Nikolai Bukharin

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Nikolai Bukharin
Nikolai Bukharin in 1962
Premier of the Soviet Union
In Office
- c. 1941
Preceded byVladimir Lenin
Succeeded byJoseph Stalin
Potential leader of Ponylon
(April Fools 2022 content)
Personal details
Native nameNikolai Ivanovich Bukharin,
Nikolai Buckharin (April Fools 2022)
Date of birthOctober 9, 1888
Place of birthMoscow, Moscow Governorate, Russian Empire
Age at start73 years old
Nationality Soviet
  • Final leader of the original USSR
  • Leader of Ponylon (April Fools 2022 content)
Political partyAll-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)
Other political affiliationsAll-Union Communist Ponies (Bolsheviks) (April fools 2022)
Ideology Bolshevism
Harmonic Communism (April Fools 2022)

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was the leader of the USSR from 1924 to 1941. A famous and influential Marxist theorist, he was one of the major contestants to become Lenin's successor in the power vacuum that followed his death. Eventually, Bukharin would win the power struggle, becoming the leader of the USSR, and became famous for his "Socialism in One Country" policy and his heavy support of the fairly liberal New Economic Policy (NEP).

While exploring a contingency plan in the Far East to combat Operation Barbarossa, he was overthrown by his dubious ally Joseph Stalin, and Bukharin disappeared in Siberia without a trace...

Pre-Russian Revolution[edit | edit source]

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was born on 8 October, 1888, in Moscow. The son of two school teachers, Ivan Gavrilovich Bukharin and Liubov Ivanovna Bukharina. His political career began at 16, when he joined his good friend, iconic author Ilya Ehrenburg, in student protests at Moscow University, related to the 1905 Revolution.

He then joined the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1906, joining the Bolshevik faction. Together with Grigory Solkonikov, he convened the 1907 national youth conference in Moscow, widely regarded as the founding of the Komsomol. By the time he was 20, he was a member of the party’s Moscow Committee.

The committee was, however, heavily infiltrated by the Okhrana, and as Bukharin was one of the Committee's leaders, he became targeted by the secret police. In the meantime, he grew associations with party members Valerian Obolensky and Vladimir Smirnov and met his future first wife Nadezhda Mikhailovna Lukina, his cousin and sister of Marxist historian Nikolai Lukin, also a member of the party, whom Nikolai would marry in 1911.

After a brief imprisonment, Bukharin was exiled to Onega, from which he would escape to Hanover. He would stay in Hanover until going to Krakow in 1912, meeting Lenin for the first time. While in exile, Bukharin would establish himself in the 20s as a major Marxist theorist while continuing his education. His work "Imperialism and World Economy" influenced Lenin, who freely borrowed from it, in his larger and better-known work, "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism". He and Lenin also often had hot disputes on theoretical issues, as well as Bukharin's closeness with the European Left and his anti-statist tendencies.

Bukharin developed an interest in the works of Austrian Marxists and heterodox Marxist economic theorists, such as Aleksandr Bogdanov, who deviated from Leninist positions. Whilst in Vienna in 1913, he helped the Georgian Bolshevik Joseph Stalin write an article, "Marxism and the National Question", at Lenin's request. In October 1916, while based in New York City, Bukharin 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 of the émigrés to greet him. (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 couple across town "to admire his great discovery").

During the Russian Revolution[edit | edit source]

At the news of the February Revolution in 1917, exiled revolutionaries from around the world started fleeing back to Russia. Trotsky left New York on the 27th of March, sailing for Petrograd. Bukharin would leave New York in early April and would return to Russia via Japan, arriving in Moscow in early May. However, the Bolsheviks were not as influential as the more moderate Menshevik faction and the Social Democrats.

But thanks to Lenin’s promises of peace from the never ending Great War, the Bolshevik membership swelled from 24,000 in February 1917 to 200,000 by October of the same year. Upon his return, Bukharin would resume his seat at the Moscow City Committee and would become a member of the party’s Moscow Regional Bureau that same year.

The problem was that the Bolsheviks were further divided into a right wing and a left wing. In the Moscow Committee, those in control were the right-wing Bolsheviks such as Alexei Rykov and Viktor Nogin, while the most influential left-wing members were people such as Vladimir Smirnov, Valerian Osinsky, Georgy Lomov, Nikolay Yakovlev, Ivan Kizelshtein and Ivan Stukov.

On October 10, Bukharin was elected to the Central Committee, along with fellow Moscow Bolsheviks, Andrei Bubnov and Grigori Sokolnikov. By September 1917, the Bolsheviks were now in the majority in Moscow. Furthermore, the Moscow Regional Bureau was formally responsible for the party organizations in each of the thirteen central provinces around Moscow – which accounted for 37% of the whole population of Russia and 20% of the Bolshevik membership.

While no one truly dominated local revolutionary politics like Trotsky did in Petrograd, Bukharin was certainly the most prominent leader in Moscow. During the October Revolution, Bukharin drafted, introduced, and defended the revolutionary decrees of the Moscow Soviet. Bukharin then represented the Moscow Soviet in their report to the revolutionary government in Petrograd.

Following the October Revolution, Bukharin 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 World War I, when a negotiated peace with the Central Powers was looming, he demanded a continuation 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 Entente 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.

During this wartime power struggle, Lenin's arrest had been seriously discussed by them and Left Socialist Revolutionaries in 1918. Bukharin revealed this in a Pravda article in 1924 and stated that it had been "a period when the party stood a hair from a split, and the whole country a hair from ruin". 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 the 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 changed his position and accepted Lenin's emphasis on the survival and strengthening of the Soviet state as the bastion of the future world revolution. He became the foremost supporter of the New Economic Policy (NEP), to which he was to tie his political fortunes. Considered by the Left Communists as a retreat from socialist policies, the NEP reintroduced money and allowed private ownership and capitalistic practices in agriculture, retail trade, and light industry while the state retained control of heavy industry.