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The Party Is Not Forever

Summary:
As the Communist Party of China prepares to mark its centennial on July 1, the poor longevity record of other dictatorial parties in modern times should give its leaders cause for worry. If the CPC is not on the right track with its neo-Maoist revival, its upcoming milestone maybe its last. CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – Human beings approaching 100 normally think about death. But political parties celebrating their centennial, as the Communist Party of China (CPC) will on July 1, are obsessed with immortality. Such optimism seems odd for parties that rule dictatorships, because their longevity record does not inspire confidence. The fact that no other such party in modern times has survived for a century should give

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As the Communist Party of China prepares to mark its centennial on July 1, the poor longevity record of other dictatorial parties in modern times should give its leaders cause for worry. If the CPC is not on the right track with its neo-Maoist revival, its upcoming milestone maybe its last.

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – Human beings approaching 100 normally think about death. But political parties celebrating their centennial, as the Communist Party of China (CPC) will on July 1, are obsessed with immortality. Such optimism seems odd for parties that rule dictatorships, because their longevity record does not inspire confidence. The fact that no other such party in modern times has survived for a century should give China’s leaders cause for worry, not celebration.

One obvious reason for the relatively short lifespan of communist or authoritarian parties is that party-dominated modern dictatorships, unlike democracies, emerged only in the twentieth century. The Soviet Union, the first such dictatorship, was founded in 1922. The Kuomintang (KMT) in China, a quasi-Leninist party, gained nominal...

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