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Vanguard of the RevolutionThe Global Idea of the Communist Party$
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A. James McAdams

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196428

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196428.001.0001

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Rediscovering the Leninist Idea

Rediscovering the Leninist Idea

(p.268) Chapter 8 Rediscovering the Leninist Idea
Vanguard of the Revolution

A. James McAdams

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that, in the first ten years after Stalin's death, the temptation to address the Soviet Union's challenges through personalistic rather than institutional means represented the single greatest impediment to the restoration of the party's authority. Under the populist leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's (CPSU) first secretary, Nikita Khrushchev, the party's centrality to the USSR's future was rhetorically returned to the forefront of the regime's proclamations. Yet it was all too frequently trumped in deed by the “great man” principle. The same dictatorial proclivity was present throughout the communist world, especially in the People's Democracies of Eastern Europe. In the wake of their mentor's passing, “little Stalins,” like Walter Ulbricht in East Germany, Bolesław Bierut in Poland, and Mátyás Rákosi in Hungary, were acutely aware of their vulnerability. Accordingly, although they paid tribute to the concept of collective leadership, they simultaneously subverted it.

Keywords:   Nikita Khrushchev, Communist Party of the Soviet Union, great man principle, dictatorships, Walter Ulbricht, Bolesław Bierut, Mátyás Rákosi, Eastern Europe, collective leadership

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