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.
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At the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP in August 1903, Lenin and Martov disagreed, first about which persons should be in the editorial committee of the party newspaper Iskra and then about the definition of a "party member" in the future party statute.
Although the difference in definitions was small, with Lenin's being slightly more exclusive, it was indicative of what became an essential difference between the philosophies of the two emerging factions as Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters whereas Martov believed it was better to have a large party of activists with broad representation.
Martov's proposal was accepted by the majority of the delegates (28 votes to 23). However, after seven delegates stormed out of the Congress—five of them representatives of the Jewish Bund who left in protest about their own federalist proposal being defeated—Lenin's supporters won a slight majority, which was reflected in the composition of the Central Committee and the other central party organs elected at the Congress. That was also the reason behind the naming of the factions. It was later hypothesized that Lenin had purposely offended some of the delegates in order to have them leave the meeting in protest, giving him a majority. However, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were united in voting against the Bundist proposal, which lost 41 to 5. Despite the outcome of the Congress, the following years saw the Mensheviks gathering considerable support among regular social democrats and effectively building up a parallel party organization.
At the 4th Congress of the RSDLP in 1906, a reunification was formally achieved. In contrast to the 2nd Congress, the Mensheviks were in the majority from start to finish, yet Martov's definition of a party member, which had prevailed at the 1st Congress, was replaced by Lenin's. On the other hand, numerous disagreements about alliances and strategy emerged. The two factions kept their separate structures and continued to operate separately.
As before, both factions believed that Russia was not developed enough to make socialism possible and that therefore the revolution which they planned, aiming to overthrow the Tsarist regime, would be a bourgeois-democratic revolution. Both believed that the working class had to contribute to this revolution. However, after 1905 the Mensheviks were more inclined to work with the liberal bourgeois democratic parties such as the Constitutional Democrats because these would be the "natural" leaders of a bourgeois revolution. In contrast, the Bolsheviks believed that the Constitutional Democrats were not capable of sufficiently radical struggle and tended to advocate alliances with peasant representatives and other radical socialist parties such as the Socialist Revolutionaries. In the event of a revolution, this was meant to lead to a dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, which would carry the bourgeois revolution to the end. The Mensheviks came to argue for predominantly legal methods and trade union work while the Bolsheviks favoured armed violence.
Some Mensheviks left the party after the defeat of 1905 and joined legal opposition organisations. After a while, Lenin's patience wore out with their compromising and in 1908 he called these Mensheviks "liquidationists".
In 1912, the RSDLP had its final split, with the Bolsheviks constituting the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) and the Mensheviks the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks).
The Menshevik faction split further in 1914 at the beginning of World War I. Most Mensheviks opposed the war, but a vocal minority supported it in terms of "national defense".
After the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty by the February Revolution in 1917, the Menshevik leadership led by Irakli Tsereteli demanded that the government pursue a "fair peace without annexations", but in the meantime supported the war effort under the slogan of "defense of the revolution". Along with the other major Russian socialist party, the Socialist Revolutionaries (эсеры), the Mensheviks led the emerging network of soviets, notably the Petrograd Soviet in the capital, throughout most of 1917.
With the monarchy gone, many social democrats viewed previous tactical differences between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks as a thing of the past and a number of local party organizations were merged. When Bolshevik leaders Lev Kamenev, Joseph Stalin and Matvei Muranov returned to Petrograd from Siberian exile in early March 1917 and assumed the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, they began exploring the idea of a complete re-unification of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks at the national level, which Menshevik leaders were willing to consider. However, Lenin and his deputy Grigory Zinoviev returned to Russia from exile in Switzerland on 3 April and re-asserted control of the Bolshevik Party by late April 1917, taking it in a more radical direction. They called for an immediate revolution and transfer of all power to the soviets, which made any re-unification impossible.
In March–April 1917, the Menshevik leadership conditionally supported the newly formed liberal Russian Provisional Government. After the collapse of the first Provisional Government on 2 May over the issue of annexations, Tsereteli convinced the Mensheviks to strengthen the government for the sake of "saving the revolution" and enter a socialist-liberal coalition with Socialist Revolutionaries and liberal Constitutional Democrats, which they did on 17 May 17. With Martov's return from European exile in early May, the left-wing of the party challenged the party's majority led by Tsereteli at the first post-revolutionary party conference on 9 May, but the right wing prevailed 44–11. From then on, the Mensheviks had at least one representative in the Provisional Government until it was overthrown by the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution.
With Mensheviks and Bolsheviks diverging, Mensheviks and non-factional social democrats returning from exile in Europe and United States in spring-summer of 1917 were forced to take sides. Some re-joined the Mensheviks. Others, like Alexandra Kollontai, joined the Bolsheviks. A significant number, including Leon Trotsky and Adolf Joffe, joined the non-factional Petrograd-based anti-war group called Mezhraiontsy, which merged with the Bolsheviks in August 1917. A small yet influential group of social democrats associated with Maxim Gorky's newspaper Novaya Zhizn (New Life) refused to join either party.
This 1917 split in the party crippled the Mensheviks' popularity and they received 3.2% of the vote during the Russian Constituent Assembly election in November 1917 compared to the Bolsheviks' 25% and the Socialist Revolutionaries' 57%. The Mensheviks got just 3.3% of the national vote, but in the Transcaucasus they got 30.2%. 41.7% of their support came from the Transcaucasus and in Georgia, about 75% voted for them. The right-wing of the Menshevik Party supported actions against the Bolsheviks while the left-wing, the majority of the Mensheviks at that point, supported the left in the ensuing Russian Civil War. However, Martov's leftist Menshevik faction refused to break with the right-wing of the party, resulting in their press being sometimes banned and only intermittently available.
The Mensheviks opposed War Communism and in 1919 suggested an alternative programme. During World War I, some anti-war Mensheviks had formed a group called Menshevik-Internationalists. They were active around the newspaper Novaya Zhizn and took part in the Mezhraiontsy formation. After July 1917 events in Russia, they broke with the Menshevik majority that supported continued war with Germany. The Mensheviks-Internationalists became the hub of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party (of Internationalists). Starting in 1920, right-wing Mensheviks-Internationalists emigrated, some of them pursuing anti-Bolshevik activities.
The Democratic Republic of Georgia was a stronghold of the Mensheviks. In parliamentary elections held on 14 February 1919, they won 81.5% of the votes and the Menshevik leader Noe Zhordania became Prime Minister. Prominent members of Georgian Menshevik Party were Noe Ramishvili, Evgeni Gegechkori, Akaki Chkhenkeli, Nikolay Chkheidze and Alexandre Lomtatidze. After the occupation of Georgia by the Bolsheviks in 1921, many Georgian Mensheviks led by Zhordania fled to Leuville-sur-Orge, France, where they set up the Government of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in Exile. In 1930, Ramishvili was assassinated by a Soviet spy in Paris.
Menshevism was finally made illegal after the Kronstadt uprising of 1921. A number of prominent Mensheviks emigrated thereafter. Martov went to Germany, where he established the paper Socialist Messenger. He died in 1923.
The Messenger moved with the Menshevik center from Berlin to Paris in 1933 and then in 1939 to New York City, where it was published until 1965.
The 12th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was held during 17–25 April 1923 in Moscow. The congress elected the 12th Central Committee. It was attended by 408 delegates with deciding votes and 417 with consultative votes, representing 386,000 party members. This was the last congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (RCP(b) during Vladimir Lenin's leadership, though Lenin was unable to attend due to illness. Much of this Congress was taken up with Joseph Stalin's struggle against the Georgian Bolshevists. Stalin dominated the Congress with Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze and Mamia Orakhelashvili, moving against the Old Bolsheviks Budu Mdivani and Filipp Makharadze. Stalin accused the latter of the following:
"Violation of party discipline", namely contact Lenin directly not through party channels
"Disobeying decisions of the Central Committee of the RCP(b)"
"Demanding special economic concessions for Georgia"
"local chauvinism" and "imperialism" as they were accused of oppressing smaller nations such as the Ossetians and Abkhazians
"The desire to obtain privileged positions for Georgians"Ordzhonikidze went further:
Collaboration with Mensheviks during 1918–1920
Retaining class enemies (landlords) in the Georgian Communist Party
Granting political amnesty to Mensheviks
As well as "leftism" and "adventurism"4th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Fourth (Unity) Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party that took place in Stockholm, Sweden, from 10-25 April (23 April to 8 May), 1906.
The Congress was attended by 112 delegates with the right to vote, who represented 57 local Party organisations and 22 delegates with voice but no vote. Other participants were delegates from various national Social-Democratic parties: three each from the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania, the Bund and the Lettish Social Democratic Labour Party, one each from the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Labour Party and the Finnish Labour Party, and also a representative of the Social Democratic Labour Party of Bulgaria. Among the Bolshevik delegates were Mikhail Frunze, Mikhail Kalinin, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Vladimir Lenin, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Fyodor Sergeyev (Artyom), S. G. Shaumyan, Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov, Joseph Stalin, Kliment Voroshilov and V. V. Vorovsky. The main items on the Congress agenda were the agrarian question, an appraisal of the current situation and the class tasks of the proletariat, the attitude to the Duma, and organisational matters. There was a bitter controversy between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks over every item. Lenin made reports and speeches on the agrarian question, the current situation, and tactics regarding the Duma elections, the armed uprising, and other questions.
The preponderance of Mensheviks at the Congress, while slight, determined its character; the Congress adopted Menshevik resolutions on a number of questions (the agrarian programme, the attitude to the Duma, etc.). The Congress approved the first clause of the Rules concerning Party membership in the wording proposed by Lenin. It admitted the Social-Democratic organisations of Poland and Lithuania and the Lettish Social-Democratic Labour Party into the RSDLP, and predetermined the admission of the Bund.
The Congress elected a Central Committee of three Bolsheviks and seven Mensheviks, and a Menshevik editorial board of Central Body.Arkhangelsk electoral district (Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917)
Arkhangelsk electoral district (Russian: Архангельский избирательный округ) was a constituency created for the Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917. The electoral district covered the Arkhangelsk Governorate.Notably, Arkhangelsk had a different electoral system than the rest of the country, as voters voted for individual candidates rather than party lists. Five parties had fielded their candidates in the constituency; The Kadets fielded Aleksander Isupov and Viktor Bartenev, the Socialist-Revolutionaries (supported by the Peasants' Deputies Soviet) fielded Alexey Ivanov and Mikhail Kvyatkovsky, the Bolsheviks fielded Matvei Muranov and Georgy Oppokov and the Mensheviks fielded Anatoli Zhidkov and Vladimir Bustrem. Pavel Osipov was nominated by a group of citizens from Kurlev volost in Kholmogory uezd.The election was held in the Arkhangelsk electoral district on November 27-29, 1917.Bolsheviks
The Bolsheviks, also known in English as Bolshevists, were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903. The RSDLP was a revolutionary socialist political party formed in 1898 in Minsk, 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. They ultimately became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. 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. They considered themselves the leaders of the revolutionary working class of Russia. Their beliefs and practices were often referred to as Bolshevism.Jacob Marschak
Jacob Marschak (23 July 1898 – 27 July 1977) was a Ukrainian-American economist, known as "the Father of Econometrics".Julius Martov
Julius Martov or L. Martov (born: Yuliy Osipovich Tsederbaum/Zederbaum) (24 November 1873 – 4 April 1923) was a politician and revolutionary who became the leader of the Mensheviks in early 20th-century Russia. He was an old friend and mentor of Leon Trotsky, who described him as the "Hamlet of Democratic Socialism". Vladimir Lenin, his longtime political opponent, confessed in 1921 that his single greatest regret was "that Martov is not with us. What an amazing comrade he is, what a pure man!" According to his sister and fellow Menshevik, Lydia Dan, Martov had an "inexhaustible charm that attracted people". As a result, some commented it was frequently difficult to record why they followed him, and he confessed that "I have the nasty privilege of being liked by people".Kaluga electoral district (Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917)
The Kaluga electoral district (Russian: Калужский избирательный округ) was a constituency created for the Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917. The electoral district covered the Kaluga Governorate. The constituency was assigned 8 seats in the Constituent Assembly.In Kaluga, the SR list was dominated by leftist elements.In Kaluga town the Kadets emerged victorious with 6,857 votes (49.2%), followed by the Bolsheviks with 3,454 votes (24.7%), Mensheviks 2,321 votes (16.7%), SRs 772 votes (5.5%), Gromada 320 votes (2.3%), Old Believers 166 voters (1.2%) and Popular Socialists 54 votes (0.4%). In the town garrison, the Bolsheviks got the major share of votes (1,619 votes, 72.5%), followed by the Kadets 298 votes (13.3%), SRs 203 votes (9.1%), Mensheviks 86 votes (3.9%), Gromada 17 votes (0.7%) and 8 Popular Socialists (0.4%).Kazan electoral district (Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917)
The Kazan electoral district (Russian: Казанский избирательный округ) was a constituency created for the Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917.
The electoral district covered the Kazan Governorate. The constituency was assigned 12 seats in the Constituent Assembly.Notably, local SR party branch was dominated by leftist elements.A 66% turnout was reported. The Chuvash people largely voted for the SRs. The Tatar voters were split between leftist and rightist lists. In Kazan city itself the Bolsheviks were the most voted party, with 21,118 votes (26.1%), followed by the Kadets with 20,044 votes (24.8%), the SRs with 15,356 votes (18.9%), Muslim Socialists 12,730 votes (15.7%), Orthodox list 3,215 votes (4%), Mensheviks 2,605 votes (3.2%), Muslim Assembly 2,304 votes (2.8%), right-wing SRs 1,681 votes (2.1%), Cooperative-Indepdendent Socialists 802 votes (1%), Chuvash 696 votes (0.8%) and the Agricultural-Artisan-Commercial-Industrial list 508 votes (0.6%). In the Kazan garrison the Bolsheviks got 10,706 votes (40.8%), SRs 9,177 votes (34.9%), Muslim Socialists 3,156 votes (12%), Kadets 1,686 votes (6.4%), Chuvash 577 votes (2.2%), Mensheviks 400 votes (1.5%), right-wing SRs 305 votes (1.2%), Cooperative-Independent Socialists 162 votes (0.6%), Agricultural-Artisan-Commercial Industrial list 51 votes (0.2%), Orthodox list 48 votes (0.1%) and the Muslim Assembly 40 votes (0.1%).Left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks
The left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks (AKA Third Russian Revolution) 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 fighting the forces from the pro-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 counter-revolution.Menshevik-Internationalists
The Menshevik-Internationalists was a faction inside the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks). The faction, representing the left-wing inside the party, emerged in May 1917. It was joined by a number of political leaders returning from exile, the most notable being Julius Martov. The Menshevik-Internationalist opposed the pro-war line of Dan and Tsereli. The Menshevik-Internationalists hoped to sway the Menshevik Party over to an anti-war stance. The Menshevik-Internationalists dominated the Menshevik Party Organizations in Kharkov, Tula and some other places. They had some control over the Petrograd branch of the party.At the Menshevik Party congress in August 1917, the Menshevik-Internationalists represented about a third of the gathered delegates. A major chunk of the Menshevik-Internationalist faction broke away and joined the Bolsheviks in August 1917. This group included Yuri Larin.At the election for the All-Russian Central Executive Committee held at the Third Congress of Soviets in January 1918, the Menshevik-Internationalists obtained two out of 306 seats.Nadejda Grinfeld
Nadejda Evgenevna Grinfeld (1887–1918) was a Bessarabian politician.Noe Ramishvili
Noe Besarionis dze Ramishvili (Georgian: ნოე რამიშვილი; his name is also transliterated as Noah or Noi) (1881 - 7 December 1930) was a Georgian politician and the president of the first government of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. He was one of the leaders of the Menshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He was also known by his party noms de guerre: Pyotr, and Semyonov N.
He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1902 and soon became a prominent spokesman of the Mensheviks.Novaya Zhizn (Mensheviks)
Novaya Zhizn (Russian: Новая Жизнь, New Life) was a daily newspaper published by a group of Mensheviks associated with the literary magazine Letopis, including Maxim Gorky, Nikolai Sukhanov, Stroev Denitsky and A. N. Tikhonov. It was published in Petrograd from 18 April (1 May) 1917 until 16 July 1918 (with a total of 354 issues) and then in Moscow from June to July 1918, when it was closed down. Its run was interrupted in September 1917, when publication was suspended on the orders of the Russian Provisional Government.It should not be confused with the Bolsheviks' paper Novaya Zhizn, which was published for two months in 1905.Pati Kremer
Pati Kremer (1867–1943) was a Russian revolutionary socialist and pioneer of the General Jewish Workers' Union in Lithuania, Poland and Russia (Bund). She was the wife of Arkadi Kremer.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.Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks)
This article is about the Mensheviks as an independent political party. For the history of the Menshevik movement as a faction inside the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, see Menshevik.The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks) (Russian: Российская социал-демократическая рабочая партия (меньшевиков)) was a political party in Russia.
It emerged in 1912 as the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was divided into two, the other group being the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks).
However, the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks had existed as factions of the original party since 1903.Transbaikal electoral district (Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917)
The Transbaikal electoral district (Russian: Забайкальский избирательный округ) was a constituency created for the Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917. The electoral district covered the Transbaikal Oblast. 6 out of the 15 submitted lists in Transbaikal were rejected by the electoral authorities.In Transbaikal the local Bolshevik party organization had steered away from the party centre, and cooperated with the local Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. In May 1917 the three parties had a joint list for the local government election. As of July 1917 Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were still holding joint meetings in Chita. The city was ruled by a People's Soviet, gathering SRs (both right and left-wing factions), Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. Only in the immediate run-up to the October Revolution was an All-Siberian Executive Bureau of the Bolshevik Party formed and the Siberian Bolsheviks began to conform with the party line.Yakutsk electoral district (Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917)
The Yakutsk electoral district (Russian: Якутский избирательный округ) was a constituency created for the Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917. The electoral district covered the Yakutsk Oblast. Four candidate lists were in the fray; List 1 - Yakutian Labour Union of Federalists, List 2 - Socialist-Revolutionaries, List 3 - Mensheviks and List 4 - Kadets.Yukhym Medvedev
Yukhym Medvedev (Ukrainian: Юхим Медведєв, Russian: Ефим Григорьевич Медведев) (1 April 1886–7 June 1938) was the first elected chairman of the Soviet parliament in Ukraine. Medvedev was a member of various Communist parties, but in early 1930s quit his political life and committed himself to a civilian life. In January 1938 he was arrested by the State Security police and later that year shot on the grounds of being an anti-Soviet terrorist. In 1957 Medvedev was rehabilitated posthumously.
Modern Ukraine after the Russian Revolution (1917–1920)
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