Maximalists

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Maximalists

 

(Maksimalisty) a petit bourgeois group closely related to the anarchists. It emerged within the ranks of the Socialist Revolutionary (SR) Party in 1904 and was organizationally established as the Union of Socialist Revolutionary Maximalists at a conference in October 1906 in Åbo (Turku), Finland. M. I. Sokolov and V. V. Mazurin played prominent roles in creating the group.

Ignoring the bourgeois democratic stage of revolution, the Maximalists insisted on immediate implementation of the SR maximum program: simultaneous socialization of land, factories, and plants. The Maximalists gave the decisive role in a socialist overthrow to an “initiating minority,” a conspiratorial organization divorced from the masses. The “laboring peasantry” was considered to be the chief driving force of the overthrow. The Maximalists viewed individual terror (for example, the bombing of the dacha of P. A. Stolypin in St. Petersburg in 1906) and expropriation as the basic methods of fighting for the destruction of capitalism. By 1909 the Maximalists had become almost inactive. At a second conference in Moscow (October 1917) the Maximalists reestablished their organization and from Jan. 26 (Feb. 8), 1918, began to publish their press organ—the Maksimalist (first a newspaper and later a journal).

With the October Revolution of 1917 the Maximalists recognized Soviet power. Their representatives participated in the second through seventh All-Russian congresses of Soviets, joining the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and local Soviets. However, the Maximalists were extremely unstable in their politics: they did not recognize the dictatorship of the proletariat, denied the necessity of workers’ control and of centralization of national economic administration, and opposed the Brest peace with Germany. In the very first months of Soviet power the Maximalists took part in anti-Soviet insurrections (in Izhevsk in April 1918 and in Samara in May 1918). A split occurred among the Maximalists at their fifth conference (April 1919). Some of them openly adopted anti-Soviet positions; others, having recognized the program of the Bolsheviks, decided at the April 1920 conference to join the RCP (Bolshevik).

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Eserovskie men’sheviki.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 13.
Sokolov, M. I. Sushchnost’ maksimalizma, 2nd ed. Petrograd, 1917.
Zadachi maksimalizma, issue 2. Moscow, 1918.
Zhukov, A. F. “Razoblachenie V. I. Leninym teorii i taktiki maksimalizma sotsialistov-revoliutsionerov.” In Idei Lenina zhivut i pobezhdaiut. [Leningrad] 1970.

V. V. GARMIZA and A. F. ZHUKOV

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