(Russian: Bolshinstvo, majority)

Term first used, 1903, to designate the radical left wing of the Social Democratic Party in Russia. They stood for the immediate introduction of the socialist state by revolutionary methods, and were opposed to all alliance with parliamentary methods. They opposed the entry of Russia into the World War. The ineffectiveness of Kerensky's government after the overthrow of the czar gave the Bolsheviki the opportunity to come forward as the friends of the revolution, and by the coup of 6 November 1917, they overthrew his government. With the support of the Red Guards, Nicolai Lenin assumed the dictatorship of Russia, with Leon Trotzky as commissioner of foreign affairs and an executive committee called the Council of Peoples' Commissars. As its professed aim, bolshevism seeks "the complete liberatiun of the laboring classes from spoliation and oppression." Their way to this aim is the overthrow of capitalism and the substitution of communism under the dictatorship of the proletariat. With the supremacy of bolshevism in Russia, land and natural resources were nationalized, industries turned over to the workers, the employment of labor disallowed, and trade restricted by prohibitory taxation. More recently, however, concessions have been made in favor of the employment of labor and the taxes on trade have been lightened. Nominally under the new constitution religion is free; actually it has been persecuted and a very active propaganda carried on against it. Education is controlled in the interests of communism. The Bolsheviki, numbering something over 1,000,000, exercise the dictatorship of the proletariat over the many millions who make up the population of the United Soviet Republics.

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