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Psc 433 paper

  1. 1. Richardson 1 Ashanti Richardson PSC 433 The Power of Personalityin the Rise of Communism Machiavelli states that it is much safer to be feared then loved, but still a leader should make themselves feared in such a way that if they do not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred. When assessing the rise of Communism in Eastern Europe, it is important to understand the power of a charismatic leader and the rhetoric he uses to obtain the trust and legitimacy of his followers. Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1927 to 1953. As the leader of one of the most brutal reigns in history, Stalin was responsible for the deaths of millions of his own people. Undoubtedly Joseph Stalin and his successors all possess a deep self-confidence that allowed them to execute policies that persuaded a nation of people to follow their regime. Through analysis of rhetorical devices used in public speeches and propaganda, the power of a charismatic leader is the most important element in the success of a regime. Process of a Charismatic Leader An organization runs successfully when it is led by a skillful and influential leader. While leaders influence their followers, a good leader can also structure the organization in the way he wants. He represents the culture of the organization. Some traits branded within a charismatic leader are self-monitoring, self-actualization, motive to attain power, self-enhancement, and openness to change. The process of a charismatic leader is seen as a complex product of three factors: The leader and his attributes, the social situation, which demands for such a leader and the interaction between the leader and his followers. (Palshikar) Charismatic leadership involves a
  2. 2. Richardson 2 natural process in which the individual undergoes six steps from the rise of the leader to the fall of the leader. Throughout the reign of Stalin the six steps of a charismatic leader are recognized, these include: Identification, activity arousal, commitment, disenchantment, depersonalization, and alienation. During the first phase, known as the identification phase the aspiring leader is on the social horizon, followers of the current leader are in distress and looking for the next successor. With Lenin’s health failing, it was either Stalin or Trotsky who would hold power. Charismatic leaders are known for judging themselves on a strict scale. They continuously strive to become better. They know that it is this “superiority” in them which makes them different from their followers. Charismatic leaders believe that when eventually they will bring their followers to their present level of dominance, they themselves should have gone one step above it to remain their leaders. Ultimately, Trotsky was no match for Stalin, who spent many of his years as Secretary building loyalty and support. By 1927, Stalin had eliminated all of his political rivals to emerge as the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In the second stage, the leader arouses followers to become part of change. Stalin successfully transformed the Soviet Union from an agricultural society to an advanced industrial economic society through a series of five-year plans. In 1928, Stalin implemented The Five Year Plan with goals of bringing the Soviet Union into the industrial age. Stalin seized assets, including farms and factories, and restructured the economy. These radical efforts led to less efficient production and mass starvation. Despite the negative effects of collectivization in the first plan, Stalin continued with a second plan in 1933 that emphasized heavy industry and advancing railways. The
  3. 3. Richardson 3 thirdand final plan lasted only three years due to the World War II, this final plan focused on weapon production and war materials. It is in this stage that followers become less passive and more active, the longer this stage lasts, the longer the span of his leadership. With death rates increasing, Stalin created a policy that eradicated any form of dissent or competition; followers were expected to show nothing but complete devotion. Religious institutions were closed, church lands were confiscated, and any books or music that were not approved by Stalin himself were also eliminated to avoid any outside influences. Any negative comments about Stalin to the press were restricted. Opposing party leaders were still present and they recognized the devastation Stalin’s policies were creating. Despite this opposition, he was still re-elected in 1934. An Omnipresent Stalin Stalin was present at all places at all times. He became the focus of literature, music, paintings, and numerous statues of Stalin were placed in public areas. Charismatic leadership is a relationship between a leader and a group of followers in which the leader is perceived as superhuman, they follow blindly believing every statement, unconditionally complying with calls for action, and give absolute emotional support. (Post 676) Several posters during Stalin’s reign over the Soviet Union includes phrases such as “Glory to Stalin”, “The great architect of Communism”, and “the caption of the country of Soviets, leads us from victory to victory”. The press presented him as an all-knowing, omnipotent leader, and Father of Nations. While the media never referred to Stalin as a god, certain qualities classically attributed to spiritual beings were applied to him. (Bonnell)As did this Soviet folklore of this period depicted Stalin as allseeing and all-powerful:
  4. 4. Richardson 4 (Stalin) looks and looks but can’t get enough He listens to everything with his keen ear He sees everything with his keen gaze He hears and sees how the people live How the people live, how they work He rewards everyone for good work A cult of personality within an individual uses mass media or propaganda or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.(Strong) The most notably acts of Stalin occurred from 1936-1938, known as the Great Purge. Stalin targeted members of his cabinet and government, soldiers, clergy, intellectuals, or anyone else he deemed questionable. People that were seized by secret police would be tortured, imprisoned, or killed. Stalin did not discriminate in his targets, top government and military officials were not immune from prosecution. In fact, the purges eliminated many key figures in government. During this period, there was widespread paranoia. Citizens were encouraged to turn each other in and those captured often pointed figures at neighbors or coworkers in hopes of saving their own lives. The purges led by Stalin characterize the point in stage three of the charismatic leader process known as the commitment stage. This is where Stalin is at his peak but also starting to lose some of the support that catapulted him to the power he now possesses. This step starts by demonstrating the extreme commitment of the leader towards the goal and same commitment from the followers towards the leader. Some of the elite followers become disillusioned and they start suspecting their leader as pompous and hypocrite.Stakeholder pressures place strong demands on leaders of organizations, increasing the motive for, and likelihood of, corrupt practices. Furthermore, opportunity for corruption increases due to specific environmental
  5. 5. Richardson 5 factors, and through charismatic leaders' ability to create façades and influence followers to participate in, enable, or hide wrongdoing. (Decelles)How could these people follow an individual so relentlessly, with visible oppression surrounding them? Lev Kopelev, a Communist himself and active Bolshevik was arrested in 1945 and sentenced to a ten-year term in the Gulag for fostering "bourgeois humanism" and for "compassion towards the enemy" had this to say about Stalin: “In my memory the pain and the horror of 1933 and 1937 had not grown cold. I remembered how. . . he had deceived us, how he had lied to us about the past and the present. . .And nevertheless I believed him all over again, as did my comrades. I believed him more than at any time in the past. Because, perhaps, at the moment I first felt a spontaneous, emotional attachment to him. . . This belief and heart felt devotion could not easily be broken. It was not broken by many years of prisons and camps” (Strong 408) Stalin had created so much legitimacy through his long reign of overshadowing “good” that he made it virtually impossible for his followers to see him in such a negative light. Following the Cold War, Stalin was approaching his final years. He tried to reshape his image as a man of peace. This point in Stalin life marks the fourth stage of the process of the charismatic leader, known as the disenchantment phase. This phase is quite unavoidable and sometimes even intentional on the part of the leader. Many times social structure brings the disenchantment stage. Sometimes, because the leaders themselves know that they are not immortal, they try to bring the routinization in the leadership.When the leader of such a state dies or leaves office, and a new charismatic leader does not appear, such a regime is likely to fall shortly thereafter, unless it has become fully routinized.(Auerbach) Stalin invested in many domestic projects, such as bridges and canals. Most were never completed. Stalin died in March 1953. Stalin maintained his cult of personality even after his death. Like Lenin before him, Stalin’s body was embalmed and put on public display. In spite of the death and destruction he
  6. 6. Richardson 6 inflicted upon those he ruled, Stalin’s death devastated the nation. The cult-like loyalty he inspired remained, although it would disappear in time. The fifth and sixth stages of the process of the charismatic leader are depersonalization and alienation. These two stages do not necessarily require the presence of the leader. In Stalin’s case he was already dead. In the depersonalization stage, the leadership style becomes more like a bureaucratic leadership. Within the Communist bureaucracy, the ruling class was responsible for administering a state property system . (Constas) The death of Stalin 1953, marked a new era, the Post-Stalin Thaw. Reforms termed “De-Stalinization” removed key institutions and policies that helped Stalin hold his power. A collective leadership emerged among Lavrentiy Beria, Nikita Khrushchev, and Georgi Malenkov. The final stage known as the alienation phase is when the followers feel that the organization and the leader are going away from the initial goal and thus they start alienating themselves from the organization and the charisma of the leader fades as the social situation which has made him appeal to the masses has changed. De-Stalinization was intended to rid the Soviet Union of the “evils” wrought by Stalin’s regime; however, just as many new problems arose with the program. Attempts to fix the underlying problems within Soviet society caused an enormous emergence of difficulty in the long run. It placed a large amount of blame upon Stalin’s shoulders. The general degrading of Stalin and his regime neglected to actually solve problems, instead only replacing them with a new generation of concerns.This stage does not necessarily mean the failure of the leader.
  7. 7. Richardson 7 After having described what is charismatic leadership and how it works, it is interesting to find out what makes one a charismatic leader. A charismatic leader also has the ability to be a master rhetorician. Stalin’s Rhetoric Rhetoric is an art. It has the power of ruling the minds of men through the use of words alone. Rhetoric refers to the study and uses of written, spoken and visual language. It investigates how language is used to construct meanings and identities, coordinate behavior, mediate power, produce change, and create knowledge. Stalin’s ability to persuade the Soviet people to embrace his brand of communism was achieved through a variety of coercive and persuasive techniques. It was relatively easy for Stalin to persuade people because of the control and censorship he had over the media. In several speeches and interviews analyzed, numerous rhetorical devices were found that identify Stalin as a master rhetorician. “We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they will crush us”, Stalin said this in 1931, at the beginning of the rapid industrialization campaign. Ten years later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The rhetorical device used here can be identified as collective memory as well as exigency. Collective memory works by relating the present to the past to make sense of contemporary conditions. Also, Stalin’s use of words such as must and either to create a sense of urgency. The phrase “either we do it, or they will crush us” was creating a ultimatum and also installing a rhetoric of fear within the Soviet people.
  8. 8. Richardson 8 Rhetorical devices such as moral inheritance and familial rhetoric arerecognized in a meeting Stalin had Albanian Communist leader EnverHoxha. “You Albanians are a separate people, just like the Persians and the Arabs, who have the same religion as the Turks. Your ancestors existed before the Romans and the Turks. Religion has nothing to do with nationality and statehood... the question of religious beliefs must be kept well in mind, must be handled with great…..These feelings have been cultivated in the people for many centuries” Moral inheritance intends to motivate action in moving forward, using ancestors as an emotional appeal to ensure their sacrifices were not in vain. Furthermore, the first clause “You Albanians are a separate people”, is Stalin’s attempt at using nationalism as a source oflegitimacy. The Communist propaganda was centered around a number of polarized dichotomies: virtues of the Communist world versus the Capitalist world. (Clews) Stalin’s use of rhetorical devices is quite remarkable whether intentional or not. The guidelines for propaganda are clearly outlined, linking his Communist party ideologies to the working class, unifying them with others in society. Conclusion Following the process of a charismatic leader, Joseph Stalin’s life fits all six stages in the process of a charismatic leader. Through analysis of rhetorical devices used by Joseph Stalin in public speeches and propaganda and the media’s creation of a cult of personality thepower of a charismatic leader has been identified as the most important element in the success of a regime. Through his leadership, Stalin successfully transformed an entire nation of people into followers of his ideology.
  9. 9. Richardson 9 References Auerbach, M. P. (2009). Power & Authority: Charismatic Authority. Power & Authority: Charismatic Authority -- Research Starters Sociology, 1. Bonnell, V. E. (1999). Iconography of power: Soviet political posters under Lenin and Stalin (Vol. 27).University of California Pr. Clews, J. C. (1964).Communist propaganda techniques. FA Praeger. Constas, H. (1961). The U.S.S.R.– From Charismatic Sect to Bureaucratic Society. Administrative Science Quarterly, 6(3), 282-298. DeCelles, K. A. and M. D. Pfarrer (2004)."Heroes or villains? Corruption and the charismatic leader." Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. Foss, Sonja K. Rhetorical Criticism : Exploration & Practice / Sonja K. Foss. n.p.: Long Grove, Ill. : Waveland Press, 2004. University of Alabama Libraries’ Classic Catalog. Machiavelli, N. (1910). The Prince. Palshikar, Ketan. “Charismatic Leadership” (2010).University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Post, J. M. Narcissism and the Charismatic Leader-Follower Relationship.Political Psychology, (4), 675. Strong, C and Killingsworth, M, Stalin the Charismatic Leader?: Explaining the 'Cult of Personality' as a Legitimation Technique.Politics, Religion and Ideology. 12, (4) pp. 391411.