Menshevik

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Menshevik Moderate faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. The Mensheviks (‘the minority’) split from the more radical Bolsheviks (‘the majority’) in 1903. They believed in ‘scientific socialism’ and favoured a gradual transformation of society, whereas the Bolsheviks wanted total revolution organized by a small, central group of disciplined revolutionaries. The Mensheviks were suppressed in 1922.

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Menshevik a member of the non-Leninist wing of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, which proposed moderate reforms and opposed the Bolsheviks' advocacy of revolutionary action by a small political elite. They were defeated by the Bolsheviks after the overthrow of the tsar in 1917.

The name comes from Russian Men′shevik ‘a member of the minority’ from men′she ‘less’. Lenin coined the name at a time when the party was (untypically) in the minority for a brief period.

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Menshevik XX. — Russ. Men'shevik, f. mén'she, compar. of mālȳĭ little. cf. BOLSHEVIK.