My interest in history has made me follow avidly BBC Radio 4's daily slice of Russia: The Wild East, a quotidian tracing, fifteen-minutes at a time, of Russia's love affair with autocracy that has lasted throughout the centuries, from the Mongol conquest and domination through the ages of the Tsars and of Bolshevism and into the post-communist Putin era.
The broadcast on 14th July focussed on the early popular uprisings against the Bolsheviks and in particular on the Kronstadt Revolt of 1921. To listen to Martin Sixsmith (the erudite BBC journalist and expert on Russia) that particular uprising was a manifestation of some sort of desire for liberal, multi-party constitutionalism à la Britannique, in other words that it was precisely what the Bolsheviks said it was - opposition from the right, counter-revolutionary. This modern, middle-class, anglo-centric spin is incredible! Let me quote from a couple of the demands published by the sailors of the battleship Petropavlovsk:
"... freedom of speech and of the press for workers and peasants, for the Anarchists, and for the Left Socialist parties...
... the liberation of all political prisoners of the Socialist parties, and of all imprisoned workers and peasants, soldiers and sailors..."
From this and from all the other evidence, it is clear even to the most amateurish of researchers, that the Kronstadt Revolt was a revolt of the left, that it was in favour of the grass-roots democracy of basic revolutionary Anarchism and Socialism, and that it, not the new Tsar Lenin, represented the true Revolution in Russia. Martin Sixsmith's spin and his failure to mention the role of Anarchism in Russia's struggle for freedom left me gasping for breath.
However, I continue to listen to the programmes which are fascinating nonetheless.