East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

May 28 Workshop


“From Revolutionary Secrete Society to State:

 An Analytical Framework to Explain the Dynamics

in Chinese Communist Revolution”


Jin Xu

PhD Student, Department of Sociology

University of Chicago


4:30-6pm, Tuesday

May 28, 2013

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.


I intend to bring a new perspective to explain the success and failure of the communist revolution in China. It is not the nature of the state, the structural factors, the resource mobilization, or other ad-hoc internal or external factors which led to the success of the revolution.  In the dissertation, I would argue, the capacity of the revolutionists to establish a mobilization structure that I called ‘the revolutionary secrete society’ is the key behind the success of any violent revolution, especially for a revolution that its success hinges on winning of a protracted civil war. The formation of such revolutionary secrete society was shaped by the environmental constraints in which the organization was embedded. However in a protracted war environment, the impact of environmental constraints was to be marginalized as long as the revolutionary secrete society succeeded in institutionalizing the charismatic authority into the daily practice of the organization.


The formation of the revolutionary secrete society was an unfolded logic among three interrelated mechanism: internal integration, external alliance, and armed struggle.  In most of time, the revolutionary secrete society faced various challenges by at least one pair of mechanism under dysfunctional relationship, leading to one blunder or another in the history of the communist revolution in China.  However, the survived parts facilitated the rise and institutionalization of an environment-sensitive leadership, and gradually adapted to the protracted war through adjusted relationship among the three mechanisms. On the contrary, the state and other local enemies were incapable to do so, which made them finally lose China to the communists.



Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Le Lin (lelin2010@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Dingxin Zhao and Zheng Michael Song

This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.