The son of schoolteachers, Bukharin's political life began at the age of sixteen, with his lifelong friend the notorious Jewish polemicist Ilya Ehrenburg, when they participated as agitators in student activities at Moscow University leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1905. He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1906, becoming a member of the Bolshevik faction. With Grigori Sokolnikov, Bukharin convened the 1907 national youth conference in Moscow, which was later considered the founding of Komsomol.
After the 1917 October Revolution, he became editor of the Communist Party newspaper Pravda. For a time, he was an ally of Joseph Stalin, but he disagreed regarding the collectivization of agriculture (see Holodomor). He was executed during Stalin's Great Purge.