10 Differences Between bolsheviks and mensheviks

The Differences Between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks

Introduction: The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were two prominent factions in the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) during the early 20th century. Though both originated from the same party, they exhibited contrasting ideologies and strategies. This article explores the characteristics and differences between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

What are Bolsheviks?

The Bolsheviks were a faction of the RSDLP established in 1903, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. They believed in a highly centralized and disciplined party, consisting mainly of professional revolutionaries. Bolsheviks advocated for a violent revolution to overthrow the Tsarist autocracy in Russia and establish a socialist state.

Examples of Bolsheviks:

  • Vladimir Lenin
  • Leon Trotsky
  • Joseph Stalin

Uses of Bolsheviks:

  • Advocated for the overthrow of the Tsarist regime
  • Established the world’s first socialist state, the Soviet Union
  • Implemented centralized planning of the economy

What are Mensheviks?

The Mensheviks, also a faction of the RSDLP, were formed alongside the Bolsheviks in 1903. They were led by Julius Martov and supported a broader party membership, including intellectuals and workers. Mensheviks believed in a gradualist approach towards socialism and a parliamentary path to achieve their goals.

Examples of Mensheviks:

  • Julius Martov
  • Georgi Plekhanov
  • Alexander Dan

Uses of Mensheviks:

  • Advocated for workers’ rights and welfare reforms
  • Participated in the Provisional Government after the February Revolution of 1917
  • Supported the democratic path towards socialism

Differences between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks:

Difference Area Bolsheviks Mensheviks
1. Approach to Revolution Advocated violent revolution Supported a gradualist approach
2. Party Membership Emphasized a highly centralized and disciplined party Supported a broader party membership
3. Leadership Led by Vladimir Lenin Led by Julius Martov
4. Role of Intellectuals Emphasized the leadership of professional revolutionaries Included intellectuals in their ranks
5. Strategy Centralized power to achieve their goals Supported parliamentary methods
6. International Relations Promoted world revolution Focused on national struggles
7. Socioeconomic Policies Implemented centralized planning of the economy Sought to improve workers’ rights and welfare
8. Perspectives on Tsarist Autocracy Advocated for the overthrow of the Tsarist regime Worked towards a constitutional monarchy
9. Role in the Provisional Government Opposed the Provisional Government Participated in the Provisional Government
10. Characteristic Representation Considered as the “hardliners” or “radicals” Viewed as the “moderates” or “reformists”


In summary, the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks differed significantly in their approach to revolutions, party organization, leaders, strategies, and aspirations. While the Bolsheviks aimed for a violent and centralized socialist state, the Mensheviks pursued a gradualist and inclusive path. These distinctions played a pivotal role in shaping the course of the Russian Revolution and the subsequent establishment of the Soviet Union.

People Also Ask:

Q1: Did the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks collaborate?
A1: The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks initially worked together within the RSDLP but grew apart due to ideological differences and organizational disputes.

Q2: Did the Mensheviks support the Tsarist regime?
A2: No, the Mensheviks opposed the Tsarist autocracy but pursued a more moderate approach towards its overthrow.

Q3: Were there any other political factions during the Russian Revolution?
A3: Yes, other factions included the Socialist Revolutionaries, anarchists, and various nationalist groups.

Q4: Who ultimately gained control after the Russian Revolution?
A4: The Bolsheviks, under Lenin’s leadership, gained control and established the Soviet Union.

Q5: Did the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks compete in elections?
A5: Yes, both factions participated in the Russian elections, but the Bolsheviks emerged as the dominant force.

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