Science at the Cross Roads

Nikolai Bukharin

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (Russian: ??????́? ???́????? ????́???; 9 October [O.S. 27 September] 1888 – 15 March 1938) was a Russian Bolshevik revolutionary, Soviet politician and prolific author on revolutionary theory.

As a young man, he spent six years in exile, working closely with fellow-exiles Lenin and Trotsky. After the revolution of February 1917, he returned to Moscow, where his Bolshevik credentials earned him a high rank in the party, and after the October revolution, he became editor of the party newspaper Pravda.

Within the bitterly divided Bolsheviks, his gradual move to the right, as a defender of the New Economic Policy (NEP), positioned him favourably as Stalin’s chief ally, and together they ousted Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev from the party leadership. From 1926-1929, Bukharin enjoyed great power as General Secretary of Comintern's executive committee. But Stalin’s decision to proceed with Collectivisation drove the two men apart, and Bukharin was expelled from the Politburo.

When the purges began in 1936, Stalin looked for any pretext to liquidate his former allies and rivals for power, and some of Bukharin’s letters, conversations and tapped phone-calls indicated disloyalty. Arrested in February 1937, he was charged with conspiring to overthrow the Soviet state and executed in March 1938, after a trial that alienated many Western communist sympathisers.

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