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Bolshevik

Bolshevik (Russian for "majority") is the name given to the faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (which later became known as the Communist Party) led by Vladimir Lenin. The other faction was known as the Mensheviks, meaning "minority".

The terms derive from the second congress of the RSDLP, held in Belgium in 1903, at which Lenin was able to persuade the majority to support him as leader of the party. Many commentators point out the difficulties presented to the Menshevik faction by getting lumbered with this name. In fact, the Mensheviks were in the majority until the Bolshevik seizure of power in October of 1917.

The Bolsheviks comprised the more radical of the two factions. Bolsheviks were distinguished from the Mensheviks by a belief in limited Party membership comprised of professional full-time revolutionaries in a centralised hierarchy striving to achieve power, a refusal to co-operate with bourgeois democratic government or even eventually other socialist organizations,and in addition the adoption of Lenin as great leader. The Mensheviks favored open party membership and espoused cooperation with the other socialist and some non-socialist groups in Russia.

Leon Trotsky was initially a member of Mensheviks, but in one of the key defections from that wing of the party lined up behind Lenin after the First Russian Revolution.

After the revolution and subsequent banning of the Mensheviks and all other political organizations, the Bolsheviks dropped that name and became known simply as the Communist Party.

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