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History of Russia

Why did the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks split in 1903?

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December 24, 2010 9:48PM

They completely disagreed on how the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party was to be formed. Julius Martov, then in charge of the party, wanted it to be as large as possible with relatively few restrictions. This would be more in keeping with Karl Marx's idea of a large but united proletarian revolution.

Lenin felt the party should be a tightly knit small organization of professional revolutionaries. He felt this was the way to keep Tsarist spies out of the organization.

At the Party Congress in Brussels, Belgium, the dispute over this issue became very heated and Lenin formed his own faction called the Bolsheviks.

They did not split completely in 1903, but the Bolsheviks did hold their own meetings while at the same time participating in the RSDLP. A few years later, the Bolsheviks formally severed ties and became their own party.