The Rise of the Party in Arms Revolutionary Organizations and Modernization

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Erik van Ree


This article discusses the origin and nature of a novel type of revolutionary organization that emerged in the years between 1890 and 1914: the “party in arms.” A party in arms can be defined as a political party that possesses its own military branch. During this time parties in arms sprang up in eastern Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and Latin America. This article shows how the emergence of the party in arms was part of a wider process of modernization that played out over the course of the last two centuries. Revolutionary organizations developed from relatively simple to more complex and differentiated “bureaucratic” organisms, manifesting deepening and more sophisticated, functional divisions of labor. This was a global process. This article explores some of the sociological implications of these findings, touching on classical sociology, postcolonialism, and new global history writing.

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