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Stalin and his cult

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Post 21 Mar 2010, 02:27
biggest, meanest dudes always win. duh.
Post 21 Mar 2010, 03:47
Hence he didn't really oppose his cult.
Post 21 Mar 2010, 04:01
Stalin could have done it. One thing I'll say about the douche is this, he handled his shit.

He did do it, subtly in his speeches. It wasn't politically wise to be overt for the reasons Kirov pointed out.

You don't see how this plays into the image the stalin cult venerates? You don't call yourself a prophet, people around you do.

What kind of an argument is this? You could say that about anybody.

Now I can accept a certain level of heroism being applied to national leaders in times of war but Stalin's goes to far. A leader's face should not be on banners or statues or any such icons during life and I question their existence afterwards in excess. And what's worse is to be used as a political relic after death. Stalin avoided the fate he forced on Lenin.

There were plenty of banners and statues of Lenin as well, from the earliest days of the Union. Potemkin made a very good argument explaining why these things existed. In a country where a large section of the population can't read, statues and banners are one of the few effective methods of propaganda. A lot of the statues disappeared and few new ones were built after Stalin's era, when the majority of Soviet Citizens were well educated and were more responsive to other forms. Creating personality cults was not the goal, so much as a side effect.
Post 22 Mar 2010, 05:26
There's a often quoted exchange that could very well be apocrifal. Supposedly Stalin goes to the Marx-Engels institute and notices that Riazanov only has portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin and asks why his portrait is missing.

David Riazanov says: "Marx and Engels were my teachers and Lenin was my comrade, but you, who are you?"

If (and that's a big if) it's true, then he was not quite so adverse to the personality cult. The fact that he asked Riazanov about it, who was known for helping Mencheviks, might imply that it was a way of checking for loyalty (to him, to the party, to the cause, take your pick), a tactic that is quite common (monarchies and oaths to the throne, right wing nuts and miniature flags, etc.).
Post 27 Mar 2010, 11:28

Some parts are irrelevant. Take it as you will.
Post 07 Apr 2010, 03:00
Aye I doubt Stalin wanted the Cult of Personality; but he didn't do much to stop it, did he?
Post 07 Apr 2010, 07:25
Since Stalin's real opinion of his cult is something we'll never be able to factually prove either way we are left only with his actions. Personally this seems to prove that at least he wasn't totally into it because otherwise we'd remember him like turkembashi. However at the same time you can't say he opposed it, physically or politically, considering his almost complete lack of activity against it.
Post 01 Jun 2010, 16:20
Does anyone have good sources to prove that Stalin was opposed to his cult of personality?

Of course.

Stalin and the cult of personality

In August 1930, letters were exchanged between Stalin and the party member Shatunovskii. Critically assessing the situation in the country, the latter could not resist the praise, addressed to the Secretary General. How did Stalin react to the words of devotion to him personally? "This is not a Bolshevik. Keep devotion to the working class, his party, his state ... But do not confuse it with devotion to persons with this empty and useless intellectual toy rattle."

June 2, 1933 Head of the mass agitation Group General Archives of S. Lashevich addressed to the Assistant Stalin A.N. Poskrebyshev request on behalf of the old Bolsheviks provide them with the materials (fotoarhivnye documents) for the organization in their club exhibition on the activities of Comrade Stalin during the Civil War. I.V. Stalin imposed a resolution that condemned the "cult of personality" (!) In a letter he wrote with a flourish: "I am against (underlined twice), because such initiatives lead to incompatibility with the course of our party."

Talking with Stalin in 1937, Lion Feuchtwanger said to him "on the tasteless, exaggerated admiration for his personality." At this I.V. Stalin shrugged. He apologized to his peasants and workers that they were too busy with other things and could not develop a good taste, and lightly joked about the increased size of hundreds of thousands of portraits of a man with a mustache - portraits that flashed before the eyes of demonstrations. Writer joke is not satisfied, and he said that even people who clearly have taste, put it busts and portraits in a completely inappropriate places, such as the exhibition of Rembrandt. In response, Stalin became serious and angrily about the "toadying fool", who bring more harm than enemies. All this fuss he suffers, he said, only because he knows how naive joy it brings the holiday bustle to the organizers, and knows that it all belongs to him not as an individual, but as a representative of the flow, claiming that the building of socialist economy in the Soviet Union is more important than the permanent revolution.

Stalin writes a famous letter in Detizdat Komsomol Central Committee: "I am strongly against the publication of stories about the childhood of Stalin." The book is replete with a mass of distortions, exaggerations, undeserved praise. The author was misled by the hunters to tales fibbers, sycophants. Pity the author, but the fact remains . The book tends to inculcate in the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) cult leaders, infallible heroes. It is dangerous, harmful. I advise you to burn a book. "

In December 1938, in a letter to the playwright Afinogenov I.V. Stalin made a postscript: "In vain to dwell on the" leader. "It is not good, and perhaps improper. Not in the" leader "thing, but in the collective head - the Party Central Committee."

When inspecting the layout of volume on the history of the Civil War, I.V. Stalin gave the directive to include portraits of Dzerzhinsky, Frunze, Uritskogo Volodarskogo, Kuibyshev, Joffe, Ordzhonikidze, Slutsky, Antonov-Ovseyenko. Then there is this postscript: "We need a portrait of Trotsky, who played the role in the October revolution, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Lashevich (he played a positive role), Bubnov, portraits of members of the Central Committee elected at the April conference, at the VI Congress.

Aircraft Yakovlev recalled: "Sometimes Stalin received business papers, the authors believed to be not only appropriate but also permissible at the end of the letter to add all sorts of outpourings of feelings and the assurances of his loyalty. In reading this letter aloud, on reaching the ending, Stalin, or missed it or say: "Well, here, as it should be:" Hurrah! "Hurrah!" Long live the CPSU (B) and its leader, the great Stalin. "

And, narrowing his eyes mischievously, he added: "He thinks I was this bribe, to enlist the support."

Translated by google. Origin text was published in newspaper "Labor Russia" No 300
Post 17 Apr 2012, 17:45
I don't believe, so -

Even, in mannerisms and personality, being a man of staunch, commonness - he allowed his people to be victimized under his cult-like persona.

There's not real justification of lost revenue just for ANOTHER statue of somebody everybody knew pretty well, and worshiped at the same relative intensity he should have wanted him to.
Post 31 Aug 2012, 10:16
Ian Grey wrote a little about it in Stalin: Man of History, where he claimed Stalin hated it but viewed it as necessary. I also suggest reading Svetlana Alliluyeva's autobiography, where she dispels a lot of conventional wisdom on Stalin's 'cult.' She noted, for example, how her father couldn't understand why, on his 70th birthday, people, from all around the world, sent priceless gifts to him.

This, however, is from an interview between author Feuchtwanger and Stalin, where Stalin directly denounces the cult that was created for him by Bureaucrats and spread by uneducated peoples.

"When Feuchtwanger told Stalin how he found some manifestations of the cult tasteless and excessive, Stalin agreed, but said that he only answered one or two of the hundreds of greetings he received and did not allow most to be printed, especially the most excessive. He claimed that he did not seek to justify the practice, but to explain it: evidently the workers and peasant masses were simply delighted to be freed from exploitation, and they attributed this to one individual: 'of course that's wrong, what can one person do -- they see in me a unifying concept, and create foolish raptures around me.'

Feuchtwanger then asked a very legitimate question: why could he not stop the most excessive forms of rapture? Stalin responded that he had tried several times but that it was pointless as people assumed he was just doing so out of false modesty. For example, he had been criticised for preventing celebrations of his 55th birthday. According to Stalin, the veneration of the leader was the result of cultural backwardness and would pass with time. It was difficult to prevent people expressing their joy, and to take strict measures against workers and peasants. Feuchtwanger responded that what concerned him was not so much the feelings of workers and peasants, but the erection of busts and so on. Echoing some of his comments (above) about the abuse of the cult, Stalin answered that bureaucrats were afraid that if they did not put up a bust of Stalin, they would be criticised by their superiors. Putting up a bust was a form of careerism 'a specific form of the 'self-defence' of bureaucrats: so that they are left alone, they put up a bust'....

His interventions often reveal a concern to tone down, or to be seen to be toning down, some of the excesses of the cult... There are many examples of this. While a draft report for Pravda described a reception of a delegation of kolkhozniki of Odessa province in November 1933 as a reception by Stalin, Stalin himself added the names of Kalinin, Molotov and Kaganovich. He also criticised the writer A. Afinogenov for highlighting the 'vozhd' [leader] rather than the collective leadership of the Central Committee in his play Lozh'. When the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute (IMEL) produced a history of 30 years of the party in 1933, he removed some references to himself....

Stalin continued to pay close attention to the editing of reports of Kremlin receptions for publication in Pravda. He would sometimes (but not always) cut out or tone down the references to the endless clapping which accompanied these quintessentially cultic occasions. He also tried to reduce the language of adulation, or to distribute it more equally with other colleagues....

While some members of the Politburo approved the renaming [of a electromechanical factory after Stalin in 1936], others proposed a discussion of the issue. However Stalin declared emphatically that he was not in favour, writing 'I am against. I advise that it should take the name of Kalinin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Kosior, Postyshev or another of the leading comrades.' Nevertheless, despite Stalin's objections, on 25 March the Politburo went on to approve the attaching of Stalin's name to the factory."
(Balázs Apor, Jan C. Behrends, Polly Jones & E.A. Rees (eds). The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorships: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2004. pp. 37-39.)
Post 01 Nov 2012, 15:47
Dagoth Ur wrote:
By that standard George Dubya wouldn't have appreciated such a thing. Stalin's way of talking has absolutely no bearing on his view of his cult. The proof is in the history. He had every chance to stop this cult. But instead allowed resources to be wasted on statues of himself and put his own name and his 'glorious' accomplishments in the new anthem. Stalin was much too central to soviet society to possibly have been against his cult. Plus doesn't everyone with a personality cult claim there isn't one?

Funny how actual evidence shows you to be pathetically wrong.

The degree to which Stalin himself relished the cult surrounding him is debatable. Like Lenin, Stalin acted modestly and unassumingly in public. In the 1930s, he made several speeches that diminished the importance of individual leaders and disparaged the cult forming around him, claiming that such a cult was un-Bolshevik; instead, he emphasized the importance of broader social forces. Stalin claimed that the only reason Lenin could acceptably be adored as a leader was because Lenin understood these social forces, and therefore knew how to most effectively channel the desires of the Soviet people. Stalin's public actions seemed to support his professed disdain of the cult: Stalin often edited reports of Kremlin receptions, cutting applause and praise aimed at him and adding applause for other Soviets leaders.[15] Additionally, in 1936, Stalin passed a ban on renaming places after him.[16]

Privately, Stalin claimed that he had tried to stop the pervasive level of frenzied devotion, but that everyone assumed he was acting out of false modesty. He admitted that he understood the cult of personality was a necessary evil among the simpler section of the Soviet population, who were used to worshipping a tsar, but feared that for the intelligentsia, this attention on the individual would take the focus away from Party ideas.[17] Artyom Sergeev, Stalin’s adopted son, recalled a fight between Stalin and his biological son Vasily. After Stalin found out that Vasily had used his famous last name to escape punishment for one of his drunken debauches, Stalin screamed at him. “‘But I’m a Stalin too,’ retorted Vasily. ‘No, you’re not,’ said Stalin. ‘You’re not Stalin and I’m not Stalin. Stalin is Soviet power. Stalin is what he is in the newspapers and the portraits, not you, not even me!’” To some degree, Stalin accepted the Soviet people's dedication to him as an embodiment of the Party, but he discouraged all interest in his private and family life, and divulged only limited personal information.[18] The Finnish communist Arvo Tuominen reports a sarcastic toast proposed by Stalin at a New Year Party in 1935 in which he said, "Comrades! I want to propose a toast to our patriarch, life and sun, liberator of nations, architect of socialism [he rattled off all the appellations applied to him in those days] – Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, and I hope this is the first and last speech made to that genius this evening."[19]

Stalin's response to a book about his childhood, playing on the cult of personality:

"Я решительно против издания "Рассказов о детстве Сталина". Книжка изобилует массой фактических неверностей, искажений, преувеличений, незаслуженных восхвалений. Автора ввели в заблуждение охотники до сказок, брехуны (может быть, «добросовестные» брехуны), подхалимы... книжка имеет тенденцию вкоренить в сознание советских детей (и людей вообще) культ личностей, вождей, непогрешимых героев. Это опасно, вредно. Теория "героев" и "толпы" есть не большевистская, а эсеровская теория. Герои делают народ, превращают его из толпы в народ - говорят эсеры. Народ делает героев - отвечают эсерам большевики. Книжка льет воду на мельницу эсеров. Всякая такая книжка будет лить воду на мельницу эсеров, будет вредить нашему общему большевистскому делу. Советую сжечь книжку".


"I am strongly against the publishing of the book "Stories from Stalin's childhood." The book abounds with factually inaccuracies, distortions, exaggerations, and undeserved praise. The author was misled to myths, fibbs (perhaps "good faith" fibbs), and similar nonsense. The book tends to inculcate in the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the cult of personalities, leaders, infallible heroes.... I advise you to burn the book"

It is clear that Stalin himself was strongly against the personality cult, but considering the massive internal growth under his reign, as well as the fact that for the vast majority of the population of the USSR, who had a few decades back been 80% rural peasants and did not know much except for Stalin and his rule, the Stalin cult served as a common banner under which to rally around for the population, and thus he tolerated it.
Post 02 Nov 2012, 04:37
Andropov wrote:
"I am strongly against the publishing of the book "Stories from Stalin's childhood." The book abounds with factually inaccuracies, distortions, exaggerations, and undeserved praise. The author was misled to myths, fibbs (perhaps "good faith" fibbs), and similar nonsense. The book tends to inculcate in the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the cult of personalities, leaders, infallible heroes.... I advise you to burn the book"

It is clear that Stalin himself was strongly against the personality cult, but considering the massive internal growth under his reign, as well as the fact that for the vast majority of the population of the USSR, who had a few decades back been 80% rural peasants and did not know much except for Stalin and his rule, the Stalin cult served as a common banner under which to rally around for the population, and thus he tolerated it.

This seems inaccurate. When Jerome Davis interviewed Stalin about his childhood, he was very forthcoming, so it is rather hard to explain why he'd be against someone writing a biography about him.

You can read about it in chapter 2 of Behind Soviet Power. ... =26;num=14

Here is what Davis said about Stalin's cult.

Paradoxically enough, in view of his very real modesty and unassuming nature, Stalin permits his statue and his picture to be plastered from one end of the country to the other. He has said the reason he does not object to pictures, memorials in his honor and the like, is because the people are merely using him as a symbol of the Soviet state. These are indications, however, that he finds the fulsome tributes to him, which are regularly oratorical flourishes in Russia, somewhat distasteful. In a speech to the workers of Tiflis he alluded to this in a half-mocking way: "I must, in all conscience, tell you, that I have not deserved half the praise that has been given to me. It appears that I am one of the heroes, the director of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union... a peerless knight and all sorts of other things. This is mere phantasy, and a perfectly useless exaggeration. This is the way one speaks at a funeral of a revolutionary. But I am not preparing to die. Therefore I must give you a true picture of what I once was and say to whom I owe my present position in the Party... I have been and still am a pupil of the pioneer workmen of the Tiflis railway workshops."

Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. p. 12.
Post 02 Nov 2012, 05:31
He was not against the publishing of a book about his childhood in and of itself- he was against the unwarranted exaggeration, distortion, and undeserved praise which was in it.
Post 06 Nov 2012, 20:37
I wonder: could he have opposed it to any reasonable extent at all, without jeopardizing his own position and/or diverting significant resources to suppressing it?
Post 07 Nov 2012, 05:44
I'm pretty sure there were more important things to do than to divert resources towards the crushing of a voluntary personality cult initiated by the masses themselves.
Post 07 Nov 2012, 05:55
What I wonder is: To what extent could Stalin have strayed from his role without inviting retribution one way or the other? We know that regimees aren't the work of one man. I wonder to what extent could a single man, even in an influential position, strain against social inertia and come out unscathed.

(This is not supposed to be an apologetic of personality cults, nor am I claiming that J. Stalin strained against his or not, for the record. Rather, I'm doing a bit of social speculation)
Post 07 Nov 2012, 20:31
Stalin was incapable of ending the cult and the peasant mentality of Russia wouldn't have minded him becoming a martyr to it. I don't envy Stalin's historical situation, it seems like it was a lonely place to be, but let's not forget just how much power Stalin actually wielded. The same power used by Gorbachev to dismantle the Union.
Post 07 Nov 2012, 23:54
Is it true Stalin abused Lenin's wife down the phone?
Post 08 Nov 2012, 00:42
Yes, it's true, and Lenin got very angry about it.
Post 08 Nov 2012, 12:46
Well, in his position, if you saw banners and statues of yourself arising all over the place (whether this happened by your initiative or someone else's), you would probably also tell reporters something like: "I can't help it, they just did that spontaneously. I don't like it, but what can I do? I only serve the party."

So I would certainly take Stalin's expressed views on the matter into consideration, but I wouldn't consider them the end of the discussion. Regardless of his personal views, the historical reality appears to be that he mostly just curbed the worst, most sycophantic excesses. Whether he personally had the will or the ability to do much more about them is interesting, but we clearly can't go back and ask.
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