Marxism, Modernity, and Revolution: The Asian Experience

  • Sobhanlal Datta GuptaEmail author
Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Marxism had a major impact on the Asian continent in the introduction of a new conceptual understanding of social and political change related to the idea of revolution. This perception, which was largely derived from the European understanding of Marxism, presented pre-modern Asia with an alternative modernity. In the process of achieving this, Marxism in Asia had to confront two challenges: One was the challenge of nationalism, and the other, the challenge of religion. How did the communist parties that began to form throughout the region in the 1920s and 1930s conceptualize the accomplishment of modernity through revolution in the face of these twin challenges? How did they work out their strategies and was there a common pattern? These questions are of crucial importance when one takes note of the fact that despite decline today there was a time when communist parties exercised considerable influence in the Arab world, in South and South East Asia, and also in the Far East. Leaving aside the exceptional success of the Chinese Revolution after the end of the Second World War, this region has witnessed a rapid decline of the Marxist parties and a rise of the conservative Right as well as of nationalist parties. How can this phenomenon be explained? Was there something inherently wrong in Asian Marxism’s negotiation of the problem of modernity through its engagement with the idea of revolution? Why did the Marxist Left in Asia fail to contain the challenges of nationalism and religion? This leads to a more basic question: Was there something fundamentally flawed in Asian Marxism’s understanding of the concept of revolution itself?


Communist Party Arab World Japanese Occupation Alternative Perception Russian Revolution 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political ScienceFormerly of the University of CalcuttaCalcuttaIndia

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