Socialist Revolutionary Party

The Socialist Revolutionary Party, or Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries (the SRs, СР, or Esers, эсеры, esery; Russian: Партия социалистов-революционеров, ПСР) was a major political party in late Imperial Russia, and both phases of the Russian Revolution and early Soviet Russia.

Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries
Партия социалистов-революционеров
FoundersAndrei Argunov
Mikhail Gots
Grigory Gershuni
Viktor Chernov
Founded1902 (1902)
Dissolved1921 (1921) (functionally)
1940 (officially)
NewspaperRevolutsionnaya Rossiya
Paramilitary wingSR Combat Organization
Membership (1917)1,000,000
IdeologyAgrarian socialism
Revolutionary socialism
Democratic socialism
Political positionLeft-wing
International affiliationSecond International (1889–1916)
Labour and Socialist International (1923–1940)
Colors  Red
SloganВъ борьбѣ обрѣтешь ты право свое! ("Through struggle you will attain your rights!")
AnthemWorker's Marseillaise
Party flag

The SRs were agrarian socialists and supporters of a democratic socialist Russian republic. The ideological heirs of the Narodniks, the SRs won a mass following among the Russian peasantry by endorsing the overthrow of the Tsar and the redistribution of land to the peasants. The SRs boycotted the elections to the First Duma following the Revolution of 1905 alongside the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, but chose to run in the elections to the Second Duma and received the majority of the few seats allotted to the peasantry. Following the 1907 coup, the SRs boycotted all subsequent Dumas until the fall of the Tsar in the February Revolution of March 1917. Controversially, the party leadership endorsed the Russian Provisional Government and participated in multiple coalitions with liberal and social-democratic parties, while a radical faction within the SRs rejected the Provisional Government's authority in favor of the Congress of Soviets and began to drift towards the Bolsheviks. These divisions would ultimately result in the party splitting over the course of the summer of 1917 into the Right and Left SRs. Meanwhile, Alexander Kerensky, one of the leaders of the February Revolution and the second and last head of the Provisional Government (July–November 1917) was a nominal member of the SR party but in practice acted independently of its decisions.

By November 1917, the Provisional Government had been widely discredited by its failure to withdraw from World War I, implement land reform or convene a Constituent Assembly to draft a Constitution, leaving the soviets in de facto control of the country. The Bolsheviks thus moved to hand power to the 2nd Congress of Soviets in the October Revolution. After a few weeks of deliberation, the Left SRs ultimately formed a coalition government with the Bolsheviks - the Council of People's Commissioners - from November 1917 to March 1918 while the Right SRs boycotted the Soviets and denounced the Revolution as an illegal coup. The SRs obtained a majority in the subsequent elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly, with most of the party's seats going to the Right faction. Citing outdated voter-rolls which did not acknowledge the party split, and the Assembly's conflicts with the Congress of Soviets, the Bolshevik-Left SR government moved to dissolve the Constituent Assembly by force in January 1918.[2]

The Left SRs left their coalition with the Bolsheviks in March 1918 in protest against the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. An uprising against the Bolsheviks by the leadership of the Left SRs in July 1918 resulted in the immediate arrest of most of the party's members. Most of the Left SRs who opposed the uprising were gradually freed and allowed to keep their government positions, but were unable to organize a new central organ and gradually splintered into multiple pro-Bolshevik parties, which would all ultimately merge with the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) by 1921. The Right SRs supported the Whites during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922, but the White movement's anti-socialist leadership increasingly marginalized and ultimately purged them. A small Right-SR remnant, still calling itself the Socialist Revolutionary Party, continued to operate in exile from 1923 to 1940 as a member of the Labour and Socialist International. Almost all of the SRs who stayed in the Soviet Union were executed under Joseph Stalin.

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