Union of Socialists-Revolutionaries Maximalists
Union of Socialists-Revolutionaries Maximalists was a political party in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, a radical wing expelled from the Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

 in 1906.

The Union united agrarian terrorists, the 'Moscow Opposition' and other radical dissidents from the PSR in an independent party. The Maximalists officially split off from the PSR at its Second Congress in Imatra in 1906. Maximalists played a role in both the Revolution of 1905 and the Revolution of 1917. Many former SR Maximalists eventually joined the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik).

Ideology and History

Maximalists were so called because they demanded the full implementation of the 'maximum programme' in the expected revoluion: full socialisation of the land, factories and all other means of production. The orthodox Socialist-Revolutionaries wanted to start with land reform but defer socialisation of other means of production. The Maximalists also rejected the PSR's version of a 'two-stage' revolution, a theory associated with V.M. Chernov. According to Chernov, the coming revolution in Russia would not be purely 'bourgeois-democratic' as the Social-Democrats claimed, but would include social and economic as well as political reforms. It would be a 'popular-democratic' revolution, and would transition into a full-blown 'labour-socialist' revolution later on. The Maximalists rejected this as Social-Democratic 'attentism' and argued that the coming Russian revolution would not be able to stop half-way; it was the two-stage theory, not Maximalism, that was unrealistic if it thought the toiling masses, once liberated, would conent themselves with a bourgeois republic and gradual reforms.

The SR Maximalists also had a much more favourable view of terror and expropriation. Before the Azef scandal of 1908, the PSR had endorsed 'political terror', i.e., attacks on state officials and members of the ruling royal family. Many future Maximalists had been involved in such attacks, as well as in 'expropriations' (bank robberies and the like). Such methods had always been controversial in the PSR and were discontinued after Yevno Azef, head of the PSR's 'Fighting Organization', was unmasked as a secret police agent. The Maximalists, however, argued for a continuation of 'political terror' and also endorsed 'economic terror', meaning attacks on factory bosses, industrialists, bankers, landowners, etc., or their property. Such actions against 'private' individuals were unacceptable to the orthodox SRs, who denounced them as 'lynch justice'. Meanwhile, on the right, the Popular Socialists
Popular Socialists (Russia)
The Popular Socialist Party emerged in Russia in the early twentieth century.- History :The roots of the Popular Socialist Party lay in the 'Legal Populist' movement of the 1890s, and its founders looked upon N.K. Mikhailovsky and Alexander Herzen as ideological forerunners...

 who defected from the PSR at he same time as the Maximalists, rejected any terrorism.

The Maximalists were often compared to anarchists, with whom they shared a fondness for 'propaganda by the deed' and 'direct action', but they themselves rejected this comparison. They were not oppoed to the conept of the state as such and envisaged a popular revolutionary dictatorship. They rejected parliamentary democracy as a mere 'lighnin rod of popular discontent' (whereas a parliamentary democracy was one of the cardinal demands of the PSR). The Maximalists claimed that what was needed was a population imbued with a general 'toilers' consciousness' and a small, energetic minority, forming a disciplined secret organisation that would seize power and establish a 'Toilers' Republic'. In these respects, the Maximalists were heirs of Blanqui and Tkachev rather than Bakunin or Kropotkin
Peter Kropotkin was a Russian prince and anarchist.Kropotkin may also refer to:*Pyotr Nikolayevich Kropotkin , Soviet/Russian geologist, tectonician, and geophysicist*Mount Kropotkin, a peak in Antarctica...

. (They also foreshadowed future currents and methods in Leninism.) The Maximalists boycotted elections to the tsarist State Duma
State Duma of the Russian Empire
The State Duma of the Russian Empire was a legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which met in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.-History:...


Prominent Maximalists included E.Iu. Lozinsky (pseudonym 'Ustinov', a former contributor to the PSR's journal Revolutionary Russia, M.I. Sokolov, D.V. Vinogradov, V. Mazurin, M.M. Engelgard (Alexandrovich) and others. Lozinsky was one of the Maximalists' leading theorists and editor of Volniy Disskussioniy Listok (Free Discussion Reader), the group's journal. Sokolov, a charismatic peasant organiser and experienced bank robber and extortionist, was the principal leader of the group and was accepted as a 'born dictator' by his followers. The Maximalists initially received some support from established Socialist-Revolutionary leaders like Ekaterina Breshkovskaya
Catherine Breshkovsky
Catherine Breshkovsky was a Russian socialist and revolutionary, better known as Babushka or, more solemnly, the Grandmother of the Russian Revolution.-Revolutionary life:She left her home at the age of 26 to join followers of anarchist Mikhail Bakunin in Kiev...

 and N.I. Rakitnikov (Maximov), but ultimately, the differences between Maximalism and orthodox Socialist-Revolutionary ideology were too great. In 1906-07, the 'Union of Socialist-Revolutionary Maximalists' (SSRM) was founded as an independent political party. In theory it was devoted to revolutionary agitation among workers and peasants for an immediate socialist revolution; in practice, much of its energy was directed to fundraising by criminal means and to violence against state officials, capitalists and landowners.

In the aftermath of the failed Revolution of 1905-07, the Maximalists were decimated by arrests, but with difficulty they remained in existence as a distinct revolutionary current until 1917, when they participated in the soviets. Always more given to 'action' than to 'theory', the Maximalists soon splintered; some allied wit the Left SRs, others joined the Bolsheviks (who had shed their attachment to the Social-Democratic 'two-stage' theory and were in he process of establishing a radical revolutionary dictatorship of sorts). Some Maximalists, however, opposed the Bolsheviks and engaged in anti-Bolshevik actions during the Civil War.


  • Hildermeier, M., The Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party Before the First World War. New York, 2000. Ch. 4: 'The Maximalist Heresy' is very informative.
  • Avrich, P.H., and K. Kebanova, 'The Last Maximalist: An Interview with Klara Klebanova'. Russian Review Vol. 32, No. 4 (Oct., 1973), pp. 413-420 (Blackwell).
  • The Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Moscow, 1979.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.