Stalinism: workers' cult and cult of leaders

Twentieth Century Communism - ISSN 1758-6437
Volume 2009 Number 1

Stalinism: workers' cult and cult of leaders
Claude Pennetier, Bernard Pudal pages -


The heroic constructions of the ‘worker’ and of the ‘communist worker’ were at the heart of the communist celebration of the leader. This article draws on both Soviet and French examples to show how edifying life histories, autobiographies and fictional narratives were used to populate the proletarian myth. These in turn were the subject of different readings or appropriations that can sometimes be traced through personal diaries. Maurice Thorez’ Fils du peuple (1937) is considered as an archetypal leader’s biographical narrative from which emerges an ‘impersonal’ or ‘bureaucratic’ personality, charged with the incarnation of the partisan organisation. As such, these narratives tended to sink themselves in the cult of the party, which thus emerged as the sole veritable hero of such histories. 

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To cite this article
Claude Pennetier, Bernard Pudal (2009) Stalinism: workers' cult and cult of leaders, Twentieth Century Communism, 2009(1), -

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