How does a society change from a traditional monarchical system into a modern authoritarian political regime? How did Chinese revolutionary leaders who claimed to be committed to democracy become advocates, with one degree of frankness or another, for authoritarian rule? In this succinct volume, Peng-yuan Chang brings together a lifetime of study of late Qing and Republican politics and ideas to highlight the intellectual predilections of the leaders of the Nationalist Party (Guomindang) and the contingent factors that led them to party-state dictatorship.

Chang bases his analysis on theoretical works such as those by Giovanni Satori, Robert Michels, Joseph Shumpeter, and Robert Putnam, as well as a close reading of the Chinese texts. As he highlights the twists and turns in the thinking of Sun Yat-sen, from revolutionary activism to Republican Party politics and back to revolutionary activism, Chang finds that if Sun was not a profound thinker, he was...

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