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Building a Red Navy: communist activism and military authority in the Baltic Fleet, 1918-1940
2022-05, Kokosalakis, Yiannis
This article examines the activities of the Soviet military-political organs in the Baltic Fleet. It shows that the web of party institutions transformed the Fleet into a space of political and social activism that had little to do with the strictly military aspects of government policy. Such activism was nevertheless unfailingly promoted even as it became clear that it compromised core elements of military efficiency such as discipline and well-defined chains of command. This argument has implications for our broader understanding of the nature of the Soviet state. It indicates that once the Bolsheviks’ revolutionary ideology had become institutionalised in the state via the ubiquitous presence of party organs, pragmatic retreats for organisational efficiency became exceptionally difficult to implement.