Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Personality Cults

The next installment in our Kult Police State series shall address the subject of “personality cults,” or “the cult of the individual,” which is a political term coined by Karl Marx to describe the philosophical antithesis of communism, though it is commonly used to describe various non-Christian religious sects, such as Christ Church, Moscow, because of the religious loyalty and devotion shown by the adherents to their charismatic leader (witness yesterday’s attack of the monkey boys).

In preparing for this post last weekend, I read a speech delivered by Nikita Khrushchev to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, whereat he repudiated his Josef Stalin’s cult of personality. Of course, Josef Stalin was perhaps the most ruthless dictator of the twentieth century (flip a coin between him and Hitler).

If you’re a history buff, this speech offers a vivid peek behind the Iron Curtain of Stalin’s regime from a man who knew all the players as well as many of the victims. More importantly, Khrushchev demonstrates the immediate dangers of any personality cult and how Stalin, with his volatile, untrustworthy character, took his cult to the farthest extremes.

Everyone in Moscow will immediately spot the parallels between Stalin and the Fearless Leader. Outsiders may need more details. If that’s the case, just remind yourself that Moscow is the home of the notorious show trials.

So take a half hour to read it (it’s over 23,000 words). It will help you understand the menace posed by Personality Cults.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

I'm only about 1/4 of the way through the lecture, but it is apparent that the first manifestation of Stalin's evil to be noticed by his contemporaries was a "serrated edge."

Thanks for your 'blog.


Mark T. said...

Hi Sam,

At one time I floated the idea of reviewing A Serrated Edge chapter by chapter, much the same way Pastor Lane did RINE, but I have too much as it is and that would place a regular weekly burden on me that I don’t think I could carry.

That said, the book A Serrated Edge is a remarkable exercise in Scripture twisting and sophistry, and ultimately, it serves as his written exposition of an unwritten excuse for cruel and cutting remarks, which he uses to slash the brethren outside of any principles outlined in the book (if there are any). Or as another brother put it, it became his excuse to eat leg of lamb.

So I’m curious how you define “serrated edge,” because the character of Stalin I see described by Khrushchev is rather exhaustive — Stalin was arrogant, rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate, self-willed, forceful, unrelenting, downright brutal, completely unteachable, self-aggrandizing, and in the end extremely paranoid.

Along these lines, Patrick Poole applied the word “thugs” to the St. Peter Four and since then I have used the term freely to describe the Fearless Leader because it fits him better than most words. The problem with using good words, however, is that the law of diminishing returns applies to them as well. The term works once, twice, three times, but eventually it loses its meaning, or force, on the reader.

I point this out because Stalin was a thug, plain and simple. He even looked the part with his mug shot and the early photos. Likewise, Wilson is nothing more than an ordinary thug with extraordinary rhetorical skills, which simply means that he’s an accomplished liar. But he’s still a thug nonetheless.

Back to Stalin, I’m curious where you see the serrated edge in him.