Cult of Personality

Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at
Tue May 14 19:31:01 MDT 1996

I came across this letter from Marx to W. Blos, in 1877, in the selected
correspondence. It would seem to be the definitive word from Marx himself on
this question. The list has inspired me to a continual perusal of the
correspondence of M and E. It wouldn't make a bad model of how to go about
discussing political questions.

 Anyway, here is the quote.

 >>....Neither of us care a straw for popularity. A proof of this is, for
example, that, because of aversion to any personality cult, I have never
permitted the numerous expressions of appreciation from various countries,
with which I was pestered during the existence of the International, to reach
the realm of publicity, and have never answered them, except occasionally by a
rebuke. When Engels and I first joined the secret Communist Society we made it
a condition that everything tending to encourage superstitious belief in
authority was to be removed from the statutes.(Later on Lasalle exerted his
influence in the opposite direction.)<<Selected Correspondence, Progress
Publishers p. 310

 Would it be fair to say, that the rise of the personality cults in Russia and
China corresponded to the need of the party leadership to construct a
"superstitious belief in authority" amongst the still backward peasantry that
predominated in those countries at the time? That it was purely a question of
power politics?

 At any rate, such cults have nothing to do with Marxism.

 Best, Jon Flanders

  E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 14-May-1996

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