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"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 was the name given to members of the smaller wing of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before the Party overthrew the Provisional Government of Russia in the October Revolution of 1917. The larger wing was made up of Mensheviks, who were more reformist minded and moderate. After the creation of the Soviet Union in 1924, Bolsheviks became known better as Communists. During the First Red Scare of 1919-1920, and for many years after, what is known today as "communism" was called "Bolshevism."

The word itself comes from the Russian bolshoi/большой (big) and simply means "majoritarian". They were originally nicknamed so after a split of the original Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP), when 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".

Bolsheviks enjoy snowball fights and overthrowing tsars. This type of activity led to a new British slang word "bolshy", meaning stroppy or uncooperative.[1]

The alt-right enjoys bringing up Bolsheviks in conversation frequently, because a number of their leaders were Jewish.


  1. Bolshy, Dictionary.com