Organ of Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North
Volume 1, Issue 3; March 2003 $1.00
L L I A N C E ! ,A
Revolutionary Communist Monthly
Cult of the Individual (1934-1952) by Bill Bland
Modified from articles by Comrade Bill Bland from 1976 onwards
Nikita Khrushchev; First Secretary of the
Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, publicly
attacked Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Party, in a 'secret speech'
on 25 February leaked to the US State Department; asserting that:
"The cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because
Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification
of his own person".
Yet many witnesses testify to Stalin's simplicity and
modesty. The French writer Henri Barbusse describes the simplicity
of Stalin's life-style:
"One goes up to the first floor, were white curtains hang over three
of the windows. These three windows are Stalin's home. In the tiny hall
a long military cloak hangs on a peg beneath a cap. In addition to this
hall there are three bedrooms and a dining room. The bedrooms are as simply
furnished as those of a respectable, second-class hotel. The eldest son,
Jasheka, sleeps at night in the dining room, on a divan which is converted
into a bed; the younger sleeps in a tiny recess, a sort of alcove opening
out of it. . . . Each month he earns the five hundred rubles, which constitute
the meager maximum salary of the officials of the Communist Party (amounting
to between pounds 20 and pounds 25 in English money). . . This frank and
brilliant man is . . . a simple man. . . . He does not employ thirty-two
secretaries, Like Mr. Lloyd George; he has only one. . . . Stalin systematically
gives credit for all progress made to Lenin, whereas the credit has been
in very large measure his own".
True, Stalin had a dacha, or country cottage, but here
too his life was equally simple, as his daughter Svetlana relates:
(H. Barbusse: Stalin: A New World seen through One Man).
"It was the same with the dacha at Kuntsevo. . My father lived on the
ground floor. He lived in one room and made it do for everything. He slept
on the sofa, made up at night as a bed". (S. Alliluyeva: Twenty Letters
to a Friend).
The Albanian Enver Hoxha leader of the Communist
Party of Albania (Later the Party of Labour of Albania) describes Stalin
as 'modest' and ‘considerate':
"Stalin was no tyrant, no despot. He was a man of principle; he was
just, modest and very kindly and considerate towards people, the cadres
and his colleagues."
The British Fabian economists Sidney and Beatrice
Webb, in their monumental work Soviet Communism": A New Civilisation,
rejected the notion that Stalin exercised dictatorial power:
(E. Hoxha: With Stalin: Memoirs).
"Sometimes it is asserted that . . . the whole state is governed by
the will of a single person, Josef Stalin.
Even observers who are highly critical of Stalin agree
with the testimony of the former. The American Ambassador to Moscow, Joseph
Davies remarked on Stalin's simple, kindly manner:
First let it be noted that, unlike Mussolini, Hitler and other modern
dictators, Stalin is not invested by law with any authority over his fellow-citizens.
He has not even the extensive power, which . . . the American Constitution
entrusts for four years to every successive president. . . . Stalin is
not, and never has been, . . . the President of the USSR. . . . He is not
even a People's Commissar, or member of the Cabinet. . . . He is . . .
the General Secretary of the Party. .
We do not think that the Party is governed by the will of a single
person, or that Stalin is the sort of person to claim or desire such a
position. He has himself very explicitly denied any such personal dictatorship
in terms which . . certainly accord with our own impression of the facts.
The Communist Party in the USSR has adopted for its own organisation
the pattern which we have described. . . . In this pattern individual dictatorship
has no place. Personal decisions are distrusted, and elaborately guarded
against. In order to avoid the mistakes due to bias, anger, jealousy, vanity
and other distempers . . . it is desirable that the individual will should
always be controlled by the necessity of gaining the assent of colleagues
of equal grade, who have candidly discussed the matter and who have to
make themselves jointly responsible for the decision. . Stalin . . . has
. . . frequently pointed out that he does no more than carry out the decisions
of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. . . The plain truth
is that, surveying the administration of the USSR during the past decade
under the alleged dictatorship of Stalin, the principal decisions have
manifested neither the promptitude nor the timeliness, nor yet the
fearless obstinacy that have often been claimed as the merits of a dictatorship.
On the contrary, the action of the Party has frequently been taken after
consideration so prolonged, and as the outcome of discussion sometimes
so heated and embittered, as to bear upon their formulation the marks of
hesitancy and lack of assurance. . . These policies have borne . . . the
stigmata of committee control".
(S. & B. Webb: Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation.)
"I was startled to see the door . . . open and Mr. Stalin come into
the room alone. . . . His demeanor is kindly, his manner almost depreciatingly
simple. . He greeted me cordially with a smile and with great simplicity,
but also with a real dignity. . . . His brown eye is exceedingly kindly
and gentle. A child would like to sit in his lap and a dog would sidle
up to him". (J. E. Davies: Mission to Moscow).
Continued on page seven.
Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva is
gullible enough to accept almost every slander circulated about her father,
but even she dismisses the charge that he himself engineered the 'cult'
of his personality. She describes a train trip with Stalin from the Crimea
to Moscow in 1948:
"As we pulled in at the various stations we'd go for a stroll along
the platform. My father walked as far as the engine, giving greetings to
the railway workers as he went. You couldn't see a single passenger. It
was a special train and no one was allowed on the platform. . . . Who ever
thought such a thing up? Who had contrived all these stratagems? Not he.
It was the system of which he himself was a prisoner and in which he suffered
from loneliness, emptiness and lack of human companionship. . . Nowadays
when I read or hear somewhere that my father used to consider himself practically
a god, it amazes me that people who knew him well can even say such a thing.
. . . He never thought of himself as a god".
She describes the grief of the servants at the dacha
when Stalin died:
(S. Alliluyeva: 20 Letters to a Friend').
"These men and women who were servants of my father loved him. In little
things he wasn't hard to please. On the contrary, he was courteous, unassuming
and direct with those who waited on him. . Men, women, everyone, started
crying all over again. . No one was making a show of loyalty or grief.
All of them had known one another for years. . .
Furthermore, the facts show that on numerous occasions
Stalin himself denounced and ridiculed the 'cult of the individual' as
contrary to Marxism-Leninism.
No one in this room looked on him as a god or a superman, a genius
or a demon. They loved and respected him for the most ordinary human qualities,
those qualities of which servants are the best judges of all".
(20 Letters to a Friend').
"I must say in all conscience, comrades, that I do not deserve a good
half of the flattering things that have been said here about me. I am,
it appears, a hero of the October Revolution, the leader of the Communist
Party of the Soviet, the leader of the Communist International, a legendary
warrior-knight and all the rest of it. This is absurd, comrades, and quite
unnecessary exaggeration. It is the sort of thing that is usually said
at the graveside of a departed revolutionary. But I have no intention of
dying yet. I really was, and still am, one of the pupils of the advanced
workers of the Tiflis railway workshops".
(J. V. Stalin: Works, Volume 8).
"And what is Stalin? Stalin is only a minor figure".
(J. V. Stalin: Works. Volume 10).
"Your congratulations and greetings I place to the credit of the great
Party of the working class which bore me and reared me in its own image
and likeness. And just because I place them to the credit of our glorious
Leninist Party, I make bold to tender you my Bolshevik thanks".
(J. V. Stalin: Works, Volume 12).
"There are some who think that the article Dizzy with Success
was the result of Stalin's personal initiative. That, of course, is nonsense.
It is in order that personal initiative in a matter like this be taken
by not anyone, whoever he might be, that we have a Central Committee".
(J. V. Stalin: Works, ibid).
"You speak of your devotion' to me. . . I would advise you to discard
the ‘principle' of devotion to persons. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be
devoted to the working class, its Party, its state. That is a fine and
useful thing. But do not confuse it with devotion to persons, this vain
and useless bauble of weak-minded intellectuals".
(J. V. Stalin: Works, Volume 13).
"As for myself, I am just a pupil of Lenin's, and the aim of my life
is to be a worthy pupil of his. . . . Marxism does not deny at all the
role played by outstanding individuals or that history is made by people.
But . . great people are worth anything at all only to the extent that
they are able correctly to understand these conditions, to understand how
to change them. If they fail to understand these conditions and want to
alter them according to the promptings of their imagination, they will
find themselves in the situation of Don Quixote. Individual persons cannot
decide. Decisions of individuals are always, or nearly always, one-sided
decisions. . . . In every collective body, there are people whose opinion
must be reckoned with. . . . From the experience of three revolutions we
know that out of every 100 decisions taken by individual persons without
being tested and corrected collectively, approximately 90 are one-sided.
Never under any circumstances would our workers now tolerate power
in the hands of one person. With us, personages of the greatest authority
are reduced to nonentities, become mere ciphers, as soon as the masses
of the workers lose confidence in them".
(J.V. Stalin: ibid).
"I have received your letter ceding me your second Order as a reward
for my work. I thank you very much for your warm
Continued on page eight.
words and comradely present. I know what you are depriving yourself
of in my favour and appreciate your sentiments. Nevertheless, I cannot
accept your second Order. I cannot and must not accept it, not only because
it can only belong to you, as you alone have earned it, but also because
I have been amply rewarded as it is by the attention and respect of comrades
and, consequently, have no right to rob you. Orders were instituted not
for those who are well known as it is, but mainly for heroic people who
are little known and who need to be made known to all.
The view that the Marxist-Leninists were in a minority
in the Soviet leadership from the late 1920s, is unpopular. But we have
seen that, although Stalin expressed strong opposition to the 'cult of
personality', the 'cult of personality' continued. It therefore follows
Besides, I must tell you that I already have two Orders. 'That is more
than one needs, I assure you."
(J. V. Stalin: ibid).
"Robins: I consider it a great honour to have an opportunity of paying
you a visit.
Stalin: There is nothing particular in that. You are exaggerating.
Robins: What is most interesting to me is that throughout Russia I
have found the names Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, linked together.
Stalin: That, too, is an exaggeration. How can I be compared to Lenin?"
(J. V. Stalin: ibid)
"I am absolutely against the publication of 'Stories of the Childhood
of Stalin'. The book abounds with a mass of inexactitudes of fact, of alterations,
of exaggerations and of unmerited praise. But . . the important thing
resides in the fact that the book has a tendency to engrave on the minds
of Soviet children (and people in general) the personality cult of leaders,
of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and detrimental. The theory of
'heroes' and the 'crowd' is not a Bolshevik, but a Social-Revolutionary
(i.e. Anarchist) theory.
I suggest we burn this book".
(J. V. Stalin: ibid).
Thus, the 'cult of the individual' as built up around Stalin was
contrary to Marxism-Leninism, and its practice was contrary to the expressed
wishes of Stalin.
This raises an important question.
1) either Stalin was unable to stop it,
But if the 'cult of personality' around Stalin was not
built up by Stalin, but against his wishes, by whom was it built up?
2) he did not want to stop it and so was a petty-minded, lying,
The most fervent exponents of the 'cult of personality'
around Stalin were revisionists and concealed revisionists like Karl
Radek, Nikita Khrushchev and Anastas Mikoyan. The revisionist
historian Roy Medvedev points out that:
"The first issue of 'Pravda;' for 1934 carried a huge two-page article
by Radek, heaping orgiastic praise on Stalin. The former Trotskyite, who
had led the opposition to Stalin for many years, now called him 'Lenin's
best pupil, the model of the Leninist Party, bone of its bone, blood of
its blood'. . . . He is as far-sighted as Lenin', and so on and on. This
seems to have been the first large article in the press specifically devoted
to the adulation of Stalin, and it was quickly reissued as a pamphlet in
225,000 copies, an enormous figure for the time".
At his public trial in January 1937 Radek admitted to
terrorism and treason.
(R. A. Medvedev: Let History Judge).
It was Khrushchev who introduced the term
'vozhd' ('leader', corresponding to the German word 'F'uhrer').
At the Moscow Party Conference in January 1932, Khrushchev finished his
speech by saying:
"The Moscow Bolsheviks, rallied around the Leninist Central Committee
as never before, and around the 'vozhd' of our Party, Comrade Stalin, are
cheerfully and confidently marching toward new victories in the battles
for socialism, for world proletarian revolution".
At the 17th Party Conference in January 1934 it was
Khrushchev, and Khrushchev alone, who called Stalin:
(L. Pistrak: The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev's Rise to Power).
"vozhd' of genius". (L.Pistrak: ibid).
In August 1936, during the treason trial of Lev Kamenev, Khrushchev,
in his capacity as Moscow Party Secretary, said:
"Miserable pygmies! They lifted their hands against the greatest of
all men, . . our wise 'vozhd', Comrade Stalin! . . Thou, Comrade Stalin,
hast raised the great banner of Marxism-Leninism high over the entire world
and carried it forward. We assure thee, Comrade Stalin, that the Moscow
Bolshevik organisation -- the faithful supporter of the Stalinist Central
Committee – will increase Stalinist vigilance still more, will extirpate
the Trotskyite-Zinovievite remnants, and close the ranks of the Party and
non-Party Bolsheviks even more around the Stalinist Central Committee and
the great Stalin".
At the Eighth All-Union Congress of Soviets in November
1936 it was again Khrushchev who proposed that the new Soviet Constitution,
which was before the Congress for approval, should be called the 'Stalinist
(L. Pistrak: ibid).
Continued on page seven.
"It was written from beginning to end by Comrade Stalin himself".
It has to be noted that Vyacheslav Molotov,
and Andrey Zhdanov, did not mention any special role by Stalin in
the drafting of the Constitution.
(Pravda, 30 November 1936).
In the same speech Khrushchev coined the term 'Stalinism'
"Our Constitution is the Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism that has
conquered one sixth of the globe".
On the occasion of the celebration of Stalin's fiftieth
birthday in December 1929, Anastas Mikoyan accompanied his congratulations
with the demand:
"That we, meeting the rightful demand of the masses, begin finally
to work on his biography and make it available to the Party and to all
working people in our country".
The Motives for Building up the 'Cult of the Individual'
(Izvestia, 21 December 1929).
Of course, many Soviet citizens admired Stalin and
expressed this admiration. But clearly, the 'cult of the individual' around
Stalin was built up mainly by the concealed revisionists, against Stalin’s
wishes, in order :
Firstly, to disguise the fact that the Party
and the Communist International were dominated by concealed revisionists
and to present the fiction that these were dominated personally by Stalin;
thus blame for breaches of socialist legality and for deviations from Marxist-Leninist
principles on their part could later be laid on Stalin;
Secondly, to provide a pretext for attacking
Stalin at a later date (under the guise of carrying out a program of ‘democratization’,
which was in fact a program of dismantling socialism".
The Finnish revisionist Tuominen in 1935,
describes how, when he was informed that busts of him had been given prominent
places in Moscow's leading art gallery, the Tretyakov, Stalin exclaimed:
"That's downright sabotage!"
The German writer Lion Feuchtwanger in 1936 confirms
that Stalin suspected that the 'cult of personality' was being fostered
by 'wreckers' with the aim of discrediting him:
"It is manifestly irksome to Stalin to be worshipped as he is, and
from time to time he makes fun of it. Of all the men I know who have power,
Stalin is the most unpretentious. I spoke frankly to him about the vulgar
and excessive cult made of him, and he replied with equal candour. He thinks
it is possible even that 'wreckers' may be behind it in an attempt to discredit
To conclude, the
attack made by the revisionists, on the 'cult of personality' in the Soviet
Union was an attack not only upon Stalin personally as a leading Marxist-Leninist,
a leading defender of socialism, but was the first stage in an attack upon
Marxism-Leninism and the socialist system in the Soviet Union.
(L. Feuchtwanger: Moscow 1937).
Perhaps the best comment on it is the sarcastic toast
which the Finnish revisionist Tuominen records as having been proposed
by Stalin at a New Year Party in 1935:
"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".