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Boosting nationalism with non‐nationalist ideology: A comparative biographical analysis of the Chinese communist revolutionaries

Nations and Nationalism

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--- - |2 Abstract This article conducts a comparative biographical analysis to explain why the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) revolutionaries used non‐nationalist Marxism to boost a nationalist movement. It argues that these people, based on their own observations of the precommunist Chinese nationalism, thought that China lacked structural conditions for making a solid nationalist movement such as cultural homogeneity, mass literacy, and a shared pride in modern history. They thus turned to seek a non‐national ideology that could still fulfil the functions of integrating leading elites, mobilizing the masses, and motivating the patriots themselves. Then, to explain why the CCP leaders particularly adopted Marxism, this article draws comparison with the Kuomintang (non‐communist nationalists) elites who advocated for more patience and insistence to develop regular nationalism. The comparison shows that the CCP's impatient jump stemmed from their disadvantaged backgrounds that had limited their ideological horizon: lower‐class origins, narrow overseas experiences, poor education, and weak attachment to traditional culture. To pre‐existing literature, this article makes three contributions: (1) provides a more detailed interpretation of the CCP's diagnosis of Chinese nationalism; (2) explains why the same structural dilemmas produced nationalist and non‐nationalist responses alike; and (3) draws a biographical database of the CCP and the Kuomintang. - Nations and Nationalism, Volume 24, Issue 3, Page 767-791, July 2018.