Reflections On The Cult Of Stalin By: Georg Lukacs
Reflections on the Cult of Stalin
By: Georg Lukács 1962
First published: as “Brief an Alberto Carocci” in the special issues of
, Nos. 57-58, 1962,devoted to the discussion of the Twenty-second Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; it wassubsequently published as “Privatbrief über Stalinismus, Brief an Alberto Carocci” in Forum, Nos. 115-117,1693; abridged English translation, published 1963;Transcribed: by André Nj.
Dear Senor Carocci
,I am very tempted to reply at length to the problems which you raise in your “eightquestions”: for practically everything that has occupied the minds of many of us for years – past is concentrated in them. Unfortunately, the circumstances in which I find myself compelme to renounce this intention. But since I do not wish to keep from you completely the ideasin my mind, I am writing just a simple private letter, which, of course, does not pretend at allto deal systematically with all the essential questions.I begin with the expression “cult of the personality.” Of course I regard it as absurd toreduce the substance and the problems of such an important period in the history of the world to the particular character of an individual. ...My first reaction to the Twentieth Congress concerned not only the personality but theorganization: the apparatus which had produced the cult of the personality and which had fixed it in a sort of endless enlarged reproduction. I pictured Stalin to myself as the apex of a pyramid which widened gradually toward the base and was composed of many ‘little Stalins”:they, seen from above, were the objects and, seen from below, the creators and. guardians of the “cult of the personality.” Without the regular and unchallenged functioning of thismechanism the “cult of the personality” would have remained a subjective dream, a pathological fact, and would not have attained the social effectiveness which it exercised for decades.It did not need much reflection to understand that this immediate image, without beingfalse, could give only a fragmentary and superficial idea of the origins, character and effectsof an important period. For thinking men who are truly devoted to the cause of progress, the problem inevitably arose out of the social genesis of this evolutionary stage, a problem whichTogliatti first formulated precisely, when he said that it was necessary to bring to light thesocial conditions in which the “cult of the personality” was born and consolidated. ... Togliattiadded, equally correctly, that this task was in the first place one for Soviet scholars. ...This research has remained, to the present day, an undischarged obligation for trueMarxism, and you cannot expect me, who am not a specialist in this field, to make even asimple attempt at a solution; certainly not in a letter, which necessarily has an even moresubjective and fragmentary character than an essay on the subject would have. In any case, itmust be clear to any thinking man that the point of departure can only be the internal and international situation of the Russian proletarian revolution of 1917. From, an objective pointof view we must think of the devastation caused by the war, of retarded industrialdevelopment, of the relative cultural backwardness of Russia (illiteracy, etc.), of the series of 1