolsheviks.[20]

The lines between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks hardened in April 1905 when the Bolsheviks held a Bolsheviks-only meeting in London, which they called the 3rd Party Congress. The Mensheviks organised a rival conference and the split was thus formalised.

The Bolsheviks played a relatively minor role in the 1905 Revolution and were a minority in the Saint Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies led by Trotsky. However, the less significant Moscow Soviet was dominated by the Bolsheviks. These Soviets became the model for those formed in 1917.

Mensheviks (1906–1907)

As the Russian Revolution of 1905 progressed, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and smaller non-Russian social democratic parties operating within the Russian Empire attempted to reunify at the 4th (Unification) Congress of the RSDLP held in April 1906 at Folkets hus, Norra Bantorget in Stockholm. When the Mensheviks struck an alliance with the Jewish Bund, the Bolsheviks found themselves in a minority.

However, all factions retained their respective factional structure and the Bolsheviks formed the Bolshevik Centre, the de facto governing body of the Bolshevik faction within the RSDLP. At the Fifth Congress held in London in May 1907, the Bolsheviks were in the majority, but the two factions continued functioning mostly independently of each other.

Split between Lenin and Bogdanov (1908–1910)

Tensions had existed between Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov as early as 1904. Lenin had fallen out with Nikolai Valentinov after the latter had introduced him to Ernst Mach's Empiriocriticism, a viewpoint that Bogdanov had been exploring and developing as Empiriomonism. Having worked as co-editor with Plekhanov on Zayra he had come to agree with the latter's rejection of Bogdanov's Empiriomonism.[21] With the defeat of the revolution in mid-1907 and the adoption of a new, highly restrictive election law, the Bolsheviks began debating whether to boycott the new parliament known as the Third Duma. Lenin, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and others argued for participating in the Duma while Bogdanov, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Mikhail Pokrovsky and others argued that the social democratic faction in the Duma should be recalled.[22] The latter became known as "recallists" (otzovists in Russian). A smaller group within the Bolshevik faction demanded that the RSDLP central committee should give its sometimes unruly Duma faction an ultimatum, demanding complete subordination to all party decisions. This group became known as "ultimatists" and was generally allied with the recallists.

With most Bolshevik leaders either supporting Bogdanov or undecided by mid-1908 when the differences became irreconcilable, Lenin concentrated on undermining Bogdanov's reputation as a philosopher. In 1909, he published a scathing book of criticism entitled Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1909),[23] assaulting Bogdanov's position and accusing him of philosophical idealism.[24] In June 1909, Bogdanov proposed the formation of Party Schools as Proletarian Universities at a Bolshevik mini-conference in Paris organised by the editorial board of the Bolshevik magazine Proletary in June 1909. However, this was not accepted and Lenin tried to expel him from the Bolshevik faction.[25] Bogdanov was then involved with setting up Vpered, which ran the Capri Party School from August to December 1909.[26]

Final attempt at party unity (1910)

With both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks weakened by splits within their ranks and by Tsarist repression, they were tempted to try to re-unite the party. In January 1910, Leninists, recallists and various Menshevik factions held a meeting of the party's Central Committee in Paris. Kamenev and Zinoviev were dubious about the idea, but they were willing to give it a try under pressure from conciliatory Bolsheviks like Victor Nogin.

One of the more underlying reasons that aided in preventing any reunification of the party was the Russian police. The police were able to infiltrate both parties' inner circles by sending in spies who then reported on the opposing party's intentions and hostilities.[27] This allowed the tensions to remain high between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. In turn, it prevented them from uniting on common ground which could have possibly sped up the entire revolution.

Lenin was firmly opposed to any re-unification, but was outvoted within the Bolshevik leadership. The meeting reached a tentative agreement and one of its provisions made Trotsky's Vienna-based Pravda a party-financed central organ. Kamenev, Trotsky's brother-in-law, was added to the editorial board from the Bolsheviks, but the unification attempts failed in August 1910 when Kamenev resigned from the board amid mutual recriminations.

Forming a separate party (1912)

The factions permanently broke off relations in January 1912 after the Bolsheviks organised a Bolsheviks-only Prague Party Conference and formally expelled Mensheviks and recallists from the party. As a result, they ceased to be a faction in the RSDLP and instead declared themselves an independent party, called Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) – or RSDLP(b). Unofficially, the party has been referred to as the Bolshevik Party. Throughout the century, the party adopted a number of different names. In 1918, RSDLP(b) became All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and remained so until 1925. From 1925–1952, the name was All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and from 1952–1991 Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

As the party split became permanent and politically recognized in 1912 due to an all Bolshevik meeting of Congress, further divisions became evident. One of the most notable differences was how each faction decided to fund its revolution. The Mensheviks decided to fund their revolution through membership dues while Lenin often resorted to much more drastic measures since he required a higher budget.[28] One of the common methods the Bolsheviks used was committing bank robberies, one of which in 1907 resulted in the party gaining over 250,000 rubles which is the equivalent of about $125,000.[28] Bolsheviks were in constant need of money because Lenin practiced his beliefs exercised in his writings that revolutions must be led by individuals who devote their entire life to the cause. To compensate, he awarded them with salaries for their sacrifice and dedication. This measure was taken to help ensure that the revolutionists stayed focused on their duties and motivated them to perform their jobs. Lenin also used the party money to print and copy pamphlets which were distributed in cities and at political rallies in attempts to expand their operations. This was an obvious difference between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks party beliefs. Both factions also managed to gain funds simply by receiving donations from wealthy supporters.

Russian Constituent Assembly Election 1917
The elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly took place in November 1917 in which the Bolsheviks came second with 23.9% of the vote and dissolved the Assembly in January 1918[29]

Further differences in party agendas became evident as the beginning of World War I loomed near. Joseph Stalin was especially eager for the start of the war, hoping that it would turn into a war between classes or essentially a Russian Civil War.[30] This desire for war was fueled by Lenin's vision that the workers and peasants would resist joining the war effort and therefore be more compelled to join the socialist movement. Through the increase in support, Russia would then be forced to withdraw from the Allied powers in order to resolve her internal conflict. Unfortunately for the Bolsheviks, Lenin's assumptions were incorrect and despite his and the party's attempts to push for a civil war through involvement in two conferences in 1915 and 1916 in Switzerland it remained in the minority in calling for the ceasefire by the Russian Army in World War I.[30]

Although the Bolshevik leadership decided to form a separate party, convincing pro-Bolshevik workers within Russia to follow suit proved difficult. When the first meeting of the Fourth Duma was convened in late 1912, only one out of six Bolshevik deputies, Matvei Muranov (another one, Roman Malinovsky, was later exposed as an Okhrana agent), voted to break away from the Menshevik faction within the Duma on 15 December 1912.[31] The Bolshevik leadership eventually prevailed and the Bolsheviks formed their own Duma faction in September 1913.

One final difference between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks was how ferocious and tenacious the party was willing to be in order to achieve its goals. Lenin was open minded to retreating on political ideas if he saw the guarantee of long term gains benefiting the party. This practice was commonly seen trying to recruit peasants and uneducated workers by promising them how glorious life would be after the revolution while granting them temporary concessions.[28]

In 1918, the party renamed itself the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) at Lenin's suggestion. In 1925, this was changed to All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks). At the 19th Party Congress in 1952 the Bolshevik Party was renamed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union according to Stalin's suggestion.

Derogatory usage of "Bolshevik"

Nieder mit dem Bolschewismus. Bolschewismus bringt Krieg und Verderben, Hunger und Tod LCCN2004665807
"Down with Bolshevism. Bolshevism brings war and destruction, hunger and death", anti-Bolshevik German propaganda, 1919

"Bolo" was a derogatory expression for Bolsheviks used by British service personnel in the North Russian Expeditionary Force which intervened against the Red Army during the Russian Civil War.[32] Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and other Nazi leaders used it in reference to the worldwide political movement coordinated by the Comintern.[33] During the days of the Cold War in the United Kingdom, labour union leaders and other leftists were sometimes derisively described as "Bolshies". The usage is roughly equivalent to the term "commie", "Red", or "pinko" in the United States during the same period. The term "Bolshie" later became a slang term for anyone who was rebellious, aggressive, or truculent.[34]

Non-Russian/Soviet groups having used the name "Bolshevik"

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Both a synonym to "Bolshevik" and an adherent of Bolshevik policies.[2]
  2. ^ Derived from men'shinstvo (меньшинство), "minority", which comes from men'she (меньше), "less". The split occurred at the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1903.
  3. ^ After the split, the Bolshevik party was designated as RSDLP(b) (Russian: РСДРП(б)), where "b" stands for "Bolsheviks". Shortly after coming to power in November 1917, the party changed its name to the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (РКП(б)) and was generally known as the Communist Party after that point. However, it was not until 1952 that the party formally dropped the word "Bolshevik" from its name. See Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union article for the timeline of name changes.

References

  1. ^ "Большевистский", Ushakov's Explanatory Dictionary of Russian Language.
  2. ^ "Bolshevist", Dictionary, Dictionary.reference.com
  3. ^ "Bolsheviki Seize State Buildings, Defying Kerensky". The New York Times. 7 November 1917. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  4. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (1998). The Soviet Experiment. London: Oxford University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-19-508105-3.
  5. ^ Shub 1976, p. 81.
  6. ^ Service, Robert (2010). Lenin : a biography. London: Pan. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-33051838-3.
  7. ^ Shub 1976, p. 76.
  8. ^ a b Pipes 1995, p. 104.
  9. ^ a b Pipes 1995, p. 106.
  10. ^ Stalin, J. V. (2016). History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Short Course). Lulu.com. ISBN 9781329947207.
  11. ^ Stalin, Joseph. "History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)". www.marxists.org.
  12. ^ Tucker 1975.
  13. ^ Tucker 1975, p. xxxviii.
  14. ^ Getzler, Israel (2003) [1967], Martov: A Political Biography of a Russian Social Democrat, Cambridge University Press, p. 78, ISBN 0-521-52602-7.
  15. ^ Wilson, Edmund (1977). To the Finland Station. London: Fontana. p. 402. ISBN 0-00-632420-7.
  16. ^ Antonelli, Étienne (1920), Bolshevik Russia, Charles A. Carroll trans, AA Knopf, p. 59, the term 'Maximalist' rather widely used as a translation for 'Bolshevik' is historically false. 307 pp.
  17. ^ Ascher, Abraham, The Revolution of 1905, p. 4.
  18. ^ Cliff, Tony, Lenin and the Revolutionary Party, p. 37.
  19. ^ Pipes, Richard, The Russian Revolution, pp. 364–5.
  20. ^ McDaniel, Tim, Autocracy, capitalism, and revolution in Russia, p. 246.
  21. ^ Biggart, John (1989). Alexander Bogdanov, left-Bolshevism and the Proletkult 1904–1932. Norwich: University of East Angla. ASIN B001ON1IY4.
  22. ^ Wolfe, Bertram D. (1966). Three Who Made a Revolution. London: Penguin. p. 410. ISBN 0-14-020783-X.
  23. ^ Materialism & Empiriocriticism, Moscow: Zveno Publishers, May 1909.
  24. ^ Woods, Alan (1999), "Part Three: The Period of Reaction", Bolshevism: The Road to Revolution, Wellred, ISBN 1-900007-05-3.
  25. ^ Daniels, Robert V, ed. (1993), A Documentary History of Communism in Russia, UPNE, p. 33, ISBN 0-87451-616-1.
  26. ^ Marot, John Eric (July 1990). "Alexander Bogdanov, Vpered, and the Role of the Intellectual in the Workers' Movement". Russian Review. Blackwell. 49 (3 (Special Issue on Alexander Bogdanov)): 241–64. JSTOR 130152.
  27. ^ Pipes 1995, p. 109.
  28. ^ a b c Pipes 1995, p. 108.
  29. ^ ORT-Ginzburg (2003). "The Constituent Assembly". St. Petersburg's Jews: Three Centuries of History.
  30. ^ a b Pipes 1995, p. 111.
  31. ^ McKean, Robert B (1990), St. Petersburg Between the Revolutions: workers and revolutionaries, June 1907 – February 1917, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 140–1.
  32. ^ "North Russian Expeditionary Force 1919, Scrapbook Diary, Photographs, Mementoes", Naval History, retrieved 14 June 2012.
  33. ^ Collins Mini Dictionary, 1998.
  34. ^ "bolshie". The free dictionary. Retrieved 2014-03-08.

Sources

  • Pipes, Richard (1995), A concise History of the Russian Revolution, New York, ISBN 978-0-679-42277-8.
  • Shub, David (1976), Lenin : a biography (rev. ed.), Harmondsworth: Penguin, ISBN 978-0-14020809-2.
  • Tucker, Robert (1975), The Lenin Anthology, New York: WW Norton & Co, ISBN 978-0-393-09236-3.

External links

14th Politburo and the 14th Secretariat of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)

The 14th Politburo and the 14th Secretariat of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) were elected by the 14th Central Committee in the aftermath of the 14th Congress.

16th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)

The 16th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was held during 26 June - 13 July 1930 in Moscow. The congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was attended by 1,268 voting delegates and 891 delegates with observer status. It elected the 16th Central Committee.

An exercise of devotion to Joseph Stalin, this is the last congress to be dominated by the original leadership of the Soviet Union.

18th Politburo of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)

The 18th Politburo of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was elected by the 18th Central Committee in the aftermath of the 18th Congress.

8th Politburo and the 8th Secretariat of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)

The 8th Politburo and the 8th Secretariat of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) were elected by the 1st Plenary Session of the 8th Central Committee in the immediate aftermath of the 8th Congress.

Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was the founding and ruling political party of the Soviet Union. The CPSU was the sole governing party of the Soviet Union until 1990, when the Congress of People's Deputies modified Article 6 of the most recent 1977 Soviet constitution, which had granted the CPSU a monopoly over the political system.

The party was founded in 1912 by the Bolsheviks (a majority faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, RSDLP), led by Vladimir Lenin, which seized power in the October Revolution of 1917. After 74 years, it was dissolved on 29 August 1991 on Soviet territory, soon after a failed coup d'état by hard-line CPSU leaders against Soviet president and party general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and was completely outlawed three months later on 6 November 1991 in Russian territory.

The CPSU was a Communist party, organized on the basis of democratic centralism. This principle, conceived by Lenin, entails democratic and open discussion of policy issues within the party followed by the requirement of total unity in upholding the agreed policies. The highest body within the CPSU was the Party Congress, which convened every five years. When the Congress was not in session, the Central Committee was the highest body. Because the Central Committee met twice a year, most day-to-day duties and responsibilities were vested in the Politburo, (previously the Presidium), the Secretariat and the Orgburo (until 1952). The party leader was the head of government and held the office of either General Secretary, Premier or head of state, or some of the three offices concurrently—but never all three at the same time. The party leader was the de facto chairman of the CPSU Politburo and chief executive of the Soviet Union. The tension between the party and the state (Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union) for the shifting focus of power was never formally resolved, but in reality the party dominated and a paramount leader always existed (first Lenin and thereafter the General Secretary).

After the founding of the Soviet Union in 1922, Lenin had introduced a mixed economy, commonly referred to as the New Economic Policy, which allowed for capitalist practices to resume under the Communist Party dictation in order to develop the necessary conditions for socialism to become a practical pursuit in the economically undeveloped country. In 1929, as Joseph Stalin became the leader of the party, Marxism–Leninism, a fusion of the original ideas of German philosopher and economic theorist Karl Marx, and Lenin, became formalized as the party's guiding ideology and would remain so throughout the rest of its existence. The party pursued state socialism, under which all industries were nationalized and a planned economy was implemented. After recovering from the Second World War, reforms were implemented which decentralized economic planning and liberalized Soviet society in general under Nikita Khrushchev. By 1980, various factors, including the continuing Cold War, and ongoing nuclear arms race with the United States and other Western European powers and unaddressed inefficiencies in the economy, led to stagnant economic growth under Alexei Kosygin, and further with Leonid Brezhnev and a growing disillusionment. After a younger vigorous Mikhail Gorbachev (b.1931), assumed leadership in 1985, (following two short-term elderly leaders who quickly died in succession), rapid steps were taken to transform the tottering Soviet economic system in the direction of a market economy once again. Gorbachev and his allies envisioned the introduction of an economy similar to Lenin's earlier New Economic Policy through a program of "perestroika", or restructuring, but their reforms along with the institution of free multiparty elections led to a decline in the party's power, and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the banning of the party by later last RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin and subsequent first President of an evolving democratic and free market economy of the successor Russian Federation.

A number of causes contributed to CPSU's loss of control and the dissolution of the Soviet Union during the early 1990s. Some historians have written that Gorbachev's policy of "glasnost" (political openness) was the root cause, noting that it weakened the party's control over society. Gorbachev maintained that perestroika without glasnost was doomed to failure anyway. Others have blamed the economic stagnation and subsequent loss of faith by the general populace in communist ideology. In the final years of the CPSU's existence, the Communist Parties of the federal subjects of Russia were united into the Communist Party of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). After the CPSU's demise, the Communist Parties of the Union Republics became independent and underwent various separate paths of reform. In Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation emerged and has been regarded as the inheritor of the CPSU's old Bolshevik legacy into the present day.

Inner composition elected by the Central Committee of the 16th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks)

By election of inner composition we are referring to the election of party officials to the Politburo, Secretariat and the Orgburo at the 1st Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the 16th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks).

Inner composition elected by the Central Committee of the 17th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks)

By election of inner composition we are referring to the election of party officials to the Politburo, Secretariat and the Orgburo at the 1st Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the 17th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks).

Jewish Bolshevism

Jewish Bolshevism, also Judeo–Bolshevism, is an anti-communist and antisemitic canard, which alleges that the Jews were the originators of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and that they held the primary power among the Bolsheviks. Similarly, the conspiracy theory of Jewish Communism implies that Jews have dominated the Communist movements in the world, and is related to The Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy theory (ZOG), which asserts that Jews control world politics.In 1917, after the October revolution, the catchword was the title of the pamphlet, The Jewish Bolshevism, which featured in the racist propaganda of the anti-communist White movement forces during the Russian Civil War (1918–22). The Nazi Party in Germany and the German-American Bund in the United States propagated the anti-Semitic theory to their followers, sympathisers, and fellow travellers during the 1930s.The expressions Jewish Bolshevism, Jewish Communism, and the ZOG conspiracy are used as far-right catchwords for the false assertions that Communism is a Jewish conspiracy. In Poland, "Judeo-Bolshevism", known as "Żydokomuna", was an antisemitic stereotype.

Left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks

The left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks were a series of rebellions, uprisings, and revolts against the Bolsheviks by oppositional left-wing organizations and groups that started soon after the October Revolution, continued through the years of the Russian Civil War, and lasted into the first years of Bolshevik reign of the Soviet Union. They were led or supported by left-wing groups such as some factions of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and anarchists. Generally, the uprisings began in 1918 because of the Bolshevik siege and cooptation of Soviet Democracy, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litvosk which many saw as giving huge concessions to the Central Powers, and opposition to Bolshevik socioeconomic policy. The Bolsheviks grew increasingly hard-line during the decisive and brutal years following the October Revolution, and would suppress any socialist opposition whilst also becoming increasingly hostile to inner-party opposition. These rebellions and insurrections occurred mostly during and after the Russian Civil War, until approximately 1924.

The Bolsheviks were being assaulted by forces from the reactionary wing of Romanov monarchists, reformist Social Democrats, former Imperial Army officers and soldiers in the anti-communist White Armies along with several foreign nations sending in interventionist forces, aid and supplies for the White Armies. Despite this, Vladimir Lenin regarded the left-wing opposition as the most threatening the Bolshevik regime faced. Lenin had for example, called the Kronstadt Rebellion one of the most dangerous situations the regime had faced "undoubtedly more dangerous than Denikin, Yudenich, and Kolchak combined." The authority the Bolsheviks commanded, such as the Cheka and other exertions of control and supremacy were primarily used against left-wing oppositionists rather than the reactionary counter-revolution.

Mensheviks

The Mensheviks (Russian: Меньшевики́) were a faction in the Russian socialist movement, the other being the Bolsheviks.

The factions emerged in 1903 following a dispute in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) between Julius Martov and Vladimir Lenin. The dispute originated at the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP, ostensibly over minor issues of party organization. Martov's supporters, who were in the minority in a crucial vote on the question of party membership, came to be called Mensheviks, derived from the Russian word меньшинство (minority), while Lenin's adherents were known as Bolsheviks, from большинство (majority).Despite the naming, neither side held a consistent majority over the course of the entire 2nd Congress, and indeed the numerical advantage fluctuated between both sides throughout the rest of the RSDLP's existence until the Russian Revolution. The split proved to be long-standing and had to do both with pragmatic issues based in history, such as the failed Revolution of 1905 and theoretical issues of class leadership, class alliances and interpretations of historical materialism. While both factions believed that a proletarian revolution was necessary, the Mensheviks generally tended to be more moderate, and more positive towards the liberal opposition and the peasant-based Socialist Revolutionary Party.

National Bolshevism

National Bolshevism (Russian: Национал-большевизм), whose supporters are known as the Nazbols (Russian: Нацболы), is a political movement that combines elements of nationalism (especially Russian nationalism) and Bolshevism.Leading proponents of National Bolshevism in Germany were Ernst Niekisch, Heinrich Laufenberg and Karl Otto Paetel. In Russia the term was used by Nikolay Ustryalov and his followers, the Smenovekhovtsy.

In modern times leading practitioners and theorists of National Bolshevism include Aleksandr Dugin and Eduard Limonov, who leads the unregistered and banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in Russia.

October Revolution

The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November (25 October, O.S.) 1917.

It followed and capitalized on the February Revolution of the same year, which overthrew the Tsarist autocracy and resulted in a provisional government after a transfer of power proclaimed by Grand Duke Michael, the younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II, who declined to take power after the Tsar stepped down. During this time, urban workers began to organize into councils (soviets) wherein revolutionaries criticized the provisional government and its actions. After the Congress of Soviets, now the governing body, had its second session, it elected members of the Bolsheviks and other leftist groups such as the Left Socialist Revolutionaries to important positions within the new state of affairs. This immediately initiated the establishment of the Russian Soviet Republic. On 17 July 1918, the Tsar and his family were executed.

The revolution was led by the Bolsheviks, who used their influence in the Petrograd Soviet to organize the armed forces. Bolshevik Red Guards forces under the Military Revolutionary Committee began the occupation of government buildings on 7 November 1917 (New Style). The following day, the Winter Palace (the seat of the Provisional government located in Petrograd, then capital of Russia) was captured.

The long-awaited Constituent Assembly elections were held on 12 November 1917. In contrast to their majority in the Soviets, the Bolsheviks only won 175 seats in the 715-seat legislative body, coming in second behind the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which won 370 seats, although the SR Party no longer existed as a whole party by that time, as the Left SRs had gone into coalition with the Bolsheviks from October 1917 to March 1918. The Constituent Assembly was to first meet on 28 November 1917, but its convocation was delayed until 5 January 1918 by the Bolsheviks. On its first and only day in session, the Constituent Assembly came into conflict with the Soviets, and it rejected Soviet decrees on peace and land, resulting in the Constituent Assembly being dissolved the next day by order of the Congress of Soviets.As the revolution was not universally recognized, there followed the struggles of the Russian Civil War (1917–22) and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The Politburo (Russian: Политбюро, IPA: [pəlʲɪtbʲʊˈro], full: Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, abbreviated Политбюро ЦК КПСС, Politbyuro TsK KPSS) was the highest policy-making government authority under the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was founded in October 1917, and refounded in March 1919, at the 8th Congress of the Bolshevik Party. It was known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966. The existence of the Politburo ended in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Russian Civil War

The Russian Civil War (Russian: Гражда́нская война́ в Росси́и, tr. Grazhdanskaya voyna v Rossiy; 7 November 1917 – 25 October 1922) was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favoring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and antidemocratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and nonideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians. The Russian Civil War has been described by some as the greatest national catastrophe that Europe had yet seen.Many pro-independence movements emerged after the break-up of the Russian Empire and fought in the war. Several parts of the former Russian Empire—Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland—were established as sovereign states, with their own civil wars and wars of independence. The rest of the former Russian Empire was consolidated into the Soviet Union shortly afterwards.

Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution was a pair of revolutions in Russia in 1917 which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The Russian Empire collapsed with the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar; the older Julian calendar was in use in Russia at the time). Alongside it arose grassroots community assemblies (called 'Soviets') which contended for authority. In the second revolution that October, the Provisional Government was toppled and all power was given to the Soviets.

The February Revolution (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg), the capital of Russia at that time. In the chaos, members of the Imperial parliament (the Duma) assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government which was heavily dominated by the interests of large capitalists and the noble aristocracy. The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution, resulting in Tsar Nicholas's abdication. The Soviets, which were dominated by soldiers and the urban industrial working class, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule, but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias. The February Revolution took place in the context of heavy military setbacks during the First World War (1914–18), which left much of the Russian Army in a state of mutiny.

A period of dual power ensued, during which the Provisional Government held state power while the national network of Soviets, led by socialists, had the allegiance of the lower classes and, increasingly, the left-leaning urban middle class. During this chaotic period there were frequent mutinies, protests and many strikes. Many socialist political organizations were engaged in daily struggle and vied for influence within the Duma and the Soviets, central among which were the Bolsheviks ("Ones of the Majority") led by Vladimir Lenin who campaigned for an immediate end to the war, land to the peasants, and bread to the workers. When the Provisional Government chose to continue fighting the war with Germany, the Bolsheviks and other socialist factions were able to exploit virtually universal disdain towards the war effort as justification to advance the revolution further. The Bolsheviks turned workers' militias under their control into the Red Guards (later the Red Army) over which they exerted substantial control.In the October Revolution (November in the Gregorian calendar), the Bolsheviks led an armed insurrection by workers and soldiers in Petrograd that successfully overthrew the Provisional Government, transferring all its authority to the Soviets with the capital being relocated to Moscow shortly thereafter. The Bolsheviks had secured a strong base of support within the Soviets and, as the now supreme governing party, established a federal government dedicated to reorganizing the former empire into the world's first socialist republic, practicing Soviet democracy on a national and international scale. The promise to end Russia's participation in the First World War was honored promptly with the Bolshevik leaders signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in March 1918. To further secure the new state, the Cheka was established which functioned as a revolutionary security service that sought to weed out and punish those considered to be "enemies of the people" in campaigns consciously modeled on similar events during the French Revolution.

Soon after, civil war erupted among the "Reds" (Bolsheviks), the "Whites" (counter-revolutionaries), the independence movements and the non-Bolshevik socialists. It continued for several years, during which the Bolsheviks defeated both the Whites and all rival socialists and thereafter reconstituted themselves as the Communist Party. In this way, the Revolution paved the way for the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and Petrograd, there was also a visible movement in cities throughout the state, among national minorities throughout the empire and in the rural areas, where peasants took over and redistributed land.

Russian Social Democratic Labour Party

The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP; Russian: Российская социал-демократическая рабочая партия (РСДРП), Rossiyskaya sotsial-demokraticheskaya rabochaya partiya (RSDRP)), also known as the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or the Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist political party founded in Minsk, Belarus.

Formed to unite the various revolutionary organizations of the Russian Empire into one party in 1898, the RSDLP later split into Bolsheviks (majority) and Mensheviks (minority) factions, with the Bolshevik faction eventually becoming the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Interdistrictites, known as the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Internationalists), were also formed from this party.

Socialist Revolutionary Party

The Socialist Revolutionary Party, or Party of Socialists-Revolutionaries (the SRs; Russian: Партия социалистов-революционеров (ПСР), эсеры, esery) was a major political party in early 20th century Imperial Russia.

A key player in the Russian Revolution, the SRs' general ideology was revolutionary socialism of democratic socialist and agrarian socialist forms. After the February Revolution, it shared power with liberal and other democratic socialist forces within the Russian Provisional Government. Following the October Revolution, in November 1917, the Socialist Revolutionary Party won a plurality of the national vote in Russia's first-ever democratic elections (to the Russian Constituent Assembly), however this was more or less nullified as due to a changing political climate, the Bolsheviks disbanded the Constituent Assembly in January 1918.The SRs soon split into pro-Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik factions. The anti-Bolshevik faction of this party, known as the Right SRs and which remained loyal to the Provisional Government leader Alexander Kerensky, was defeated and destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the course of the Russian Civil War and subsequent persecution.

Ukrainian–Soviet War

The Ukrainian–Soviet War (Ukrainian: Українсько-радянська війна) is the term commonly used in post-Soviet Ukraine for the events taking place between 1917–21, nowadays regarded essentially as a war between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Bolsheviks. The war ensued soon after the October Revolution when Lenin dispatched the Antonov's expeditionary group to Ukraine and Southern Russia. Soviet historical tradition viewed it as an occupation of Ukraine by military forces of Western and Central Europe, including the Polish Republic's military – the Bolshevik victory constituting Ukraine's liberation from these forces. Conversely, modern Ukrainian historians consider it a failed War of Independence by the Ukrainian People's Republic against the Russian Soviet Republic, ending with Ukraine falling under a Russian-Soviet occupation.

Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known by the alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism known as Leninism.

Born to a moderately prosperous middle-class family in Simbirsk, Lenin embraced revolutionary socialist politics following his brother's 1887 execution. Expelled from Kazan Imperial University for participating in protests against the Russian Empire's Tsarist government, he devoted the following years to a law degree. He moved to Saint Petersburg in 1893 and became a senior Marxist activist. In 1897, he was arrested for sedition and exiled to Shushenskoye for three years, where he married Nadezhda Krupskaya. After his exile, he moved to Western Europe, where he became a prominent theorist in the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). In 1903, he took a key role in a RSDLP ideological split, leading the Bolshevik faction against Julius Martov's Mensheviks. Encouraging insurrection during Russia's failed Revolution of 1905, he later campaigned for the First World War to be transformed into a Europe-wide proletarian revolution, which as a Marxist he believed would cause the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement with socialism. After the 1917 February Revolution ousted the Tsar and established a Provisional Government, he returned to Russia to play a leading role in the October Revolution, in which the Bolsheviks overthrew the new regime.

Lenin's Bolshevik government initially shared power with the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, elected soviets, and a multi-party Constituent Assembly, although by 1918 it had centralised power in the new Communist Party. Lenin's administration redistributed land among the peasantry and nationalised banks and large-scale industry. It withdrew from the First World War by signing a treaty with the Central Powers and promoted world revolution through the Communist International. Opponents were suppressed in the Red Terror, a violent campaign administered by the state security services; tens of thousands were killed or interned in concentration camps. His administration defeated right and left-wing anti-Bolshevik armies in the Russian Civil War from 1917 to 1922 and oversaw the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. Responding to wartime devastation, famine, and popular uprisings, in 1921 Lenin encouraged economic growth through the market-oriented New Economic Policy. Several non-Russian nations secured independence after 1917, but three re-united with Russia through the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922. In increasingly poor health, Lenin died at his dacha in Gorki, with Joseph Stalin succeeding him as the pre-eminent figure in the Soviet government.

Widely considered one of the most significant and influential figures of the 20th century, Lenin was the posthumous subject of a pervasive personality cult within the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991. He became an ideological figurehead behind Marxism–Leninism and thus a prominent influence over the international communist movement. A controversial and highly divisive individual, Lenin is viewed by supporters as a champion of socialism and the working class, while critics on both the left and right emphasize his role as founder and leader of an authoritarian regime responsible for political repression and mass killings.

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