Comparative Studies in Society and History

Making Revolutions

Paternalist Terror: The Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries and Regime Consolidation in the PeopleÕs Republic of China, 1950-1953

Julia C. Strauss a1
a1 Department of Political Studies, SOAS


It has long been recognized that great social-political revolutions have tended to be marked by three common experiences: (1) the ironic completion of the state building project of the ancient régime through strengthening of the state and its bureaucracy; (2) external warfare; and (3) the deployment of revolutionary terror, often initially restricted to obvious enemies of the new order, then expanding to larger groups in society and eventually consuming much of the revolutionary elite itself. Through investigation into the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries (1950-1953), this essay concentrates on the linkages between these three elements, focusing particularly on the complex interaction between state building, state sponsored terror, and state paternalism in the early consolidation of the PeopleÕs Republic of China.