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The History, aims, ideas and methods of the Bolshevik Party

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andrew mountford

on 22 June 2015

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Transcript of The History, aims, ideas and methods of the Bolshevik Party

The History,
of the
Bolshevik Party
Why was the Provisional Government of 1917 a turning point in Russian History
3 sentences - 3 words - 1 word
- Originally part of the RSDLP (Russian Social Democratic Labour Party) founded in 1898
- Grew from increasing support for revolutionary Marxist ideas - these ideas were critical of the Populists focus on the peasants in an increasingly industrialised Russia and their use of political terrorism
- Formed Bolsheviks (majority faction) after party split in 1903
- Led by Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov)
- Marxist philosophy (dialectical materialism)
- Advocated overthrow of capitalism by the working class and the establishment of 'dictatorship of the proletariat (workers)
- Lenin changed the emphasis of traditional 'western Marxism' and advocated the idea that Russia was ready for socialist revolution even though capitalism had not fully developed.
Materialism - belief that nothing exists outside of matter. Believes that history makes ideas rather than ideas making history (idealism.) For example, materialists would say that we 'created God in our own image' rather than a 'God creating us in his/her image.'
Dialectics - Idea that change occurs through conflict (thesis vs. antithesis) and that all things are constantly changing and in flux. Radical or qualitative change occurs suddenly to produce synthesis. So water heats up and then suddenly at 100deg becomes steam and a qualitative change of state has occured. This applies to all things including us - the matter that makes us will also transform into something else.
- Marxists invest meaning and logic in history.
- This approach is teleological in so far as they see an eventual end goal or 'end of history' in classless communism. So a purpose is invested into history.
- Marx was never clear on exactly how this would pan out.
Marxists see different stages of history which are defined by conflict between different classes
Work in pairs to try and order the different stages of history - date tham and try and write the classes that conflicted during each stage
Democratic Centralism
Slave Society
Primitive Communism
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
Most of human history. Hunter gatherers and tribal existence. We had to work together to produce the bear minimum to survive.
Productive Forces

Marxist theory of history
Lenins Interpretation/Revision of Marxism: Marxism-Leninism

Read the handout and find out - which stage did Lenin hope he could miss out in Russia? How? Why?

Lenins Interpretation/Revision of Marxism: Marxism-Leninism
- Russia could be the first country to start the world socialist revolution despite its lack of capitalist development
- There was no large working class in Russia so this would have to be achieved through dedicated group of revolutionaries
- Russia could not immediately establish communism but it could complete the bourgeois revolution and then move toward socialism with international aid.
The Vanguard Party
- In 1903 the Bolshevik Party was formed partly because of a split over tactics.
- Lenin wanted a dedicated 'vanguard' party with a strong leadership structure around a group of revoltionaries which would lead the working class
- His party was organised around Democratic Centralism
Democratic Centralism
- The leadership puts down policies for discussion among all groups
- Then once the decision is made everyone must abide by it
- Many historians think the system was flawed and tended to increase power in the few at the top
Lenin - Praxis (theory put into practice) - Bolshevik Policies
- Opposed WWI (only 2 communist parties across whole of Europe did this)
- Immediately opposed Provisional Government (despite popularity)
- April-Thesis "peace, bread, land"
- Wanted to take power through the Soviets
Often viewed as a power-crazed maniac but clearly his policies were directed by his belief in his interpretation of Marxism.

Define the following simple terms
- Dialectics
- Materialism
- Teleology
- Marxism-Leninism
- Marxism
- Praxis
- Democratic Centralism
- Vanguard
- Dictatorship of the proletariat

1) What turning points in Russian history allowed the communist message to gain in validity/support before 1917?
2) Why is Lenin's revision of Marxism a turning point in Russian history?

For Wednesday
Please bring 4 page article "the establishment of Bolshevik Dictatorship"
Found on Moodle
Part B c/work
October Revolution

"The Bolshevik Gamble" Daniels
Full transcript