Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: bolshevism



The presidium of the 9th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in 1920. Vladimir Lenin, one of the co-founders of the party, is on the extreme right.

Borrowed from Russian большеви́зм (bolʹševízm, Bolshevism), from большинство (bolʹšinstvo, majority, most) (referring to the fact that the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party won on the majority of the important issues at the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1903) + -и́зм (-ízm, -ism, suffix forming the names of systems, schools of thought or theories based on the names of their subjects or objects). большинство is derived from большо́й (bolʹšój, great, large) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bel-) + -ство (-stvo, suffix forming a neuter noun, usually an abstract noun denoting a relation, social status, scientific discipline, quality or state) (from Proto-Slavic *-ьstvo (suffix forming nouns denoting a condition or state)).



Bolshevism (countable and uncountable, plural Bolshevisms) (politics, historical)

  1. The strategy used by the Bolsheviks in attempting to gain power in Russia.
    • 2015, Tamás Krausz; Bálint Bethlenfalvy and Mario Fenyo, transl., “Organization and Revolution”, in Reconstructing Lenin: An Intellectual Biography, New York, N.Y.: Monthly Review Press, →ISBN, page 127:
      The split between the two trends of Bolshevism issued from questions of a very practical nature. [Alexander] Bogdanov and his group condemned participation in parliamentary, "bourgeois" politics. [Vladimir] Lenin, on the other hand, set the struggle for political power as the main task of the party. He was not occupied with creating and implanting an idea of the future of socialism; he thought of this more as a development to be expected from the period following the revolution. Instead he was preparing the organizational and political-intellectual grounds for a revolution that would be capable of overthrowing tsarism.
  2. The Communist political ideology adopted by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; Marxism-Leninism.
    • 1919, J[oseph] A[lfred] A[rner] Burnquist, Inaugural Message of Gov. J. A. A. Burnquist to the Legislature of Minnesota, [Minn.: s.n.], OCLC 18196670, page 4:
      We of this generation owe it to the countless dead, to the peoples now living, to our children and children's children not to let the present situation go by without attempting in good faith to establish among those nations that will tolerate neither Kaiserism nor Bolshevism such a form of international court and police power as will have for its purpose the ringing out of an age of war and the ringing in of an age of peace.
    • 1919 April 6, Randolph H. McKim, The Peril of Bolshevism and the Duty of America: A Sermon Delivered in the Church of the Epiphany, Washington, D.C., on Sunday, April 6, 1919 by the Rector, Washington, D.C.: Vestry of the Church of the Epiphany, OCLC 647881249, page 4:
      Let me ask you then, first, to consider what Bolshevism really is. Well, politically it is the usurpation of power over the whole by a small section of the community. [] The fundamental idea or principle of Bolshevism is that the proletariat, that is to say the lowest stratum of society, the most ignorant, the least educated, should be the basis of the State, should in fact absolutely control the State. Instead of the principle announced in the Declaration of Independence—that all men are created free and equal, Bolshevism proceeds upon the principle that only the proletariat has any rights or should enjoy any freedom; all other classes of the community are anathema.
    • [1923], Thomas Tully, “Simeon and Levi—Evil Confederates”, in The Sons of Jacob and Their Tribal Blessings: Character Studies: A Series of Sunday Afternoon Addresses, London: Hodder and Stoughton, OCLC 774536391, page 32:
      You can never tell to what length of devilry men will go when, setting out to see justice done, they give rein to the spirit of vindictiveness and are bent only on revenge and reprisals. The results may be terrible when the Simeons and Levis of society take law and justice into their own hands. Often it has worked out into grossest inhumanity and vilest bolshevism.
    • 1935 September, Georgi Dimitroff, reporter, “United Front of the Working Class against Fascism”, in Working Class Unity—Bulwark against Fascism: The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Fight for the Unity of the Working Class against Fascism: Seventh World Congress of the Communist International: Report, New York, N.Y.: Workers Library Publishers, OCLC 81071744, pages 79–80:
      The task of educating the workers and all toilers in the spirit of proletarian internationalism is one of the fundamental tasks of every Communist Party. But whoever thinks that this permits him, or even compels him, to sneer at all the national sentiments of the broad toiling masses is far from genuine Bolshevism, and has understood nothing of the teaching of [Vladimir] Lenin and [Joseph] Stalin on the national question.
    • 1974, A[nthony] James Gregor, “The Twentieth Century and the Crisis of Classical Marxism”, in The Fascist Persuasion in Radical Politics, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 127:
      Important for our purposes is the recognition that the proletariat could be seduced from its historic mission, at least for significant periods of time, by controlled propaganda and capitalist blandishments. The conviction, conjoined with Lenin's elitism, produced a fateful compound: Bolshevism.
    • 1992, M[ichael] C[harles] Howard; J[ohn] E[dward] King, “The Political Economy of Stalin”, in A History of Marxian Economics, volume II (1929–1990), Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 40:
      [] Stalin was never able to monopolise Marxism, and the same deficiencies in theory which facilitate the claim of Stalinism to be a Marxism, allowed alternatives – even other Bolshevisms – to become subversive doctrines in relation to the reality of Stalinist power.

Alternative forms[edit]


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]