Cult of Personality

posted by Mr. Dougherty- please improve as needed

  • Development of totalitarian/autocratic society - Stalin seen as an idol to many – nicknames included the “Red Tsar”, “man of the people”, “Father of All Nations”, “Great Helmsman”
    • characterized as a great father, adored and idolized (image helped through propaganda)
    • long standing ovations at speeches – no one wanted to be the first to stop clapping
  • Stalin committed to eliminating all opposition
    • destruction or alteration of many documents to create an ideal legacy
    • alteration of Constitution in 1936 (lasted until 1977)
      • bicameral legislature
      • free elections, universal suffrage
      • Bill of Rights (worthless – thousands of people exiled/killed without trial during the Purges)
      • renamed many institutions – for example, Central Committee became Supreme Soviet
      • only one party permitted to exist
        • in 1939, Communist party members only numbered 1.5million (not even close to representative of entire nation)
      • power of party concentrated in Presidium – members handpicked by Stalin
  • State power did not wither away (as Marx prescribed), but grew tremendously large
    • Stalin justified this as necessary to lead USSR to socialism and defend against foreign capitalism
  • Russian Orthodox Church abolished (Marxists were atheist)
    • priests exiled and humiliated; thousands sent to gulag or killed
  • by 1930s, USSR economy was entirely centralized and planned – priority given to heavy industry (“the way of the future”)
  • some chances for advancement among workers, but required exceptionally hard work
  • Socialist realism – official style (for music, drama, literature, art)
    • artists forced to produce works that glorified the Stalin and the Soviet state, to the point of outlandishness
  • towns renamed after Stalin (ex: Stalingrad)
  • Equality: women given equal education and rights to employment.
  • (In theory) universal access to health and education

Posted by LilRebs!

The Stalin Cult used Stalin's image to manipulate people into feeling as if he were an omnipotent leader, whom everyone loved and revered. His image dominated the Soviet Union invoking feelings of purpose and unity, thus providing something the people could have confidence in, during a period of rapid change in Russia.
Crucial Aspects of the Cult of Personality
-one of the significant aspects of Soviet Propaganda
-Image literally everywhere, portraying him as the heir of Lenin and the only man capable of interpreting the party's ideology
-the cult was useful in holding Soviet society together because of the economic and political circumstances of Soviet Russia, specifically the disruption and chaos brought about by the first five year plans
-Paintings, poetry, prose, and sculpture of Stalin were utilized in developing and establishing the cult of personality. They ultimately helped to cement Stalin's power base and increased the extent of his influence through out the nation.
-In addition, opera's and films exaggerated and glorified Stalin's role in the Revolution, portraying him as the chief hero of the Civil War
-Success in World War II (the defeat of Germany) fed the cult and Stalin's image
-the message the people received from all of the images of Stalin can be summarized as, "Stalin is everywhere present and watching over you; he understands your hopes and has your best interests at heart."
__How did the Russians react to the Cult?_
-Although the cult was a carefully contrived propaganda campaign, it appears the adulation was not entirely manufactured. It was able to grow because it stem from real affection for Stalin and the ideas that people thought he stood for
-Sarah Davies in her book Popular Opinion in Stalin's Russia: Terror, propaganda and Dissent 1934-41 identifies three ways in which people reacted to the Stalin Cult, and they are as follows:
*Benefactor, Traditional defender of people, and Charismatic leader
-enthusiasm had been aroused by the gravity of the threat to the USSR presented by the war.
- A substantial portion of the population, specifically intellectuals, experienced party members, and workers were aware of the absurdities of the Cult. However, even amongst those who did not like him, many often admired and respected him. There was a feeling that Stalin was a great leader and that although his methods were harsh, he accomplished a lot, such as industrializing the USSR and transforming it into a great world power that other nations respected
-the cult of personality played an important role in increasing Stalin's popularity. It influenced all areas of Soviet society and ultimately ushered in feelings of unity, purpose, and clarity during a period of instability and rapid change

Posted by LilRebs:
Development of the Stalin Cult
1924-29 Origins of the Cult
-After Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin assumes a modest image. He wants to appear as a hard-working man of moderation.
-He takes on the mantle of lenin's disciple and servant of the party. "Stalin is the Lenin of Today" becomes a commonly used phase.
- Tsaritsyn is renamed Stalingrad in his honor in 1925.
1929-33 Cult Underway
-For his 50th bday in 1929, Stalin receives 350 greetings, including some from organizations that did not even exist. Stalin is portrayed as Lenin's faithful pupil and companion-in-arms.
-The length of applause for Stalin at conferences gets longer.
-By 1931, huge portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin appear on special occasions such as celebrations of the October Revolution. There are a few individual portraits of Stalin.
1933-39 Cult fully established
-Stalin's image is used to reassure people that they have a strong leader to help them through the great discription of the First Five-Year Plan and the confusion of the purges.
-Paintings, poems, and sculptures promote the Stalin Cult. Socialist Realist art glorifies Stalin's role as leader.
-The History of the All-Union Communist Party is published in 1938. History is reinterpreted in Stalin's favor.
-As war looms, his image becomes more that of an all powerful leader.
Post- 1945 Height of the Cult:
-Stalin's image is everywher; his power cemented by his success as war leader.
-His childhood home becomes a shrine.
-Increasingly, portraits show him in a god-like solitude, superior and apart.
-The celebrations of his 70th birthday are extremely elaborate, organized by 75 leading figures including the whole Politburo. There are galas and greetings almost everyday from 21 Dec 1949 - August 1951.

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