Nikolai Bukharin

From Kaiserreich

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (Russian: Никола́й Ива́нович Буха́рин), (October 9 [O.S. September 27] 1888 – ) is a Russian Marxist, Bolshevik revolutionary, and Russian politician. He was a member of the Central Committee (1917–1921) and the editor in chief of Pravda (1918–1921). He authored Imperialism and World Economy (1918), The ABC of Communism (1919. co-authored with Yevgeni Preobrazhensky), and Historical Materialism (1921) among others. He is generally seen as the leader of the far-left in Russia.

Before the first 1917 revolution

Nikolai Bukharin was born in Moscow, the second son of two schoolteachers, Ivan Gavrilovich and Liubov Ivanova Bukharin. His childhood is vividly recounted in his mostly autobiographic novel 'How It All Began'.

Bukharin's political life began at the age of sixteen with his lifelong friend Ilya Ehrenburg when he participated in student activities at Moscow University related to the Russian Revolution of 1905. He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1906, becoming a member of the Bolshevik faction. With Grigori Sokolnikov, he convened the 1907 national youth conference in Moscow, which was later considered the founding of the Komsomol.

By age twenty, he was a member of the Moscow Committee of the party. The committee was heavily infiltrated by the tsarist secret police, or Okhrana. As one of its leaders, Bukharin quickly became a person of interest to them. During this time, he became closely associated with N. Osinskii and Vladimir Smirnov, and also met his future first wife, Nadezhda Mikhailovna Lukina, his cousin and the sister of Nikolai Lukin, who was also member of the party. They married soon after their exile, in 1911.

In 1911, after a brief imprisonment, Bukharin was exiled to Onega in Arkhangelsk, but soon escaped to Hanover, Germany, where he stayed for a year before visiting Cracow in 1912 to meet Vladimir Lenin for the first time. During the exile, he continued his education and wrote several books that established him as a major Bolshevik theorist in his 20's. His work, "Imperialism and World Economy" during World War I influenced Lenin, who freely borrowed from it[2][citation needed] in his larger and better known work, Imperialism — The Highest Stage of Capitalism. Nevertheless, he and Lenin often had hot disputes on theoretical issues and Bukharin's closeness with the European Left and his anti-state tendencies. He developed an interest in the works of Austrian Marxists and non-Marxist economic theorists, such as Aleksandr Bogdanov, who deviated from Leninist positions. Also while in Vienna in 1913, he helped the Georgian Bolshevik Joseph Koba write an article "Marxism and the National Question" at Lenin's request.

In October 1916, while based in New York City, he edited the newspaper Novy Mir (New World) with Leon Trotsky and Alexandra Kollontai. When Trotsky arrived in New York in January 1917, Bukharin was the first to greet him (as Trotsky's wife recalled, "with a bear hug and immediately began to tell them about a public library which stayed open late at night and which he proposed to show us at once" dragging the tired Trotskys across town "to admire his great discovery").

The February 1917 Revolution to the end of the Civil War

At the news of Russian Revolution of February 1917, Bukharin returned to Russia by way of Japan and at once became one of the leading Bolsheviks in Moscow, being elected to the Central Committee. During the October Revolution, he drafted, introduced, and defended the revolutionary decrees of the Moscow Soviet, in whose name the insurrection took place. Bukharin then represented the Moscow party in their report to the revolutionary government in Petrograd. After the second 1917 revolution, he became the editor of the party's newspaper, Pravda.

Bukharin believed passionately in the promise of world revolution. In the Russian turmoil near the end of the Weltkrieg, when a negotiated peace with the Central Powers was looming, he demanded a continuance of the war, fully expecting to incite all the foreign proletarian classes to arms. Even as he was uncompromising toward Russia's battlefield enemies, he also rejected any fraternization with the capitalist Allied powers: he reportedly wept when he learned of official negotiations for assistance.

Bukharin emerged as the leader of the Left Communists in bitter opposition to Lenin's decision to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. In this wartime power struggle, he was urged by some of his more fiery allies to have Lenin arrested. He rejected this idea immediately however. After the ratification of the treaty, Bukharin resumed his responsibilities within the party. In March 1919, he became a member of the Comintern's executive committee and a candidate member of Politburo. During the Civil War period, he published several theoretical economic works, including the popular primer The ABC of Communism (with Yevgeni Preobrazhensky, 1919), and the more academic Economics of the Transitional Period (1920) and Historical Materialism (1921).

By 1921, he realised that the war was virtually lost.

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