Difference Between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks (With Table)

In the early 1900s, in tsarist Russia, a social democrat workers party was created which went on to later be involved in the French Revolution in 1917. The party later split into two factions, one being the minority faction the other one being the majority faction. The majority faction being called Bolsheviks and the minority faction being called Mensheviks.

In the years followed by the formation of the groups, the naming on this criteria proved to be a misnomer. Both of them are Russian factions and had different principles, ideologies, and beliefs.

Bolsheviks vs Mensheviks

The difference between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks is that the former was a part of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party while the latter was a part of the Russian Revolutionary Movement. The Bolsheviks were led by Vladimir Lenin and the Mensheviks were led by Julius Martov.

The Bolsheviks were a community under the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party or RSDLP and comprised of the majority of socialists and was under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. The Bolsheviks had a democratic central government having most of the professional revolutionaries. It was very selective with the party members and was not open to all.

Mensheviks were a small community under the Russian Revolutionary Movement and were guided under the leadership of Julius Martov. The Mensheviks believed in an open democratic government, a party that was open for all and where people’s votes were counted. The Mensheviks believed in going ahead one step after one step.

Comparison Table Between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks

Parameters of ComparisonBolsheviksMensheviks
EtymologyComes from a Russian word that means ‘a majority member’.Comes from a Russian word that means ‘a minority member’.
PartyMarxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party or RSDLPRussian Revolutionary Movement
BeliefsThey believed in a highly centralized government comprising of revolutionary ideologies.They believed in a democratic form of government in which public opinion matters.
WorksThey did not work alongside middle-class people.They worked with Bourgeoisie and also the middle-class people.
PublicityDid not gain much attention from the public.They drew a lot of public attention due to their ideologies.
ThoughtsThey believed that Russia can move from a communist society to an absolute monarchy directly.They believed in going ahead one step after one step in order to make the country a communist one.

What are Bolsheviks?

The word Bolsheviks comes from a Russian word meaning ‘majority’. Bolsheviks believed in a radical, elitist revolution form of government formation. They came to power during the Russian revolution (October phase) in 1917.it is often said that the Russian soviet federative socialist republic was founded by the Bolsheviks. It, later on, became the chief constituent of the soviet union in 1922.

The Bolsheviks were a community that usually comprised the majority of socialists and was under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin.

 The community worked with the aim of revolution. They wanted a disciplined party that would control the members and they also look upon the fact that who can enter the government. It was not open for all but had a selective procedure for it. They had the objective to make the party such a party that would encourage revolution.

They did not want to work for middle-class people. Bolsheviks were one of the first to start the Russian revolution and they also believed that Russia can move from a communist society to an absolute monarchy directly. The Bolsheviks had a great impact on the Russian and the history of Russia and the bolshevik’s practices are often referred to as Bolshevism.

What are Mensheviks?

The word Menshevik comes from a Russian word that means ‘minority’. The Mensheviks were the people who believed in parliamentary form and government. They also collaborated with the Bourgeoisie (comprised of industrialists and capitalists) and the middle-class people to form a more flexible government. The center f the community was held by Julius Martov, also the head of the community.

Mensheviks were a small community guided under the leadership of Julius Martov. The people of the community believed that there can be a gradual change and a parliamentary government (similar to Britain and France) can be established.

The Mensheviks favored a party that was open to all systems and the people could work within a proper system and management. The Mensheviks believed in going ahead one step after one step. They did not take up the idea of revolution and thought to bring about a change by inducing democracy. They were more positive about their ideologies regarding the management of the government.

Main Differences Between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks 

  1. Bolsheviks were a part of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party or RSDLP while the Mensheviks were a fraction of people in the Russian Revolutionary Movement in the year 1904.
  2. Bolsheviks emerged from a Russian word that meant majority while Mensheviks emerged from a Russian word that meant minority.
  3. Bolsheviks did not help the middle-class people while Mensheviks worked in collaboration with the middle-class people.
  4. Bolsheviks wanted a centralized disciplined party consisting of people with their revolutionary ideology while the Mensheviks wanted a democratic party.
  5. Bolsheviks had professional revolutionaries in their party and not everyone was allowed to join them. Mensheviks allowed an open to all party where everyone was allowed to join the party.
  6. Bolsheviks used violence while Mensheviks did not.
  7. Bolsheviks believed that the trade unions and other organizations can be controlled by their centralized party while Mensheviks believed that the presence of their democratic party in these organizations was enough for their management.

Conclusion

Both the Russian fractions had a difference in their ideologies, had different principles, and different kinds of governments. The Bolsheviks were less recognized by the public as they did not help the middle class and their principles were less related to the public. Mensheviks had the attention of the public as it was open to all and served more favorable terms for the general public.

The Bolsheviks believed in a disciplined party making up a centralized democratic government. Mensheviks believed in a democratic government having an open to all system where anyone can join the party. One believed in revolutions while the second believed in democracy and communism.

References

  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=piqNDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT5&dq=bolsheviks+and+mensheviks&ots=wZtm9JxM61&sig=FqBWte6mHzUxXocBXd3iNG7oefY&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=bolsheviks%20and%20mensheviks&f=false
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781405198073.wbierp0222  
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