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Vanguard of the RevolutionThe Global Idea of the Communist Party$
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A. James McAdams

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196428

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196428.001.0001

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The Party in Peril

The Party in Peril

(p.428) Chapter 12 The Party in Peril
Vanguard of the Revolution

A. James McAdams

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes the decline of the communist party and its attempts to salvage major disasters, such as the Chernobyl fallout. Unlike in the preceding decades of communist rule, when they could supplement a Marxist interpretation of their conditions with references to looming threats to national security, Cold War tensions, and economic perils, the credibility of these rationales had faded. This is not to say that opponents of significant change were equally disadvantaged in other parts of the communist world. In the case of China, the chapter highlights, the regime managed to defend its rule. But China's leaders faced a different type of party crisis and responded with a different remedy—the use of brute force—that neither the Soviet Union's leader nor his Eastern European allies dared to implement. Otherwise, the need for the vanguard that had made sense in its original European and Russian contexts vanished.

Keywords:   Chernobyl, China, Russia, Soviet Union, party crisis, brute force, communist rule, communist party decline

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