Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The two-part documentary, The Russian Revolution in Color, highlights the role of the Kronstadt sailors in the Russian Revolution and Civil War. The island naval fort that protected St. Petersburg from foreign ships housed about 30,000 well-trained and well-armed military men with deeply held socialist ideals, many of whom with revolutionary pasts. The sailors helped to ensure that the tsarist regime collapsed and later guaranteed that the second Russian revolution, the Bolshevik coup against the Provisional Government, was successful.

In March 1917, the sailors formed a revolutionary committee that coordinated a bloody overthrow of the hated officer corps. The sailors, committed to direct democracy and radical egalitarianism, formed their own laws, printed their own newspapers, policed their small island village, and supported the Bolsheviks who tried to take power in July but only succeeded in October.

After seizing power, Lenin's authoritarian tendencies further alienated the Kronstadt sailors, who were appalled by the Red Terror, War Communism economics, the Bolshevik monopoly on power, and peasant mistreatment and famine in the countryside. Although the sailors had rallied around the besieged Reds in the Civil War, they weren't prepared to forget that they had participated in t in order to obtain in the first two Russian revolutions in order to obtain freedom, direct and multiparty democracy, Soviet (as opposed to Bolshevik) power, and economic justice. In the end, the tension between the Bolsheviks and the radical sailors led to one final sailor rebellion, which Lenin and Trotsky put down ruthlessly, executing thousands and forcing others to flee to Finland after a heroic resistance.

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