Kronstadt 1917: Revolution from below


By Olya. Presented in english.

Not often in history people get an opportunity to govern themselves, to make decisions about their lives collectively and directly, without orders from above, challenging hierarchy and coercion. The period of 1917 in Russia is a unique example of this. Organized from below, multiple grassroots organs were mushrooming all over the country. General assemblies and mass meetings brought together thousands of people. People from different social groups, age and gender, peasants and working women, schoolchildren and workers, city house dwellers and sailors, soldiers and students, were organizing themselves collectively to make decisions about their lives.

This talk will first shortly present a bright picture of this process in Russia and then concentrate on the specific example of Kronstadt. Kronstadt was a Baltic naval base, military fortress, and a town located on the island Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland about 20 km from Petrograd (St. Petersburg). In 1917 it gained a high degree of autonomy by not submitting to the Provisional Government orders and instead being governed from below by a mutually connected network of grassroots organizations (from unions to multiple workers’, sailors’, soldiers’ committees and assemblies spearheaded by the Kronstadt Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies).

Kronstadt is famous for the 1921 uprising of revolutionary sailors, soldiers, and workers against the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks. The important role of Kronstadt sailors in October 1917 is also well described. However, revolutionary developments in Kronstadt itself in 1917, as well as political involvement and participation in governing of ordinary people is not much known. This talk will shed some light on these.

Dutch. Kronstadt 1917: Revolutie van onderop!

Door Olya, presentatie in het Engels

Het komt niet vaak voor in de geschiedenis dat mensen de gelegenheid krijgen om zichzelf te besturen, om collectief en op directe manier beslissingen over hun eigen leven te nemen. De periode van 1917 in Rusland is hier een uniek voorbeeld van geweest. Van onderop georganiseerd, schoten de ‘grassroots’ organisatiestructuren als paddenstoelen uit de grond.
Deze presentatie begint met een heldere schets van de situatie in Rusland in die periode en richt zich daarna op het voorbeeld van Kronstadt. Vooral bekend om haar opstand tegen de Bolsjewistische dictatuur in 1921, is over de ontwikkelingen in het revolutiejaar 1917 zelf niet veel bekend. Met name daar zal deze presentatie een licht op laten schijnen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *