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"Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful. Every success, every achievement, every victory, every scientific discovery, all knowledge, all wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue directly from his leadership and inspiration. Nobody has ever seen Big Brother. He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the telescreen. We may be reasonably sure that he will never die, and there is already considerable uncertainty as to when he was born. Big Brother is the guise in which the Party chooses to exhibit itself to the world. "

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism
Emmanuel Goldstein

Stalin - Cult of Personality

The idea of reducing one's basic views on politics to their core elements and presenting them as a capsuled body of doctrine (an "ism" or "thought"), imbued with an aura of immutable truth, was the creation of Stalin. He had to demonstrate to superior men that he was not an intellectual "mediocrity" (Trotsky's word). Beyond that, he had to demonstrate during his purge of former colleagues that he was the dominant leader as well as the only theoretical genius.

Karl Marx, stressing his dislike of "any personality cult," used to say that he and Friedrich Engels joined the League of Communists "on condition that everything contributing to the superstitions worship of authorities be thrown out of the Charter." In founding the Communist Party, V.I.Lenin fought unremittingly against the anti-Marxist conception of the "hero" and the "crowd" and resolutely condemned the practice of setting the individual hero over the popular masses. "The wisdom of tens of millions of creators," V.I.Lenin used to say, "creates something immeasurably higher than the greatest foresight of genius."

Stalin established cult of personality for Lenin and his own, in spite of the opposition of Lenin's widow, who was against personality cult, to place Lenin's body in a glass coffin for people to pay their last respects. This personality cult reached its peak in the Soviet-German War.Stalin's name was also written in the new Soviet national anthem. He also became the focus of poetry, music, painting, film and other cultural works.

The development of the personality cult was to an enormous extent contributed to by some individual traits of J.V.Stalin, whose negative character was already pointed out by V.I.Lenin. At the end of 1922 Lenin sent a letter to the current party congress, in which he said: "Comrade Stalin, by becoming General Seceretary. has concentrated vast power in his hands. I am not certain that he will always be able to use his power sufficiently carefully."

In a postscript to this letter written at the beginning of January, 1923, V.I.Lenin reverted to the question of some personal traits of Stalin intolerable in a leader. "Stalin is far too rude" wrote Lenin, "and this shortcoming which is quite tolerable in our midst and among us Communists, becomes intolerable in the office of the General Secretary. I therefore invite the comrades to think of a way of removing Stalin from this post and appointing to the post another person who in all other respects differ from Comrade Stalin - to wit, is more polite, more attentive toward comrades and less capricious."

At the 13th Party Congress, which was held soon after V.I.Lenin's death, his letters were made known to the delegates. As a lesult of the discussion of those documents it was recognised as expedient to retain Stalin at his post as Secretary General, on condition, however, that he took Lenin's criticism into consideration and drew all the necessary conclusions.

Having remained at the post of General Secretary, Stalin, in the first period after Vladimir Ilyich's death, took into account his critical remarks. Later on, however, Stalin, having excessively overrated his merits, believed in his own infallibility. Plenary sessions of the Central Committee and congresses of the party were held irregularly, and later they were not convened for many years. In fact, Stalin found himself outside criticism.

In the mid-1930s, during the first wave of repression which followed the assassination of Kirov, the adulatory tone of public references to Stalin was greatly intensified and Stalin's image began to take on divine attributes. There was an intensification of Stalin's cult when the Bolshevik Old Guard was being purged. The purpose was to focus universal attention on the dictator and national leader as the only source of supreme power at a time of crucial hierarchy realignment.

A servile attitude toward Stalin became obligatory and universal. Stalin had to be acknowledged as the genius in politics, sociology, Marxism, even military affairs, science and linguistics. He was deified; he could commit no error. Thus, his repulsive personal traits became a fateful source of huge political blunders and a scourge for the people. Stalin's heirs, in order to minimize and excuse their own despicable role in the history of the Stalin era, later gave to this obligatory kow-towing the mild name of "cult of personality."

Stalin's closest collaborators of the time Nikita Khrushchev, Anastas Mikoyan, Nikolai Bulganin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich and others helped to create this image of a demi-god in the Kremlin.

Khrushchev sometimes tried to outdo all others. "Long live the greatest genius of humanity, our teacher and leader, victoriously guiding us toward Communism, our beloved Stalin." [Khrushchev, Speech Delivered March 13, 1939 at the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, XVIII S"ezd Vsesoyuznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii {b) 10-21 Marta 1939, Stenograficheskii Otchet (Eighteenth Congress of the All-Union Communist Party, March 10-21, 1939, Stenographic Report) (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatelstvo Politicheskoi Literatury (State Publishing House for Political Literature), 1939), p. 174.]

Ten years later Khrushchev said : "Comrade Stalin, the genius, the leader and teacher of our party, has defended and developed Lenin's theory of victory of socialism in one country. . . . The greatest service rendered by Comrade Stalin is that in his relentless struggle against the enemies of the people, the mensheviks, socialist-revolutionaries, trotskyites, zinovievites, bukharinites, bourgeois nationalists he defended the purity of Lenin's teachings and the iron bound unity in the ranks of our party.

Anastas Mikoyan said : "Like Lenin Comrade Stalin is a leader of a higher type. He is a mountain eagle, without fear in the fight, who boldly leads the bolshevik party on unexplored roads toward the total victory of Communism. In the same vein he spoke later, a few months before Stalin's end. Stalin has ". . . educated and organized us, he led us through all obstacles and ordeals and he will safely lead us to the full triumph of Communism. Praise to the genius Stalin, the great architect of Communism."

Having vanquished all his opponents, Stalin held in his hands, not only the reins of the state machinery, but of the economy of the nation as well. As a totalitarian dictator he wielded greater power than did his contemporaries Hitler and Mussolini. In the early 1930's, he reached the summit of his power. Few Russian autocrats before him had been as independent in their decisions and as ruthless in their actions.

Amoral, vengeful, suspicious, contemptuous of human life, conceited and egotistical, Stalin triumphed mainly because in his personal traits of character he embodied the main elements of communism belligerency, lack of humaneness, a taste for oppressing, and belief in a police state. None of his coleaders embodied in their personalities these features of communism as perfectly as did Stalin.

After his victory over the oppositions, Stalin no longer cared to observe party statutes or listen to the opinions of the party's so-called leading bodies. While he still reckoned with the opinion of the collective before the Seventeenth Congress, after the complete political liquidation of the Trotskyites, Zinovievites and Bukharinites, when as a result of that fight and socialist victories the party achieved unity, Stalin ceased to an ever greater degree to consider the members of the party's Central Committee and even the members of the Political Bureau. Stalin thought that now he could decide all things alone and all he needed were people to fill the stage; he treated all others in such a way that they could only listen to and praise him.

The book "On the Constitution of the USSR", published Partizdat CPSU(b) in 1937, has these words: "The arrival of Comrade. Stalin found a long, standing ovation throughout the hall. The whole hall rises. On all sides rushing cries: "Comrade Stalin!", "Long live Comrade Stalin!", "Long live the great Stalin!", "Great Comrade genius Stalin, hurray!", "Viva", "Red Front", "Comrade. Glory to Stalin!"

"Pravda" of January 1, 1937 wrote "We are led by the Great Helmsman." The article ends with an eloquent eulogy: "The Soviet craft is well-equipped and well-armed. It was not afraid of storms. It goes on its course. Its body is built by a genius builder to combat hostile elements in the era of wars and proletarian revolutions. It has a brilliant pilot - Stalin." It was a triumph of Stalin.

Editorials of newspapers as early as January 1937 headlines "Spies and Assassins", "Traders Motherland", "Trotskyist - pest - spy - spy", the "base of the vile", "Trotskyist gang of restorers of capitalism" ... The ongoing "massage" of public consciousness gave fruit: people were indignant to learn of the meanness of those who for so long, "disguised". History knows many atrocities and crimes. Perhaps the Roman emperor Nero, the son of Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger, became a household name. This emperor was famed for unprecedented cruelty. Expanding the conspiracy of Piso, the emperor became then invent imaginary plots to destroy the most popular senators and dangerous competitors. Denunciations were encouraged.

Stalin had long ago put himself above any law, thus trampling even the fragile, weak democracy, which emerged after the October Revolution. In violation of the statutes, Stalin failed to convene a party congress for 5 years (1934-39), and then again for 13 years (1939-52). The Central Committee was often in the dark about important decisions of the General Secretary. Feeling the silent discontent around him, however, and aware of the greater intellectual stature of some of the Communist leaders, Stalin became a very distrustful man, morbidly suspicious. He could look at a man and say : "Why are your eyes so shifty today? . . . and why do you avoid looking directly into my eyes?"

The sickly suspicion created in him a general distrust even toward eminent party workers whom he had known for years. Everywhere and in everything he saw "enemies", "two-facers" and "spies." Possessing unlimited power, he indulged in great willfulness and choked a person morally and physically.

Khrushchev in his widely publicized 1956 "Secret Speech" to the 20th Party Congress, provided a glimpse into the cult of personality of Stalin: "Comrades, the cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification of his own person. . . . One of the most characteristic examples of Stalin's self-glorification and of his lack of even elementary modesty is the edition of his Short Biography, which was published in 1948.

"This book is an expression of the most dissolute flattery, an example of making a man into a godhead, of transforming him into an infallible sage, "the greatest leader," "sublime strategist of all times and nations." Finally, no other words could be found with which to lift Stalin up to the heavens. We need not give here examples of the loathsome adulation filling this book. All we need to add is that they all were approved and edited by Stalin personally and some of them were added in his own handwriting to the draft text of the book."

Naturally, this question occupied an important place in the work of the Twentieth Congress and its decisions. The congress noted that the Central Committee, quite rightly and timely, came out against the personality cult, the spread of which belittled the role of the party and the popular masses, lowered the role of collective leadership in the party and frequently brought about grave omissions in work and gross violations of socialist laws.

The Central Committee's report noted "Facts undoubtedly bear out that Stalin was guilty of many lawless deeds, particularly in the later period of his life. It should not be forgotten, however, that the Soviet people knew Stalin as a person which always acted in defense of die USSR against the intrigues of the enemies and struggles for the cause of socialism. At times he applied in this struggle unworthy methods and violated the Leninist principles of party life. Therein lay the tragedy of Stalin.

"But all this made the struggle against the lawless deeds perpetrated at the time more difficult, since the success of Socialist construction and the consolidation of the USSR were attributed to Stalin. Any action against him in those conditions would not have been understood by tlie people, and this does not mean there was a lack of personal courage involved."

The congress empowered the Central Committee to carry out consistent measures to ensure the complete elimination of the personality cult, so alien to Marxism-Leninism; to liquidate its consequences in all spheres of party, state and ideological work, and to implement strictly the norms of party life and the principles of the collectivity of party leadership laid down by the great Lenin.

One of the consequences of exposing the cult of personality was the streamlining of working hours. As is well known, t Stalin worked at night, so everyone who was directly under his command also worked at night, and then this chain reached the directors of factories, secretaries of district committees, etc. In general, all the country's leadership sat at night on their phones - awaiting a sudden call. Together with the leaders of the plants and enterprises, the shop managers and their corresponding workers were at work until late. Khrushchev gave the command to work normally. It would seem that it was easy to carry it out, but even then we had to resort to administrative measures.

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Page last modified: 02-12-2019 17:59:33 ZULU