The Mensheviks versus the Bolsheviks (from 1903)

The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) was founded in 1898, but the party divided into two wings at the 1903 Congress in London. The Bolshevik (“majority”) wing associated with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin pushed the party towards a cadre organisation of professional revolutionaries.

This went against the direction of the Mensheviks (“minority”). From 1905, the Mensheviks, who were associated with Julius Martov, Pavel Axelrod and Alexander Martinov, had taken on the leading role in the RSDLP and pursued a largely democratic form of parliamentary politics; they were also active in the workers’ councils’ movement. In 1912, the party finally split. During the Russian Civil War, there were hostilities between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, and many Mensheviks were forced to flee the country.