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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 5, 2014

Narratives of Legitimation in Totalitarian Regimes – Heroes, Villains, Intrigues and Outcomes

Camelia Leleșan
Pages 193-206

The Power of the Ritual – the System of Rites as a Form of Legitimacy in the Soviet Union –

The end of the Second World War produced a shift in the Soviet mode of legitimation; the original values of Marxism-Leninism were combined with those of patriotic nationalism in a new form of ideology in which the idea of The Great Patriotic War became one of the founding myths. Especially after Stalin’s death in 1953 and the beginning of the process of de-Stalinization, the Soviet political elites made an attempt to change their strategy by reducing reliance on coercion and strengthening political legitimacy in order to gain compliance from the ruled population. The system of socialist ritual became one of the most important legitimation procedures. The political elites came to regard the system of ritual as an important factor in maintaining and strengthening the legitimacy of the regime and their own position in the power structure.

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