by Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia / Press Release
On March 20 and 21, 2021 there will be a two-day online conference to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the monumental event of the Kronstadt Commune. The title of the conference is “Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia: 1921-2021 and Beyond,” and it will serve as a transnational convergence to remember history’s repressed revolutionary hopes and explore the “living past” struggle of capitalist authoritarianism vs. humanist internationalism.
“Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia, 1921-2021” is an internationally organized conference that aims to commemorate the momentous March 1921 uprising of the Kronstadt sailors, which was described by the scholar Orlando Figes as an “island version of the Paris Commune” within the Russian Revolution that began in February 1917. By bringing together historians, artists, freethinkers, anarchists, and syndicalists to share their perspectives about the past, present, and “living past” in relation to the Kronstadt Commune, we hope to celebrate People’s History by recalling the sailors’ courage in espousing a fresh “Third Revolution” against ossified Bolshevik rule.We seek to explore how the tragic legacy of the Kronstadt Commune’s suppression lives on in the support provided of late by some self-styled leftists to the rehabilitation of authoritarian discourses and bloody counter-revolutions—in Syria, above all. We further aim to examine how the Kronstadters’ model of autonomous, anti-authoritarian joint struggle among workers, peasants, soldiers, and sailors continues to be globally relevant in our own day.
The short-lived Kronstadt Commune was established in 1921 when sailors, soldiers, workers and peasants rose up, first in protest then in open rebellion, against authoritarian Bolshevik rule. The rebels sent a list of fifteen demands to the Bolshevik government, demanding freedom of speech, freedom of assembly for unions, the release of all political prisoners, and the end to one party rule. “All power to the soviets,” became a popular slogan for the rebels, just as it was at the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Tragically, the rebellion was violently repressed by the Red Army on orders from Vladimir Leon and under the direction of Leon Trotsky. The repression of Kronstadt was one of the final blows the Bolsheviks struck to fully extinguish anarchist, socialist, and other revolutionary and popular struggles that pushed to make the slogan “all power to the soviets” a reality, among them the anarchist revolution in the Ukraine.
Below is a list of some of the panels and panelists for this exciting event.
Historians’ panel (Saturday, March 20th, at 10:00am Pacific/1:00pm/EST/6:00pm GMT)
Konstantin Tarasov (PhD, Historical Sciences, 2015), is a research fellow at the St. Petersburg Institute of History within the Russian Academy of Science.
Simon Pirani is honorary professor at the University of Durham, UK, and has a lifelong involvement with the labour movement. He is author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat: Soviet workers and the New Communist Elite (Routledge, 2008), other work on Russia and Ukraine, and Burning Up: a Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption (Pluto Press, 2018).
Dmitrii Ivanov is a research assistant at the European University at St. Peterburg (Russia). Research interests include the history of Russian revolution and the Civil War, particularly in Petrograd Province, and participation of anarchists in the revolutionary movement. He is a co-editor of forthcoming book-length collection of translations from A. Berkman, I. Mett, E. Goldman, A. Prudhommeaux et al.: “To remain silent now is impossible”: Anarchists and the fight for truth about the 1921 Kronstadt uprising.”
Alexei Gusev is the associate professor of history of the Moscow Lomonosov State University, expert of the Global Labour Institute. He is the author of more than 80 publications on the history of socialist and labour movements, Trotskyism and Communist oppositions, social and political history of Russia, historiography and political theory. Since the 1980s he has been active in labour, socialist and democratic movements, and was co-founder of the Victor Serge Public Library in Moscow, Praxis Research and Education Centre, University Solidarity Union.
Lara Green is a historian of modern Russia and the Soviet Union with a particular interest in revolutionary movements, political violence, media, and gender histories. She is currently working on an article about the life and death of Peter Kropotkin in transnational perspective.
Panel: “Disinformation and Counter-Revolution, 1921-2021” (Saturday, March 20th, at 11:30am Pacific/2:30pm EST/7:30pm GMT)
Ramah Kudaimi is a Syrian American activist. She has worked in the Palestine solidarity movement, has been a member of the National Committee of the War Resisters League, and now organizes against corporate complicity in spreading Islamophobia. She believes we need to be committed to collective liberation and transnational solidarity with all those fighting oppressive regimes and systems.
Lara al-Kateb is a Syrian gender studies researcher who has worked on the #MeToo Movement and the liberation of political prisoners in the MENA region. She is a member of the Alliance of MENA Socialists.
Javier Sethness is a primary care provider, member of the Workers Solidarity Alliance, and author and editor of four volumes, including Eros and Revolution: The Critical Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse and I Am Action: Literary and Combat Articles, Thoughts, and Revolutionary Chronicles by Praxedis G. Guerrero.
Panel: “The After-Lives of Kronstadt” (Sunday, March 21st, at 9:45am Pacific/12:45pm EST/5:45pm GMT)
Danny Evans is the author of Revolution and the State: Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War (AK Press). He teaches history at Liverpool Hope University and co-hosts a radical history podcast, ABC with Danny and Jim.
Mike Harris has been a dedicated anarcho-syndicalist and libertarian worker activist and internationalist since the 1970s. He is a former factory and warehouse worker in the garment and textile sectors, primarily, and a founding member of the Anarchist Communist Federation of North America (ACF), Libertarian Workers Group and the Workers Solidarity Alliance.
George Katsiaficas has been active in social movements since 1969. In 1970, he graduated from MIT while in solitary confinement after being convicted of “disturbing a school” for organizing anti-war protests. Escaping continual arrests in Cambridge, he moved to California, where his collective house was shot up and his car firebombed by the FBI-organized all-Mormon Secret Army Organization. As part of a deep network of countercultural counterinstitutions during the 1970s in Ocean Beach, he was long active against the CIA and for Palestinian self-determination. A student of Herbert Marcuse, he authored books on Eros Effect, in the global imagination of 1968 as well as within European autonomous movements. Together with Kathleen Cleaver, he edited Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party. His two-volume Asia’s Unknown Uprisings places the 1980 Gwangju People’s Uprising in South Korea at the center of an Asian Eros Effect that overthrew eight dictatorships in six years. His latest book is The Global Imagination of 1968: Revolution and Counterrevolution (PM Press). For years, he taught at Boston’s Wentworth Institute of Technology. He was a research affiliate at Harvard in both Korean studies and European studies and was twice awarded Fulbright fellowships (to Germany and Korea). See his web site.
Dmitriy Buchenkow is a Russian political migrant who worked from 2009 to 2017 as Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Humanitarian Sciences, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, as deputy head of the department for scientific work. Currently an individual researcher, Dmitriy is author of Anarchists in Russia at the end of the 20th Century and The Political Ideology of Russian Leftists at the Turn of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century.
Laurence Davis has been active over many years in a wide range of community organisations and grassroots social movements, from anti-apartheid struggle and anti-nuclear and anti-war movements, to feminist and LGBTQ+ campaigning, global justice activism, the Irish Occupy movement, and Palestinian solidarity (including in the capacities as Land Coordinator and Media Spokesperson for the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign). He teaches in the Department of Government and Politics at University College Cork, Ireland, where he is currently Director of the BSc Government. He is also an active member of the university’s Equality Committee and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (including service on the Branch Committee and as a National Council delegate), the university’s current LGBT+ Staff Liaison Officer, and Co-Chair of the UCC branch of Scholars at Risk. He has published extensively on radical political thought, with particular expertise on anarchist and utopian politics, including the edited volumes Anarchism and Utopianism (Manchester University Press, 2014/2009) and The New Utopian Politics of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (Lexington Books, 2005). He is a longstanding member of the Steering Committee of the Utopian Studies Society Europe, the co-founder and a current co-convenor of the UK Anarchist Studies Network, and a Series Editor of the Manchester University Press Contemporary Anarchist Studies Series.
Film screening: Maggots and Men (2013) – 11:30am Pacific/2:30pm EST/7:30pm GMT)
Cary Cronenwett directs and produces films that foreground forgotten histories and marginalized stories with an emphasis on inclusivity and process. His documentary and narrative work has screened in numerous festivals. In 2018 he directed a short, Eisha Love: A Trans Woman of Color in Chicago, that was part of the Emmy Award winning series ACLU: Trans in America and is currently developing this project into a feature documentary. Art Director, Maggots and Men
Ilona Berger (director of photography, Maggots and Men) is a filmmaker, visual artist and curator who was raised by her Soviet grandmother in Los Angeles. She co-directs LAST Projects, an artist run space in Los Angeles with her frequent artistic collaborator Andrew Wingler and her films can be seen on Vimeo.
Zeph Fishlyn (pronouns they/them) is a Canadian-born, SF Bay Area-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural organizer. Zeph’s participatory projects, drawings, objects and interventions cultivate social and ideological mutations in urgent times. Zeph’s work and projects have appeared at Manifesta, MassArt, SOMArts, American University Museum, Five Oaks Museum, the Village Building Convergence, a freeway underpass, an off-duty train tunnel, and a variety of smaller venues and public spaces around the US.
Panel: Kronstadt 1921 and the Social Crises of 2021 (Sunday, March 21st, at 1:00pm Pacific/4:00pm EST/9:00pm GMT)
Tom Wetzel has worked in print production and as a technical writer in the computer manufacturing industry. He’s written a long series of articles since the 1980s for the anarcho syndicalist journal Ideas & Action and sometimes on ZNet and other media.
Bill Weinberg is an award-winning 30-year veteran journalist in the fields of human rights, indigenous peoples, drug policy, ecology and war. He is the author of Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico (Verso Books, 2000), and War on the Land: Ecology and Politics in Central America (Zed Books, 1991), among other books. He is at work on a new title on indigenous struggles in the Andean nations. He blogs daily on global autonomy struggles at CounterVortex.