The Corner

Bolshies and Menshies

In response to “His Health Is Bad.”

Jay and Andrew, ISIS has other similarities with Lenin’s crowd, as well. Like the radical revolutionaries of 1917, they know that shaping public opinion is a crucial element in victory. They use the slickest (if also, perhaps, most horrifying) propaganda videos since Leni Riefenstahl.

Back in 1903, at the Second Party Congress of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, Lenin’s faction adopted the moniker “Bolsheviks,” literally meaning “majorityites,” after winning a party vote. Their opponents were labeled “Mensheviks,” or “minorityites.” Despite this branding effort, they remained but a small group in the universe of Russian political parties.

In October 1917, the Bolsheviks led the overthrow of the post-Tsarist Russian Provisional Government, headed by Alexander Kerensky. In elections for the successor All-Russian Constituent Assembly, the Bolsheviks were far outnumbered by other political parties, with the Socialist Revolutionary Party having the plurality of seats in the Assembly. That did not stop Lenin from disbanding the Assembly and locking its delegates out of the assembly hall in November 1917.

As you both point out, the Bolsheviks’ dedication and organization won the day over the tepid leadership of other parties, but projecting an image of popularity and power was also central to their success, adding to the terror they inspired through their brutal assassinations of political opponents, led by the head of the Cheka (The All-Russian Emergency Committee), Felix Dzerzhinsky.

 

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