Nikolai Bukharin Biography

(General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (1926-1929))

Birthday: October 9, 1888 (Libra)

Born In: Moscow, Russia

Nikolai Bukharin was a Soviet Union politician and revolutionary. He was a significant member of the Bolshevik Party. He was also an author and worked as an editor of the popular Russian newspaper ‘Pravda.’ His political career began at the young age of 16 when he engaged in student activities at the Moscow University. Bukharin became a member of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1906 and later joined the Bolsheviks as the party’s left communist. In 1919, he joined Comintern’s executive committee and Politburo. Following World War I, he switched sides and joined the right wing and supported Bolshevik leader Lenin’s economy policy that opposed initiating rapid industrialization. In 1929, he was expelled from the Politburo. Although the politician joined another newspaper ‘Izvestia,’ he could not achieve his earlier influence ever again. Bukharin was arrested in 1937 on charges of counterrevolutionary activities and executed a year later.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin

Died At Age: 49


Spouse/Ex-: Anna Larina (m. 1934), Esfir Gurvich (m. 1921–1929), Nadezhda Lukina (m. 1911–1921)

father: Ivan Gavrilovich Bukharin

mother: Liubov Ivanovna Bukharina

children: Svetlana Gurvich-Bukharin, Yuri Larin

Born Country: Russia

Philosophers Revolutionaries

Died on: March 15, 1938

place of death: Moscow, Russia

Notable Alumni: Imperial Moscow University

Cause of Death: Execution

City: Moscow, Russia

More Facts

education: Imperial Moscow University

Childhood & Early Life
Nikolai Bukharin was born on 9 October 1888, in Moscow, Russia, to Liubov Ivanovna Bukharin and Ivan Gavrilovich. Not much is known about his early life.
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Early Political Career
Nikolai Bukharin’s political life started when he was 16. During this time of the Russian Revolution, he was heavily involved in student activities at his university.
In 1906, he got associated with the Russian Social Democratic Party and became a part of the Bolshevik faction.
By the age of thirty, he had become a member of the Moscow Committee of the party. During this time, Bukharin got acquainted with fellow revolutionists Vladimir Smirnov and Valerian Obolensky.
In 1911, he was exiled to Onega where he wrote numerous books which later made him an influential Bolshevik theorist. His body of work was highly inspired by Austrian Marxists as well as non-Marxist theorists. In October 1916, Bukharin edited the newspaper ‘Novy Mir.’
The February Revolution & Later Period
During the Russian Revolution of February 1917, also known as The February Revolution, Nikolai Bukharin returned to his hometown. Upon his return, he resumed his role in the Moscow City Committee and even joined the party’s Moscow Regional Bureau.
By this time, the Bolshevik Party had divided into the right wing and the left wing, the latter of which included Bukharin as a member. In October 1917, Bukharin was elected to the Central Committee. That month, he fortified the revolutionary orders of the Moscow Soviet.
Following the October Revolution, he joined the party's newspaper ‘Pravda’ as an editor. Bukharin soon emerged as the leader of the left wing and opposed party leader Lenin's verdict to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
In 1919, he became associated with the Comintern's executive committee and also became a member of the Politburo.
He published several theoretical economic books during the Civil War period, including “The ABC of Communism”, “Economics of the Transitional Period”, and “Historical Materialism”.
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By 1921, Bukharin had joined the right wing and acknowledged Lenin's emphasis on the strengthening of the Soviet state. He eventually became the primary supporter of Lenin's New Economic Policy (NEP).
Power Struggle
Following Lenin's death in 1924, Nikolai Bukharin emerged as a full member of the Politburo. He collaborated with Joseph Stalin, another Soviet politician who supported the New Economic Policy against the left wing.
Stalin supported his theory ‘Socialism in One Country’ that argued that socialism could be established in a single nation even if it is underdeveloped like Russia.
By 1926, the Bukharin-Stalin alliance had ousted several opposition leaders from the party leadership. Soon, Bukharin emerged as the chief of the right wing and also became chairman of the Comintern’s executive committee. His alliance with Stalin eventually broke when the latter no longer found NEP effective.
Fall From Power
Nikolai Bukharin continued supporting the NEP but his campaign didn’t earn popularity within the higher party cadres. His views were attacked by Stalin who referred to them as “capitalist deviations” and even stressed that encouraging rapid industrialization could turn out to be risky for the revolution.
Bukharin started to gain support from Stalin’s earlier foes. He was accused of factionalism and was eventually expelled from ‘Pravda’ and the Politburo.
Later Political Life & Execution
From 1934 to 1936, Nikolai Bukharin served as the editor of ‘Izvestia,’ a government newspaper.
In December 1934, Stalin launched the Great Purge that resulted in the deaths of about a million people, including all of his past and potential opposition authorities.
In 1936, Bukharin travelled to Paris to negotiate and acquire the Marx and Engels archives that were under control of the German Social Democratic Party.
Following the trial and execution of several members of the leftist Bolsheviks in 1936, Bukharin was arrested in February 1937. He was charged with conspiring to partition the Soviet state and assassinate Lenin and Stalin. He was shot on 15 March 1938.
Family & Personal Life
In 1911, Nikolai Bukharin married Nadezhda Mikhailovna Lukina, a sister of fellow politician Nikolai Lukin. Following their divorce in 1921, Bukharin married Esfir Gurvich. The couple remained together until 1929.
His third wife was Anna Larina whom he married in 1934. Larina spent several years attempting to rehabilitate her husband following his execution in 1938. She later wrote the memoir ‘This I Cannot Forget’.
Bukharin had two children, Svetlana and Yuri Larin.
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