20+ Difference between Bolsheviks And Mensheviks (Explained)

Within the Russian socialist movement, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks were the two principal organizations that contended against one another for leadership positions around the turn of the 20th century.

On the other hand, the word “Menshevik” comes from the Russian word for “minority,” even though Mensheviks were typically in the plurality during the time of the Russian Revolution. Bolshevik is the Russian word most accurately translates to “majority” in other languages. 

Even though both groups originated from the same location and abided by political ideologies that were nearly identical to one another, on November 16, 1903, they made the official decision to go their separate lives as a result of the fundamental disagreements that existed between the respective leaders and members of each group.

This decision was brought about by the fact that both groups conformed to political ideologies that were remarkably similar.

Comparison Between Bolsheviks And Mensheviks

OriginIt originates from a Russian phrase referring to someone with a majority vote.It originates from a Russian term that refers to a member of a minority group.
Previous nameThe RSDLP stands for the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party.Movement of the Russian Revolutionary State
IdeologyThey advocated for the establishment of an extremely centralized government that was composed of revolutionary ideals.They advocated for a democratic type of administration in which the people’s views were given weight.
difference between bolsheviks and mensheviks

Major Difference Between Bolsheviks And Mensheviks

Who exactly were the Bolsheviks?

Lenin was undoubtedly the brains behind the operation and the undisputed head of the Bolshevik party. In reality, he published “What needs to be done” in 1902, a book in which he outlined his perspective on the progression of history and his revolutionary goals.

According to Lenin, diatribes and debates were pointless, and strong actions were required to topple the Tsarist system.

His crucial words were forces that influenced the representatives of the then-political environment who assumed that there was no other preference but to watch for history to take its “predetermined course.”

Lenin’s words were forces that influenced the then-political environment members who believed there was no alternative choice but to wait for the past to take its “predetermined course.”

Key Difference: Bolsheviks

  • Bolsheviks, including Lenin, thought that the proletariat must lead and control a revolution to succeed.
  • The goal of the Bolsheviks was to form a highly structured party that could only be controlled by a select group of revolutionaries (the editorial board of Lenin’s journal Iskra).
  • The Bolsheviks advocated for a seamless transition from the Tsarist system to the communist one.
  • Revolutionaries on the extreme left were known as Bolsheviks.
features of bolsheviks

Who exactly were the Mensheviks?

The more moderate fraction of the Russian Socialist Party had beliefs that were somewhat different from those of their Bolshevik counterparts.

The Mensheviks and its leader Martov believed that a collaborative effort with the bourgeoisie and an inclusive and slow method could only bring about any necessary social reforms. 

In addition, the Mensheviks opposed Lenin’s authoritarian inclinations and the dubious means that the Bolsheviks used to amass financial resources, all of which were seen as unacceptable by the Mensheviks.

Even though both groups shared the ultimate objective of toppling the Tsarist regime, they disagreed on how this objective might be accomplished or the steps that should be taken.

Key Difference: Mensheviks

  • The Mensheviks (and Martov) thought it was essential to work with the bourgeoisie.
  • The goal of the Mensheviks was to create a party that was accessible to both the working class and the bourgeoisie.
  • The Mensheviks held the belief that there must be a time of transition.
  • Mensheviks were more conservative.
features of mensheviks

Contrast Between Bolsheviks And Mensheviks


  • Bolsheviks- Refers to someone who was a part of the ruling group that V. Lenin headed.
  • Mensheviks- Referred to a person who was a part of the marginalized group led by Alexander Kerensky.

How they used to work: 

  • Bolsheviks- They did not collaborate with persons from the middle class in their job.
  • Mensheviks- They collaborated with members of the bourgeoisie and those from the middle class.


  • Bolsheviks- They did not get significant interest from the general population.
  • Mensheviks- Because of their ideals, they attracted a great deal of attention from the general population.


  • Bolsheviks thought Russia could easily transition from a communist society to an authoritarian state.
  • Mensheviks- They had the belief that to establish communism in the nation, it was necessary to do things one step at a time.

Communal support: 

  • Bolsheviks- By 1917, Bolsheviks were under the impression that Russia was prepared for a revolution that would usher in communism across the nation.
  • Mensheviks- The Mensheviks believed that the nation was not yet prepared for communism and that to accomplish it. First, they needed to strengthen capitalism, and only after that could communism be attained.

Usage of arms: 

  • Bolsheviks- The Bolsheviks were not afraid to resort to violent means to attain their aims.
  • Mensheviks- The Mensheviks were opposed to the employment of violent means.

Work for the middle class: 

  • Bolsheviks are unwilling to collaborate with middle-class members to achieve their revolutionary goals.
  • Mensheviks- They were willing to collaborate with middle-class members to achieve their revolutionary goals.


  • Bolsheviks- The Bolsheviks believed that the party needed to maintain tight control over other groups, like labor unions.
  • Mensheviks– Mensheviks believed that having party members participate in these groups was sufficient.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What was the division for?

The escalating dispute between the two heads and the widening gulf in ideology between the two parties led to a split.

The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party’s Second Congress, held in August 1903, saw a further worsening of the situation. With Martov, Lenin sought a more liberal and inclusive approach, while Martov stressed the significance of forming an inclusive party that allowed for debate.

Q2. What were the Bolsheviks called before?

They renamed themselves the Russian Communist Party in March 1918. (of Bolsheviks).

In December 1925, they changed their name to the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks). Finally, in October 1952, they changed their name to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Q3. What was the Russian revolution, and when did it happen?

The term “Russian Revolution” refers to a period of time during which political and social upheaval occurred in what was once the Russian Empire. This period of time started during the First World War.

Following a series of revolutions and a deadly civil war, Russia transitioned towards a socialist style of government during this time period, which saw the country shed its monarchy.

Q4. What were the consequences of the Russian revolution?

As a result, Russia was no longer a participant in the conflict, and the Russian Empire was transformed into the Soviet Union (USSR).

As a direct consequence of this event, Russia became the world’s first communist state, which succeeded the country’s traditional monarchy.

Q5. List one of the reasons that gave rise to the Russian revolution.

Tsar Alexander was famed for his numerous reforms in Russia, contributing to his rise to power. However, the Tsarist tyranny led to rebellion among Russian students, workers, peasants, intellectuals, and academics.

The unrest among the general population in Russia has become steadily worse over time. This is the seed that eventually grew into the hate of the state.

Q6. How did the economy affect the revolution?

The Russian Revolution is said to have been sparked by the country’s outmoded economy. There were few sophisticated tools and machines available to rural peasants.

Because of the country’s inherently frigid temperature, Russia’s growth season lasted just four to six months. When compared to Western Europe, where the growing season stretched from August through November, the growing season in the Far East was shorter.

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