Cult of personality

Article

January 24, 2022

The cult of personality is the exaltation of an individual (usually a statesman). Basis of autocracy.

Historical background and criticism of the cult of personality

Throughout history, many statesmen have claimed some outstanding qualities. In absolute monarchies, the monarch was practically deified. It was argued that he was bestowed by God's grace or he himself is a deity (demigod). The deification of the ruler is especially characteristic of the Chinese Empire, ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. In Chinese monarchies, however, the title of the monarch is honored rather than his person, and no particularly outstanding personal qualities are supposed to be in the monarch: he does not exercise power on the basis of these supposed qualities, but by birthright. A completely different situation develops under dictatorships and authoritarian regimes of charismatic leaders-leaders who came to power as a result of coups d'etat, revolutions or external interference (puppet rulers). They need to justify their power precisely by supposed outstanding qualities. Something similar to the modern cult of personality was first observed in the early Roman Empire, when, with the precariousness and vagueness of the legal foundations of the power of the “Caesar,” he was credited with the functions of a hero and savior of the Fatherland, and praising his outstanding personal merits and services to the state became an obligatory ritual. This position found its highest development in the totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th century, and the dictators, unlike previous eras, had the most powerful propaganda tools in their hands, such as radio, cinema, control over the press (that is, over all information available to the subjects). The most impressive examples of the personality cult came from the regimes of Stalin in the USSR, Hitler in Germany, Mao Zedong in China, and Kim Il Sung in North Korea. During the heyday of their reign, these leaders were revered as great leaders who could not make a mistake. Everywhere [specify] their portraits were hung; artists, composers, writers, poets created a large number of [style] works that reveal various facets of the unique personalities of dictators. Their biographies and works must be studied without fail.

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