Socialism. A political movement calling for collective ownership of the means of production or an egalitarian distribution of wealth.

Socialist ideas first appeared in Ukrainian territory in the 1830s and 1840s, but they were limited to the most radical factions of the Polish conspiratorial movement in Galicia and Right-Bank Ukraine, such as the Association for the Polish People. Although individual Ukrainians participated in those vaguely socialist groups, a Ukrainian socialist movement as such did not emerge until the 1870s. The most influential Ukrainian socialist thinker was Mykhailo Drahomanov, who adapted Western European socialist theories to the particular situation of the Ukrainian nation; his peasant-oriented, decentralist brand of socialism eventually came to be known as radicalism. Other Ukrainian socialist theorists of the 1870s were Drahomanov's close associates Mykola Ziber, an interpreter and proponent of Marxism, and Serhii Podolynsky, who was influenced by Drahomanov's radicalism, Marxism, and Russian populism. Drahomanov, Ziber, and Podolynsky were first active in Kyiv, but at the end of the 1870s they emigrated to Western Europe in order to carry on political work without the interference of the tsarist police and censors. Under their influence and also under the influence of Polish socialists Ukrainian university students in Vienna and Lviv were converted to socialism, including Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Pavlyk, and Ostap Terletsky. Pavlyk and especially Franko participated in the Polish socialist movement in Lviv in the late 1870s and early 1880s as well as in carrying on socialist propaganda among Ukrainians. Independently of the rest of the Ukrainian socialist movement, the socialist South Russian Union of Workers was founded in Odesa in 1875.

The first Ukrainian political party was a socialist party, the Ukrainian Radical party (est 1890 in Lviv). In 1899 the left wing of that party broke off to form the Ukrainian Social Democratic party (USDP), which espoused Marxist socialism. Branches of both parties also appeared in Bukovyna in the decade before the First World War. In Russian-ruled Ukraine a Marxist group calling itself Ukrainian Social Democracy was formed in 1897; although it was small and isolated from the mainstream of Ukrainian politics, its membership included the prominent writers Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky and Lesia Ukrainka. Another small group, consisting of left-wing Poles who embraced Ukrainian nationality, founded the Ukrainian Socialist party (Kyiv) in 1900. Much more substantial was the socialist Revolutionary Ukrainian party (RUP), founded in Kharkiv in 1900. In the process of clarifying its ideology, RUP changed its name and split into two groups at the end of 1904. Those who remained in RUP rechristened it the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (USDRP). Most of those who left formed the Ukrainian Social Democratic Spilka, which became an autonomous group within the Russian Social Democratic Workers' party (RSDRP) (Mensheviks). Both parties were Marxist, but they disagreed over the national question.

National minorities in Ukraine also had their own socialist parties. The Marxist Russian Social Democratic Workers' party existed in Ukraine, both its Bolshevik and Menshevik factions, with the latter having by far the larger membership before 1917. The other major Russian socialist party in Ukraine was the non-Marxist, populist Russian Socialist Revolutionary party. Polish socialists in Dnieper Ukraine belonged primarily to the Polish Socialist party, but also to the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania; in Galicia Polish socialists belonged to the Galician (after 1897, Polish) Social Democratic party. Jewish socialists in Dnieper Ukraine belonged to the Bund (affiliated with the Mensheviks) and to several parties that combined socialism with Zionism: Poale Zion, the Jewish Socialist Labor party, and the Zionist Socialist Labor party (the latter two joined in 1917 to form the United Jewish Socialist Workers’ party). Jewish socialists in Galicia founded the Jewish Social Democratic party, which had links with the Bund.

The events of the Revolution of 1917 brought socialism into greater prominence. In April 1917, after tsarism was overthrown, a Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) was formed. That agrarian socialist party grew rapidly; it received the greatest number of votes in the Ukrainian elections to the All-Russian Constituent Assembly in December 1917. Together with the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party it dominated the Central Rada and the government of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR). In November 1917, as a result of the October Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia and attempted to initiate an all-European socialist revolution. The revolutionary Marxist socialism of the Bolsheviks attracted the left wings of the Ukrainian SRs (the Borotbists) and the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Independentists), even though the UNR had been at war with the Bolsheviks since December 1917. In 1920 the majority of the Borotbists merged with the Ukrainian branch of the Bolsheviks, the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine (CP[B]U), and the Independentists and a minority of the Borotbists formed the Ukrainian Communist party (Ukapisty). The revolutionary period 1917–20 also gave rise to the Communist Party of Western Ukraine and the Communist Party of Transcarpathian Ukraine.

By the late 1920s the only political party left in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was the CP(B)U; the rest had been liquidated or, like the Ukapisty in 1925, had liquidated themselves. In Western Ukraine other socialist parties continued to exist alongside the Communist parties. The Ukrainian Radical party in Galicia and the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries in Volhynia merged in 1926 to form the moderate Ukrainian Socialist Radical party (USRP). In both Galicia and Bukovyna the Ukrainian Social Democratic party continued to exist, wavering between pro- and anticommunist platforms. An affiliate of the Czechoslovak Social Democratic party was established in Transcarpathia in 1920. Socialist organizations and periodicals also flourished among Ukrainian immigrants in Canada and the United States, especially in the first three decades of the 20th century. After the Revolution of 1917 most of the Ukrainian socialists in Canada regrouped around the pro-communist Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association. In the United States they became associated with either the pro-communist United Ukrainian Toilers Organization or the Ukrainian Workingmen's Association (which maintained connections with the Ukrainian Socialist Radical party in Galicia). With the consolidation of Stalinism in the 1930s, which brought with it forced collectivization, the Famine-Genocide of 1932–3, and the annihilation of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, socialism lost much of its popularity among Ukrainians, particularly in Galicia and Bukovyna and in the emigration. During the Second World War no socialist groups were active in Ukraine, except for the thoroughly Stalinist CP(B)U.

In the postwar Ukrainian diaspora the traditional moderate Ukrainian socialist parties were revived—the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party, the Ukrainian Social Democratic party, and the Ukrainian Socialist Radical party. In 1950 they joined together to form the Ukrainian Socialist party. The Ukrainian Revolutionary Democratic party, a new creation composed largely of émigrés from Soviet Ukraine, was also socialist; the socialist perspective was particularly pronounced in the party's left wing, which published the newspaper Vpered (Munich). Under the impact of the new left movement of the 1960s and 1970s a sector of Ukrainian youth in the diaspora, primarily in Canada, adopted a revolutionary socialist and anti-Stalinist ideology; their periodicals were Meta and Diialoh.

Borys, J. ‘Political Parties in the Ukraine,’ in The Ukraine, 1917–1921: A Study in Revolution, ed T. Hunczak (Cambridge, Mass 1977)
Himka, J.-P. Socialism in Galicia: The Emergence of Polish Social Democracy and Ukrainian Radicalism (1860–1890) (Cambridge, Mass 1983)

John-Paul Himka

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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