Cult Variations

  • Kevin Morgan


Accounts of leader cults, left or right, tend to identify them with conditions of flux, division or upheaval in which they provided a focus for cohesion. These are characterised here as the features of an integration cult; crucially they are addressed to the consolidation or activation of some existing population or cult community, whether conceived of at the level of party or state. Though the Lenin and Stalin cults are typically described in this way, communist parties elsewhere were concerned, not only with consolidating, but with extending the bases of communist support to wider social and political constituencies. This is particularly apparent during the popular-front years of the 1930s in which the cult of the individual was first established as a feature of the communist movement. In seeking to mobilise support through what was typically the contestation of established authority structures, these features are characterised here as those of the enkindling cult. Employing these as heuristic devices, this chapter elaborates upon this distinction between the integration and enkindling cults, drawing upon a wider range of international examples. It concludes with a discussion of the analytical concepts of charisma and political capital as ways of best understanding the communist cult of the individual.


Communist Party General Secretary Cult Community Political Capital Integration Cult 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Morgan
    • 1
  1. 1.Sch of Social Sci PoliticsUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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