Why has communism flourished in some parts of Asia and not in others? Examining the case of Kerala, this paper argues that, in India at least, social dislocation is the crucial ingredient when added to poverty, landlessness, and literacy. In Kerala, the matrilineal family system of caste-Hindus and the attendant system of extreme disabilities enforced against the low castes collapsed in the early twentieth century. The social upheaval was greater than anywhere else in India. A déraciné generation of caste-Hindus was forced to seek remedies for-the disruption and misery that daily confronted it, while increasing numbers of low castes refused to submit to the restrictions that traditional society sought to impose. This situation of social turmoil, similar in some ways to that prevailing in China and Vietnam, contributed crucially to the establishment of Kerala's vigorous, broad-based Communist party in the late 1930s.

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