Talk:Cult of personality/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

'==Proposal== This article should try to define what a cult of personality is rather than provide examples. Who is and who isn't a cult of personality would be completely subjective. One could argue that Obama has a cult of personality following. One could argue the same about previous argentine president Peron and one could argue the same about any communist or totalitarian dictator such as kim-il sung. There is too much of a range of how sensitive you want to be before you slap this label on something. We shouldn't decide that here, no matter how generally accepted it is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:33, 3 September 2008 (UTC)


MY NAME IS XANDER this may be a stupid question, but how does a personality cult start and how does it continue? Does the dictator/leader ditate to his ministers/the media what information they should say and how to portray him, or is the ministers/officials/the media that want to be 'in the good books'with the leader and so start the personality cult themselves? Saccerzd 21:31, 12 September 2007 (UTC) ps: if you reply to this, please let me know on my userpage. thank you.

Yes, the leader usually does start his own personality cult or sometimes his ministers do too. In totalitarian regimes, the dictator is in control of all media. They make laws that every house and public building has their portrait. The government hires artists, poets, etc to build monuments, write poems about the leader, etc.The cult of personality is enforced usually by a secret police or simply fear of the secret police. Schools are told to praise the leader in their classes.

FOr example, Turkmenbashi, late leader of Turkmenistan, had statues of himself built. He wrote a book about his philosophies and made it law for the book to be held in high regard. Mosques had to have his book next to the Quran. His book was taught in schools. You had to memorize passages from it to get your driver license. He also made it law to rename the months and days of week after names of his family. His was the most bizarre personality cult. Though usually personality cults end when the dictator dies or is ousted from office. When Stalin died, his successor, Kruschev denounced Stalin's personality cult. Portraits of Stalin in public places disappeared and soon his cult of personality was gone. Azn Clayjar 14:28, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

Old talk

I think that adding Franco to this article is highly debatable. While there are some good reasons to include Franco in this list, his supposed cult of personality paled in comparision to the other individuals in this article. I also think that the picture is unsuitable. It gives off a false impression that Franco's "cult" was as extensive as that of say, Mao or Hitler. Furthermore, the picture doesn't provide any further explanation of what a cult of personality would look like, as it merely portrays a meeting between Hitler and Franco.

I'm having NPOV issues with the use of that picture there. -- John Owens 19:14 Apr 4, 2003 (UTC)

Why? -- User:J.J. 05:28 Apr 6, 2003

Because it's too wide and slops into the right margin. -- Zoe
Not for me. What an awesome picture. Actually I am not sure I believe it's a stadium crowd.

I think the item about gurus should be included in the main text because it is so closely related to cult of the personality of political leaders. Cults can be considered as mini dicatorships. -- Andries 31 Jan 2004

I do have a problem with this picture which appears to be of the forbidden City and its caption.

Mao Zedong has a vast cult of personality

Mao Zedong *had* a vast cult of personality in the 1960's, he doesn't have one today, and having large monuments for a dead political leader isn't considered a cult of personality (i.e. George Washington). The amount of Mao related stuff in China in 2004 isn't that out of line with other nations. In one sense, the Forbidden City picture is misleading in that it is the *only* place where I've seen a large picture of Mao in public, and its not on every street corner.

If you can replace it with something from the Cultural Revolution (i.e. painting of Mao at the time or something with red marks quoting Mao) that would be better.

Roadrunner 15:28, 14 May 2004 (UTC)

I have to agree with you on that one. Why does a poster of Mao count as a vast cult of personality, but a statue of Lincoln does not?

Lincoln statue.jpg

-Al234 17:39, 14 May 2004 (UTC)

Shrines to Lincoln and Jefferson on the national Mall do represent an aspect of personality cult, insofar as the personality substitutes for the issues and obscures objective history with patriotic legend. --Wetman 22:59, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I disagree...How many shrines or statues of Lincoln & Jefferson were erected in their lifetime?? These are tributes to historical figures, not an attempt to glorify "our Leader"...Theres a huge difference...Engr105th 06:17, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

I'll leave it out, and I will replace it with Stalin's pic. WhisperToMe 22:40, 14 May 2004 (UTC)

I have restored the Palace of Soviets image, removed by User:Mihnea Tudoreanu, saying "the Palace of Soviets picture doesn't really belong here, since a personality cult means adulation of a LIVING leader, and Lenin was long dead when the Palace was designed." This redefinition to exclude irredentist adulation of Ceaucescu or Abraham Lincoln won't fly. There certainly is an aspect of personality cult that developed around Lincoln, and it should be frankly addressed. Hitler is still the subject of a personality cult. Cult of personality is not just a cult of "living bad guys." Let's improve this entry. --Wetman 22:59, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC) --Wetman 22:59, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Excuse me, but Ceaucescu was very much alive when his cult of personality existed. As for Abraham Lincoln, if you think there's a "cult of personality" surrounding him, you'd better cite some credible sources. In any case, as the article stands now, it clearly states:
"Cult of personality or personality cult describes excessive adulation of a single living leader, whose personal iconography comes to be substituted for issues, and whose presence warps objective history."
"It should be noted that the term "personality cult" does not generally refer to showing respect for the dead (such as historic national founders), nor does it refer to honoring symbolic leaders who have no real power."
So if you want to insert the Palace of Soviets image, you'd better rework the article first. And justify your changes here, of course. -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 23:39, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
And just to clarify what I mean by "you'd better cite some credible sources": Does any respected sociologist or historian expand the definition of a personality cult to include dead leaders? -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 23:45, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

i think you should mention col.gaddafi in this article, for he is fournishing a great example of the cult of personality with his pictures on the school books,on the currency and on huge billboards scattered in the streets and in public places.he even changed the calendar and the name of his country.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people need to deny the obvious. So theres no cult of personality for Lincoln? (Or Jefferson, or Kennedy, for that matter?) Thats the same of saying that there wasnt a cult of personality for Julius Ceasar - the term didnt exist back then! In a similar way, a cult of Hitlers personality exists even today, as does one for Elvis. Its proposterous to say that because someone died it isnt cult of personality anymore.
Your comments imply that "US citizens dont do this cult of personality stuff", since after all "cult of personality refers only to bad guys/its a bad thing". Wake up and smell the coffee.LtDoc 21:52, 3 August 2005 (UTC)
All leaders have their proponents. Personality cult denotes the propagation of godlike status, and often the repression of opposing views. Lincoln was, during the time of his life, one of the most hated presidents in American history. Your comments imply a relativity reflex.:::
I'm sorry, but I have to agree with LtDoc and others on this talk page who have cited posthomus Cult of Personality status. It is a reality, no matter what semantics you want to get into. Lincoln, Washington, Kennedy - all prime examples of a posthomus cult of personality. How anyone can argue that those three listed presidents haven't enjoyed posthomus cult of personality status is just beyond me. I suspect LtDoc is right in thinking that this article is being approached with the idea that only bad men can have cults of personality around them, and that apparently the USA is exempt from cults of personality.

I'm curious to know, too, where this is idea that a cult of personality must refer to a living person came from? The dictionary definition makes no such claim, so, where does this idea come from? The dictionary definition is simply: "intense devotion to a particular person" - No reference to living status, or whether or not they have to be bad men to get that intense devotion.--Aco

Random trivia:

I think that should be added to the article, as the song doesn't only share the title with it, but discusses the theme directly, including names of leaders.

Random personal trivia:

  • The first several times I heard that song, not knowing the name of it, I was certain that the singer was saying "fucked-up personality" in the chorus. — FREAK OF NURxTURE (TALK) 11:26, July 22, 2005 (UTC)

I note the lack of mention of other important figures who left the government to avoid becoming like that like the once President of the South African Government [Nelson Mandela]

Edited [Dwarf Kirlston|User:Dwarf Kirlston] Feb 16

What about Hirohito? During a large portion of his reign wasn't there a cult of personality surrounding him? 05:48, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Cults of personality are one of the most frequently used tools of governmental indoctrination in the United States. An common aspect of the Cult of Personality is the creation of a fiction or mythology surrounding the character. Let us not forget the chopping of Washington's cherry tree or "Honest Abe's" returned penny. These are not things that have been invented hundreds of years after the fact, but myths which arose from a very real cult of personality.

In fact, I would argue that the presidency of the United States holds a de facto personality cult. After all, is not the President's image shown in virtually every gradeschool classroom? And don't we watch the President even while he's on vacation? While it may not be a universally supported cult status, we must admit the President holds a special place, elevated to the status of diety in the minds of the public, be that diety good or evil.

The display of an image such as the current image of Stalin is somewhat biased, as is the bias towards mentioning those with cults of personality who were not the best of leaders. Ceacescu, Hitler, and Kim Jong-il may not have been great leaders, but the personality cult does not simply arise around evil people. As I mentioned before, personality cults arise around Presidents of the United States almost immediately. I hold, in fact, that the vast majority of "founding fathers" have cults of personality surrounding them, and in fact had such during their lives.

Frankly, I think "Dear Leader" is analagous to "Honest Abe."

I would argue that you've watered down the definition of "personality cult" to the point where it no longer means anything. Relativity run amuck, again.


In one place it says that it only applies when they're currently living at the time of their personality cult, and then goes on to list Ataturk "posthomus"... -- Joolz 19:01, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Actually it waffles by saying "generally". But you're right, there should at least be some explanation for his inclusion. -Willmcw 21:20, Mar 18, 2005 (UTC)


Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, is the only recent example of a somehow "mild" cult of personality in a major industrial nation and a G8 member.

I removed this sentence from the article because I think that such an assertion needs to be backed by a source who has made the charge. Or at least substantial list of actions that have supported a cult of personality. Cheers, -Willmcw 19:30, May 16, 2005 (UTC)

I've removed it again, still looking for a source. -Willmcw 21:06, May 22, 2005 (UTC)

Chiang Kai-shek

Another example comes from the Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. When Chiang died in 1975, Taiwanese were required to sing the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Song, which praised Chiang to be "the savior of mankind" and "the greatest person in the whole world."

The trouble with this example is that the article states that cults of personality extend only to the living.

Roadrunner 14:33, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

I do think there is a place, though, for posthumous cults which spring soon after death, such as with Chiang or most famously Lenin. --TJive 22:22, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

The education system in Taiwan called for the use of an extra space when writing Chiang Kai-shek's name. This started when he was alive. His writings such as "Soviet Russia in China" had to be read by school kids each morning. Shawnc 06:18, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Fidel Castro

Considering the length of the thread that was here I've moved it to Talk:Cult of personality/Castro archive. Here's what it comes down to (at least from my point of view). The central question is whether there is an abundance of images in public places, one of the prerequisites for attributing a cult status to someone. Since my personal observation wasn't accepted (original research), I've asked at three travel forums what others have observed. The results are at travellerspoint, aardvark and lonely planet. Especially the last one has a sufficient number of entries (16) to settle the question; there are hardly any public images of Castro. DirkvdM 08:44, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with the above summary and conclusion; I would also like to mention that the reason I have withdrawn from this debate a long time ago is because I believe it blows the issue completely out of proportion. -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 17:57, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

George W. Bush

Political bumper stickers have been popular in American politics for decades. "Nixon's the man" Though these may not be part of an active campaign, they are still conventional signs of political support. If Bush put his face on the coinage, or if we started singing "Our Great Commander W" every morning at work, then he'd have a cult of personality. The only way that we should include a comment like the one above is if we clarify that it is intended as hyperbole. The sources don't seem to be using it seriously. IMO. Cheers, -Willmcw 06:05, Jun 11, 2005 (UTC)

This is simply another example of how political partisans attempt to utilize user-driven sites for their own purposes, even with something as pathetic as this attempt (but also Berlusconi). That said, if anyone has a personality cult in the present-day US, it's Robert Byrd. You can't spit in WV without hitting a road, airport, or other public works project bearing his name or likeness. --TJive 20:19, Jun 12, 2005 (UTC)
This just proves how difficult it is to separate political fact from political opinion, and gives me an idea: Instead of saying "Some current countries that feature personality cults are...", we could simply edit the article to say "Some current countries that have been accused by their opponents of featuring personality cults are..." Or, alternatively, we could give some countries as uncontroversial examples of personality cults (North Korea and Turkmenistan are all but impossible to avoid), and give others (Cuba, maybe even the USA under Bush) as controversial examples. -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 19:16, 9 August 2005 (UTC)
Or, better still, give sort of a gradation. This is certainly not black and white (but then, what ever is?). Or maybe a table of characteristics which are then ticked off (or given a rating) per person. Also, I say 'per person'. It is now presented as if it is a treat of a country, but it's really about the person, right? And that could also be someone who has an international personality cult. The Pope is one possibility. But even better ones would be football and popmusic idols. Do they have to be political? The article doesn't explicitly state that, although all the examples are political. Except in the end, where religion and celebrities are mentioned. And what about Einstein? Or is he an icon? And if that's something different, then is that not worth a separate article? Plenty food for thought. Happy digestion :) . DirkvdM 07:59, 10 August 2005 (UTC)
I think Einstein would be included as the subject of Hero Worship, as described below -- Not cult of personality. Of course as a member of his cult, I would say that, now wouldn't I?
In the United States in the last half-century, the closest thing to a cult of personality connected to a living leader was in the case of Ronald Reagan, whose supporters launched

efforts to name ships and public buildings after him while he was still alive. I don't know if this would count though, as the "deification" of Reagan came when he was no longer in office albeit still living. Does this help qualify Bush, or is the purely relative, subjective, pejorative term reserved for people across borders? This entire article should be deleted for being a weasel word. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:45, 12 December 2006 (UTC).
Bush does not have a cult-of-personality, period, end of discussion. Let me be very honest; I hate Bush, I see him as a war criminal and there are a lot of horrible things that I feel can be attributed to the man. However, no matter how bad he is he simply does not have a cult-of-personality. The two examples in the articles, of the Kim family in North Korea and of Niyazov in Turkmenistan perfectly illustrate what is meant by this term; in those countries all literature, music and media HAS to be about them. So much as questioning the wisdom of the Dear Leader can, and does, result in execution. Anything critical of the leader is banned and the leaders are portrayed as almost Gods. Niyazov has banned most books and requires all people to read his own book, as an example. No matter what Bush has done, the political climate of the United States, and, for that matter, any developed country, does not seem capable of supporting a cult-of-personality. Let's try to stay encyclopedic and not let our political vendettas push us to put someone in an article who does not belong there simply because we don't like that person. --The Way 02:10, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Wow, what a great contribution... Bush doesn't have a cult of personality because you say so. Thanks! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 02:17, 20 December 2006 (UTC).
I'll ignore the fact that your comment seems to be a borderline personal attack and the fact that you didn't actually address anything I said. Bush doesn't have a cult of personality because the situation in the US and Bush himself fails to meet the criteria set forth in the article for determining what constitutes a cult of personality and no reliable sources have been provided that argue otherwise. Until us US citizens are unable to question or say anything negative about Bush, until there is total censorship, until there is a one-party system in the US then there is NOT a cult of personality in the US. --The Way 05:59, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
Then no one has a cult of personality. By your own admission, those two countries have forced censorship. What kind of "cult" needs to force its members into worshipping someone? My whole point is that the term is entirely meaningless and signifies nothing but national chauvinism. If you were honestly trying to stay "encyclopedic," you would be arguing that the article should explain that "US critics accuse these 2 people of having cults of personality," not that "these two people have them, because we hijacked the term, and we'll use it how we see fit" And my comment was not a personal attack any more than yours was. I'm simply pointing out that your opinion does not make a good entry for an encyclopedia. --The above comment was posted by user
Comment No, the term is a valid one within the field of political science and international relations and has nothing to do with the US in particular, which is not the inventor of the term. Just because the US uses the term against some of its enemies does not make the term illegitimate, other countries do the same. The thing is, this is not an opinion of mine but rather the term itself is supported by literature on the topic. The US has very rarely used the term and I am not sure that it has actually been used by the US to describe the case in Turkmenistan. The fact is that the concept of a 'cult-of-personality' happens to be a standard concept within Political Science with a generalized set of criteria, its a term used in the academic world. I agree with you that the US tends to act imperialistically and use terms like this as a political tool, but that doesn't mean the term itself doesn't exist independently of the US. A cult of personality is essentially, at its most basic, a system in which a political leader creates an environment where that leader is essentially viewed in religious terms and where there is very heavy censorship of views that don't agree with those being held by that leader.

Also, the US is by no means the only country to call Turkmenistan and the DPRK cult of personalities, many nations use these terms as do human rights organizations and academics, many of whom likely oppose the US as well.

Finally, you disagree with the use of the word 'cult' since these countries use force to create the cult and in normal usage the term 'cult' implies a voluntary support. This may be true, but as an encyclopedia we are supposed to use the actual term used in the literature which, in this case, is 'cult of personality.' --The Way 22:38, 20 December 2006 (UTC)


I've removed the random attempts at comedy in this article i.e. references to "niggers" and "homosexuals" and restored it back to normal.

Please do not use Wikipedia as an attempt to insert your current partisan political views, whatever they may be. The mere fact that people are able to disagree with the president in the United States (and many do) precludes the idea of it being a cult of personality. Cults of personality prohibit opposing views. You cannot, for example, show disrespect to either of the Kims in North Korea.

Cults of the dead?

An anon editor makes an interesting point. Is the cult of personality always only directed at living leaders? This surely isn't true in North Korea, for instance, and as noted, wasn't true of Turkey, where Ataturk was used as a symbol by a particular sector of the populace. Can the statement that it only refers to the living be sourced? Grace Note 06:11, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Near the top of this page there's already been a discussion about this. I'd say never mind the Lincoln Memorial. What about the Mount Rushmore Memorial, with those huge heads of four US presidents (including Lincoln again) carved out in a rockface? If that is not glorification, I don't know what is. And they were all dead when this was carved DirkvdM 06:54, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
I'd say there's quite a bit of difference in creating monuments (of which Mt. Rushmore was a particularly experimental sort) to respect older leaders and utilizing a dead persona to instill obedience towards a particular regime; choice, IMO, has a lot to do with it and nobody can honestly question that giving criticism (or worse) about a Lenin or Che was or ever has been the same as for Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and especially Lincoln. --TJive 07:40, August 24, 2005 (UTC)
A personality cult is about adoration, not criticism. And if one is to add criticism to the equation, I'd say that actually reduces the cult in stead of reinforcing it (which I suspect you meant). DirkvdM 08:39, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
I believe my meaning was rather clear, that significant criticism is and was not allowed of figures such as Lenin and that this is much more indicative of a cult than there merely existing a monument. Monuments do not in and of themselves constitute a cult, and the narrow focus on singular physical aspects is why the above argument (re: Castro) appears obtuse on one side; I also do not see how you could misinterpret what I just said. --TJive 16:00, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
I interpreted it the way you said it. You do bring up something relevant, though. Is the suppression of criticism an aspect of a personality cult? The article doesn't say anything about it. More relevant here is, though, whether the absence of such suppression means there is no cult. I wouldn't say that, so that doesn't affect the possibility of a personality cult around Washington or Lincoln. By the way, I assume there was no serious suppression of criticism with them, but I don't really know. You always get that to some extent. Officially, like with the Dutch queen (again) - criticising her is against the law. How much that is enforced is another matter. But in the US there is is a very strong suppression of criticism outside the law. The extreme nationalism in the US extends at least to some extent to revering the leader. Any criticism against anything national has to start with something like "I love America, but....". Does that sort of 'peer suppression' (or what should I call it?) also count? That would constitute a personality cult irrespective of who the person is (ie whoever the president is). This is getting complicated!
Another thing. These discussions are deep down very often about good guys vs bad guys (or girls... hmmm, no girls?). But you can also have a personality cult for a good guy/girl, right? (Anyway, who decides who is good or bad? - take Castro for example.) More and more I feel it would be a good idea to make a table of cultproperties versus people and tick off or grade the properties for each. DirkvdM 07:12, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Washington had one while he was alive!

Actually, Washington did have a personality cult - and it existed during his lifetime. How do you think he ran unopposed? It is merely Western psuedo-pychology o claim that the West doesn't have such things as personality cults, it did with the LIVING Ronald Reagan!

I refer you to U.S. presidential election, 1789. As you can see, there were over ten opponents who received electoral votes, and probably many more who didn't. --Merovingian (t) (c) 06:03, August 28, 2005 (UTC)
I don't get this. I don't really get the US electoral system. That article does state that Washington ran unopposed. And U.S. presidential election, 1792 also states that, plus "As with his first term, Washington is considered to have been elected unanimously." Is the discrepancy to do with two electoral stages?
I realize that your desire to go after the US is strong, but if you don't get something so basic to your point as the US electoral system, perhaps you shouldn't be speaking as such an authority, eh?
A better reason to ascribe a cult to Washington might be the naming of many things after him, most notably the city and the state, and the statues and other images, most notably Mount Rushmore. But all those examples are from after his death and the article states that that means there is no cult, although this point is disputed quite a bit. DirkvdM 07:46, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
I think there's a difference between a cult of personality and hero worship, which could better describe the phenomenon seen with Washington. --Merovingian (t) (c) 08:54, August 28, 2005 (UTC)
Can you imagine my laughter now? Listen to yourself! If you think he's a bad guy it's a cult of personality and when you think he's a good guy you just think of a different name. With the word 'hero' in it of course. Anyway, like I've already asked elsewhere, why is this cult thing presented as something inherently bad? I think the article needs a major cleanup in that respect. Why distinguish between a cult of personality and hero worship? It's the same thing, isn't it? That the article pretty much starts with stating that it's typical of totalitarian states sets a negative tone it doesn't need to have. DirkvdM 17:46, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
DittoLtDoc 22:56, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
He clearly has a cult of personality. Cults of personality often generate mythologies, and those mythologies are virtual tell-tale signs. George Washington's cutting down of his fabled cherry tree and unspoken words "I cannot tell a lie" can't be the result of anything less than a personality cult. The same can be said of "Honest Abe" and his returning a single penny. Those events never happened in recorded history, but arose due to a cult of personality. - MrKeith2317 0209, 30 August 2005
An important difference between Parson Weems and a Soviet biographer of Stalin in 1930 is that Weems was not employed by Washington or the government. From my understanding of history, much of the hero worship that developed around Washington during his lifetime was spontaneous. It may have been helped by Federalist pampheleteers, but it was not a government operation. That's what separates hero worship (voluntary) from cults of personality (state supported/imposed). -Willmcw 06:55, August 30, 2005 (UTC)
Ah, that last bit sounds interesting and makes sense. This would mean that there is indeed a very negative aspect to a personality cult, namely that it is forced down people's throats (then again, in principle it could happen both at the same time). Can you back this up? If so, it should be mentioned. Or maybe there should even be a separate article on hero worship. Or is that Charismatic authority? Or is a personality cult a fake form of that? By the way, I suppose Hitler had such a mix of spontaneous and forced veneration as I mentioned. DirkvdM 14:56, 31 August 2005 (UTC)


Some good points made by everyone. I wrote a lot of the current article so I am now being asked to contribute to the discussion.

It seems with a lot of articles (especially ones describing negative political phenomena) some wikipedias have an obsession with trying to cram some reference to the United States into it, no matter how akward the process is. As far as I am concerned, there has never been anything in the US resembling a personality cult. However, I think it is important to classify personality cults as a relatively modern phenomenon. In the old days, before the modern democratic state came into existance, leaders were almost always venerated in an overly lavish way that today seems strange and excessive. That was just part of being a leader. So yes, George Washington was venerated, but that was in a large part due to the fact that that's just how Heads of State in general were treated in those times. As countries liberalized and became more democratic in terms of political dissent and debate and whatnot obviously people stopped caring about and going along with leader worship. I don't know when exactly you could say this era of sorts ended, but I would estimate mid to late 19th Century. Before then you could essientially just point to any leader and say he had a personality cult. Queen Victoria, Simon Bolivar, Ivan the Terrible, etc etc etc

We can only really classify personality cults today because we know what the alternative is. That is to say we can now argue a personality cult is not "normal," as judged by the modern-day, international, democratic standard of how political leaders are "supposed" to be treated in a modern, free society.

That being said, I think a separate article on hero worship would be valid, as it is a distinct subject. It's an equally negative concept, but one that goes beyond politics and beyond living political leaders. For example, a possible definiton could be like:

Hero worship is a critical term describing the overly-lavish adulation of any individual who is admired for posessing heroic or positive qualities. Hero worship is often characterized by a reluctance to criticize or debate the merits of the individual, or accept that he or she had any negative characteristics.

So anyway to summerize, here is my belief in the basic characteristics of a personality cult:

  1. It exists in modern times, namely the 20th Century
  2. It is directed around the person of a single, currently-serving political leader
  3. It ascribes generally super-human or "perfect" characteristics to the leader, which are obviously untrue
  4. The cult is manefested in a vast, widespread scale with the intent of being known to every citizen
  5. The cult is state-sanctioned, and manditory (disagreeing with the cult is an offense)
  6. It has no real precedent (ie: none of his predecessors were treated in a similar manner)
  7. Its excesses are unusual by the standards of similar countries

Comments? user:J.J. 15:20, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

That first bit, that a personality cult is a modern thing, is certainly worth explaining, the way you just did (just a bit shorter). But my main question to you was where one can find a general theory about the subject. I have found texts, but all of them about specific cults, not about the theory in general (such as the list you give). Since there is disagreement as to what characteristics are valid, we need an objective source. As for Hero Worship, how does that differ from charismatic authority? That it has a negative connotation? And how then does it differ from personality cult? And is a personality cult inherently negative? DirkvdM 08:23, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
Hero worship, as I said is not just about politicians. For example someone could engage in hero worship of a sports figure, like Babe Ruth, or Elvis, or other celebrities. I would also say yes, a personality cult is inherently negative, because I believe a personality cult by definition involves forced participation and lying. user:J.J.
Ok, but it's really just a matter of definition. It doesn't quite follow from the constituent terms. Therefore that is not obvious and needs to be said right at the top. Charismatic authority is then a positive cult of personality. And hero worship is something similar with non-politicians (which leaves open whether it is positive or negative). Is this a good representation of what you mean? And can you source it? That is rather important here (and difficult) because any uncertainty about the definition can lead to endless discussions about whether (and how) some person should be mentioned. But even then there is a huge problem. Because who decides what is positive or negative? (We can't just change the definition to avoid this problem.) One solution might be to merge this article with charismatic authority, state at the top what the difference between the two is (assuming that is only the posi/nega-tive thing) and then avoid the terms somehow in the rest of the article (how?) and leave it to the reader to decide which of the two terms applies to whom. DirkvdM 09:30, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
I see now that you've already written a history-section. Looks good (though I'll have to ponder on it a bit more). But I think the definition should come first, as a list of characteristics. So I've added that to the top, based on your list. The last point is a bit vague. What do you mean by that? Are you sure about the 'currently serving' thing? I think that would provoke quite a bit of controversy, so I cowardly left it out.
What about Hirohito? He was venerated in his lifetime in the 20th century, as a god. And therefore supernatural (your 3rd point). But one can not say that that is obviously untrue because believers in him would disagree with that. At least, this is based on my rather limited knowledge of the veneration of Hirohito. DirkvdM 10:56, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
Just a note that Juan Peron and Eva Peron do not meet the following criterion: #It has no real precedent (ie: none of his predecessors were treated in a similar manner) In his book Peron and the Enigmas of Argentina Robert D. Crassweller writes: For almost every single thing that is characteristic of Peronism had precedent in Argentine history. [3] Crassweller proceeds to liken Juan Peron to Juan Manuel de Rosas, and Eva Peron to Rosas' wife, Encarnación Ezcurra. -- Andrew Parodi (talk) 20:08, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Another early example

Another early example of a cult of personality during both life and death would be Alexander the Great. He purposedly named cities after him and erected statues, not to mention took advantage of local mythology to make him seem to be divinely inspired.

Quite relevant here is how much of it happened after his death, because a lot of this veneration has gone on to this day. Even more later maybe, because people seem to have forgotten what a murdering bastard he was :) . The 'divinely inspired' thing applies to many, not only in ancient times (eg the Roman emperors were said to be (half)gods). Where was it that I read that Bush claims to talk to God? Sounds like something made up by opponents, but in the case of Bush I wouldn't be too surprised, really. DirkvdM 14:39, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

—== Bush ==

Hi 211, you'll need to provide a reputable source for your edit; the article you linked to was written by a freelance for a little known website, so far as I can tell. I've removed the paragraph: "Certain left-wing groups in the United States argued the existance of a semi-cult of personality around president George W. Bush, with some of his partisan supporters refering to heim as Commander-in-Chief, appointed by God, and the only person capable of defeating terrorism. Many of Bush's opponents, such as John Kerry and numerous celeberities and journalists, were either boycotted or blackwashed, and some were refered to as "traitors" or "comforting the enemy". SlimVirgin (talk) 02:53, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

  • Yeah, there seems to be some misunderstanding of what a "cult of personality" is. Stalin, Mao, Hitler had them. Fidel Castro, George Washington, Margaret Thatcher did not. George W. Bush certainly doesn't, and I would point out that he is referred to as "Commander-in-Chief" because, well, he is. Every sitting US president is Commander-in-Chief of the military. Childe Roland of Gilead 08:12, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Huey P. Long

too much of a stretch? 04:46, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

I removed:

The extreme cult of personality as we think of it today, is thus a fairly contemporary phenomenom. Like the concept of totalitarianism in general, personality cults are often seen as a product of modern media, and thus could not be achieved in earlier eras, before the existence of things such as television, movies, and radio.

It is too much of a stretch to make this statement and call "personality of cult" as a "product of modern media" or "fairly contemporary."

--Charlestustison 05:43, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Kemal Atatürk

I added Kemal Atatürk's Turkey to the list of hosts of personality cults but somehow it disappeared. So let me explain briefly why it is correct to add Kemal Atatürk's Turkey to the list. Several of the properties of a personality cult fits to Turkey very well at that time. Those are resisting democratic reform (there was a one-party state for 22 years, and an authoritarian character of the regime is unquestionable); revolutionary consciousness; honoring the governer as the liberator and the saviour; statues (in all of the schools and many other public places), paintings (in all of the classrooms and again at many other places); propaganda; and quashing the opposition within a ruling elite (e.g. the lawsuit to execute Kazım Karabekir who is one of the powerful commanders in the Independence War of Turkey, sending another potent figure of the Independence War, Ali Fuat Cebesoy to Moscow as an ambassador. Kazım Karabekir was the commander of the armies of east while Ali Fuat was the commander of the armies of the west Anatolia.) These are enough to put Atatürk's Turkey o the list, and I have added it.

You're wrong in many points: 1) There weren't any "resisting democrating reform": Actually two trials were made. One in 1925, (Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Firkasi) which ended in self-dissolution after some of its founders and members has participated in Izmir Assasination attempt in 1926. The second one in 1930, the liberal Serbest Cumhuriyet Firkasi which was founded by one of Atatürk's friends (probably funded by himself) dissolved itself not because of government indiction but because of Atatürk's refusal (maybe inability) to disassociate himself from the ruling party due to pressure. Despite Atatürk's public urge to continue to its works, the party's president (Fethi Okyar) and founders dissolved the party not to be seen opposed to Atatürk.

2) A liberator of a country of course will be honoured. Aren't Washington, Lincoln, Churchill honoured, their face printed on the money? This doesn't make a cult of personality.

3) Kazim Karabekir were never executed. The frivolous lawsuits were dismissed and actually he was selected as the President of Parliament in 1947.

4) Ali Fuat Cebesoy was sent to Soviet Union, first due to need of an absolutely trustable associate in the most important and maybe only ally of Turkey during the war. (He was a childhood friend and tablemate of Atatürk in military school) As a soldier, he was unable to contain Greeks' advance or show any efficiency of transiting the National Forces into regular army. It is normal that who can't do the job gets dismissed.

In any case, it applies at least as "built up in the mass media by later governments". His public image is protected by law, supported by the education system and guaranteed by the military. -- 15:24, 2 April 2007 (UTC)


I think it's fair enough to link Mugabe. See the following links:

uses term says Mugabe is focus of personality cult, or great leader concept says opponents accuse him of it uses term. James James 07:17, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

That's interesting, but if he has a personality cult, why doesn't it come across in the government's mouthpiece, the Harare Herald? Sure, there's an occasional editorial by a Zanu-PF suck-up, but nothing on the scale you see with the best-known personality cults. Gazpacho 07:22, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

You'll point to the Herald articles that criticise Mugabe's policies then? ;-) I take your point, but I think you should bow to the sources, which analyse his personality cult in broader terms than "the papers say good things about him". The Herald never veers from the Zanu-PF line but it's true that it steers clear of "Mugabe Saviour of the Nation" editorials. But Zimbabwe is not Soviet Russia. It has a press of sorts and the Herald must compete with other news sources to some extent.James James 07:33, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

I'll leave it in.

But I can't resist pointing out that in Soviet Russia, personality cult has YOU! Gazpacho 07:54, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

Should we merge Populist_leaders_of_Latin_America_in_the_20th_century with this article?

...since they are about the same thing. --MACMILLAN 21:07, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure they are, actually, although there is a good deal of overlap. It seems to me that this article is more focused on the concept, while charismatic leaders is interested in specific people.... – Seancdaug 05:13, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
They seem to me to be quite different. Kim Jong-Il is not particularly charismatic, for example, and José María Velasco Ibarra is not known for having a cult of personality. -Will Beback 17:22, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

No. As the intro indicates, there is a huge difference between praising a leader because you're sold on his vision, and praising him because you'll be arrested if you don't. Gazpacho 04:10, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Please note that I changed the title of the article charismatic leaders to Populist_leaders_of_Latin_America_in_the_20th_century and I made the first a re-direct to charismatic authority, following the example of charismatic leader Andries 09:59, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Ted Stevens

Is it true what I have heard that Ted Stevens arranged for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to be named after himself. Does this make him have a degree of cult of personality too? :) --RPlunk 01:58, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

This sort of "degree of cult of personality" is probably better described as just "vanity", if it happened that way at all. Engr105th 06:28, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

European monarchies were not personality cults

The concept of divine right of kings which developed in feudal Europe did not correspond to a cult of personality. The individual monarchs were not revered as deities, and criticism was not interpreted as blasphemy. These attitudes are inconsistent with medieval attitudes and historical events. I removed these unsupported assertions from the text.

StephenMacmanus 05:43, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

They were not revered as deities, but they certainly were revered. I'm adding that little point back in. -- Nikodemos (f.k.a. Mihnea) 01:15, 1 February 2006 (UTC)


Any references for this? Gazpacho 21:44, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Conan O Brien?

This article cites "Conan O Brien of Finland" as a personality cult...this is a joke right?--Hypergeometric2F1[a,b,c,x] 21:12, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Good catch. -Will Beback 21:29, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Conan O'Brien does have a cult personality. photographic evidence, lol] MafiaCapo 16:06, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Doesn't Conan O'Brien have hero worship if anything? I thought the distinction was political. But I wouldn't mind seeing a Colbert/O'Brien 08 ticket. - grahamular


Some clarifications:

a. "Charismatic leader" is a category of leadership first used by Emile Durkheim. So the article should be more properly associated with this French sociologist.

b. "cult of personality", at least in political science, is more often associated with the study of totalitarian governments, especially fascism.

As for the actual text of the article "charismatic leader" displayed on wkipedia, I reccommend oits deletion as it reads like a "cut and paste". Furthermore, without any theoretical introduction the text reads as gibberish.

Eva Peron vs Juan Peron

Eva Peron is listed on the page as an example of a cult of personality. However, the Juan Peron article actually links to this page, in reference to the cult of personality surrounding Juan Peron. I question the inclusion of Eva Peron on the list (since she was not the actual power holder at the time), and at the very least this should be modified to "Juan Peron and Eva Peron -- Argentina"

This is a propaganda article

Only the enemies of the US carry out cult of personality? C'mon give a break. There is cult of Elvis Presley in the US and of almost every Rock star. Every Holiwood actor is a personality worshipped and revered by almost every American. Every millionaire, Bill Gates, etc. The president of the US. So, please try to balance this article, otherwise is only worth for what at the moment is: Propaganda.--tequendamia 08:19, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

You are taking the phrase "cult of personality" entirely outside the definition as described in the article. Many celebrities are worshipped by their fans; these are not cults of personality except in an ironic sense. As defined in the article, a COP requires unreasonable veneration of a current political leader enforced by the state, with accompanying close identification of the leader with the state and vice versa. By this definition, a COP would be almost impossible to initiate or sustain in a democratic country, US or otherwise. COP requires a totalitarianism that does not exist in democracies. Just because some bad things happen in the US (or the UK, etc.) does not mean all bad things happen here. Acknowledging that fact is not propanganda. 03:32, 8 April 2006 (UTC)essex9999
That anyone would claim Bill Gates has a cult of personality suggests a severely limited understanding of the concept. We have an article about the concept of "celebrity" and it's not this one. That said, the article does seem to reflect some confusion between "cult of personality" and good old-fashioned strongman politics. Gazpacho 01:00, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Bill Gates is a personality revered in certain circles suchs the IT and Busines world. Many ficticious elements have been added to his personality and life history, such as that he started his software empire in a garage. This story of the garage wasn't true, but was added to provide inspiration and atract people into the IT world. He is a personality very revered in India, like a Gurú, like a God-tequendamia 22:29, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
Gates has never once claimed that Microsoft was started in a garage, nor has any journalist. At least, not any journalist in the US or Europe. If a journalist in India misrepresents facts, that's poor journalism, not a cult of personality. Perhaps you're thinking of Apple, which claims to have started in a garage because it did. Gazpacho 00:38, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

My opinion about this article is that it is incomplete. It deals with the personality cult issue from the point of view of the Cold War, as something that could only happen in communist regimes. The reality is that cult of personality is as ancient as humankind. If this wan't the case people would not follow leaders, would have not had kings or monarchies, would have not had celebrities. Cult of personality is in reality the essence of social architecture, It'not bad as the article suggests. I has a good side because provides the majority of population with role models and role examples from which society can learn and receive inspiration. Think of Princess Diana as the inspiration she was for her followers, think of Elvis Presley, think of Madonna, think of JFK, or Lincoln. All these are cases of personality cult and inspirational role modelling. Some people wanted the sanctification of princess Diana, and today they are attempting the sanctification of John Paul II.-tequendamia 22:22, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

The majority of the examples are not communists.
If you want the article to say that CoP is as old as mankind, and the essence of social architecture, you'll have to provide sources. The phrase doesn't seem to have been in widespread use before Stalin, although I've noted its basis in Marx's writings.
Look at Hitler; At the Nazis' height, people couldn't even say hello without giving praise to Hitler. Look at Niyazov. His statues and photographs are everywhere in Turkmenistan. His Ruhnama is in mosques next to the Koran. When children read in school, most of what they read is by or about Niyazov. He renamed January after himself and renamed bread to honor his mother. Your examples do not begin to compare. If you go into a Catholic church, you will see images of Jesus, not images of John Paul or Benedict. If you go to Microsoft headquarters (which I have), you will not see Bill Gates's portrait hanging in the managers' offices. (If anything, Gates has a cult of antipathy). So without sources, I just can't consider your objections credible. Gazpacho 22:53, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
We need a photo of Bush reading the petty goat to the kinder graden kids. That's very similar to Stalin's one on this article. Fox news footage could be used as proof of personality cult towards the image of George w. Bush.-tequendamia 04:49, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
We have a new Propaganda in the United States article, and I invite you to improve it. However, if you want to put such things in this article, at some point we'll need a source saying that such things constitute a cult of personality. I've done the POV check and made the changes I found appropriate. The next move is yours. Gazpacho 09:23, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Good arguments thusfar, but I'd like to chime in. Could modern examples of political campaigning--and most specifically of this administration, although I have no evidence they're the sole practitioners of it--methods such as henpicking who appears behind a government official during a public appearance, or planned shots such as aircraft carrier landings, or clearing brush, or to make matters even more confusing, any public appearance, be misconstrued as a building block of CoP? Has the practice of attempting to filter out protestors been committed solely by this administration? If it has, and we have proof, I would vote for an inclusion of what takes place in the U.S. in regards to that or at least open up the discussion. Is this image building or is it CoP bricklaying? Are we stuck in the age of "pro-Union/anti-prosperity" and "pro-freedom/anti-military" and the other verbal tennis games? I'm not signed in, but my name is oceanboy on here. 07:13, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Mao Example

"Mao Zedong of China: during the Cultural Revolution, all published works, including scientific papers, had a quote from Mao, always highlighted in boldface or red," seems kind of a lame example, it being the only one. That a personality cult does not make.

I am not so sure that Mao's was a personality cult. It was, at least to some extent, a charismatic authority. It's very controversial. --Ionius Mundus 00:03, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Mao had a Cult of personality that embelished his experences on the long march also there are many prpaganda paintings that could be found all over china during the cultural revolution. you should look into adding him to the list, if no one minds I will do it and if it sucks well than remove it, but some one that works on this page should let me know there thoughts about adding more examples to the list. Max 16:30, 1 March 2007 (UTC)


There is little tangible evidence that the Venezuelan political system encourages a cult of personality to the extent inferred here. --Zleitzen 15:57, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Section needs removed

There are no sources provided for claiming any or all of these leaders have a cult of personality, though I do not personally dispute the characterization. I presented, months ago, a great deal of evidence based on the description of the article how Castro clearly fits the mold and provided a completely NPOV section saying how the matter is contested, and now any reference to Cuba has been completely excised in favor of the preferred targets of editors. This is inappropriate and is shoddy work. --TJive 04:08, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I assume you mean this. I don't think it's inappropriate, amid a POV/factual dispute, to review the examples with an eye to the original use of the term in its present-day sense. Claiming that Castro has established a cult merely by tenure seems like hand-waving; can you point to any specific ways he has promoted his own glorification? Gazpacho 23:29, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
And FYI, I have no "preferred targets." I'm just trying to avoid edit wars. Gazpacho

No, that is not at all what I mean. Some editors were contesting the idea that Castro deserved a mention, whatsoever, at this article, so I put in some effort to present the matter in a meaningful and balanced way. Because it actually deals with the issue in a serious manner rather than remaining a one-line original research observation with no references cited - for examples, see the current article - I was told it made the article "unbalanced" and, since then, the material was moved to Fidel Castro, where it was watered down and probably later deleted altogether, and any reference to Castro here has been KOS, while DirkvdM made a discussion fork so that other editors, when skimming the page, would accidentally skip over it and miss the fact that there was a discussion about this at all. --TJive 00:46, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

I would tend to agree that this article does not need discussions at length of individual cults. The examples are brief because they are examples and people can follow the links for more information. I'll add references for the examples that remain. Gazpacho 23:13, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
This appears to be the same old Catch-22 that was applied in the first instance. If it's a small mention of Fidel Castro, there's not enough evidence; if evidence is provided, the section is unnecessarily long. --TJive 23:18, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
How about a paragraph rather than a line? By the way, I restored your material at the Castro article, after rearranging it to put the facts before the characterizations. Gazpacho 01:36, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

As per Tjive's comments - this whole section needs to go. Cult of personality strictly applied refers to Stalin and Mao and so on from the early days of communism - people speculating on whether others have such a cult is unhelpful. All major leaders have been described as having a cult of personality (check if you don't believe me). The reintroduction of Khomeini sums it up. The man was a religious leader for goodness sake. Tenuous examples of leaders with cult of personality include George Bush [4], Margaret Thatcher [5], Pope John Paul II [6] etc etc etc.--Zleitzen 12:06, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

  • Khomeini was a religious leader? You have no clue. The Supreme Leader can dismiss the Iranian president at any time. In Iran, he isn't called supreme, but that is exactly what he is. (1) Khomeini impeached the first Iranian president Banisadr, (2) many speculate he ordered the assassination of Mohammad Ali Rajai, (3) ordered thousands of executions with shooting squads broadcast on television, and (4) abolished the Iranian Senate. He had total secular & religious power as does Ali Khamenei. Go to Iran, insult Khomeini or even Khamenei, and see whether you can ever return. Also, thousands lined up to kiss his hand; no one did this for Mao Zedong.--Patchouli 00:14, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
There are no sources provided whatsoever. Whatsmore, I can provide sources that associate many leaders with a "Cult of personality" (see above). You are essentially adding a name because you believe it to be the case based on your own experience and knowledge. The very basis of Original Research. Please acknowledge that this section does not meet Wikipedia criteria. By the way, please do not write to other editors "You have no clue" - it could be considered uncivil. Was Khomeini not a religious leader? (see comments by user below) --Zleitzen 00:25, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Have taken Castro out of the otherwise sourceless "examples section" and put him in the main body. Of the examples - he was the most interesting of the lot because the issue specifically referred to a "personality cult" and whether he has one or not, which is an important and relevant part of this article. The rest have no sources and no right as of yet to be on this page.--Zleitzen 03:34, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

I think we should completely do away with the examples, as they are just too controversial. --Ionius Mundus 00:07, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Ayatollah Khomeini and Ovadiah Yosef

Is there any real justification for listing these two here? Ovadiah Yosef was simply a Chief Rabbi, not a head of state and Khomeini, while oftened depicted on posters, did not foster a cult of personality arround himself. There's a difference between high religious authority and the type of adulation that is associated with a cult of personality. --لقمانLuqman 17:10, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

As far as I can tell from the article about him, Yosef is a Pat Robertson figure. It's not accurate to claim that Robertson has a cult of personality, so it's probably not accurate for Yosef either. Gazpacho 17:24, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

I also think the whole section about Putin needs to go. If we include the paranoid accounts of media in every wikipedia section we will not create a fair representation of the facts. There IS critisizm of Putin on channels such as RTVi and RenTV. There is plenty of Israeli owned news channels in Russia offering furious critisizm of Putin. BBC is a very political source and I doubt it is fair to include it and simmilar citations. If we include Putin, we would have to include people like George Bush and every major political leader of today who has been described as leading a personality cult. Dbullet 02:42, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Ho Chi Minh

Hey, I just added Ho Chi Minh... he became a big figure, especially after his death... see if I am wrong at any part. Thanks. Maxpayne lhp 21:03, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

That's not a personality cult, it's charismatic authority. --Ionius Mundus 18:16, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. In Vietnam (especially in the North) you can see pictures of Ho in every other shop. Then there's the fact that he's embalmbed for all to see. He has a city named after him and talking to locals (again, especially in the North) he had a flawless life, to the point that his wife/wives are completely omitted from teachings within Vietnam. This includes published works within Vietnam. –GHALL89

See the textbook definition of a cult of personality, which is in fact mentioned a few times on this very page. It only counts as a cult of personality when the subject is a LIVING leader. Ho Chi Minh, like fellow socialists Lenin and Castro, did not ever accept themselves being exalted as heroes. - p1nkfl0yd —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:19, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Request for comment

How should this article convey this concept and phrase originally coined by Karl Marx. And should original research be used to show examples of this concept or should examples be strictly sourced from notable outlets.--Zleitzen 00:57, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

The concept of a personality cult doesn't exist in a vacuum but is discussed in relation to particular leaders, so let's list and explain some of the prominent ones. Most of the statements in the examples section are either common knowledge or documented in the person's article, and I think PBS, KCNA, and VOA are sufficiently notable sources. However, the "characteristics" section has for some time struck me as just a lot of holding forth.
Also, I don't think it's original research to provide details about a leader that go directly to Krushchev's defining use of the term. Gazpacho 02:17, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry but "common knowledge or documented in the person's article" is not good enough. Castro is the only leader whose sources refer directly to "cult of personality" - and ironically that is only of interest because he himself believes that he does not promote this. The grounds for inclusion are otherwise entirely original research. In contrast, I have verifiable sources stating that Margaret Thatcher, George Bush and Pope John Paul II have cultivated a "cult of personality" - should they be included and the other examples removed? Given that mine are sourced and the others are not. And the lack of monarchs, who are afforded the greatest "cult of personality" apparatus available renders this section moribund. I reiterate - the examples are unsourced and the list is compiled entirely from original research. It should be removed as unencyclopedic and counter productive to the page. --Zleitzen 10:16, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
Whatsmore, the section begins "The following leaders are sometimes claimed to have a personality cult" - By whom? If that were the case, then where are the sources stating this? Providing sources is a basic tenet of wikipedia. We do not engage in the debate, we report the debate. So unless someone can come up with a source relating each leader specifically to a "cult of personality" then this section should not stand.--Zleitzen 10:23, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
(back again) The repsonses from other users above show that there are inherent problems with this page. Problems that are deepened by the vague examples section. For as long at that section remains - users will be having an unneccessary edit-war over who makes the cut and who doesn't. It merely encourages contentious editing. Remove it.--Zleitzen 18:23, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
I'll find some sources regarding Kim Jong-Il and his father as having vast personality cults in the next day or two and I'll try to find a few sources regarding the other individuals commonly seen as paradigm examples of individuals who cultivated personality cults as a means of political power (namely Stalin and Mao). We shouldn't remove the whole examples section just because the debate over who should be cited is contentious. The concept of a personality cult is an important one within the field of political science and there are several individuals who are widely viewed as having them, most notably Kim Jong-Il. Rather than rid the page of these examples, we need to find a few sources on each. They exist, I've read quite a few papers on the topic; I just need a bit of time to find the sources. Anyone who has any should put them up asap. --The Way 03:33, 28 July 2006 (UTC)


I shouldn't need to repeat this again but I will. Can people please provide a source for leaders linking them explicitly to "cult of personality". A dictator does not equal cult of personality. See Augusto Pinochet. it doesn't matter if it's Hitler or Mao.--Zleitzen 00:58, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

PARADIGM examples only

I think we need to have only a few paradigm examples. Some of these examples are getting awfully sketchy and don't really fit all the criteria of personality cults. This concept is a well-defined one within political science, but there aren't really many individuals who have developed true ones. We need examples, but we don't need an exhaustive list so only those leaders who have clearly met the criteria should be included. I don't think religious leaders should be included at all as, despite their power, they themselves don't really cultivate a personality cult around them alone. Khomeini, for example, though seen as a great authority by his followers was not the source of a real personality cult, but a revolutionary... A personality cult, as far as political science is concerned, really only seems to occur in totalitarian/authoritarian/communist states where there is religious repression and where, therefore, there is a 'hole' left in people's spiritual lives that can be filled by the state. Personality cults are essentially political systems that revolve around a highly idealized individual who is the sole source of authority and is presented in greater-than-human if not godlike terms and which uses a vast amount of propaganda to inculcate such beliefs in the population of the nation subjected to the personality cult. There are really only a few paradigm examples: Stalin, Mao and Kim Sung-Il probably being the best historical ones.(Hitler may be a bit more controversial in this area, his ideology was perhaps more focused on this his particular person). Currently, Kim Jong-Il is pretty much, without a doubt, the best living example and he is probably followed by Saparmurat Niyazov. These examples are likely the most clear and best fit the criteria. Other individual, like Khomeini and Castro, are more contentious and may not fit all the criteria and should be left out, in my opinion.
Strictly speaking, Castro shouldn't be on this page at all despite what some American anarchist wrote in a paper. He is best applied to the Weber concept of "Charismatic authority", and is also just one of a long line of Latin American military figures. But I believe Tjive has been petitioning for Castro for over twelve months. The fact that Castro insists he doesn't promote a cult of personality is maybe worth mentioning as a contrast. But it still seems odd to see him next Kim Jong-Il. Anyway, like all lists on wikipedia - this list needs to be sourced to the nines. --Zleitzen 10:29, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm still confused. The Kims are personality cults, I don't disagree because it is fairly obvious even these days. Stalin was known for his rudeness and labeling him as a personality cult is not too questionable. Mao Zhedong, during the Cultural Reform, did make himself a personality cult, ok I do not object to that. But are Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, or even George W. Bush or similar figures personality cults? I have heard nothing like "you have to praise him or be killed/jailed/harmed" about all of them. So here I can see three seperate degrees (concerning political figures only, celebrities don't count):

  • Personality cults made and enforced by the government which is thrusted down to people's throats, opposing ideas are not allowed or even punished.
  • Personality cults made by the government but people are only soaked in it, not forced into it, and they "voluntarily" accept it since that's the only thing they can hear, opposing ideas are not punished but heavily criticized, isolated and not accepted by the mass.
  • Hero worship won by or made by political figures for their certain achievements considered by the people or by some as the kinds of "liberator", "saviour", etc, maybe encouraged by the government but not made.

Any comment? Hawkie 15:39, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Apple? Nintendo? Fanboyism...

It seems to me that as political Cults of Personality have been eliminated (if they ever existed) in the USA, the strange techie trend of Fanboys has sprung up. Witness the hundreds of webpages and discussion forums dedicated to the near-worship of several brands. Apple comes to mind as the best example, but similar fan bases exist for Nintendo, Sony, Square-Enix and other brands. JonJ 15:58, 16 October 2006 (UTC)JonJ

What does this have to do with the article? Please stick to the topic; article talk pages are not for idle conversation. --The Way 04:29, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Was Saddam's picture really in every home? The article mentions that "their pictures hung in every home..." I doubt every home in Iraq had a picture of Saddam in the living room. Provide some citation specifically stating that these guys (specifically Hussein), or I'll have to edit it.


I see an unsourced list has developed yet again on this page. I have removed it for obvious reasons, see above.--Zleitzen 23:21, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

Cult of personality is the socialist feature

Cult of personality is impossible in capitalist country: if mass media prises the leader in socialist country, it is cult of personality because the media are own by the state. If mass media prises the leader in a capitalist country, it is not cult of personality because the media are private-owned.--Certh 09:45, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

It's not necessarily a socialist feature. It is usually a totalitarian feature. Cults of personality come because a totalitarian government has so much power and creates it to keep the leader in power and not because of its economics. Azn Clayjar 15:02, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

cult of personality vs cult of the individual

If the term "cult of personality" is to be used in this article there needs to be a point of origin cited for it. Marx and Khrushchev use the term "cult of the individual" so a scholar needs to be provided to use the term "cult of personality" to avoid the No Original Research rule as we would be coining an undocumented term. Also, for every example cited, there needs to be evidence that the use of the term "Cult of personality" to describe the individual is being compared to Marx of Khrushchev's use of the term (if they are being cited as the originators of the definition) - the train of thought of this article needs to be connected from origin of label to application to individuals. I only raise this because the article is (and had been greatly in the past) shifting to a bunch of Original Research statements were individual contributors concluded a certain individual fit the description of having a "cult of personality" and that is not the function of contributors to Wikipedia - we are merely here to take scholarly ideas and organize them into articles but not create them on our own. Icactus 15:15, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

A bit POV

Mentioning only Reagan among all these dictators seems a bit POV here. Sort of implied guilt by association. There must be verifiable sources for Kennedy, being one. It seems to sum him up pretty well. -R. fiend 04:25, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

I'm wondering if it should be deleted. Democratic "regimes" and Reagan bashing seems to be a bit suspect. You'd have to include FDR and Clinton. I don't think any of them rise to a cult of personality, though. - MSTCrow 02:01, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
I changed "regime" to "government" (it was a particularly poor word choice) and added mention of Kennedy (he's mentioned in the same source that Reagan is, so it seems fair enough). FDR and Clinton could be examples as well, though I'm not sure they're quite in the Kennedy range. It is a maater of opinion to an extent, and for that reason I wouldn't be too disappointed if the whole section were deleted, though I don't think it completely necessary. -R. fiend 17:29, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree that the section should be deleted. Addition of Reagan was clearly a political play especially with the mention of Fred Thompson??? Adding a democratic figure makes it more balanced, but then also shows that the section really doesn't belong. Comparisons between Kennedy/Reagan say and Stalin/Mao are incredibly loose. I mean, come on, in one situation, you could be shot for not following the cult of personality. 06:05, 19 August 2007 (UTC)


I and a couple others have been battling over the inclusion of Fidel Castro on this page. A lot of the problem has to do with the way the term is left largely undefined on the page itself. Castro is undeniably the central figure in Cuban politics, and disagreeing with him is somewhat taken to be akin to disagreeing with socialism. What doesn't exist are the giant posters (despite what's twice been claimed) or a caricature of Fidel as a god in strength or virtue. No history has been rewritten to glorify him (a hallmark of COPs). In short, there's no widespread or deliberate and certainly no official disinformation about his "personality."

I started rambling, I think. Anyhow, while the term could logically be extended to include Fidel, it would also have to include Kennedy and Reagan and the Queen of England and Rush Limbaugh (people listen to him daily and believe whatever he tells them to, no?) and Martin Luther King Jr. (black families commonly have his portrait in their house).

In short, it comes down to if there's a fundamental difference between a popular, powerful and respected political leader and a cult of personality. To say there isn't really renders the term useless.

At least until this issue is resolved, Castro's name should not remain on the page. --MQDuck 09:12, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

The issue of the posters of Fidel was already resolved here. See above. --MQDuck 10:04, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I took a break from monitoring this article. In the mean time, DirkvdM made what I feel was a fair (enough) compromise. However, this does demonstrate the bias of this article. Those considered by the West to have personality cults, even "spontaneous" ones are mentioned here, whereas "spontaneous" personality cults in the West are considered distinct and not mentioned. Let there be no doubt that the West used and uses the label "personality cult" for its own political benefit. Wikipedia would do well to see beyond this. Let some other personality cults not labeled as such by the West be mentioned, as some have tried but has been continually shot down. Let us mention the cult of the Individual, the cult of Celebrities, the cult of the Entrepreneur (who single-handedly builds great enterprises).
Perhaps this article cannot fairly exist without discussion of the sociology behind to very idea of "cult of personality". That's probably too much to hope for, but expanding on DirkvdM's fair compromise might be just good enough. --MQDuck 11:29, 20 August 2007 (UTC)


What about celebrities in Western culture??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:50, 3 November 2007 (UTC)


I think the whole section about Putin needs to go. The definition is "A cult of personality or personality cult arises when a country's leader uses mass media to create a larger-than-life public image through unquestioning flattery and praise." However, multiple channels have criticised Putin like RenTV, RTVi, as well as the Kremlin sponsored Youth group "NASHI".

Examples of criticism can be found here: the man who has written the last article has a TV show he hosts from moscow, in conjunction of "the echo of moscow" radiostation which daily calls for the removal of Vladimir Putin from power and the release of Khodorkovsky. I think this qualifies as critism. The show can be watched here:

We are quoting a highly political news outlet that has had a hystery of being anti-Russian in its news outlook and the description is not consistent with other news reports. A high internal approval rating does not imply a cult of personality. Please, either provide an unbiased perspective or remove the comments.

Dbullet 21:58, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

The question is not whether there are critism of Putin or not. The question is if he has generated a personality cult. The mere existance of NASHI and other organizations that worship Putins means he has generated a personality cult. Carewolf (talk) 09:15, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

That is the most ridiculous accusation I have ever heard. The definition of a personality cult as stated ON THIS WEBSITE is when a leader "uses mass media to create a larger-than-life public image through unquestioning flattery and praise" The key word is "unquestioning"! The existence of an organization like NASHI says NOTHING about Putin's personality cult. This is just like saying that the existance of organizations like "the other Russia" attributes a personality Cult to Kasparov and Berezovsky. Opposition exists; therefore, the definition of a personality cult does not deductively apply. Further, we can say that Bush is creating a personality cult through the unquestioning flattery and prase of the Murdoch media empire. If Putin is mentioned, we should mention others like Bush and a host of others. I think you have political views which you are trying to propogade on wikipedia, which is supposed to be an objective mass of information. Further, organizations like NASHI do not worship Putin as a personality, but merely support his politics. I challenge you to visit their website and find in their contiitution a clause praising Putin as an individual, rather than agreeing with some of his politics. I know it is difficult for someone in the west to understand that someone can objectively disagree with the empire, but attributing support for Putin to an emerence of an alleged personality cult is not a good way to deal with your complex of superiority. Dbullet 21:21, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

We shouldn't make the decision about whether an individual has a cult of personality. Instead we should summarize what reliable sources say. If sources describe Putin as forming a cult of personality then we should report that. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 23:49, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

See heading "PARADIGM examples only". Putin does not fit the criteria that has been consistently used on this page for other leaders. Wether it fits the criteria of a source who is not an expert on the subject is irrelevant. Again, if you mention Putin you are being political; otherwise, mention everybody who has been already removed from this page, as I'm sure news outlets stating simmilar things (like with regards to Khomeni) can be easily found through google. Lets try to be fair here.


After reading the oft-changing article for a while and the comments in the discussion page, I feel that the articles imprints on the reader biased views of what is a cult of personality, and who is elegible to one. All examples given in the article refer to political figures; They are all generally considered "evil" (Mussolinni, Hitler, Mao-Tse-Tung, etc...)and most of them (except for North Korean) are dead. How come only political figures can have cults of personalty? And of those, how come only "negative" ones? The United States uses extensively the idea that its own leaders are infalible, great, examples of righteousness, supremely gifted, etc etc etc. Kennedy, Lincoln, Washington... Also, a following of non political figures is very proeminent especifically in the USA, Elvis being the greater example (such followings also happen in Japan's Idols, in a somewhat diferent matter, different enough to prevent us from using cult of personality to that). I just wished to check if Im the one whos got my views mixed up, or f others feel the same LtDoc (talk) 16:51, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

As its used here, the concept of a 'cult of personality' is a relatively well-defined political science term applied solely to a particular approach to governance. Ideally, all examples cited in the article should be justifiable in academic literature. --The Way (talk) 06:37, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
This concept is not really a "well defined political science term" but a concept of Marxist propaganda. It is an interesting theory and certainly worthy of a well researched article on Wikipedia, however it would perhaps be better to treat it in the same manner as the concept of surplus value or similar, in that it is an extension of Marxist theorum. To treat this theory as if it were a ubiquitous and universally accepted concept of modern political science is a POV. -- Saul Rosenberg

Saparmurat Niyazov

I am going to reinsert Saparmurat Niyazov, also known as 'Turkmenbashi,' back into the article (with proper citations, of course). The recently deceased Niyazov has long been viewed as a prime example of a dictator who imposed a strong cult of personality on his country. The man renamed the months of the year after himself and his family, banned almost all books other than his own, built many monuments of and to himself across the country, including Turkmenistan's largest structure, a statue of himself that rotates so as to always face the sun. If you type 'cult of personality' into the Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO) database, arguably the best academic database for international relations available, the first three articles are about Niyazov. You get similar results with the JSTOR database. With google you also get similar results, though you need to include 'government' in the search as otherwise you end up with lyrics to the song of the same name... Anyways, I just wanted to justify his inclusion here given how contentious this article has been. --The Way (talk) 06:34, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Bhumibol Adulyadej?

Would the worship of Bhumibol Adulyadej be considered a cult of personality? He is head of state. He is called "the Great". He is seen as a half-god. It is illegal to criticize him. Not to mention the pictures in people's homes and all the monuments. // Liftarn (talk)

While King Bhumibol's regime does have some characteristics of a cult of personality I don't think it could actually be considered to be one. The King holds a largely ceremonial position, in a true cult of personality the individual who is the center of that 'cult' tends to hold essentially absolute power which is certainly not the case in Thailand. If you could find a few legitimate academic sources which discuss a cult of personality around the king then he might be worth inclusion, but I doubt that such literature exists. I spent a month in Thailand rather recently and while the King's picture is definitely omnipresent, the country remains relatively open and free which would not be the case in a true cult of personality. --The Way (talk) 15:51, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
He does have subtantial power (altough he often does not use it), but you are ofcourse right about sources. What about The Christian Science Monitor? Are they reliable? "while King Bhumibol's public appearances grow fewer, his cult of personality is undiminished"[7][8] The first section reminds way too much about the movie scene in Orwell's 1984. // Liftarn (talk)

In Music

"I'm a Cult of Personality" I forget who it's by... If someone knows, I think there should be a reference to it somewhere. (talk) 01:53, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

The song "Cult of Personality" was done by Living Color. Here's a link to the video of the song on youtube:
Should it be added as a music section or just mentioned as a link to the Living Color WP article? I'll leave that for an experienced editor to actually put in. Living color WP article here: (talk) 22:30, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
The very first thing this article says is "This article is about the political institution. For the song by the band Living Colour, see Cult of Personality (song)." I think that covers it pretty well. -R. fiend (talk) 22:33, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Unnacuracies about peronism

"Other undemocratic leaders with such cults include leaders such as Eva Peron of Argentina and her husband Juan."

I propose this paragraph should be changed since while peronism is clearly a personality cult, it is by no means "undemocratic". perón was president of argentina 3 times, always elected by voting. and in fact one of those times, he was thrown out of power by a military coup. In the other hand, Eva was in fact subject of personality cult, but she was never a leader, she never held any charges. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:04, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

wheres jimbo?

youd think he'd be on here, what with being worshiped by objectivist wierdos here as god —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:31, 29 June 2008 (UTC)


I think it'd be worth mentioning Sen. Obama in this article.. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:39, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

agreed. added. quit vandalizing my revisions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:08, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

An entry like that would at least require a high-quality reliable source. Until one is found BLP requires that we refrain from adding that link here. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 17:27, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Considering the article states "A cult of personality or personality cult arises when a country's leader uses mass media to create a heroic public image through unquestioning flattery and praise," we'd at least have to wait until he's president, then we'd have to watch him put up statues of himself all over the place, and banners with his face two stories high with the caption "Our Exalted Leader". Then you'd have a good case. In the meantime, being popular with a select percentage of the population and having some over-zealous fans doesn't cut it. If Reagan, whose name or likeness is featured is just about every county in the nation, doesn't make the cut, certainly Obama doesn't. -R. fiend (talk) 15:54, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

No idea what you're talking about with Reagan being in every county... During Reagan's time his image was used as a symbol of greed, war mongering, nuclear holocaust, and the AIDS epidemic, similar to how Bush's image is used today for negative purposes. This is a stark difference to the way Mao like pictures of Obama appear everywhere despite the man's lack of any philosophy, lack of executive experience, and his notorious record of voting "present". There is a case to be made that the man has said virtually nothing yet has millions of adoring fans swooning and weeping at his very presence. I was literally expecting to only see a picture of Obama when I looked up "cult of personality" in the encyclopedia. Ryratt (talk) 17:42, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

The mass media voluntarily glorifies obama through unquestioning flattery and praise and obama's advisors work very closely with the media. obama cultists already consider him to be de-facto president. therefore this article applies. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:46, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, you've got your Hannity talking points down. Unfortunately, they don't fly here. Good luck with your life. -R. fiend (talk) 18:57, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Maybe you should go watch the linked video, or listen to Chris Matthews talking about "electricity running up his leg" when the Great Leader speaks, or the halo-angelic rolling stones and time magazine covers. that's obviously cult-like and nobody needs some retarded foxnews anchor to say so... except you because you obviously need a strawman to beat on. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:18, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Save it for the X-mas bunny, kid. -R. fiend (talk) 19:43, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

not surprising you're not interested in providing any better counterexamples other than your retarded Reagan reference, even though Reagan was continually trashed by the media all 8 years in office. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:54, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

A dozen kids singing a song. Wow. You really got me there. How could I ever hope to counter such insurmountable proof. I guess I will have to concede. In fact, I think I might as well redirect this page to Barack Obama. -R. fiend (talk) 21:20, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Now you're just being facetious. I added another video of the obama cult for your enjoyment. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:00, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

He's not the Leader, exercises no direct control over the media, and doesn't promote "unquestioning flattery and praise" Obama is wildly popular and has some crazy and illogical supporters but he is not even close to for example Turkmenbashi. (talk) 22:35, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

I think its been established that democratically elected leaders do not belong here. I argued for them, but it seems like the other side has won out and upholding precedence does have its benefits. I also agree with the idea that there have been many democratically elected leaders who could be said to have a cult of personality, Reagan notably, given efforts to name a building after him in every county of the US (or efforts to put him on the dime or put his head on Mt. Rushmore), even before his death. But this opens up the floodgates to political pandering and it is worth keeping those gates closed. Evan7257 (talk) 05:52, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Dr. Entropy (talk) 23:56, 21 October 2008 (UTC)Dr. Entropy 21-OCT-2008, 19:47hrs (Eastern) Dr. Entropy (talk) 23:56, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

I too think that Barack Obama belongs in here. True, he's not a leader, but he could become one. And even people on the left are saying he's become dangerously close to a CoP. SOURCE:

(Granted, it is an Op-Ed article, but it makes the point.)

Let's not also forget that he now has his own Votive. Seriously: SOURCE:

There are also many other articles out there, but these two are news organizations and therefore are RS.

For my money (and this next is my OPINION) Obama belongs in this article, the MAIN article and not confined to the talk page.

And don't tell me about having my "Hannity" points down, please. Dispute the facts, if you reply at all. We are after all, all adults here, ne?

23:56, 21 October 2008 (UTC)Dr. Entropy 19:55hrs 21-OCT-2008 (END REVISION) Dr. Entropy (talk) 23:56, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

An objective observer would definitely agree that there is a cult of personality surrounding Obama, and that Obama fits the definition provided on Wikipedia perfectly. As far as not being a leader yet, Obama is already a Senator. That fits the definition of a national leader. That Obama has achieved a cult of personality at a level that is usually only achievable by a leader/dictator of an entire country only reinforces the argument that Obama's cult powers are on a level the world has never before seen. He's not even President of the United States yet, and already the media and many in the public attribute to him qualities that are normally only ascribed to deities (e.g. able to "heal the planet"). I am pretty sure that no other political campaign in the history of democratic countries has ever employed to the same degreee the physical-face-of-the-candidate imagery that we have seen not only a "few fanatics" in the public use, or the news media, but the official Obama campaign itself. His likeness is everywhere. It is silly that people on here would argue that there is no cult of personality surrounding Obama and that he doesn't belong in this article. It can only mean that not only is American democracy weak to Obama's cult powers, but even the supposedly-more-enlightened Wikipedia community is not immune. God help us. (talk) 17:45, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

And another thing, it's not just a "dozen kids" literally singing Obama's praises. It's millions of Americans, led by scores of famous pop singers. This morning I was walking through the college campus I live on, and there were literally scores of college students dancing in the walkways with music blaring over loud speakers. The only word I could make out in the lyrics was "O-BA-MA" being shouted by the singer/rapper. Has America ever seen anything like this? Besides Hitler's Germany, has the WORLD ever seen anything like this? I don't think even the Soviets sang about Stalin like this. For Lenin, they sang a little, but Stalin, no. Obama literally has millions of young American literally singing his praises. That never happened for Reagan, nor Bush, nor any other American president that I know of. Please correct me if I'm wrong. (talk) 17:55, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm open to a section on Cults of Personality in Democracies, but it has to be devoid of Original research and it has to be even-handed. If you want to use the Krugman link, keep in mind it says Obama is in danger of becoming one, while saying Bush was one. It is also an opinion piece. Depending on how far one wants to stretch the definition of CoP, we could include most of the examples listed above, as well as Reagan and potentially GWB (before his approval ratings tanked). Hell, we could even mention Martin Luther King. But there is an enormous difference between them and Kim Jung Il or Fidel Castro.
There is no doubt Obama has some over-zealous fans. Many do, including Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, though admittedly some of Obamas are substantially more so. What is useless to the article is anecdotal evidence such as a group of kids singing a song or some guy who made some Obama votives. As for singing, one should keep in mind that for many years candidates would have campaign songs written about them, naming them specifically, so a song about Obama is really nothing new. (Recently the trend has been to adopt pop songs from the 60s and 70s, but that isn't a rule.) Most importantly, he distinction must be made between what happens during a regime and what happens during a campaign. In any presidential campaign emotions are running high, and both sides are actively promoting themselves as much as possible, with signs and images everywhere. Campaigns have become bigger, more expensive, more promotional, and more partisan over the last couple decades. This is not necessarily indicative of the situation when the campaign is over. There is a difference between charisma or popularity and a cult of personality. -R. fiend (talk) 19:46, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
The Obama phenomenon absolutely belongs on this page, and I think most observers would agree that this is a new page in American politics - whether they see that as a good thing OR a bad thing, so it is somewhat besides the point to say "well if Obama is on here, then _____ should be as well." Count my vote for include. HunterAmor (talk) 18:21, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Reliable sources? -R. fiend (talk) 19:26, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Yesterday, Charlie Rose discussed Obama with two Newsweek editors, and one of them said, "There is a slightly creepy cult of personality about all of this" in reference to Obama, and then they went into a discussion of it. NewsBusters has a transcript here, and the original video is here. So we're not the only ones thinking about this. (talk) 03:45, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
We're looking at the opinions of one single person here, which is hardly authoritative (BTW, using Newsbusters as a source loses you 500 credibility points). Do we want to include in this article every time this term has been used to describe anyone? How would this be incorporated into the article? "On an episode of Charlie Rose, Evan Thomas used this term in reference to Obama"? Does that really add anything to the article? A minute later, Jon Meacham contradicted him, saying like Reagan he was simply a "great charismatic leader." This article is not going to devolve into standard Wikipedia shit of "this term was mentioned by so-and-so in the song/book/tv show/movie 'so-and-so'". We have more than enough of that crap.
If you think there's enough verifiable information and reliable sources about this to actually write something other than a few quotes tacked on somewhere, then write up what you would like to add on on this talk page and let it be discussed. But anons trying to add Obama's name along with Stalin and Mao will be treated like the vandals they are. -R. fiend (talk) 15:31, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
These (e.g. Charlie Rose quotes) are what's called in the industry "primary sources." A "secondary source" -- the type Wikipedia seems to favor -- would be when someone writes a peer-reviewed paper or news article citing and analyzing all the primary sources. Here's another primary source suggesting a possible Obama personality cult: Planning under way for Obama holiday. When we've collected enough primary sources here, I think they'll be a pretty strong case for recognizing the Obama personality cult in the main article. (talk) 13:39, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
The problem isn't so much that the sources are primary, but that they're not reliable sources for factual information. The quote from the Charlie Rose episode is an opinion, or an interpretation, by a single individual. The article you reference doesn't mention "cult of personality" at all, so to incorporate it in would still have WP:OR and WP:SYN problems. The article also is useless in that it merely says "Plans are being made to promote a national holiday for Barack Obama..." Who's making these plans? The article doesn't even say, but seems to imply it's some random owner of a McDonalds in Topeka or something. When Barack Obama declares his birthday a national holiday, we will have something to work with. But some random guy with an ill-fated attempt to make Obama's inauguration a national holiday does not a cult of personality make. -R. fiend (talk) 15:35, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Hes not like Kim Jong-il, but I think Obama deserves a mention at least. I think it isnt inaccurate to say Obama has a cult of personality around him. He is sort has a semi-god status among some people i've seen, lol...he is sometimes called 'the messiah' (somewhat jokingly) in part I think because of how easily he can indoctrinate his supporters with his powerful rhetoric and speeches. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:28, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Rustle up some reliable sources and we'll discuss it. -R. fiend (talk) 03:48, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Here's a reliable source: Ala. county sets 'Barack Obama Day' as new holiday. (talk) 03:58, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
A single county of 12000 people. That was a joke, right? Grsz11 05:17, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Dr. Entropy (talk) 22:59, 19 November 2008 (UTC) I hope I got this right...still learning how to use this bumblebee, so I'm gonna screw up! But I do need to quote from an Op-Ed article (granted, it is an Op-Ed which means it's an opinion, but I believe it to be an informed one) "I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again." SOURCE:

(That fits the definition of a RS.) A few points here; Mr Krugman says that he's not the first to point out that the Obama campaign is coming close to a CoP. While there is no consensus, there is debate on that subject. I will point you to the discussion (still!) going on about the bombing of Coventry during WWII. The accusation had been made that Churchill knew that Coventry would be bombed due to Enigma messages having been decoded but that he allowed it to happen. There was (and is still) anecdotal evidence to support this conclusion, although it has been for the most part debunked. Yet that still remains on Wikipedia's page about the bombing of Coventry.

If one remains, why cannot this one be included? There is now sufficient anecdotal evidence to support the conclusion that Obama is now a CoP. His own holiday would seem (in my opinion) to be further proof. How many US presidents have had their inauguration day become a national holiday?

I believe a complete, fair, unbiased reading of the evidence would support this conclusion. Let us not forget the Washington Post article about biased coverage in the US media: SOURCE:

But there's more: SOURCE: "The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer." He goes on to state a pro-Obama bias.

These are all news organizations, although a few are Op-Ed. They therefore, are not blogs and do (in my opinion) amount to RS and therefore provide enough anecdotal evidence about the alleged CoP around Obama.

Please note one more thing before I close: I am a newbe to Wikipedia, and I admit it! I might never learn how to correctly work this bumblebee and I admit that too. Having said that, I've been told numerous times that I have the patience of a Saint (and in all fairness, this is hearsay at best; self-aggrandizement at worst). But we are all Wikipedians here (some more 'mature' in using Wikipedia than others) and we should stive to be completely fair, uniform (in our approach) and un-biased.

It is my opinion that a fair, complete, and un-biased observer would be forced to conclude there are enough RS sources to include an statement (at the least) that Obama had in some people's opinions become a CoP. Remember, Coventry says (current as of this writing) that there had been discussion that Churchill knew that Coventry would be bombed.

Thank you for listening.

Dr. Entropy (talk) 22:59, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Page Protection?

Since there are people with a bias against Barack Obama trying to add ridiculous things to this page repeatedly -- and are engaging in edit wars -- I think it may be time to put a page protection on this article, at least until the election is over. (talk) 06:19, 9 October 2008 (UTC)


The first paragraph of this article says that cults of personalities can sometimes be found in democracies, yet the article does not include any examples from democracies. Judging from this talk page people have tried to add in examples from history of cults of personality in democracies, but for various reasons, primarily political ones, they have been removed. I can think of several democratically-elected leaders, even in the last century, who have built cults of personality around themselves: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles DeGaulle, John F. Kennedy, Hugo Chavez, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama are all good examples of individuals who have built massive followings around themselves that are related more through personal charisma and virtually god-like adoration than around any actual significant policy decisions or programs. Also remember that Adolf Hitler was a democratically elected leader, and anyone who denies that he had a cult of personality around himself is a fool. The fact of the matter is that democracies are fragile, and, particularly during times of strife or economic distress, it's easy for demagogiues to emerge and threaten the fabric of democratic government by making it socially unacceptable to criticize a leader. In order to maintain a healthy democracy, it is vitally important that the people maintain an attitude of detached skepticism towards their leaders and never come to see them as being more than flawed, human public servants who deserve to be questioned and challenged at every opportunity. Without including democratic leaders' cults of personality, the article is extremely biased.--Antodav2007 (talk) 03:21, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Source #1 is dead

Just posting to let someone in 'in charge' know that the link to source #1 is a dead link and needs to be moved to where that content can now be retrieved. (talk) 06:14, 21 October 2008 (UTC)


Barack Obama should be discussed. He definitely created a cult of personality around himself during his campaign to become President of the United States. What other one-term senator from Illinois would do such a thing, or any other presidential candidate for that matter? DavidSteinle (talk) 16:59, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

reference (talk) 02:21, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Another blog. And one that doesn't even really support the position. Yay. -R. fiend (talk) 02:25, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I tend to agree about Barack Obama. When the first question asked to him after his victory was about his dog (before even Iran or Iraq), there's def something going on there. The mass medias all bow before him. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:45, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Can we try to keep this discussion at least somewhat intelligent? -R. fiend (talk) 04:21, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Another blog, [9]...there is definitely a cult of personality being established with Obama. Weatherman90 (talk) 21:37, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Can people please stop referencing blogs? They're meaningless. -R. fiend (talk) 22:32, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
How about a Media Matters report about CNN saying the exact same thing as all the people who would like to add Obama to this article? [10] Suppose you'll just make an excuse for that too. Maybe I got my talking points from Limbaugh and therefore they don't count, right? Ryratt (talk) 17:59, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
You realize that there is a difference between having a cult-like following among die hard supporters are a true cult of personality, right? Obama is not the leader yet, has no control over the media, and contrary to your ridiculous assertions, does not have Mao like pictures of himself everywhere. If you want to include his over-zealous supporters and the media matters report in Obama's article then go ahead, but it is not relevant to this article. Maybe someday he will be; we'll have to wait and see. I am willing to be part of an effort to expand the scope of the article to include democracies, and leaders who have had very loyal, die-hard followings, and who are themselves symbols, but that would have to be a separate, well referenced section, and include more than just Obama. But no one seems interesting in doing anything but tacking Obama name up there with Stalin's. That's not going to fly. R. fiend (talk) 18:51, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Since the newest reference is a New York Times peice and is not a blog (however, it is an Op-Ed article) I believe it to be RS and have reverted the page to include the Barack Obama reference since it states an alleged CoP ... it does not state that one exists, only that it is alleged. Since Hugo Chavez is there, I believe Barack Obama must also be as well.

Intelligent comments only, please. We're all adults here, ne? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dr. Entropy (talkcontribs) 21:04, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Very well, we'll remove both of them then. The Obama reference is poor, being an Op-ed piece and only stating an opinion that he seems close to becoming one. Such a passing reference as that does not warrant inclusion in an article like this. It brights up all sorts of POV and undue weight issues, as well as verifiability. The Chavez source is poor too. -R. fiend (talk) 21:25, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

That is not the point. If there is one, the other must be included. If you saw fit to leave the one for Mr Chavez until I pointed out the disparety, then I must ask why? Why remove both? If the one for Mr Chavez was acceptable and based only on opinions, why not have both?

R. fiend, bear in mind that I'm a newby still. I bear no malice towards anybody other than my ex-wife (there's that whole disclosure thing) and bear none towards you. I would like to discuss this on your talk page...and frankly, I am beginning to question your motives in this matter. I am agnostic towards all politicians, I believe the American people have been raked over the coals by far too many of all parties and all beliefs. I am editing the page back to what it was and will discuss further with you on your talk page.

Bear in mind again, that I bear you no malice, indeed bear only my ex-wife any malice at all (and she's not a politician.)

Next on your talk page. :) Dr. Entropy (talk) 22:57, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Are portraits of Obama prominantly displayed in every town centre? Does his image appear on postage stamps and currency? Have the days of the week been renamed in his honour? Do schoolchildren halfway around the world begin each day with a blasphemous prayer to him, as they did for Petain ("Our father, who art in Vichy...")? No? Than how can you begin to claim that a personality cult exists? Just because one blogger who badly misunderstood the concept decided to stretch the definition, why must we regurgitate the swill? There is quite a bit that could stand to be added to this article (Petain, Eyadema, etc.), why is this dumb name-calling what we're actually filling it with? I am very tempted to remove the "Examples in a democratic society" section altogether, and likely will if there are no serious objections. Heather (talk) 03:24, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, bear in mind that the article currently simply gives "examples of political figures whom have been noted to have some traits of a cult of personality" (not the best sentence ever, to be sure) which is substantially different than equating the examples to cults of personality. That being said, I'm not sure how useful these examples are, but they are at least borderline sourced. I do not, however, agree that we should hold off on mentioning cults of personality in relation to democracies until we have named each and every true cult of personality. That doesn't seem to make sense. -R. fiend (talk) 20:25, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Chavez 2

I've moved this here from the article:

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is often called "Maximum Leader"[11] by his supporters, both civilian and military. This term was coined almost from the birth of the "XXI Century Socialism".

It was added to the "Examples from totalitarian regimes" section. Is anyone arguing that Venezuela is a totalitarian regime? This article used to have many examples but we cut those out to keep the article focused. Unless we have an actual discussion of the a cult of personality around Chavez we shouldn't add this material. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 22:29, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Where's Eyadema?

Damn! This article doesn't even mention Eyadema (to whom no less a respectable source than The Economist attributed a personality cult in, of all things, a cover story on personality cults), and we're trying to stretch the definition to include Obama and Lincoln and Chavez. WTF? Let's cover all the generally agreed-upon personality cults before we start expanding to include less-accepted claims. Heather (talk) 02:00, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Eva Peron

I removed the picture of Eva Peron from the article. Aside from the fact that references to her are uncited, there are many people who deserve to be on this page before Evita herself. -- Andrew Parodi (talk) 20:02, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Addendum: Just a note that Juan Peron and Eva Peron do not meet the following criterion: It has no real precedent (ie: none of his predecessors were treated in a similar manner). In his book Peron and the Enigmas of Argentina Robert D. Crassweller writes: "For almost every single thing that is characteristic of Peronism had precedent in Argentine history." [12] Crassweller proceeds to liken Juan Peron to Juan Manuel de Rosas, and Eva Peron to Rosas' wife, Encarnación Ezcurra. -- Andrew Parodi (talk) 20:08, 5 January 2009 (UTC)


Imperial China (see Mandate of Heaven), ancient Egypt, Japan, the Inca, the Aztecs, Tibet, and the Roman Empire (see imperial cult) are especially noted for redefining monarchs as god-kings.

I believe that the term "redefining" is inappropriate here, because it implies that there was a different, earlier definition which was replaced. From what we know of ancient civilizations, they started out that way. It is only in modern times that the "god-king" devolved to "divine rights of kings" and then to monarchs fettered either by nobility (e.g., Magna Carta,) or by non-hereditary "parliaments" (see Rule of law.) Athenian democracy was a notable exception, but even there it came after there were leaders to whom had been attributed divine origins. (See King of Athens and Archons of Athens - who were originally taken only from the aristocracy - to get a sense of the continuum of development.)

That is why, for example, the development of CoP could only come around recently, and it explains the veneration of George Washington that was discussed above - the only paradigm that was widely known at the founding of the US was that of a monarch, and the people had just come out of several decades of hating His Majesty's government, and by extension His Majesty (George III) himself. (See the quote at Despotism#Benjamin Franklin for a sense of American's feelings.)

Thinking about this, one can see how the idea of a leader who was not destined to lead for life (or until abdicating to a successor) had to become widespread before the CoP phenomenon could arise. It is, quite simply, recidivistic. Before there were leaders whose popularity could be measured and changed, and whose longevity as a leader was determined by that popularity, a "Cult of Personality" would have just been the veneration that was considered due and proper for someone who held the power of life and death in their hands.

Interestingly, and rambling increasingly into WP:OR, I have to wonder whether Stalin's was a CoP so much as it was a continuation of obeisance to / worship of the Tsar, which had been the paradigm in the Russian Empire that the Soviet empire replaced. The rodina (motherland) was still the rodina, and "All of the Russias" still looked to the strong man in The Kremlin to regulate life and death. The contrast comes from the "enlightened" West, which had thrown off the shackles of that paradigm over the previous two centuries, most notably with the American and French Revolutions.

Whatever! :)

Anyway, going back to the quote I cited, can anyone justify the use of "redefining" with historical examples? (Yes, I know about the theories of the rise of the strongman, but if it is a given that "divinity" must be used to justify "remote" rule by a leader that the majority of subjects would never see personally in their lifetimes, then that's just the development of kingdoms and empires out of city-states. And still more of a theory than anything else.)

Hope you enjoyed my musings.... -- (talk) 18:26, 22 January 2009 (UTC)