KRONSTADT was a naval base on Kotlin Island near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Peter, the great emperor of Russia captured the island from Sweden and built it into a naval fortress to protect his new capital, Petrograd, (renamed Leningrad after communist take-over of Russia).
During the Bolshevik (communist) revolution that finished off the Czars and ushered the ?dictatorship of the proletariat? that is, of the Communist Party, the naval ratings at Kronstadt rose up against the Czars in collaboration with the communists. After some time, they revolted against the communist rule because it was oppressive and denied ordinary human rights and decencies. The uprising of these former soldiers for communist revolution was brutally suppressed by Lenin'sred army. Thousands of these communist revolutionaries were shot down under Lenin'sdirection by communists organised by Leon Trotsky. (Trotsky himself was hounded out of the communist party and the Soviet Union under Stalin'sdictatorship. Trotsky took refuge in Mexico. He was got assassinated by Stalin).
That a communist regime could brutally shoot and kill its former foot-soldiers outraged many a sincere communist and intellectual around the world. Those living within the communist USSR could not speak up but when discovered to have remorse, were picked up and shot dead under Stalin'sorders. A number of sincere individual communist intellectuals outside the Soviet Union were deeply distressed and disillusioned by the brutal suppression of free speech and killing of protesting communists at Kronstadt. They distanced themselves from the distasteful dictatorship which was going by the name of communism and rule of the proletariat. In the book, The God that Failed, a number of former communist intellectuals had written that Kronstadt opened their eyes to what is truth communist dictatorship of the proletariat and Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism meant.
The world witnessed a second ?Kronstadt? in Beijing in 1989 when over 3500 students peacefully demonstrating for an open society, freedom of expression and association were ridden over by tanks and shot dead. This mass murder of peaceful students who were not opposed to communism but only wanted freedom of expression and association, shocked intellectuals who were still fellow-travelling with communism.
Now, Nandigram which has been voting communists to keep them in power for over 30 years has become the Indian ?Kronstadt? and the Chinese Tiananmen Square (Beijing). Some of the peasants whose lands were sought to be acquired by the communist government of West Bengal are also communists but they could not, like the peasants in the former Soviet Union and China, but resist their lands and farms being taken over by government and given to private industrialists. The usually communist-supporting and voting farmers in Nandigram resisted the take over of their lands for setting up of industries (whether industrialisation is necessary or not; whether it should be located in Nandigram'sfarm lands or in districts like Bankura and Purilia and Burdwan, which are sparsely farmed is a different matter).
Like the Leninist-Stalinist-Communist government of the former USSR, the communist government and the Party in West Bengal put down the Nandigram farmers? resistance by terrorising them and killing them and performing as many atrocities (as rape) as opportunity presented. Just as Kronstadt and Tiananmen Square brought some communist fellow-traveling Indian intellectuals to condemn the Marxists, Communist Party and its actions in Nandigram. We can be sure that just as the worldwide condemnation by intellectuals of the brutal communist suppression of former communists asking for civil rights did not affect Stalin, Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Sitaram Yetchurty and Biman Bose and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya would not be daunted by ?any criticism. Their ?dialectical? arguments will frighten, fault and silence their ?left? intellectuals.
The sailors in the Baltic Fleet in Kronstadt were mostly of peasant origin. Peasants/farmers, unlike industrial labour, cherish freedom and detest dictatorship. Petrichenko, leader of the Kronstadt of March 1921 was himself a Ukrainian peasant. The demands of the Kronstadt red sailors were basic human rights, protection of their land and traditional livelihood.
(The author can be contacted at [email protected]) The world witnessed a second ?Kronstadt? in Beijing in 1989 when over 3500 students peacefully demonstrating for an open society, freedom of expression and association were ridden over by tanks and shot dead.