Tuesday, 25 February 2020

on the cult of personality and its consequences

Though leaked contemporaneously by Mossad and intermediaries to the press, Nikita Khrushchev’s so called “secret speech” («О культе личности и его последствиях») that was critical of deifying the past and of Joseph Stalin’s brutal purges in the name of promoting communist ideals delivered on this day in 1956 to a closed session during the twentieth party congress of the Soviet Union, transcripts of the text were not officially released until 1989 under the auspices of Mikhail Gorbachev’s campaign of glasnost.

The denunciation marked a shocking departure from the unified and coherent propaganda of the day and while notably removing the body of Stalin from public view and interring it in the Kremlin necropolis signified an internal shift (pivotal without qualifications—though his reforms and liberalisation had well-defined limits—the speech a catalyst for uprisings in Hungary and Poland, the author also summarily suppressed them), the aftermath of this revelation accrued greater and more immediate external changes with membership dropping precipitously in the Communist Party in the US and UK over Stalin’s violence and the political, ideological schism between the USSR and China, who condemned Khrushchev as a revisionist and self-serving.