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A hundred years ago today the sailors of Kronstadt naval garrison rose in revolt against the dictatorship of the Russian Bolshevik “Communist” Party. Strikes had broken out in Petrograd (St Petersburg) in February which prompted the Kronstadt sailors to send a delegation to investigate and report. The sailors themselves had been unhappy with management of the Navy and had deposed their commander in January.
The report of the delegation prompted the passage of the following resolution:
1. immediate new elections to the Soviets (councils). The present Soviets no longer express the wishes of the workers and peasants. The new elections should be by secret ballot, and should be preceded by free electoral propaganda.
2. Freedom of speech and of the press for workers and peasants, for the Anarchists, and for the Left Socialist parties.
3. The right of assembly, and freedom for trade union and peasant organisations.
4. The organisation, at the latest on 10th March 1921, of a Conference of non-Party workers, solders and sailors of Petrograd, Kronstadt and the Petrograd District.
5. The liberation of all political prisoners of the Socialist parties, and of all imprisoned workers and peasants, soldiers and sailors belonging to working class and peasant organisations.
6. The election of a commission to look into the dossiers of all those detained in prisons and concentration camps.
7. The abolition of all political sections in the armed forces. No political party should have privileges for the propagation of its ideas, or receive State subsidies to this end. In the place of the political sections various cultural groups should be set up, deriving resources from the State.
8. The immediate abolition of the militia detachments set up between towns and countryside.
9. The equalisation of rations for all workers, except those engaged in dangerous or unhealthy jobs.
10. The abolition of Party combat detachments in all military groups. The abolition of Party guards in factories and enterprises. If guards are required, they should be nominated, taking into account the views of the workers.
11. The granting to the peasants of freedom of action on their own soil, and of the right to own cattle, provided they look after them themselves and do not employ hired labour.
12. We request that all military units and officer trainee groups associate themselves with this resolution.
13. We demand that the Press give proper publicity to this resolution.
14. We demand the institution of mobile workers' control groups.
15. We demand that handicraft production be authorised provided it does not utilise wage labour.
The tyrant Lenin reacted with fury, unleashing a tirade of lies and calumnies about the rebels which are parroted by his acolytes to this day. The Red Army, led by the butcher Trotsky, was sent in and attacked on the 7th March, but were beaten back, having lost substantial forces to defections. A more serious attack on the 10th March was also defeated, with many casualties on the Bolshevik side. The final attack, with much larger forces, occurred on 17-18th March and succeeded in capturing Kronstadt and crushing hopes that the Bolshevik dictatorship could be sent the same way as the Tsar's.
Though the forces of reaction had proved stronger, the Kronstadt rebels remain an inspiration to all who fight for a free and equal society to this day, and I will be raising a glass to them tonight.