Often connoting to proletarian struggle, a communist revolution was an active platform that brought about a paradigm shift from capitalism to socialism orientation in East Asia. Therefore, it is relevant to examine the events that were a catalyst for the communist revolution, which resulted in societal reconstruction and the remodeling of the ideological orientation. This reflective essay attempts to examine the historical significance of communist revolutions within East Asia, with reference to North Korea and China. In addition, the paper reassesses the outcomes as well as the content of these revolutions.
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Historical Significance of Communist Revolutions in China and North Korea
North Korea and Chinese revolutions have inspired the desire for similar events in other societies that are considered backward. According to Ebrey and Walthall (2013), “Chinese revolution has shown the path for social construction, in its essence, throughout the world.”1 Moreover, the successes of the Mao Tsetung-led revolution have resulted in the global acceptance of his thoughts and ideologies on social reconstruction.
For instance, Mao’s ideologies motivated the Koreanization orientation characterized by progressive Marxist-Leninist principles. At the moment, it is difficult to mention communism while neglecting the consequences of the Chinese and North Korean communist revolutions. For instance, later revolutionary wars in Eastern Europe, Vietnam, and Cuba were inspired by the Marxist ideologies that were integrated into the communist revolutionary wars in East Asia.
Thus, Kim Sung and Mao’s ideologies applied during the revolutionary wars in East Asia have become part of communist political systems across the globe as solutions aimed at rectifying the imbalances of class struggle. For instance, Mao and Sung developed the spheres of “philosophy, political economy, scientific socialism, proletarian tactics, party organization, military science, and Herculean in efforts to create the new communist man.”2
At present, individuals and communities who subscribe to the thoughts of socialism often find solace in the ideas that propelled and ignited communist revolutions in East Asia. Furthermore, the successes and challenges of communist revolutions in North Korea and China have led to the emergence of empiricist and scientific formations that were created with the aim of explaining problems and solutions in the society from a socio-economic development precept.
Communist revolutions in East Asia were inspired by the need to counter revisionism. Therefore, without a desire for societal reconstruction from revisionism, it is possible to state that a communist revolution would not have brought a lot of positive results. In fact, if the desire to fight revisionism was not present, the reconstruction of Chinese and North Korean societies in the hands of socialists such as Mao and Sung would have lasted for less than a decade.
Thus, the East Asian struggle to erase revisionism and their success through communist revolutions have been transformed into a global movement for followers of socialist ideology and a communist approach to understanding societal struggles. For instance, the struggle against revisionism has resulted in the expansion of Marxist-Leninist principles to incorporate Khrushchev ideologies applied in Russia as a catalyst for a similar revolution.
Solid communist ideologies propagated by Mao of China and Sung of North Korea to install deep-rooted socialism are currently part of economic and social systems in China, Russia, and other communist societies across the globe. Moreover, the successes of East Asian communist revolutions created a global platform for reference when defining a socialist or communist society. For example, the survival of North Korea “long after the end of the Cold War must be attributed to these indigenous Korean elements of the North Korean revolution.”3
Socialist elements have made the globally unpopular North Korean current regime survive with a sizable legitimacy percentage and popularity support by those who believe in socialism in this country despite the negative sides of the regime. In any society, just as was the case in East Asia, a revolutionary idea must inspire confidence and recruit enough support to be further transformed into a reality. In addition, it must be clear and unsustainable even when organized in the form of a military or armed rebellion.
East Asian communist revolutions in China and North Korea were carried out using the two-stage model, which balances ideology and organization as a strategy for effective warfare for optimal gain. Across the globe, many military campaigns employ the two-stage strategy to this day in order to gain a strategic position advantage against the opponent. As a matter of fact, the experiences during East Asian revolutions and the resulting societal reconstruction have shown that revolutionary struggles in modern society cannot function without a strategy since an insurrection alone is inadequate when the development stage skips ideological orientation.4
Evidently, “armed revolutions that have diverted from this path end up either in compromise or liquidation, with the comprador bourgeoisie seizing the initiative.”5 Most failures in revolutionary struggles are attributed to the inability to follow the two-step theory or laxity in their implementation. Thus, the two-step theory proposes accurate enemy profiling and recruitments of as many allies as possible. In addition, failures could be caused by veering off the leadership structures that were applied by Mao, Sung, and other revolutionaries of East Asia.
Sung’s Koreanization and Mao’s Chinese societal reconstruction ideologies that guided East Asian revolutionary wars remain an inspiration to most political orientations and societal structure organizations across the globe. Moreover, most movements that are at the moment in the deep forests of Congo, Amazon, and East Europe corridors share similar inspirations that led to East Asian revolutions.6
Although the circumstances of the struggles are dissimilar, Koreanization and Mao’s theory form the primary ideological belief system that fuels the ideas behind such movements. Partly, the defeat of many armed insurgencies in Africa and the Middle East could be attributed to an inability to follow the suggestions of Mao and Sung. For instance, current revolutionary movements in Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Western Europe might not become a reality since modern warfare artillery has replaced the need for planning and ideological warfare.
Before the East Asian revolutions in North Korea and China, the Russian insurrection strategy was the most popular. However, this model was characterized by instability and difficulty in replication since its structural leadership module was decentralized. As a result, the insurrection model could not inspire a common ground for rationalizing warfare among insurgents. Fortunately, the protracted people warfare ideology of East Asian revolutions made many revolutionary movements abandon the insurrection strategy.7
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This is because the East Asian model was accompanied by practical ideologies, centralized leadership, and ideological rationalization and radicalization of insurgents. Since then, revolutionary struggles have moved away from weapon-based resistance to guided ideological warfare that can be fought within the system and from outside. Reflectively, “since the victory of this path in the Chinese revolution, it has come to be accepted that the path of revolution in all backward countries of the world can only be that of protracted people’s war.”8
In the case of North Korea, Kim Sung’s ideology succeeded in Koreanizing the Manchurian guerrillas through a strategic, well-organized, and systematic peasant radicalization inspired by the belief in the potential good that would result from the struggle. In modern society, localization and protraction of warfare cannot be neglected for an armed or unarmed struggle to bear fruits.
East Asian revolutions in China and North Korea have successfully used ideology to frame the perception of most common citizens to reconstruct the society and introduce socialism. As a result, this struggle transformed revolutionary strategies to internalize the explicit and extensive application of a perception-based confrontation. Moreover, these struggles were transformed into the battleground for socialist and capitalist societal orientations. This approach was cemented by well-choreographed propaganda machinery. The doctrinarian approach to creating an overlapping consensus among proletarian units into a single struggle made East Asian revolutions a success.
The same principles have been applied in past regional confrontations such as the Cold War, Gulf War, and the current Middle East invasion by the Western bloc. Moreover, the successes of East Asian revolutions in China and North Korea have been used across the globe to benchmark the principles and components of a socialist socio-economic model. For instance, the Russian economic model is heavily angled on socialist principles. Chinese and North Korean revolutions have remained an inspiration to other revolutionary movements across the globe.
Ebrey, Patricia, and Anne Walthall. East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, Volume II: From 1600. Alabama: Cengage Learning, 2013.
Kim, Donggil. “The Chinese Civil War and the Ethno-Genesis of the Korean Minority in Northeast China.” The Chinese Historical Review 21, no. 2 (2014): 121-142.
Kwon, Heonik. “The Korean War and Sino-North Korean Friendship.” The Asian Pacific Journal 11, no. 32 (2013): 45-67.
McAdams, James. Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2017.
Seltman, Muriel. What’s Left? What’s Right?: A Political Journey via North Korea and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. New York: Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2014.
Sheng, Michael. “Mao’s Role in the Korean Conflict: A Revision.” Twentieth-Century China 39, no. 3 (2013): 269-290.
Smith, Steve. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism. London: OUP Oxford, 2014.
“US Enters the Korean Conflict.” National Archives. Web.
- Patricia Ebrey and Anne Walthall, East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, Volume II: From 1600 (Alabama: Cengage Learning, 2013), 39-67.
- Steve Smith, The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism (London: OUP Oxford, 2014), 29-47.
- James McAdams, Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2017), 68-99.
- “US Enters the Korean Conflict,” National Archives. Web.
- Muriel Seltman, What’s Left? What’s Right?: A Political Journey via North Korea and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (New York: Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2014), 34-58.
- Michael Sheng, “Mao’s Role in the Korean Conflict: A Revision,” Twentieth-Century China 39, no. 3 (2013): 277.
- Donggil Kim, “The Chinese Civil War and the Ethno-Genesis of the Korean Minority in Northeast China,” The Chinese Historical Review 21, no. 2 (2014): 133.
- Heonik Kwon, “The Korean War and Sino-North Korean Friendship,” The Asian Pacific Journal 11, no. 32 (2013): 58.