The Difference Between Bolsheviks And Soviets



The word Bolsheviks is descriptive of any majority in the Russian language. In 1905, Alexander Bogdanov and Vladimir Lenin created the Bolshevik Party to help ensure that democratic centralism was maintained within the Social Democratic Labor Party. The word Soviet, on the other hand, was used to describe elected bodies at state and local levels (Pliguzov & Smith, 1996). Though both of these institutions were invested in promoting communist principles, they differed in the methods used to achieve this aim.

The Differences Between Bolsheviks And Soviets

Both the soviets and the Bolsheviks were discontented with Tsar Nicholas II, and wanted to remove him from power. While the soviets advocated for non-violent methods of implementing change, the Bolsheviks insisted on using armed struggle to bring political change to Russia (Zickel, 1989). So impatient were the Bolsheviks to establish communist rule in accordance with their manifesto that they broke away from the Social Democratic Labor Party. They would later create the Cheka to pursue real and imaginary enemies of the communist state (Wade, 2000). The Bolsheviks stole money from institutions and government officials that transported state funds. Vladimir Lenin encouraged this activity, and referred to the theft of state resources as a regrettable necessity (Pliguzov & Smith, 1996).

The soviets supported the gradual introduction of socialism in the Soviet Union, while the Bolsheviks advocated for immediate change in spite of the increased possibility of immediate resistance (Zickel, 1989). The Bolsheviks, unlike the soviets, were extremely well organized and committed to their goals (Wade, 2000). They had a well-thought out vision of how they wanted to transform their nation through industrial socialism, whereby the Supreme Soviet would be made up of officials from the Workers’ Council (Wade, 2000).

In contrast, the soviets favored the formation of a socialist nation on the basis of agrarian reforms. Peasants, in the soviets’ vision, would still retain ownership of their farms, but would function under the auspices of village communes (Pliguzov & Smith, 1996). The soviets were in full support of peasants’ demands to be counted as important members of the ruling party, but the Bolsheviks believed that the rights of the underclass had to be subordinated in the interests of realizing more important revolution objectives if necessary (Zickel, 1989).

This ideology was based on the claims of Lenin who reiterated that the proletariat, rather than the peasantry, had the duty to establish a dictatorship that would take over from the Tsar (Wade, 2000). To implement this ideology, Lenin prioritized state power over workers’ power, and even created a labor book which recommended that workers who desert their places of work be subjected to military discipline (Pliguzov & Smith, 1996). By 1922, small and average sized industries in the USSR were run by cooperative societies, while larger industries were all put under state control. Even the trade unions were subject to state control, as the Bolsheviks believed that encouraging the formation of a bourgeois class would interfere with the objectives of the revolution (Wade, 2000).


          The term soviet is descriptive of state and local councils that emerged spontaneously in the course of the Russian revolution. The word Bolshevik, on the other hand, refers to the Party that Lenin and Bogdanov formed in 1905 to preserve the purity of communist objectives. The Bolsheviks encouraged the use of far more violent methods than the soviets when implementing communist objectives in society. As the soviets were made up of workers and peasants, they were more supportive of the rights of the underclass than the Bolsheviks who were more committed to realizing the ideological objectives in their communist manifesto as dictated by Lenin.


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