Joseph Stalin Joins The Bolsheviks

At the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Labour Party in London in 1903, there was a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, two of SDLP's leaders.

Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters. Martov disagreed believing it was better to have a large party of activists.

Julius Martov based his ideas on the socialist parties that existed in other European countries such as the British Labour Party. Lenin argued that the situation was different in Russia as it was illegal to form socialist political parties under the Tsar's autocratic government. At the end of the debate Martov won the vote 28-23 . Vladimir Lenin was unwilling to accept the result and formed a faction known as the Bolsheviks. Those who remained loyal to Martov became known as Mensheviks.

The Bolsheviks were born out of Russia’s Social Democrat Party. When the party split in 1903, the Bolsheviks only had one obvious leader – Lenin.

In the last years of the C19th, the Social Democrats had competed with numerous other ideologies in Russia. Included in these ideologies were the Socialist Revolutionaries and Populists. As with many movements based on pure ideologies, the Social Democrats frequently spent their time arguing about their beliefs and where they should go to further them. The intellectuals in the movement, men such as Plekhanov and Julius Martov, spent their time in debate as opposed to actually getting their beliefs out to the workers and peasants. It was as a result of this that Lenin wrote “What is to be done” in 1902. The work was smuggled into Russia and clearly expressed his views regarding what the Social Democrats should be doing as a party.