The term for the faction of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party which derived its name from the 1903 party congress, when it lost a vote to the Bolsheviks (‘the majority’) over the editorial composition of the board of the party newspaper, Iskra (Spark). While Mensheviks generally enjoyed more support than the Bolsheviks, this vacillated over time, and they never managed to obtain a true mass base. The movement's greater moderation compared to Bolshevism resulted from the fact that in some ways it was actually more orthodox in Marxist terms, in that it advocated the cementing of the bourgeois revolution before a proletarian revolution could take place. The Mensheviks never gained control of the Duma, and after the Russian Revolution of February 1917 they only shared control of the major Soviets (e.g in Petrograd and Moscow) with the Socialist Revolutionaries. Their participation in the coalition provisional governments, various party splits, and in particular their support of the increasingly unpopular Kerensky, led to a crucial decline in their popular support in the months before Lenin's October Revolution of 1917. After Lenin had acquired power, Mensheviks were persecuted almost immediately, although the party was not formally outlawed until 1922.
Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).