To Defeat Him by Quoting Lenin and Facts: Practices of the Political Cult in Discussions of the 1920s
This article analyses practices related to the cult of Lenin in the confines of the Leningrad party organisation of the RCP(b) and its influence on innerparty discussions and political disagreements. The author aims to examine how appeal to the cult and Leninism helped shape the position of the Leningrad Bolsheviks led by G. E. Zinoviev. To achieve this goal, the author refers to a variety of sources, i. e. the works of the leaders of the Leningrad party organisation, such pamphlets by G. I. Safarov and G. E. Evdokimov, minutes of district party conferences, etc. The sources listed above suggest that the terms “testament,” “heritage,” and “task” used in party discourse symbolise a set of actions and principles, following and being faithful to which allowed party members to comply with the correct political line. For representatives of the Leningrad opposition, this meant relying on the poor and middle strata of the village. The category of practice mentioned in the title of this article means that attention was paid not so much to the function of quotations or clichéd phrases but rather to what party groups implied when quoting Lenin’s statements. The term “cult”, which historiography usually employs to describe the veneration of V. I. Lenin as the leader of the party, does not reflect the entirety of this process or take into account its productive component, namely, the fact that, because of its heterogeneity, Leninism allowed members of the Communist Party to pay attention to diverse aspects of Lenin’s heritage. In the course of the polemic surrounding issues facing the party (politics in the countryside, the possibility of building socialism in a single country, etc.), the Leningrad Bolsheviks turned to Leninism as a range of ideas legitimising their political position and as a tool for identifying the Bolsheviks who, in contrast to the Leningraders, “deviated” from the correct political line.
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