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|Opiates for the masses|
“”"The early Bolsheviks may have been angels or demons, according as one chooses to regard them, but at any rate they were not sensible men. They were not introducing a Wellsian Utopia but a Rule of the Saints, which like the English Rule of the Saints, was a military despotism enlivened by witchcraft trials."
|—George Orwell, Wells, Hitler and the World State|
A Bolshevik (Russian: большевик bol'shevik) was the name given to members of one of the two largest factions of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party when the Party split into two factions before the October Revolution. The Bolsheviks rose to prominence during World War I as the war severely amplified Russia's internal problems, such as food shortages and abysmal development, and these issues led to Tsar Nicholas II abdicating the throne before being executed during the Russian Civil War. The other wing of the Party was made up of Mensheviks, who were reformist and moderate. During the First Red Scare of 1919-1920, and to this day, communism is occasionally called "Bolshevism".
Mostly made up of workers, the Bolsheviks wanted to end Russia's involvement in World War I and eventually did this by signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which gave Germany a good chunk of Russia's territory in exchange for peace. A famous slogan emphasizing what the Bolsheviks were poised to reform was "Peace, Land, and Bread"; "Peace" meant the end Russia's involvement in World War I, "Land" meant land redistribution for peasants, and "bread" referred to the end of food shortages that were rampant throughout Russia at the time.
The word itself stems from the Russian adjective большой (tr: bol'shoy), literally meaning "big" or большинство (tr: bol'shinstvo) meaning "majority", and it simply means "majoritarian" in this context. They were originally nicknamed so after a split of the original Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP) preceding the 1905 Russian Revolution. The split was driven by differences in strategies of class alliances; the Mensheviks favored alliances with the bourgeoisie to overthrow the Tsarist aristocracy, while the Bolsheviks favored alliances with the peasants. Lenin's faction was perceived to have enjoyed a majority over Martov's faction (the Mensheviks, or minoritarians). The Bolsheviks didn't retain their majority in numbers for long, but already had the name and thus the PR boost that comes with being "the majority".
The alt-right enjoys bringing up Bolsheviks in conversation frequently, because a number of their leaders were Jewish. The reason for this was, obviously, not some kind of conspiracy, but the fact that Jews were discriminated against in Imperial Russia (along with other ethnic minorities), were prohibited from living in the countryside or in the eastern provinces (thus concentrating in the big cities in western Russia, including the capital), were on average better educated than ethnic russians, and therefore were more likely to express political dissent and join various political movements in opposition to monarchists.