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This article explores “revolutionary etatization,” defined as the process of revolutionary organizations evolving into embryonic proto-states even before they have seized power. The article focuses on the period between the end of World War I and the present day. While the situation of inescapable violent competition (Tilly) represents the Darwinian driver of the process, we need the ideological
and strategic dimensions to account for the variety of revolutionary proto-states. Embryonic revolutionary states come in two main types: the multi-department civil-administration apparatus, and the agglomerate of organs of popular representation, corresponding, respectively, to “constructive” and “co-optive” modes of state formation. Revolutionary etatization is a universal experience holding true not only for rural guerrillas controlling “liberated territories” but also for urban guerrillas and urban insurrectionists.