Colonial Revolution and Liberatory War: From Communist to Post-Colonial Theory (Georgy Safarov, Mao Zedong and Frantz Fanon)

  • Konstantin D. Bugrov Institute of History and Archaeology, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia


The article investigates the intellectual roots of the concept of colonial revolution, which goes back to the 2nd congress of the Communist International, examines its importance in shaping the Communist political thought and outlines its subsequent transformation in the wake of post-colonial theory. The author starts with analyzing the political ideas of Georgi Safarov—Comintern [the Communist International] theorist. He was among the most original thinkers who elaborated the concept of colonial revolution. Safarov, drawing from his own experience in Central Asia, insisted that global capitalism is “retreating to the positions of feudalism” while operating in colonies, treating them as collective “serfs” and lacking any proper social basis save for its own enormous military force. Such analogy led Safarov to envisage the colonial revolution as a “plebeian” revolt and liberatory war against the inhumane and stagnant colonial order, opening the way for a non-capitalist development with certain assistance from the Soviet Union. Similar ideas were independently formulated by Mao Zedong in the 1930s. He saw colonial revolution in China as a “protracted war” of liberation and listed the conditions under which victory was possible. However, the subsequent development of a former colony was seen by Mao as a transitory period of “democratic dictatorship”. Similar ideas of colonial revolution as a liberatory peasant war and “plebeian” movement were developed by Franz Fanon in the context of his own war experience in Algeria. Developing the idea of “plebeian”, peasant revolt and justifying the violence as the sole means of ending the rule of colonial power, Fanon at the same time differed from the tradition of the 2ndComintern Congress (represented by Safarov, Mao and the others) while describing the independent existence of former colonies. For Fanon, the worst consequence of colonial rule is not permanent backwardness but psychological trauma, an inevitable result of a brutal conquest which requires therapy. The author concludes that such conceptual transformation was stimulated not merely by the disappointment in Soviet and Chinese economic strategies, but also in the geographical and cultural factor which made the reintegration with the former colonial powers preferable to the direct “escape” into the socialist camp.

Author Biography

Konstantin D. Bugrov, Institute of History and Archaeology, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Konstantin D. Bugrov is Doctor of History, Leading Researcher, Institute of History and Archaeology, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Professor, Ural Federal University.

His research interests: history of social and political thought, Enlightenment, socialism, Marxism, concepts of just war, history of industry, history of architecture.

He is the author of the monographies “Estestvennoe pravo i dobrodetel': integratsiia evropeiskogo vliianiia v rossiiskuiu politicheskuiu kul'turu XVIII veka [Natural Law and Virtue: integration of European influence into 18th century Russian political culture] (co-authored with M. A. Kiselev, 2016); Sotsgoroda bol'shogo Urala [Socialist Cities of Greater Urals] (2018); author of the chapters in collective volumes: Granitsy i markery sotsial'noi stratifikatsii v Rossii XVIII—XX vekov: vektory issledovaniia [Boundaries and Markers of Social Stratification in Russia in the 17th –20th Centuries: Research Vectors] (2018); Kontseptsii konflikta i soglasiia v rossiiskoi obshchestvennoi mysli i praktike (XVIII—XX vv.) [Concepts of Conflict and Concord in Russian Social Thought and Practice (18th—20th centuries)] (2021); Nesovershennaia publichnaia sfera. Istoriia rezhimov publichnosti v Rossii [Incomplete Public Sphere. History of Regimes of Publicity in Russia] (2021).


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How to Cite
Bugrov, K. (2021). Colonial Revolution and Liberatory War: From Communist to Post-Colonial Theory (Georgy Safarov, Mao Zedong and Frantz Fanon). Changing Societies & Personalities, 5(3), 325–354. doi:10.15826/csp.2021.5.3.138