Kronstadt at 100

In March 1921, sailors at Soviet Russia’s Kronstadt naval base rose up against the new government and were suppressed. This rebellion represented a crisis for the Bolsheviks and the Soviet government, leading to dramatic changes in the party and the society. It led as well to controversies and debates about the nature of the ruling party and the state.

On the 100th anniversary of the Kronstadt events, New Politics is hosting a symposium on the historic tragedy, its meaning and significance, and its implications for today’s socialists.

In “The Kronstadt Revolt of 1921 as a part of the Great Russian Revolution,” Alexei Gusev portrays Kronstadt as part of a broader revolutionary situation involving workers, peasants, and soldiers across Russia.

In “Kronstadt, an Unavoidable Tragedy,” Samuel Clarke traces the events to the hierarchical relations produced by the Bolsheviks’ revolutionary methods.

In “Beyond Kronstadt,” Paul LeBlanc asserts that understanding Kronstadt requires going beyond Kronstadt.

In “Beyond Tragedy: Postscript on Kronstadt at 100” responding to the three above essays, New Politics editorial board member Daniel Fischer proposes a synthesis of the rebels’ “third revolution” and Trotsky’s “permanent revolution.”

Board member Tom Harrison will be offering another view in his response, which will be posted shortly.

We welcome further responses.

In this symposium:

The Kronstadt Revolt of 1921 as a part of the Great Russian Revolution


The March revolution of 1921, initiated by “Red Kronstadt”, had to complete the cause of the February and October revolutions of 1917. In this context, the Kronstadt revolt of 1921 appears as an integral part of the revolutionary process that took several years.

Kronstadt, an Unavoidable Tragedy?


Kronstadt should not be seen as Lenin’s tragedy, nor Trotsky’s or the sailors’. No, it should be seen as a tragedy of the revolution itself and the hierarchical relations that it created. It is a tragedy of structures and systems of power, not one of individuals and personalities.

Beyond Kronstadt


One must go beyond Kronstadt to understand Kronstadt. One must grasp, first of all, the struggle for human liberation and the hope of Communism.

Beyond Tragedy: Postscript on Kronstadt at 100


To avoid repeating the Kronstadt tragedy, and to build toward principled world revolution, we can commit to organizing transnational solidarity and speaking out against all forms of authoritarian repression.

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