Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Local Revolution, Grassroots Mobilization, and Wartime Power Shift to the Rise of Communism


History Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


Many scholars such as Bruce Dickson agree that Chinese communism was an aboriginal movement which not only interprets the rapid communist growth in the past but also explains the reason why the Chinese Communist Party has adapted and survived well while other communist regimes collapsed in the recent decades. Indeed, the rise of Chinese communism differed from other national communist movements. In theory and in practice, its expansion was closely associated with Chinese grassroots society in a totally native social setting. This association became far tighter during the war against the Japanese invasion. In fact, the rise of the communist power could be found in two figures in two years: barely about 20,000 communists survived the Long March in a small area of Northwest China in 1935, yet the communists commanded over one million troops in 1945. The key to understand this phenomenal progress lies in the wartime political arrangements and mass mobilization in the communist-led anti-Japanese bases. In a special sense, the communist expansion in each of those bases could be regarded as a local revolution. It was this localized mobilization that enabled the communists to enjoy a favorable power shift, facilitated the rise of communism, and ultimately led to Mao Zedongs victory in 1949. In this paper, I will closely examine the wartime quick growth of communism in China and offer some new remarks. Although I have worked for a couple of years on this paper, yet my presentation of it at the AHA conference will surely attract more scholarly attention.

Conference Name

American Historical Association Annual Conference

Conference Location

Washington, D.C.

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