The Return of Ideology

The Search for Regime Identities in Postcommunist Russia and China
Cheng Chen


As a nation makes the transition from communism to democracy or another form of authoritarianism, its regime must construct not only new political institutions, but also a new political ideology that can guide policy and provide a sense of mission. The new ideology is crucial for legitimacy at home and abroad, as well as the regime’s long-term viability. In The Return of Ideology, Cheng Chen compares post-communist regimes, with a focus on Russia under Putin and post-Deng China, investigating the factors that affect the success of an ideology-building project and identifies the implications for international affairs.

Successful ideology-building requires two necessary—but not sufficient—conditions. The regime must establish a coherent ideological repertoire that takes into account the nation’s ideological heritage and fresh surges of nationalism. Also, the regime must attract and maintain a strong commitment to the emerging ideology among the political elite.

Drawing on rich primary sources, including interviews, surveys, political speeches, writings of political leaders, and a variety of publications, Chen identifies the major obstacles to ideology-building in modern Russia and China and assesses their respective long-term prospects. Whereas creating a new regime ideology has been a protracted and difficult process in China, it has been even more so in Russia. The ability to forge an ideology is not merely a domestic concern for these two nations, but a matter of international import as these two great powers move to assert and extend their influence in the world.

“In clear and compelling prose, and with a novel comparative approach that spans post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, Yeltsin’s Russia, Putin’s Russia, and post-Deng China, Chen sheds new light on the changing—and perhaps destabilizing— regime ideologies and foreign policies of contemporary Russia and China. An original and thought-provoking read.”
—Teresa Wright, California State University, Long Beach

Cheng Chen is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Praise / Awards

  • "Chen offers a refreshing take on the complexity of non-liberal regimes and their attempts to offer an alternative to the prevailing Western ethic of democracy and capitalism." 
    --Choice Reviews
  • "In this impressive book, Cheng Chen has provided a robust definition which she has applied in a consistent and illuminating manner to compare ideological developments in post-communist Russia and China."
    --Slavic Review
  • "A solid, well-researched, and timely book. It provides a valuable basic background to political developments in post-Soviet Russia and post-Deng China, and identifies both differences and similarities in the political trajectory of the two great powers."
    --Nationalities Papers - Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity
  • "Stands out and makes an important contribution to this still growing body of literature. In this excellent study, Cheng Chen focuses on ideology, a subject that has been unduly understudied in the literature."
    --Pacific Affairs

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Product Details

  • 240 pages.
  • 3 Tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2016
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12199-1

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  • ideology, politics, Russia, China, post-communism, Eastern Europe, political regime, authoritarianism, nationalism, elite politics