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Parties as Governments in Eurasia, 1913–1991: Nationalism, Socialism, and Development



Over the course of the twentieth century, a broad array of parties as organizations of a new type took over state functions and replaced state institutions on the territories of the former Ottoman, Qing, Russian, and Habsburg Empires. In the context of roughly simultaneous imperial and postimperial transformations, organizations such as the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP) in the Ottoman Empire (one-party regime since 1913), the Anfu Club in China (parliamentary majority since 1918), and the Bolshevik Party in Russia (in control of parts of the former empire since 1918), not only took over government power but merged with government itself. Disillusioned with the outcomes of previous constitutional and parliamentary reforms, these parties justified their takeovers with slogans and programs of controlled or supervised economic and social development. Inheriting the previous imperial diversities, they furthermore took over the role of mediators between the various social and ethnic groups inhabiting the respective territories. In this respect, the parties appropriated some of the functions which dynastic and then constitutional and parliamentary regimes had ostensibly failed to perform. In a significant counter-example, in spite of prominent aspirations, no one-party regime emerged in Japan, for there the constitutional monarchy had survived the empire's transformation to a major industrialized imperialist power. One-party regimes thrived on both sides of the Cold War and in some of the non-aligned states. Whereas several state socialist one-party regimes collapsed in 1989–1991, some of the communist parties have continued to rule, and new parties managed to monopolize political power in different Eurasian contexts.
IN EURASIA, 1913–1991
Edited by
Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia
Parties as Governments in Eurasia,
This book examines the political parties which emerged on the territories of
the former Ottoman, Qing, Russian, and Habsburg empires and not only took
over government power but merged with government itself. It discusses how
these parties, disillusioned with previous constitutional and parliamentary
reforms, justied their takeovers with programs of controlled or supervised
economic and social development, including acting as the mediators between
the various social and ethnic groups in the respective territories. It pays special
attention to nation-building through the party, to institutions (both
constitutional and de facto), and to the global and comparative aspects of
one-party regimes. It explores the origins of one-party regimes in China,
Czechoslovakia, Korea, the Soviet Union, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and beyond,
the roles of socialism and nationalism in the parties’ approaches to
development and state-building, as well the pedagogical aspirations of the
ruling elites. Hence, by revisiting the dynamics of the transition from the
earlier imperial formations via constitutionalism to one-party governments,
and by assessing the internal and external dynamics of one-party regimes after
their establishment, the book more precisely locates this type of regime within
the contemporary world’s political landscape. Moreover, it emphasises that
one-party regimes thrived on both sides of the Cold War and in some of the
non-aligned states, and that although some state socialist one-party regimes
collapsed in 1989–1991, in other places historically dominant parties and new
parties have continued to monopolize political power.
Ivan Sablin is a research group leader in the Department of History at
Heidelberg University, Germany.
Egas Moniz Bandeira is a researcher at Friedrich-Alexander Universität
Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, and an afliate researcher at the Max Planck
Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
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For a full list of available titles please visit:
Parties as Governments in
Eurasia, 1913–1991
Nationalism, Socialism, and
Edited by Ivan Sablin and
Egas Moniz Bandeira
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DOI: 10.4324/9781003264972
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List of gures vii
Author bios ix
Acknowledgments xiii
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 1
1 The birth of Anfu China, East Asia’s rst party-state:
Toward a constitutional dictatorship of the gentry,
1916–1918 26
2 The Communist International: A party of parties
confronting interwar internationalisms, 1920–1925 60
3The Left Opposition and the practices of parliamentar-
ianism within the Bolshevik Party, 1923–1924 85
4 Importing and exporting ideas of nationalism and
state-building: The experience of Turkey’s Republican
People’s Party, 1923–1950 107
5 Competing with the marketplace: The Chinese
Nationalist Party (KMT)’s Department of Propaganda
and its political publishing program, 1924–1937 127
6 Aspirations for a mass political party in prewar imperial
Japan: Conicting visions of national mobilization 151
7 Constitution-making in the informal Soviet empire in
Eastern Europe, East Asia, and Inner Asia, 1945–1955 178
8 Work teams, leading small groups, and the making of
modern Chinese bureaucracy, 1929–1966 223
9 From revolutionary comrades to “mothers of the
nation”: The Workers’ Party of Korea’s approach
to the role of women in the 1950s–1960s 250
10 The dawn before one-party dominance: South Korea’s
road to party politics under the Supreme Council for
National Reconstruction, 1961–1963 270
11 The Yugoslav federation and the concept of one ruling
party in its nal hour 296
12 The vanguard’s changing tempo: Communist Party of
Czechoslovakia and government institutions,
1921–1990 316
Index 336
vi Contents
1.1 Organisation Chart of the Anfu Club 48
7.1 A meeting of the constitutional commission under the
presidency of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej during the
Thirteenth Session of the Grand National Assembly,
Bucharest, between September 22 and 24, 1952 (Fototeca
online a comunismului românesc, Photograph #IA172,
172/1952) 188
7.2 “Housewives of Shanghai joyfully welcomed the publication
of the draft constitution of the PRC,” 1954 (Kitai, No. 7,
1954, p. 3) 194
7.3 The Second National Congress of the Party of Labor of
Albania, Tirana, April 10–14, 1950 (Novaia Albaniia, No.
32–33, April–May 1950, front matter) 205
7.4 The Second Party Conference of the Socialist Unity Party,
Berlin, July 10, 1952. Front row, left to right: Walter Ulbricht,
Wilhelm Pieck, and Otto Grotewohl (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-
15410-0097/CC-BY-SA 3.0) 206
7.5 Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (center) and Petru Groza (left)
voting for the Constitution of Romania at the Thirteenth
Session of the Grand National Assembly, September 24,
1952 (Fototeca online a comunismului românesc, Photograph
#IA174, 174/1952) 208
7.6 Mátyás Rákosi and his wife Fenia Fedorovna Kornilova
voting in the local council election, Budapest, October 22,
1950 (Fortepan #126963/Bauer Sándor, CC BY-SA 3.0) 209
7.7 Elections to the People’s Assembly and district people’s
councils of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, December 18,
1949 (State Central Museum of Contemporary History of
Russia (GTsMSIR) 27126/163) 210
7.8 Czechoslovak Ambassador to China František Komzala
giving a speech before the performance of the Czechoslovak
circus troupe, Beijing, December 1953. Portraits, left to right:
Georgii Maksimilianovich Malenkov, Antonín Zápotocký,
and Mao Zedong (Kitai, No. 1, 1954, p. 39) 211
7.9 Delegation of the USSR Supreme Soviet at the session of
the State Assembly of the Hungarian People’s Republic,
November 1955. Mátyás Rákosi is in the front on the right
(GTsMSIR 31111/15) 212
viii Figures
Author bios
Jure Gašparič is a senior research associate at the Institute of Contemporary
History in Ljubljana and formerly director of the Institute and state
secretary for science at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. In
his research, he focuses on Slovenian and Yugoslavian political history
since the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire and the history of political
parties and representative systems. Gašparič is a member of the board
of directors of the European Information and Research Network on
Parliamentary History ( and the editor of Prispevki za novejšo
zgodovino/Contributions to Contemporary History. His recent publications
include Izza parlamenta: Zakulisje jugoslovanske skupščine 1919–1941
[Behind the parliament: Backstage of the Yugoslav Assembly, 1919–1941]
(Ljubljana: Modrijan, 2015).
Adéla Gjuričová (0000-0002-9035-1167) is a senior researcher at the Institute
of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. In
her research, she focuses on politics and society during the late socialist
era, the 1989 revolutions, and post-communist transformations in
Central Europe. She is the head of the Institute’s Political History
Department and of the Working Group on Parliaments in Transition.
Currently, she leads the Project “City as a Laboratory of Change” within
Strategy AV21 of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Most recently, she co-
authored Návrat parlamentu: Češi a Slováci ve Federálním shromáždě
1989–1992 [The Return of parliament: The Czechs and Slovaks in the
Federal Assembly, 1989–1992] (Prague: Argo ÚSD AV ČR, 2018).
Bruce Grover is a doctoral candidate at Heidelberg University, Germany. He
received an MA in the History of the Middle East from the School of
Oriental and African Studies, London. He researches left and right
political thought in modern Japan and its global convergences. He is
currently completing a dissertation analyzing continuities in political and
economic ethics from the Meiji to Shōwa periods among leading reformist
total war planners within the military and bureaucracy. The dissertation
also deals with the collaboration of progressive labor leaders and labor
educators with reformist nationalists and ultimately argues that the
reformist social ideals and aspirations for an alternative to liberalism
associated with interwar total war planning in Japan was formed to a
signicant degree before the First World War.
Vsevolod Kritskiy (0000-0002-9527-0788) has a PhD in International History
from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in
Geneva, Switzerland. He received the Pierre du Bois prize for his
dissertation titled “Reorienting the nation: Perspectives from Soviet
Central Asia in the 1920s.” He studied the history of international
communism during the interwar period as a postdoctoral researcher at
the University of Amsterdam within the framework of the Early PostDoc.
Mobility fellowship of the Swiss National Science Foundation. He is
currently working on international trade union politics and just transition
as a project manager at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung ofce in Geneva.
Paul Kubicek (0000-0002-1601-2319) is a professor of Political Science and
Director of the International Studies Program at Oakland University
in Rochester, Michigan. He has also taught at Koç University,
Boğaziçi University, and Antalya Bilim University in Turkey. His
research on Turkey has been published in numerous journals,
including Democratization, Political Studies, and World Affairs. He
is the editor of Turkish Studies.
Kyonghee Lee is a member of the Research Group “Entangled
Parliamentarisms: Constitutional Practices in Russia, Ukraine, China and
Mongolia, 1905–2005,” sponsored by the European Research Council
(ERC) at Heidelberg University. She has a previous academic background
in philosophy and sinology and work experience in publishing and
knowledge management. She defended her doctoral thesis on the concept
and institution of community compact in East Asia in 2022.
Ernest Ming-tak Leung is a PhD candidate at the Department of Japanese
Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He gained his BA in
History and French from the University of Hong Kong and an MPhil in
Japanese Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He
currently focuses on the history of economic planning in East Asia
between 1920 and 1966.
Natalia Matveeva holds a PhD in Korean history from SOAS, University of
London and is currently a Researcher at the Department of Korea and
Mongolia of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of
Sciences, in Moscow. Her research focuses on the early stages of nation-
building in North and South Korea, assessing and comparing the
economic, political, and social development of the two countries in the
broader regional and international historical context.
x Author bios
Egas Moniz Bandeira (0000-0002-8563-0380) is a researcher at Friedrich-
Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, where he works as a
member of the project “Writing History with China—Chinese Concepts in
Transnational Historiography,” and an afliate researcher at the Max Planck
Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory in Frankfurt, Germany, where
he is a member of a comparative research project on the emergence of
modern legal practices in Japan, China, and the Ottoman Empire. After
studying Law and East Asian Studies at Heidelberg University, he completed
his PhD program at Heidelberg and Tohoku Universities with a dissertation
on late Qing constitutional history. His main research interest is global
intellectual history with a focus on its refractions in modern East Asia. His
work has been published in The Journal of Transcultural Studies, Global
Intellectual History, the Journal of Eurasian Studies, and others. He also co-
edited Planting Parliaments in Eurasia, 1850–1950: Concepts, Practices, and
Mythologies (London: Routledge, 2021).
Christopher A. Reed received his PhD from the University of California in
1996. Currently, he teaches modern Chinese and East Asian history at the
Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The focus of his research is
modern Chinese print culture, print capitalism, and print communism.
He is best-known for his book Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese print
capitalism, 1876–1937 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004) but
has recently published on a wide range of Chinese print culture topics in
the twentieth century, including “From text(s) to image(s): Maoist-era
texts and their inuences on six oil paintings (1957–79),” in Redening
propaganda in modern China: The Mao Era and its legacies, ed. by James
Farley and Matthew D. Johnson (London: Routledge, 2021).
Alexander V. Reznik holds a PhD in Russian History. He is an associate
professor (docent) at the Department of History, HSE University,
Saint Petersburg. His most recent publications include the anthology
L. D. Trotskii: pro et contra (two editions in Russian, published in 2016
and 2017), the monograph Trotsky and the comrades: The left opposition and
political culture of the RCP(b), 1923–1924 (two editions in Russian,
published in 2017 and 2018 by European University at Saint Petersburg
Press), as well as articles in Kritika, Canadian-American Slavic Studies,
Historical Materialism, and other journals. His current research project is
devoted to political culture, communication, images, and languages of the
Russian Civil War in general and the cult of leaders in particular.
Ivan Sablin (0000-0002-6706-4223) leads the Research Group “Entangled
Parliamentarisms: Constitutional Practices in Russia, Ukraine, China and
Mongolia, 1905–2005,” sponsored by the European Research Council
(ERC), at Heidelberg University. His research interests include the history
of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, with special attention to Siberia
and the Russian Far East, and global intellectual history. He is the author
Author bios xi
of two monographs Governing Post-Imperial Siberia and Mongolia,
1911–1924: Buddhism, Socialism and Nationalism in State and Autonomy
Building (London: Routledge, 2016) and The Rise and Fall of Russia’s Far
Eastern Republic, 1905–1922: Nationalisms, Imperialisms, and Regionalisms
in and After the Russian Empire (London: Routledge, 2018) – and research
articles in Slavic Review, Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers, and other
journals. He also co-edited Planting Parliaments in Eurasia, 1850–1950:
Concepts, Practices, and Mythologies (London: Routledge, 2021).
Long Yang is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Freiburg. He is
writing a book on how the personalization of authority shaped the
Maoist bureaucracy and is working with his colleagues on the politics of
information and misinformation in twentieth-century China.
xii Author bios
This volume was prepared as part of the project “ENTPAR: Entangled
Parliamentarisms: Constitutional Practices in Russia, Ukraine, China and
Mongolia, 1905–2005,” which received funding from the European Research
Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and
innovation program (grant agreement no. 755504). Most of the chapters were
presented at the Workshop “The Vanguard of Class and Nation: Parties as
Governments in Eurasia, 1920s–1990s,” hosted by Heidelberg University on
April 12–13, 2021. The editors would also like to thank Alexandra Eremia and
Vincent Conway for their assistance with preparing the index to this volume.
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards
to Governments
Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
Over the course of the twentieth century, a broad array of parties as orga-
nizations of a new type took over state functions and replaced state in-
stitutions on the territories of the former Ottoman, Qing, Russian, and
Habsburg Empires. In the context of roughly simultaneous imperial and
postimperial transformations, organizations such as the Committee for
Union and Progress (CUP) in the Ottoman Empire (one-party regime since
1913), the Anfu Club in China (parliamentary majority since 1918), and the
Bolshevik Party in Russia (in control of parts of the former empire since
1918), not only took over government power but merged with government
itself. Disillusioned with the outcomes of previous constitutional and par-
liamentary reforms, these parties justied the takeovers with slogans and
programs of controlled or supervised economic and social development.
Inheriting the previous imperial diversities, they furthermore took over the
role of mediators between the various social and ethnic groups in the re-
spective territories. In this respect, the parties appropriated some of the
functions which dynastic and then constitutional and parliamentary regimes
had ostensibly failed to perform. In a signicant counterexample, in spite of
prominent aspirations, no one-party regime emerged in Japan, for there the
constitutional monarchy had survived the empire’s transformation to a
major industrialized imperialist power.
For most of the twentieth century, one-party and single-party regimes
regimes led by dominant or single parties in the absence of electoral
competition (Greene 2010, 809–10; Meng 2021, 1) – thrived on both sides
of the Cold War and in some of the non-aligned states. The ideologies of
the ruling parties relied on nationalist and socialist discourses, or, quite
often, their combination. Even though most of the one-party regimes were
based on competing ideologies of state socialism and extreme nationalism,
they demonstrated structural similarities on several levels, including their
appeals to the masses dened in national or class terms. Whereas several
state socialist single-party regimes collapsed in 1989–1991 (Albania,
Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland,
Romania, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia), some of the communist
parties have continued to rule without electoral competition (China, Laos,
DOI: 10.4324/9781003264972-1
North Korea, and Vietnam). Furthermore, new parties managed to es-
tablish controlled political regimes across Eurasia, for instance, in Russia
and Turkey.
Bringing together twelve case studies of one-party regimes from the inter-
connected Eurasian contexts, including Eastern Europe, West and East Asia,
this volume explores the performance of these (in most cases) extraconstitu-
tional organizations as governments and their approaches to development in
global and comparative contexts. It pays special attention to nation-building
through the party (including its multiethnic versions), to institutions (both
constitutional and extraconstitutional), and to the global and comparative
aspects of one-party regimes. The volume addresses the geneses of one-party
regimes, the roles of socialism and nationalism in the parties’ approaches to
development and state-building, as well as the pedagogical and tutelary as-
pirations of the ruling parties in China, Czechoslovakia, Japan, Korea, the
Soviet Union, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and other postimperial and postcolonial
polities. Hence, by revisiting the dynamics of the transition from empire via
constitutionalism to single-party government, and by exploring the internal
and external dynamics of single-party regimes after their establishment, the
volume helps to more precisely locate this type of regime within the con-
temporary world’s political landscape.
Historians have predominantly studied one-party regimes and the parties
at the helm within the respective national contexts (Ciddi 2009; Gill 1994;
Zheng 2009), paying particular attention to leaders (Apor et al. 2004;
Hanioğlu 2017; Khlevniuk 2015; Taylor 2009; Terrill 1999) and violence
under one-party regimes (Conquest 2008; Kaplonski 2014; Lankov 2002;
Naimark 2016; Yan and Gao 1996). Whereas comparative outlooks, as well
as theoretical and institutional studies of one-party regimes have been
common in political science (Hess 2013; Magaloni and Kricheli 2010;
Meng 2021; Rothman 1967; Swain 2011), historians have rarely paid at-
tention to the mechanics of the one-party regimes and the fusion of parties
with governments. There have nevertheless been studies, both involving
diachronous comparisons within the same national contexts (Ayan 2010),
and taking transnational and global perspectives, but mainly on communist
parties (Bergien and Gieseke 2018; Feliu and Brichs 2019; McAdams 2017;
Pons and Smith 2017; Naimark et al. 2017). Broader comparisons, involving
nationalist (and fascist) and state socialist regimes and their institutions have
been especially rare (Jessen and Richter 2011; Paxton 1998).
Political parties entered the global stage in the nineteenth–early twentieth
century, together with the spread of parliamentarism. The turn toward
constitutions and parliamentary institutions was not limited to Western
Europe and the Americas. Japan’s adoption of a constitution and con-
vocation of the Imperial Diet in 1889/90 crowned its process of political
reforms, which had been initiated in the middle of the century through the
clash with the Western imperialist powers, and turned the country into a
major imperialist power. Thereafter, Japan developed into a powerful point
2 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
of reference throughout the globe (Colley 2021). Between around 1905 and
1910, in the wake of Russia’s military defeat against Japan, the ruling elites
and inuential oppositional circles of several large Eurasian empires en-
gaged in a roughly concomitant effort to introduce constitutions and par-
liamentary institutions (Kurzman 2008, Moniz Bandeira 2017). The Russian
Revolution of 1905–1907 took a constitutional turn and resulted in the
formation of the imperial parliament, the State Duma, in 1905/1906. The
events in Russia contributed to the Persian Constitutional Revolution of
1906. Two years later, in 1908, the Young Turk Revolution reinstated the
Ottoman Constitution of 1876. The government of the Qing Empire, trying
to avoid the difculties faced by Russia and Persia, decided to follow suit
after a long reform period of “constitutional preparation,” but published an
outline of a constitution in 1908 and convened preliminary assemblies
thought to be precursors to the eventual imperial assembly.
Given that these Eurasian constitutions and parliaments were established
as answers to existential crises, they were predominantly, although far from
exclusively, aimed at strengthening the state or reorganizing it from the
perspective of the political elites (Sablin and Moniz Bandeira 2021, 3–4).
Constitutions and parliaments were deemed to be the key to transform
dynastic regimes into nation-states (Banerjee 2017; Moniz Bandeira 2022) or
more regulated and cohesive empire-states (Stoler 2009, 49); they helped to
promote nationalism (both inclusionary and exclusionary), imperialism, and
militarism (Grotke and Prutsch 2014). Parliamentary institutions were es-
tablished as political talent pools and as communication avenues between
governments and populations; they served as avenues for political mobili-
zation as well as for the management of imperial diversities.
In these imperial contexts, political parties were only begrudgingly ac-
cepted and struggled to nd their place in the new constitutional systems. In
Eurasia, imperial ofcials and conservative members of the public (who
often cited Western critics of political parties and, by extension, of parlia-
mentarism) tended to view political parties and factionalism as divisive and
ultimately detrimental to their cause of national strengthening (Sablin 2020,
266–68). As Robert A. Scalapino (1962, 68) writes on the Japanese case, the
emerging parties at the time of the Meiji Constitution’s promulgation “still
existed in the political demimonde.” Stringent anti-factionalist laws cur-
tailed their action, the government did not acknowledge their inevitability,
and they had not yet any political or legal signicance. However, the
Japanese case is peculiar among those covered in this volume in so far as the
new constitution promulgated in 1889 remained in force for several decades
to come and witnessed Japan’s economic growth and rise as an expansive
imperialist power. In this context, the political parties which had evolved
since the 1880s came to play a signicant role, and even laid the groundwork
for the country’s postwar party system (Scalapino 1962, 68).
Parties were often successors to and recongurations of various pre-
existing forms of political associations. By 1906, when the Qing Court
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 3
announced its intention to prepare for constitutional government, con-
stitutionalist intellectuals increasingly conceived of themselves as a “party”
united not by personal bonds like the factions of old, but by ideas and an
impersonal, lasting relationship to the “nation” (Blitstein 2018, 177–81, on
the concept of nation in China see Matten 2012). Consequently, they called
for the development of institutionalized parties as an element of political
modernity (Zhu 2002; Chen 2013). Yet, they tended to conceptualize parties
less as pathways to channel particularist interests than as vehicles to increase
societal cohesion and train political elites (Zhu 2002, 96). Like all other
elements of political modernization, the need for parties was interpreted in
light of the country’s political and economic weakness and the ambition to
overcome its internal and external problems. One pseudonymous essay in
the Sein min choong bou (Xinmin congbao 新民叢報), a magazine edited in
Yokohama by the paramount reformist intellectual Liang Qichao 梁啓超, is
illustrative in this respect (Yu zhi 1906). Having dramatically begun with the
statement that China’s very existence depended on the development of po-
litical parties, the essay reected on the relationship between Chinese re-
formers and revolutionaries, and extensively discussed the cases of Russia
and Japan. It narrated that after violently suppressing political parties, the
Japanese government had had to accept parties as a political fact and ac-
knowledge their value for the implementation of constitutional politics,
pointing to a coming parallel development in China (Yu zhi 1906, 13–14; see
also Scalapino 1962, 146–199). The author pondered that a balance between
progressives and conservatives was necessary and stressed the positive
function of politicians outside of government. Thereby, he saw two main
functions of political parties, namely controlling the government and
guiding the people. Yet, while he vociferously criticized the current Qing
government as utterly corrupt, the writer emphasized the common interest
of the constitutional state served by the parties within it, and the function of
the parties to overcome individualism. Concluding his essay by stating that
the state was “the subject and the individuals and factions” were “all the
objects of the state,” the author again adduced the example of Japan. He
was impressed that, as soon as the wars against China (1894/95) and Russia
(1904/05) erupted, all Japanese parties immediately set aside their differ-
ences. Despite still having a multiparty conguration in mind, the ex-
planation of the second function of parties as vanguards of political
development pointed toward what would become one of the main features
of single-party regimes in Eurasia, and which Liang Qichao himself would
forcefully argue for in the early years of the Republic:
Now, as a country’s political thought is not immediately popularized in
the whole country, it needs to rely on visionaries (xianjuezhe 先覺者) to
promote it. Only then will self-aware citizens arise. There is nobody but
political parties to nurture this political thought and to gather these
visionary gentlemen. Therefore, political parties are truly the morning
4 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
stars (shuxing 曙星) of a society’s rst enlightenment, and the harbingers
(xianhe 先河) of constitutional politics.
(Yu zhi 1906, 17)
These words appeared in a paper located in Japan, where thousands of Qing
students and intellectuals across the political spectrum were vying to shape
China’s political future. In fact, many parties in Eurasia emerged as non-
parliamentary, underground or émigré, organizations ahead of parliaments.
Such were the CUP in the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Social Democratic
Labor Party (RSDLP), and the Socialist Revolutionary Party (PSR) in
the Russian Empire, as well as the Revolutionary Alliance (Tongmenghui
盟會), the predecessor of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang,
Kuomintang, or KMT), founded in Tokyo in 1905. Although parlia-
mentarism was on their agenda, the members of these organizations did not
shun away from anti-parliamentary considerations. The debates at the
Second Congress of the RSDLP, which took place in Brussels and London
in the summer of 1903, and those around it are illustrative in this regard.
After the members of the Jewish Labor Bund departed the Congress out of
protest, the remaining delegates adopted a program of two parts,
“minimum” and “maximum.” The maximum part set socialist revolution as
the Party’s ultimate goal and the dictatorship of the proletariat as its pre-
requisite. The minimum part aimed at establishing a democratic republic in
Russia and featured inter alia the creation of a parliament. Georgii
Valentinovich Plekhanov, one of the rst Russian Marxists and later a
leader of the Menshevik faction, voiced a rather cynical opinion on par-
liament during the debates.
If, in an impulse of revolutionary enthusiasm, the people had elected a
very good parliament a kind of chambre introuvable [unobtainable
chamber] we [the Social Democrats] should try to make it a long
parliament, and if the elections had failed, we should try to disperse it
not in two years but, if possible, in two weeks.
(Shanshiev 1959, 182)
These words evoked protests from some of those present and other imperial
intellectuals. Although Plekhanov eventually changed his position and
called for the RSDLP’s participation in the State Duma elections, the
Ukrainian legal scholar Bohdan (Fedir) Oleksandrovich Kistiakovs’kii later
dismissed such a position as “monstrous” and emblematic of the low level of
the Russian intelligentsia’s legal consciousness (Kistiakovskii 1916, 558–59).
Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, who would come to power at the helm of the
RSDLP’s radical Bolshevik faction, by contrast, applauded Plekhanov’s
1903 statement and quoted it, for instance, when justifying Red Terror in
late 1917 (Lenin 1974, 185).
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 5
The activities of the non-parliamentary parties and their members in-
volved interactions in imperial borderlands, for instance, between Russia
and Iran, and across the whole of Eurasia (Deutschmann 2013; Harper
2021). When an attempt at political reforms was botched in the Qing Empire
in 1898, some of its intellectual leaders, including the aforementioned Liang
Qichao and his preceptor Kang Youwei 康有爲, ed to Japan. For them, the
emerging parties of the Qing Empire were not limited to political borders,
but transcontinental associations resting on a non-territorial Chinese nation
(Blitstein 2018, 181). Kang travelled the world to promote his ideas, espe-
cially among Chinese diaspora communities. In Mexico, whither he intended
to bring Chinese immigrants to build a “New China,” he met with President
Porfírio Díaz, whom he described as an “autocratic” ruler whose dictatorial
government was necessary to develop the nation, a strand of thought which
had also been quite widespread in nineteenth century Latin America
(Blitstein 2016, 241–43). Liang, too, was a persona non grata on Qing ter-
ritory, but nonetheless came to decisively shape the late Qing constitutional
reforms. His Political Information Society (Zhengwenshe 政聞社) was
founded in Japan in 1907 and moved its headquarters to Shanghai in 1908.
Although it was soon disbanded by the Qing government, it became one
of the predecessors of the the Qing Empire’s rst ofcially recognized po-
litical party, the Association of Friends of Constitutionalism (Xianyouhui
憲友會), which was founded in summer 1911.
Kang’s globe-trotting activity rivalled with that of the revolutionary leader
and founder of the Revolutionary Alliance, Sun Yat-sen 孫逸仙. When vis-
iting Europe in 1905, Sun met Belgian socialist leaders Émile Vandervelde and
Camille Huysmans and tried to join the Second International (Spooner 2011).
A year later, in 1906, Sun met Grigorii Andreevich Gershuni, one of the PSR’s
founders, in Japan and discussed the forms of underground political struggle
in person with him (Sablin 2018, 48). Revolutionary leaders like Sun, the
Philippine Mariano Ponce, and the Vietnamese Phan Bi Châu and Phan
Châu Trinh built far-reaching Pan-Asian networks (Bui 2012; CuUnjieng
Aboitiz 2020). Inspired by both Liang Qichao and Sun Yat-sen, political as-
sociations connected to Phan Bi Châu, like the Modernization Association
and the Restoration Association, fought against French colonialism in
Vietnam, rst promoting constitutional monarchism and later taking in-
spiration in the Republic of China (Bui 2012).
Although most of such organizations became involved in late imperial
and revolutionary parliamentary institutions, the brief global parliamentary
moment of the 1900s–1910s soon gave way to a new form of political or-
ganization, namely the one-party dictatorship. Although the rst one-party
regime had emerged elsewhere, with Liberia’s True Whig Party remaining in
power between 1878 and 1980 (Meng 2021, 7), it was in postimperial Eurasia
that such regimes became especially widespread.
The rst Eurasian one-party regime was established by the CUP in
the Ottoman Empire. The CUP, which started as a secret revolutionary
6 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
organization, played a key role in the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 and
the reestablishment of the constitutional regime and the imperial parliament.
As argued by Ferdan Ergut, the transition from indirect to direct rule was
especially important for the CUP leadership, and after the 1908 Revolution
the main goal of the CUP regime was to eliminate the intermediary societal
forces (Ergut 2003). While the 1908 Revolution itself was dominated by a
model of a state as a provider of legal liberty and equality, state organicism –
the belief that a state acts like a natural organism came to play an im-
portant role in the political thinking of the 1910s, elevating the power of the
political elite and rulers (Turnaoğlu 2017, 156–57). The CUP did not seek
unrestricted control of the government immediately after the Revolution,
rst acting as a competitive political party (Ergut 2003, 53, 59). However, it
did not manage to increase its popularity and temporarily lost power in 1912
(Zürcher 2010, 93). In the context of the Balkan crisis of late 1912, the CUP
organized prowar mass rallies and launched a massive propaganda cam-
paign against the government. Alleging that they were “saving the state”
(Zürcher 2010, 117), the CUP staged a coup on January 23, 1913. Later the
same year, it launched a harsh campaign against opposition, including so-
cialists and the ulema, and established total control of the bureaucracy
(Hanioğlu 2008, 156–57, 159).
As noted by M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, the CUP developed some features of a
mass party, including broad membership. At the same time, it avoided full
institutionalization, retaining conspirational qualities, and never formally
outlawed other parties and organizations. Initially, the CUP’s main objec-
tive was the preservation of the diverse Ottoman Empire, for which it
adopted a policy of inclusiveness. This made the Party’s platform essentially
conservative and also meant that it had no ethnic or class basis for mem-
bership. Furthermore, the vague notion of Ottomanism undermined the
Party’s internal cohesion. The CUP, however, became increasingly inu-
enced by Turkist ideas, with the difference between “Ottoman” and
“Turkish” becoming ever more blurred, which stimulated particularistic
movements on the peripheries (Hanioğlu 2008, 160–61, 166–67). During the
First World War, its leadership opted for a violent approach to imperial
diversity and organized mass violence, against the Armenians in the rst
place, as part of building a homogeneous Turkish nation in the hetero-
geneous imperial space (Kévorkian 2011; Kieser 2018; Suny 2017).
Simultaneously with the existence of the CUP regime, China saw a period
of political upheaval. The Qing government’s attempt at gradual constitu-
tional preparation was run over by the country’s rapid societal and political
development. In late 1911, a provincial troop mutiny set off a domino chain
of provinces falling off from the empire, eventually forcing the negotiated
abdication of the Emperor in early 1912 (Chen 2017). The newly established
Republic of China tried to build a political system in which the parliament
was of paramount political importance, under a provisional constitution
that took much inspiration from the constitution of the French Third
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 7
Republic. Suffrage was expanded from 0.39 to 10.5 percent of the popula-
tion (Chang 2007, 55, 80 91–96), and political parties proliferated, taking
center stage in the new system (Chang 1985; Wang 1988; Liu and Liu 2015,
45–51). The Revolutionary Alliance evolved into the KMT, while the late
Qing Association of Friends of Constitutionalism evolved into a number of
successor parties, most notably the Progressive Party (Jinbudang 進步黨).
Yet, the political practice of the young republic turned out quite different
from what had been hoped for. It was shaken by traumatizing political
strife, including the assassination of the KMT leader Song Jiaoren 宋敎仁 in
March 1913, possibly at the behest of President Yuan Shikai 袁世凱 (Yao
2008). In 1914, Yuan, a leading gure of the late Qing reforms who had
negotiated the Emperor’s abdication and secured considerable continuity
between the Qing Empire and the Republic, disbanded the parliament and
took steps to consolidate his own power. After passing a new constitutional
compact and creating a new advisory council acting as his private con-
sultative chamber, he eventually attempted to establish the Empire of China
with himself as Emperor (Moniz Bandeira 2021, 164–72). Encountering
unsurmountable resistance to this move, Yuan was forced to abdicate and
died shortly thereafter.
Yuan’s death, in principle, meant a return to the constitutional system of
1912–1913 – but not for long. The resulting power grab of 1916–1917, again,
gave pluralist party politics a bad name. A year later, as a reaction to the
perceived chaos, China saw another short-lived attempt at monarchic re-
storation, this time a coup trying to reestablish the Qing dynasty with
Emperor Puyi at the helm. In the wake of these events, a new and hitherto
understudied force gained prominence in Chinese politics: the Anfu Club,
which appropriated the institutional arrangements laid down by the erst-
while Progressive Party and remained in power between 1918 and 1920.
Whereas it had been judged in overwhelmingly negative ways in historio-
graphy, Ernest Ming-tak Leung (Chapter 1) uncovers its historical sig-
nicance as East Asia’s rst de facto one-party developmentalist regime.
Relying on rarely used and newly discovered sources, Leung offers a revision
of the dominant narrative by addressing the birth, life, and death of the
“Progressive–Anfu System.” Not unlike the Ottoman Empire, organic state
theory had gained a prominent place in Chinese political thought since the
last years of the Qing Empire. Shaped by this intellectual trend, the Anfu
leaders, who were themselves mostly educated at prestigious institutions
abroad, envisioned a societal order in which the old mandarin-literati class
would take the reins of the state and become an industrializing elite. The
Club also set out to change the constitutional structure of the state, coming
to propose an ultimately unsuccessful bill to reform the Senate, which would
have turned the institution into East Asia’s rst corporatist chamber. Due to
its secrecy, the Anfu Club was barely visible to the outside as a political
party at the time, but in fact developed a sophisticated corporatist party
structure, which it was keen to expand to the provinces. Yet, due to its own
8 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
mistakes as well as to external factors, the Anfu regime remained a rather
short episode in Chinese history, being toppled in 1920.
At roughly the same time, an organization of a different kind managed to
erect a more long-lasting single-party regime in the former Russian Empire.
The Bolshevik Party, which emerged as a separate organization from the
RSDLP’s eponymou faction, came to power in Petrograd on October 25–26,
1917, as part of a radical coalition with the Left Socialist Revolutionary
Party, formerly a faction of the PSR. The coalition proved short-lived, and
since 1918, the Bolsheviks controlled parts of the former empire as a single
party. By that time, Lenin had developed a dynamic, exible approach to
party-building. As argued by Paul Le Blanc (2015, x), “the political program
of revolutionary Marxism and the living movement and struggles of the
working class” were the two things of fundamental importance for Lenin,
and the function of the revolutionary party was to bring the two together.
He sought to build a Russia-wide party, integrated into an international
socialist movement, whose members worked to realize this dual commit-
ment. In organizational terms, the theme of class leadership was at the
center. As summarized by Lars T. Lih (2011, 14–15), this theme had two
levels: leadership by the class that is the proletariat’s leadership of the
whole people – and the party’s leadership of the proletariat, that is, its role
as the “vanguard” of conscious revolutionaries.
Over the course of the Russian Civil War (1918–1922), the Bolshevik
Party consolidated its regime in most of the remaining imperial territory and
became the center of a new imperial formation, the Soviet Union (Suny and
Martin 2001). During its rst decade in power, the Party developed from a
small disciplined organization into a hierarchical mass organization, which
fully controlled the government and most spheres of public life. The de-
velopments in the Soviet Union were projected onto the international level,
with world revolution, both in its social and anticolonial dimensions, ex-
pected to unfold along the Bolshevik path (Sablin 2021).
At the same time, Lenin argued that the “vanguard” and its course of
action had to be context-specic:
To seek out, investigate, predict, and grasp that which is nationally
specic and nationally distinctive, in the concrete manner in which each
country should tackle a single international task: victory over oppor-
tunism and Left doctrinairism within the working-class movement; the
overthrow of the bourgeoisie; the establishment of a Soviet republic and
a proletarian dictatorship – such is the basic task in the historical period
that all the advanced countries (and not they alone) are going through.
The chief thing though, of course, far from everything the chief
thing, has already been achieved: the vanguard of the working class has
been won over, has ranged itself on the side of Soviet government and
against parliamentarianism, on the side of the dictatorship of the
proletariat and against bourgeois democracy.
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 9
[…] Victory cannot be won with a vanguard alone. To throw only the
vanguard into the decisive battle, before the entire class, the broad
masses, have taken up a position either of direct support for the vanguard,
or at least of sympathetic neutrality towards it and of precluded support
for the enemy, would be, not merely foolish but criminal. […]
The immediate objective of the class-conscious vanguard of the inter-
national working-class movement, i.e., the Communist parties, groups
and trends, is to be able to lead the broad masses (who are still, for the
most part, apathetic, inert, dormant and convention-ridden) to their
new position, or, rather, to be able to lead, not only their own party but
also these masses in their advance and transition to the new position
(Lenin 1920).
Vsevolod Kritskiy (Chapter 2) analyzes the institutional aspects of the
Bolsheviks’ approach to world revolution, focusing on the early years of the
Communist International (Comintern) in the context of interwar inter-
nationalisms. The Bolsheviks sought to control the Comintern’s proceed-
ings, opposing those who preferred a more democratic structure for the
organization. While the Comintern was supposed to facilitate the fusion of
national communist parties with the respective governments, the re-
conguration of the international system after the First World War gave it
an opportunity to stake a claim on the system itself, replacing it with a
party-of-parties. Kritskiy explores these processes of capture by the
Bolsheviks of the Comintern and by the Comintern of the international
system in the context of the radical left’s competition with the liberal
internationalism of the League of Nations and the moderate socialist in-
ternationalism of the remnants of the Second International, which con-
solidated into the Labour and Socialist International in 1923. Kritskiy
argues that the lack of unity on the left at the international level facilitated
the growth and establishment of the liberal system of international relations.
For most of the 1920s, there was also a lack of unity within the
Bolshevik Party itself, which Alexander V. Reznik (Chapter 3) explores in
his study of the discourses and practices of “democracy” and “parlia-
mentarianism” within the Party in 1923 and 1924. Rejecting the main-
stream notion of mere factional “struggle for power” among the higher
echelons of the Soviet party-state, he analyzes the actual political practices
of both the leaders and rank-and-le party members during open political
contests. Although the Bolsheviks were famous for their vocal rejection of
(bourgeois) parliamentarianism and democracy, they continuously argued for
“workers’ democracy.” Reznik argues that the controversies in 1923 and 1924
over the meaning of “democracy” are crucial for understanding the limits of
political action and reforms, as they need to be put into the context of the
actual practicing of “intraparty democracy,” a process that included long,
active debates in press and at assemblies, elections of different bodies,
10 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
petitioning and protesting cases of unsatisfactory results, and so on. His
analysis of the Left Opposition’s rhetorical approaches to intraparty democ-
racy reveals their complex ideological and organizational nature, weakening
the Opposition’s claims against “bureaucratization.”
The 1920s and 1930s witnessed the spread of one-party regimes across the
whole Eurasian continent. With the exception of the Soviet Union,
tionalism became the ideological foundation of the absolute majority of one-
party regimes during this period. In most Western European cases, single-
party regimes were based on the extreme nationalist ideologies of fascism
(for instance, in Italy and Spain) and Nazism (in Germany). In the post-
imperial settings of Turkey and China, vernacular versions of nationalism,
associated with the mythologized founding fathers of the modern nations,
Kemal Atatürk and Sun Yat-sen respectively, became the main ideological
underpinnings of controlled state-building and developmentalism.
Paul Kubicek (Chapter 4) locates the experience of Turkey’s Republican
People’s Party (CHP) as a single party in 1923–1950 within the global
context by focusing on the historical and intellectual roots of the CHP, its
praxis, and its performance as a model for other single-party regimes.
Kubicek discusses the envisioned tutelary role for the Party, which both
identied with and sought to serve the “general will” in terms of nation-
building and modernization. While the CHP shared some features with the
CUP, the main inspiration for much of its guiding philosophy, featuring
republicanism, nationalism, secularism, and populism, came from Western
sources. The CHP, which served as an appendage to the state, sought to
develop a unifying national identity, one that denied any class, ethnic, or
sectarian divisions, and made the existence of alternative parties unneeded
for the unity of the people. Although the CHP’s regime was celebrated as a
success, its Western origins and orientation limited its ability to serve as a
model for non-Western development.
In China, the KMT established control over most of the country in
1927–1928 and remained the dominant force until the Japanese invasion of
1937. Christopher A. Reed (Chapter 5) explores the themes of “the peda-
gogical state” and nation-building through the party through the KMT’s
propaganda establishment and its political publishing program. Examining
propaganda as a key tool in modern party- and state-building processes,
Reed explores how the borrowing from the Soviet “propaganda state” via
the Comintern led to the emergence of the KMT’s own “propaganda state,”
in which the Party’s Department of Propaganda performed as a propaganda
ministry, supporting the KMT’s more general effort to take over state
functions. Drawing on internal Party documents as well as on published
contemporary sources, Reed focuses on the issues of party-state organiza-
tion, jurisdiction, inner party dynamics, message control, and mobilization
in the late 1920s and 1930s.
Some of the single and dominant parties in Eurasia opted for formalizing
their status in the legal documents of the respective states. The KMT became
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 11
the rst ruling party to formally include itself and its own “political tu-
telage” over the country’s development in the Provisional Constitution of
1931 (Hsia 1931). The Italian National Fascist Party (PNF) was formally
subordinate to the state, but in practice it became a massive bureaucracy
which played an important role in the state architecture, with Party mem-
bership becoming compulsory for teachers and state employees after 1933
(Whittam 1995, 54). The Bolshevik Party was mentioned in the Soviet
Constitution of 1936 (Trainin 1940, 188), but was never formally made the
only legal party, unlike the National Socialist German Workers’ Party
(NSDAP) in Germany. When working on the new constitution and con-
sulting foreign legal documents, Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, who chaired the
drafting committee, underlined the opening sentence of the Nazi Law
against the Foundation of New Parties of July 14, 1933, which read “In
Germany, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party exists as the only
political party,” and wrote “ha-ha” on the margin.
One can only speculate
about the meaning of this reaction. At the time when the new Soviet con-
stitution was being drafted, it was not yet clear if the new elections would be
contested, while it had never been formally illegal to form political parties
other than the Bolshevik (Communist) Party in the USSR. The Soviet leg-
islative elections of 1937 and all subsequent ones until 1989, however, were
uncontested (Hazard 1974; Velikanova 2021).
In some cases, dictatorial regimes and regimes based on nationalist ideolo-
gies, however, did not have a formal ruling party. The unchallenged National
Union of Portugal, for instance, was created as a “civil association” and “non-
party,” designed to restrain rather than mobilize the “public,” and it was not
mandatory for ofcials to join it (Gallagher 1990, 167). In Japan, the political
parties, which, from their troubled beginnings in the 1880s, had evolved to play
a considerable role in Japanese politics, declined amidst the rising militarism of
the 1930s (Berger 1977). Yet, they managed to maintain a foothold on power,
and the Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei yokusankai 大政翼賛会,
IRAA), established in 1940, never quite became a mass political party.
Although most parliamentary leaders accepted posts connected to the IRAA in
the hope of regaining their inuence, the power struggles surrounding the new
organization eventually led it to focus less on political mobilization than on
public spiritual identication with the throne (Berger 1977, 326–329). Bruce
Grover and Egas Moniz Bandeira (Chapter 6) discuss the ultimately frustrated
aspirations for the creation of a mass political party in Japan in the 1930s and
the 1940s, focusing on the “Alliance for a New Japan” (Shin Nihon dōmei 新日
本同盟), a group consisting of some of Japan’s most important bureaucrats,
and the writings of the magazine Ishin 維新 (“Restoration”), which brought
together many reform-minded military ofcers. Chapter 6 shows that, while
they did not put the role of the parliament as such into question, the focus of
these thinkers lay on representing the “will of the people” through the Diet
beyond liberal party politics, positioning Japan within the global trend toward
reconstruction of political systems. They envisioned a temporary tutelage of the
12 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
people with the terminal goal being the independent, critical awareness of
politics, and a rule through principle and culture rather than arbitrarily through
The Second World War did not mark the end of nationalist one-party
regimes, which thrived in many postcolonial settings, but state socialist one-
party regimes became especially widespread in Eurasia, thanks to the Soviet
efforts in exporting the model (Naimark 2019). Ivan Sablin (Chapter 7)
provides an overview of dependent constitution-making under one-party
regimes in Albania, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, East Germany,
Hungary, North Korea, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia
during the rst decade after the Second World War. Relying on the concept
of the informal Soviet empire, he compares the adoption and authorship of
the constitutions, as well as their texts, and surveys the role of non-
constitutional institutions in political practices and in propaganda. Sablin
concludes that the standardization of governance in the informal Soviet
empire manifested itself in the constitutional documents only partially, while
nonconstitutional institutions, parties and leaders, as well as the involve-
ment of Soviet representatives in state-building, were especially prominent.
Shortly after the spread of one-party regimes in Eastern Europe, however, a
strong intellectual response to them emerged in the form of vernacular dis-
sident movements, which often had connections across borders. Here,
Milovan Djilas’s book The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System
(1957), which was published abroad while the author was incarcerated in
Yugoslavia, proved especially inuential. Djilas, who was a leading Yugoslav
Communist before becoming a erce critic of the Party (the League of
Communists of Yugoslavia), argued that a new class became dominant in the
state socialist countries, namely the class of privileged party bureaucracy.
Because this new class had not been formed as а part of the economic
and social life before it came to power, it could only be created in an
organization of а special type, distinguished by а special discipline based
on identical philosophic and ideological views of its members. А unity of
belief and iron discipline was necessary to overcome its weaknesses.
The roots of the new class were implanted in а special party, of the
Bolshevik type. Lenin was right in his view that his party was an
exception in the history of human society, although he did not suspect
that it would be the beginning of а new class.
This is not to say that the new party and the new class are identical. The
party, however, is the core of that class, and its base. It is very difcult,
perhaps impossible, to dene the limits of the new class and to identify
its members. The new class may be said to be made up of those who
have special privileges and economic preference because of the
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 13
administrative monopoly they hold.
(Djilas 1957, 39)
Djilas argued that the rise of the new class of party bureaucracy diminished
the role of party itself. The party transformed from a compact organization
full of initiative into the oligarchy of the new class.
The party makes the class, but the class grows as а result and uses the
party as а basis. The class grows stronger, while the party grows weaker;
this is the inescapable fate of every Communist party in power.
(Djilas 1957, 40)
Critical opinions of the realities of the one-party state socialist regimes were
articulated by members and leaders of the parties themselves. The most no-
table case was the attempted democratization and decentralization under-
taken by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia under the leadership of
Alexander Dubček in 1968, which became known as the Prague Spring and
which was suppressed by the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact members.
The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia’s Action Program, adopted on
April 5, 1968, celebrated the Party’s role in the country’s development but at
the same time pointed to an acute social crisis, which was stimulated by the
inadequacies in the Party’s rule.
Socialist democracy was not expanded in time, methods of revolu-
tionary dictatorship deteriorated into bureaucracy and became an
impediment to progress in all spheres of life in Czechoslovakia. […]
The main link in this circle was that of remnants or reappearance of the
bureaucratic, sectarian approach in the Party itself. The insufcient
development of socialist democracy within the Party, the unfavorable
atmosphere for the promotion of activity, the silencing or even
suppression of criticism all of this thwarted a fast, timely, and
thorough rectication. Party bodies took over tasks of State and
economic bodies and social organizations. This led to an incorrect
merging of the Party and State management, to a monopolized power
position of some sections, unqualied interference as well as the
undermining of initiative at all levels, indifference, the cult of medioc-
rity, and to unhealthy anonymity.
(Communist Party of Czechoslovakia 1970, 4)
The reform plan did not, however, downgrade the position of the Party
which was to keep its leading role and become “the vanguard of the entire
socialist society” with “the victory of socialism.” It was, however, not
supposed to be “a universal ‘caretaker’ of the society, to bind all organi-
sations and every step taken in life by its directives” but instead
14 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
was expected to arouse “socialist initiative” (Communist Party of
Czechoslovakia 1970, 6–7). Although the Prague Spring of 1968 was sup-
pressed, it further stimulated transnational dissent in state socialist countries
in Eastern Europe (Alexeyeva 1987; Trencsényi et al. 2018).
Whereas the Soviet Union provided state-building blueprints and advice
to the dependent parties, the degree of dependency and own experience of
such parties contributed to the diversity of vernacular approaches to gov-
ernance. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which replaced the KMT as
the dominant party in the China in 1949, for instance, allowed the formal
survival of several other parties (Rudolph 2021). Long Yang (Chapter 8)
shows that the CCP developed a number of original formal and provisional
bureaucratic institutions over the 1920s–1960s. He traces the origins and
development of replacing formal Party and government organs’ functions
with provisional institutions and argues that the war context shaped the
CCP’s bureaucratic practices. In the 1920s–1940s, the context of the Civil
War proved especially important for such institutions, while in the 1950s
and 1960s, the provisional institutions acquired the characteristics of their
formal counterparts as Chinese leaders restructured the Party and govern-
ment organs in the context of the Cold War.
During the early Cold War, several previously coherent territories became
divided between competing regimes, some of which came to be dominated
by one party. Such was the case of mainland China and Taiwan, which had
come under the control of the Republic of China after the end of the Second
World War and whither the KMT government relocated in 1949, after being
defeated in the Chinese Civil War (Cheng 1989; McCormick 1990), as well as
the case of North and South Korea. Natalia Matveeva (Chapter 9) discusses
the former, exploring the formation and formalization of the Workers’ Party
of Korea’s policies toward women in the 1950s and the 1960s and comparing
them to those in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China
(PRC). She argues that although the North Korean elites followed the
Soviet example, adopting laws on gender equality and emancipation, the
emulation of the Soviet Union of the 1930s did not extend to the social
sphere and to gender policies. In North Korea, the Marxist–Leninist concept
of women as active participants in the public life and an important part of
the labor force was transformed into “mothers of the nation,” tasked with
providing overall support to the Party’s policies and raising the next gen-
eration of revolutionary ghters with loyalty to the Party and ultimately to
the Great Leader Kim Il-sung.
Whereas in North Korea the one-party regime started with the Party,
which soon gave way to a personalized dictatorship (Simotomai 2009), in
South Korea the development of the regime followed the opposite way.
Kyonghee Lee (Chapter 10) offers insights into the party-political formation
initially intended by the South Korean military junta under the leadership of
Park Chung Hee when it founded the Democratic Republican Party in 1963.
South Korea’s rst military junta sought to acquire a popular mandate to
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 15
stay in power by a demonstration of its adherence to the pledge of a swift
return to civilian rule, albeit one in which its members would retire from the
army and run as candidates for its own political party. With anti-
communism becoming the cornerstone of any political program in the
country, the leading members of the junta spoke of an alternative democ-
racy, different from the ill-tting Western democracy, but had to deny labels
like “guided democracy.” What resulted was a political party that spoke
much more frequently about what it did not believe in, namely communism,
Western democracy, and the one-party system, than about what it did.
The relations between state socialism, the notion of an overarching
country-wide community, and substate nationalism proved difcult to na-
vigate for the ruling communist parties, with nationalism playing an im-
portant role in the collapse of socialist federations in the late 1980s and early
1990s (Suny 1993). Discussing the case of Yugoslavia and focusing on
Slovenia, Jure Gašparič (Chapter 11) addresses the contradictions between
the country’s federalist structure and the single ruling party. During the
power monopoly of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (the
Communist Party of Yugoslavia until 1952), the Yugoslav state was re-
formed along corporatist and federalist lines, with the six constituent re-
publics becoming states, while the Party and the state were supposed to fade
away gradually. Gašparič demonstrates that when the Yugoslav political
crisis intensied, the Party started losing its inuence and became increas-
ingly divided along the borders between the individual republics.
Exploring the case of Czechoslovakia, another socialist federation, Adéla
Gjuričová (Chapter 12) takes a longue durée perspective on the ruling
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The Party, founded in 1921, became
the most important radical protest party during the interwar democratic
period and underwent all the key developments of the socialist movement. It
was made illegal in 1938, but its wartime underground activity won the
Party a completely new reputation after the Second World War. Gjuričová
reviews the Party’s rhetorical and practical strategy of gaining full control of
the government and focuses on the institutional aspect of the “twist from
party to government” in 1948–1989, discussing which of the institutions of
the previous democratic framework were preserved and how they were ad-
justed to the regime. Gjuričová pays particular attention to time and speed,
the tempo in the Party and governmental politics that reveal shifts and
unnoticed continuities and ruptures in what has often been described as
“forty years of static Communist rule and general timelessness.”
Perestroika in the USSR and the state’s eventual collapse had a tremendous
effect on the communist parties, both those solely in power and those com-
peting for voters in more democratic regimes (Di Palma 2019). It was itself
also part of a global period of – at least nominal, although not always sub-
stantial political democratization and liberalization. In the 1970s, several
dictatorships in Southern European countries (Portugal, Spain, and Greece)
crumbled, marking the start of this “third wave of democratization”
16 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
(Huntington 1991). In Latin America, military dictatorships gave way to
competitive presidential systems during the 1980s (Gargarella, 2013,
148–171). In Taiwan, where the KMT government had tolerated and tightly
controlled the presence of two minor parties – the Young China Party and the
Chinese Democratic Socialist Party President Chiang Ching-kuo 蔣經國
lifted martial law and the ban on the establishment of new parties (dangjin
) in 1986. A newspaper commentary of the time, still written in the cautious
tone of a country coming out of the world’s longest martial law regime, de-
monstrates how the political liberalization reected long-standing internal
aspirations as well as the international trends of the time:
In recent years, Taiwan has achieved a considerable level of democratic
politics. Unfortunately, due to the existence of “martial law” and the
“ban of parties,” it has always been difcult in the international
community for the image of democracy to reach perfection. […] The
immediate effect of the lifting of martial law and the allowance of
political parties is that it makes democracy live up to its name. The long-
term goal is to make the substance of democracy loftier!
(Kao 1986)
However, the expectation present in the 1980s and 1990s that competitive
multiparty democracy would prevail as the world’s principal political
system, and that single-party systems were relics of the past bound to gra-
dually wither, proved to be premature. The year 1991 did not mark an end
for the ruling communist parties. Some of them, namely the CCP (which
engaged in market-oriented reforms since the late 1970s), the Communist
Party of Vietnam, and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, departed from
state socialism. Despite the introduction of capitalist economies, the three
parties retained control over the respective regimes (Bui 2016; Malesky et al.
2011; Schuler 2021; Vu 2016). Some of the previously ruling communist
parties, like the Mongolian People’s Party, also survived in new competitive
landscapes (Smith 2020). Furthermore, the second half of the twentieth
century and the early twenty-rst century in fact witnessed an expansion in
one-party autocracies, with one-party regimes becoming the most common
type of authoritarianism (Magaloni and Kricheli 2010).
In China, where the government of the Communist Party had also un-
dergone a severe crisis in the late 1980s, several decades of strong economic
growth, the country’s increased international power, and the perception that
multiparty regimes are chaotic and unable to tackle the societal and eco-
nomic problems they encounter, have created considerable internal support
for the Party and condence about the country’s political system. This
condence, however, has not fully supplanted insecurities about it nor dis-
pelled fears of a possible “Tocqueville effect” endangering the CCP’s
dominance (Moniz Bandeira 2020, 135–42). Against this background, the
political leadership around Xi Jinping 習近平, who took ofce as the Party’s
Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 17
General Secretary in 2012, has identied ideological weakness as one of the
main reasons for the Soviet Union’s collapse, and put great effort in em-
phasizing the CCP’s leading societal role (Xi 2012, 21). In this vein, Xi
stressed at a ceremony to celebrate the CCP’s 100th anniversary that:
China’s success hinges on the Party. The more than 180-year-long
modern history of the Chinese nation, the 100-year-long history of the
Party, and the more than 70-year-long history of the People’s Republic
of China all provide ample evidence that without the Communist Party
of China, there would be no new China and no national rejuvenation.
The Party was chosen by history and the people. The leadership of the
Party is the dening feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics
and constitutes the greatest strength of this system. It is the foundation
and lifeblood of the Party and the country, and the crux upon which the
interests and wellbeing of all Chinese people depend.
(Xi 2021)
After periods of more competitive politics, one-party dominance also re-
emerged in Russia and Turkey, where United Russia and the Justice and
Development Party (AKP), respectively, have been dominant in a situation
of insubstantial political competition (Babacan et al. 2021; Carney 2015;
Öney 2018; Reuter and Remington 2009). For example, in the elections to
the Russian State Duma held on September 17–19, 2021, only those parties
which openly supported President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin managed
to win seats, while United Russia retained a constitutional majority
(Mislivskaia 2021). Commenting on the then upcoming 2021 election, the
economist Vladislav Inozemtsev maintained that there was no opposition in
Russia anymore, since the term implied that such a group would have legal
and democratic means to come to power, and noted the return to Soviet-
style politics (Inozemtsev 2021, 6).
In Russia, there remains one party [United Russia] and several of its
spoilers this embodies either the traditional for the Soviet Union
“indestructible alliance of communists and non-party members,” or,
which may be familiar to Putin, the political system of the GDR
[German Democratic Republic], where the Socialist Unity (the mention
of unity is very noteworthy) Party of Germany was assisted by several
other party structures and even (what a coincidence!) the National
Front, “in which mass organizations united all the forces of the people
to move along the path of building a socialist society.” So, we
understand where we are going, and we can only hope for the absence
of a Berlin Wall, in case of an attempt to cross which the soldiers would
shoot without warning.
18 Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira
The vote on September 19 of this year (which has been clear for a long
time, but with which until recently some opponents of the regime could
not come to terms) will become not an election to the State Duma, but
an appointment of 450 extras who imitate lawmaking in the interests of
the Kremlin.
(Inozemtsev 2021, 7)
Developments like in Russia show that wishful assumptions about a tele-
ological and well-nigh automatic development from single-party to multi-party,
and more generally from authoritarian to democratic regimes were not justied.
Single-party regimes themselves emerged as one of the dominant regime types
in Eurasia in the rst part of the twentieth century to a large extent as a reaction
to the perceived failures of the parliamentary regimes which had been installed
amidst high hopes during the transformations of the Russian, Ottoman, Qing,
and other empires. They were far from uniform in their ideological premises
and internal organization, but they responded to similar situations and made
similar promises of economic and social development. Eventually, they only
partially delivered on these promises, and their subsequent histories saw many
ruptures and shifts which ended in the demise of many of these single-party
regimes. Yet, the democratic backsliding experienced in the rst quarter of the
twenty-rst century shows that the end of history (Fukuyama 1989) has not
been reached, and that single-party regimes will remain a signicant type of
government in the global political landscape for the foreseeable future.
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Introduction: Parties from Vanguards to Governments 25
1 The birth of Anfu China, East
Asia’s rst party-state: Toward a
constitutional dictatorship of the
gentry, 1916–1918
Ernest Ming-tak Leung
The Anfu Regime has an evil reputation in modern Chinese history, being
the embodiment of the absence of morals, ideals, or achievement, and for
having brought destruction and misery to the country. It was seen as having
begun a long warlord era and was thus a stain on the already dismal record
of China’s Republican era. Despite the many attempts at re-evaluating
events and personages such as Yuan Shikai [Yuan Shih-k’ai 袁世凱] and
Chiang Kai-shek, Anfu has been deliberately and singularly left out.
Yet the Anfu Regime had in fact been greatly misunderstood; the years
1917–20 were indeed marked by brutal internal strife, but the state possessed
a progressive vision of establishmentarian reform. It should be seen as a
classic case of failed developmental state-building, comparable to other
military-dominated, single-party “developmental dictatorships” in the
twentieth century Third World. This paper focuses on the origins of the
Anfu Regime in State Organicism and State Corporatism. Another paper
has dealt with legislation by and political struggles in the Anfu Parliament in
1918–20 (Yan and Leung 2022), and a further article will concern the two
waves of developmentalist economic policies in late-1917 and mid-1920 re-
spectively (for a preliminary treatment see Leung 2021).
The Anfu Club [Anfu Julebu 安福俱樂部] governed in 1918–20 on the
foundations of a political system and economic strategy laid down by men
from the erstwhile Progressive Party in late 1917. The “Progressive-Anfu
System” thus attempted to build a disciplined party with centralized decision-
making, based on a stable alliance between interest groups. This enabled the
emergence of a militarily supported, “constitutional dictatorship” of the
gentry, which in the process of hoping to transform itself into an industrial
class, required support from the state’s expanding corpus of technocrats. With
the help of German legal theories transmitted through Japan, they attempted
to justify greater representation for themselves within government institutions
– most notably demonstrated in a late-1917 attempt to reform the Senate into a
chamber of functional constituencies – which, had it been materialized, would
have been East Asia’s rst corporatist Parliament. Meanwhile, the Anfu
“entrepreneurial regime,” intent on building State Capitalism, was inuenced
DOI: 10.4324/9781003264972-2
via Japan by early developmentalist theories such as Listianism and German
State Socialism. However, the attempt was inconclusive, as many of these ideas
failed to come to fruition.
Anfu’s reputation owes itself to the fact that the regime alienated and incurred
the wrath of every single subsequently important political force, from rival
factions within the northern military establishment, to Sun Yat-sen’s
Kuomintang, to the CCP and even the Proto-Fascists (the Young China
Party). Historians also seem to have the unfortunate and rarely questioned habit
of using as evidence sensationalist political pamphlets, mostly published under
pseudonyms in the immediate aftermath of Anfu’s collapse in 1920. Many for
instance agree that Anfu was not even a political party, had no concrete orga-
nization, political vision or ideology, nor even a charter (Chang 2007b: 128–129).
This paper intends to provide some evidence to the contrary, focusing on the
construction of Anfu as a party and the ideology of its institutional design. Such
evidence could never possibly be complete much of the documentation has
been lost or was deliberately destroyed
but it should be able to demonstrate
how Anfu attempted to be a coherent state-building project. Anfu’s highly
disciplined organization was unprecedented in late-imperial early republican
politics, and utterly remarkable considering that the Manchu Empire had been
dissolved only six years prior. Being an alliance of several parliamentary and
bureaucratic factions, its highest executive organ was the 86-member Club
Council, comparable to the CCP’s Central Committee. On the second tier was
the “Club Congress of Parliamentarians of Both Chambers.” These decided all
matters regarding the Club and Parliament, and concentrated all political and
legislative deliberation in the high Anfu elites, chosen on the basis of their ability
to represent interest groups. Anfu MPs were then obliged to follow the Club’s
resolutions and act accordingly in Parliament (Xitang Yeshi 1920: 20–21).
Unlike a Leninist party, Anfu did not control the military; rather, it relied
on it, controlling in turn the civil service and legislature; General Xu Shuzheng
[Hsu Shu-cheng 徐樹錚] once said that “Since the start of the Republic in
1912, government has been puppeted by Parliament, resulting in sheer dis-
order. Why can’t we organize a party for ourselves, like training and orga-
nizing an army? If we have our own army of children, they will be puppeted by
us” (Zhang 1979, 194). This system, whereby the army runs the party, is si-
milar to many developmental dictatorships.
But the Club later increasingly
acquired a mind of its own as when it cut the military budget by 20% (see Yan
and Leung 2022). Finally, what also deserves attention is the overwhelmingly
foreign mostly Japanese education background of the Progressive and
Anfu elites. Duan Qirui [Tuan Ch’i-jui 段祺瑞] had been trained in artillery at
the Berlin War College and had interned at Krupp in 1889–90. This scientic
training distinguished him from his subordinates, mostly trained in law and
political science, if not only schooled in the classics or even being outright
illiterates. The Anfu Regime had every reason to be highly accomplished, but
fell foul of its own missteps plus the many structural and external problems
which this three-part series will attempt to explain.
The birth of Anfu China 27
In historical institutionalist analysis, the state is seen as “an idea,” “a legal
system” and an “organised expression of hegemony.”
In that sense, it is a
natural tendency of the state, quite independently of malice, to be all-
encompassing in its bureaucracy, to assume the guise of absolute authority
in executing the law, to monopolize political decision through its branches
of power, to settle social conict, provide public services, administer the
economy, and ultimately, to repress by force if necessary. Anfu’s fortunes
and defeat were determined by its quest to be an “organised expression of
hegemony” – to alienate everyone in its quest to be hegemon, and to end up
consigned to the dustbin of history when it ultimately failed to deliver that
hegemonic ability. It was never going to be a successful totalitarian regime
even if it wished to be, when it preserved relatively large spheres of freedom
and declined to suppress despite being able to. Anfu never announced what
its ofcial ideological platform was, but it tted well into Juan Linz’ de-
nition of an authoritarian regime:
Authoritarian regimes are political systems with limited, not respon-
sible, political pluralism; without elaborate and guiding ideology (but
with distinctive mentalities); without intensive nor extensive political
mobilization (except some points in their development); and in which a
leader (or occasionally a small group) exercises power within formally
ill-dened limits but actually quite predictable ones.
(Linz 1970, 255)
The “Anfu Era” at a glance
During 1917–20, the Peking (or “Beiyang” [Peiyang 北洋]) Republican
Regime was subordinated to the control of men who created the “Anfu
Club” in 1918, and to Anhui [Anhwei 安徽/Wanxi 皖系] Clique military
leaders such as Premier Duan Qirui and Army Vice Minister Xu Shuzheng,
as well as Beiyang bureaucrats including President Xu Shichang [Hsu Shih-
ch’ang 徐世昌] and Senate leader Liang Shiyi [Liang Shih-i 梁士詒]. The so-
called “Beiyang” (“North Sea”) establishment had been a group of late-
imperial military and bureaucratic modernizers, mostly born and raised
under traditional circumstances, but whom during the late-nineteenth cen-
tury had received an education that was to varying extents western-
inuenced. They had worked under Viceroys Li Hongzhang [Li Hung-chang
李鴻章] and Yuan Shikai to build the “North Sea Fleet,” which was sunk in
1895 during the Sino-Japanese War; subsequently, their focus transitioned
toward establishing a new western-styled army, modern administration, and
promoting state-led economic development.
In the desperation of the 1911 Republican Revolution, revolutionary
leader Sun Yat-sen offered his position as Provisional President to anyone
who could make Emperor Puyi abdicate. Duan Qirui then led a petition of
143 imperial generals to force Puyi to step down, thus becoming his “rst
28 Ernest Ming-tak Leung
making of the republic.” The Empire was dissolved, and the last Imperial
Prime Minister, Yuan Shikai, duly accepted the Republican Presidency; but
by 1915 he had grown disillusioned with Republicanism and attempted to
enthrone himself as the new emperor. Duan bitterly opposed this, and Yuan,
who sacked Duan for being disloyal, reappointed him as Premier during his
dying days in 1916 – thus Duan had made the republic a second time. Duan
revived the Kuomintang-dominated “1912 Parliament” that Yuan had dis-
solved in 1914, and attempted to transition toward a pluralist constitutional
order. That failed when his relations with Parliament ruptured on various
questions surrounding the draft constitution, provincial autonomy, per-
sonnel appointments, corruption accusations, and China’s participation in
the First World War.
At the nadir of the political chaos in June–July 1917, Zhang Xun [Chang
Hsun 張勳] a mid-ranking Beiyang leader, forced a second dissolution of
Parliament and launched a coup to restore Puyi. He was quickly defeated by
Duan’s forces entering from Tientsin. Duan had thus “made” the Republic a
third time, and himself a national hero, sweeping away at one stroke both
the radicals and the ultra-conservatives. Duan then made the fateful decision
that a fundamental reform to the constitutional order was necessary, upon
consulting Liang Qichao [Liang Ch’i-ch’ao 梁啟超], a Statist theorist and
leader of the late-imperial constitutional monarchist movement which
had become the “Progressive Party” after the Republic was established.
According to him, the 1912 Parliament should not be reconvened; instead, a
new “Provisional Senate” should be organized to redraft electoral legisla-
tion. Duan’s cabinet was made up mostly of ex-Progressives. Yet between
Duan and Liang schisms emerged, and Duan’s cabinet resigned in
November 1917. This was whilst Sun Yat-sen’s Kuomintang government in
Canton went to war with Peking.
When Yuan died in 1916, both the Kuomintang and the Progressive Party
[Jinbudang 進步黨] had dissolved themselves in a spirit of cordiality, having
opposed Yuan’s monarchism together. Factions then emerged. By early
1917 the resultant factionalism was regretted universally, and the ex-
Progressives (known at the time as the “Research Clique”) worked to reform
itself into a “Grand Progressive Party,” holding a special conference for that
purpose on 27 July, 1917, but nothing came out of it.
By late August, news
began to abound that there were plans to create an “all-controlling” party
that would rise above both the Kuomintang and the Progressive Party.
From that time, Anfu men started to gain control of the legislature and
executive, whilst the Progressive men faded out by the end of November.
With the help of Xu Shuzheng, Duan began to consolidate his own power
base in the Provisional Senate and various branches of government, and the
“Anfu Club,” named after the alley (hutong) where its Peking headquarters
were based, was created on 8 March, 1918. Various names had been pro-
posed for the Club, including the “Republican Club,” “Democratic Club”
and Popular Constitutional Club” [Minxian julebu 民憲俱樂部],
but they
The birth of Anfu China 29
all fell through due to the initial uncertainty over the orientation of the
seemingly provisional organization. When made Premier again in March
1918, Duan oversaw the expansion of a sprawling Anfu empire, which
proceeded to control two-thirds of the new Parliament in August 1918. Yet a
complete “Anfu Cabinet” was never formed, and it did not manage to help
Duan win the Presidency, in the face of competition from his main Beiyang
rival, Acting President and Zhili [Chihli 直隸/Zhixi 直系 ] Faction leader,
General Feng Guozhang [Feng Kuo-chang 馮國璋].
The Presidency went instead to a gure agreeable to the entirety of the
Beiyang establishment, ex-Manchuria Governor and Yuan-era Premier Xu
Shichang, who had been aide to Yuan since the 1890s. Duan and Feng both
“retired” from politics, Duan only nominally, being still in charge of the
“War Participation Supervisory Ofce” [Duban canzhan shiwuchu 督辦參戰
事務處]. The Anfu Regime collaborated extensively with Japan, and re-
ceived substantial loans through the State Socialist thinker Nishihara
Kamezō 西原龜三, aide to Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake 寺內正毅.
These were meant to induce rapid, planned industrial growth and the
creation of an "East Asian Economic League"; the funds went instead to
repay debts and fund the campaign against the south. After a civil war was
declared by the southern military junta based in Canton, directed by Sun
Yat-sen, the Beiyang Government deployed vast forces and resources in a
war that saw widespread atrocities, and was reluctant to come to the bar-
gaining table despite Zhili Faction generals refusing to ght further. During
the May Fourth Movement, the Anfu Club came under widespread con-
demnation for its prior pro-Japanese stance, yet the government quickly
released the students arrested during the violent protests. Two months later
the Anfu Club effectively announced its intention to transition towards
socialism, and by mid-1920 a series of State Socialist reforms affecting a
number of economic sectors had been proposed (see Leung 2021). On 14
July 1920 war broke out between the Zhili and Anhui Factions, resulting in
the defeat of the latter and Duan’s unsuccessful suicide attempt on 21 July
1920 (Hu 2006, 179). The Anfu Regime collapsed and President Xu ordered
Anfu Club’s disbandment on 3 August 1920.
The road to State Corporatism, 1916–17
In what theoretical context should Anfu be understood? “Corporatism,” as
the antonym to “Pluralism,” might be a suitable framework. These
two are opposing solutions to the increasingly diversied interests and dif-
ferentiated structures in the “modern polity”; while pluralists “place their
faith in the shifting balance of mechanically intersecting forces; corporatists
appeal to the functional adjustment of an organically interdependent whole”
(Schmitter 1974, 97). Philippe C. Schmitter has pointed out that all too
often, analysts of corporatist and authoritarian regimes “merely mourn the
passing or degeneration of pluralism and either advocate its return”
30 Ernest Ming-tak Leung
(Schmitter 1974, 95–96). This is precisely the case with Chinese historians,
beginning in the 1930s, who lament how Anfu killed off competitive, plur-
alist parliamentary politics. To Schmitter, this does no justice to
Corporatism as an alternative model (Schmitter 1974, 93–94).
Schmitter proceeds to distinguish between two forms of Corporatism
based on different premises – “State Corporatism,” which happens mostly in
“anti-liberal, delayed capitalist, authoritarian, neomercantilist” (Schmitter
1974, 105) states, whereby the government chooses and appoints re-
presentatives of interest groups to form the government, and consciously
plans the make-up of representative institutions in order to ascertain the
source and composition of state authority, rather than letting this be de-
termined by free, competitive elections. Opposed to this was Social
Corporatism for the “postliberal, advanced capitalist, organized democratic
welfare state,” with competitive elections within interest sectors.
The Anfu Club itself was not explicitly made up of sectors or corporations
beyond provincial ones. It was, however, a powerful corporation in itself
that bound together consciously into one centralist organization the re-
presentatives of bureaucratic and parliamentary factions, as well as con-
sciously choosing men of different professions to lead expert committees. By
doing so, it was able to ensure the stable operation of the three branches of
government for almost three whole years, including a legislature that ac-
cording to the original plans would have had an economic and ethnically
corporatist Senate, and which, after the plans were defeated, still ensured
adequate representation for the leading mandarin literati class. It achieved
monopolization through de facto uncontested elections, and made possible
reciprocal support between politicized soldiers and the industrializing lit-
erati. The Anfu Regime was decidedly State Corporatist. Indeed, it could be
seen as the precursor of the mode of political organization after the 1920s,
under the Kuomintang and the CCP, which has been characterized by
Corporatism (Tsui 2018, 37, 41, 73, 231).
Many such Corporatist regimes, including Spain under Franco or
Indonesia under Sukarno and Suharto, have been referred to, or promoted
themselves as “Organic States” or “Organic Democracies” (Linz 1970, 254).
A whole philosophical tradition existed in Germany, notably counting Hegel
amongst its ranks, that sees the state as an organism or body. The “Organic
State Theory” (Bluntschli 1885b) of the Swiss-German jurist Johann Kaspar
Bluntschli from 1875–76 entered East Asian consciousness very early on,
though the works of Katō Hiroyuki 加藤弘之 and Liang Qichao.
Organicism believes that “political communities (or states) function like
natural organisms in which the parts […] exist to contribute to the well-being
of the whole,” and that “collective interests take precedence over individual
or sectional interests and consensus takes precedence over institutionalized
conict” (Bourchier 2019, 600). The late-Qing intelligentsia, such as the
Constitutional Monarchist Yang Du [Yang Tu 楊度],
already possessed
Statist, Corporatist, and Organicist inclinations in their idea of political
The birth of Anfu China 31