The Russian Revolution at the Kronstadt Navel Base

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The Russian Revolution at the Kronstadt Navel Base Most popular uprisings in recent history have been characterized by a brief period of incredible potential and hope, only to collapse in failure and despair. Even the supposedly 'successful' Russian Revolution of 1917 followed this pattern. Revolutionaries threw off centuries of imperial rule and oppression in order to create a new world of freedom, peace and equality... only to end up with Stalin, purges, gulags, dekulakization - and ultimately decades of Bolshevik1 rule and oppression. Although it can sometimes be disheartening to review this long history of failure and oppression, valuable insights can be gained by investigating these past revolutions. The achievements and promise of the revolutionaries can be studied and their strengths marked. The weaknesses that led to their eventual defeat and decay must also be understood, so that the same mistakes are not made again. This article will address these themes in the context of the Russian Revolution at the Kronstadt navel base.2 Kronstadt deserves special attention for several reasons. The workers, soldiers and sailors at Kronstadt used the Revolution to build "a bustling, self-governing, egalitarian and highly politicized Soviet democracy, the like of which had not been seen in Europe since the days of the Paris Commune."3 This was the great promise of Kronstadt, which Trotsky praised as "the pride and glory of the Russian Revolution."4 Nowhere in Russia, however, was the failure of the revolution so dramatically illustrated as at Kronstadt. After the Bolsheviks consolidated their control of the base in mid-1918, Kronstadt made one last "desperate attempt to restore and reactivate its radical Soviet democracy."5 This... ... middle of paper ... ...or illegally celebrating May Day. 13. Quoted in Getzler, Kronstadt 1917 - 1921 , 18. 14. Ibid., 22 - 26. 15. Ibid., 23 - 24. 16. Ibid., 246 - 247. 17. Ibid., 22 - 24. 18. Ibid., 248. 19. Ibid., 49. 20. Ibid., 36 - 37. 21. Ibid., 42, 254. 22. Ibid., 50, 36. 23. Ibid., 251. 24. Ibid., 58. 25. Ibid., 119. 26. Ibid., 181, 250. 27. Ibid., 186 - 187. 28. Ibid., 188. 29. Ibid., 190 - 191. 30. Ibid., 202. 31. Ibid., ix. 32. Ibid., 204. 33. Avrich, Kronstadt 1921, 78 - 81. 34. Ibid., 75 - 76. 35. Ibid., 5. 36. See, for instance, David Schaich, Kronstadt 1921: An Analysis of Bolshevik Propaganda (Unpublished, 2001), http://halogen.note.amherst.edu/~daschaich/writings/academic/kronstadt1921.html 37. Figes, A People's Tragedy, 768. 38. Avrich, Kronstadt 1921, 3. 39. Ibid., 229. 40. Getzler, Kronstadt 1917 - 1921, 46. 41. Ibid., 246. 42. Ibid., 252.

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