H-Diplo | ISSF Roundtable 14-6: Stewart, Governing for Revolution

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H-Diplo | ISSF Roundtable 14-6


Megan A. Stewart, Governing for Revolution: Social Transformation in Civil War. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2021. ISBN: 9781108826389

16 December 2022 | https://issforum.org/to/ir14-6
Editor: Diane Labrosse | Commissioning Editor: Jakana Thomas | Production Editor: Christopher Ball


Introduction by Jakana Thomas, University of California San Diego. 2

Review by Melissa M. Lee, University of Pennsylvania. 5

Review by Katherine Sawyer, Stony Brook University. 9

Review by Paul Staniland, University of Chicago. 12

Response by Megan Stewart, University of Michigan. 15





In Governing for Revolution, Megan A. Stewart examines variation in rebel governance, asking why some rebel movements undertake expansive and costly governance initiatives during war, while others refrain from doing so until the conflicts end. According to Stewart, governance can be both extensive and intensive. Intensive governance refers to intrusive projects that have the potential to result in political costs for rebel groups that institute such programming. More intensive initiatives result in greater alterations to the status quo. Extensive governance refers to projects that are wide-sweeping and inclusive. While rebel social service provision is often cast as a public good, Stewart emphasizes the significant costs that large-scale governance can entail.[1] Stewart asserts that governance that is both intensive and extensive can be particularly costly for rebels because they risk backlash for imposing wide-sweeping transformative programs on those who do not support their agendas. All-encompassing efforts also encourage free-riding. Thus, the prevalence of intensive, extensive rebel governance begs the question of why rebels ever absorb such costs.

Stewart argues that the adoption of this kind of governance strategy reflects a rebel group’s agenda; transformative rebels, or organizations that seek to usher in dramatic societal change, will be more inclined to undertake expansive governance during conflict to hasten a society’s transformation, while groups with less ambitious agendas avoid taking on such large-scale governance projects.

Stewart argues the Chinese revolution provided an early successful model for future rebels with transformative agendas. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) provided an example of how a rebel organization could use extensive, intensive wartime governance to bring about a successful political and social revolution. Rebel organizations with similar goals began to emulate this model until extensive governance became an imperative for transformative rebel groups. Organizations with less expansive goals, however, adopted fewer aspects of the CCP’s model. Those with the least transformative goals adopted governance strategies that were neither intensive nor extensive, while moderately transformative rebels likely still enacted revolutionary programs, but with less reach.

Stewart uses qualitative and quantitative evidence to examine these expectations. First, she examines why the CCP was willing to engage in the risky gamble of intensive, extensive governance. She then shows how transformative rebel organizations in East Timor, Eritrea, and Sudan were influenced by the CCP’s strategy. Stewart provides evidence that the argument does not apply just to organizations with leftist ideologies; groups such as Hezbollah (Lebanon) and the Islamic State (Syria) also appear to conform to these expectations.

Melissa Lee, Katherine Sawyer and Paul Staniland provide excellent reviews of Stewart’s book. Across the board, the reviewers find the question consequential, the evidence impressive, and the theory rich. They are unanimous in their appraisal arguing that Stewart has produced an important book that makes significant contributions to research on civil war and rebel governance. They also find her research relevant for students and scholars of state building/formation, post-war governance, colonial legacies, and international legitimacy.  While they raise some difficult questions, the reviews primarily provide constructive suggestions for future investigations that Stewart— or other scholars of rebel governance— might undertake.

First, Lee lauds Stewart’s decision to focus on which groups engage in significant governance despite its potential costs. However, she believes a focus on which citizens pushback against rebel attempts to govern and which institutions are particularly provocative would be useful avenues for further research. Notably, Lee suggests that the hierarchy in the intensiveness of governance institutions may vary by context. Some governance projects labeled by Stewart as ‘less intensive’ might be considered controversial and harmful in some conflicts. Moreover, different subsets of a country’s population might find certain governance projects less palatable than others, suggesting within-case variation in perceptions of intensiveness. Lee notes that there may be overlap in the two dimensions—intensive and extensive—that would suggest they are not entirely distinct concepts.  

Sawyer suggests more focus on the nature of goal-setting and how the evolution of a rebel group’s goals impact its behavior after war. Stewart argues that rebel groups that take on intensive and extensive governance during war assume greater costs than those that put off such projects until after war. Sawyer points out that rebel groups may set transformative goals and engage in transformative wartime actions but have no intention of following through with those goals after war. Many organizations, and especially transformative rebel groups, fail to follow through on their wartime commitments. Sawyer suggests that greater attention to how rebels’ changing goals complicate this story, and how governance decisions may impact a rebel group’s goals, is warranted.

Staniland expresses concern that Stewart’s spectrum of goal transformativity includes elements of rebel governance, which makes it difficult to separate cause from effect. He also questions Stewart’s choice to foreground and center the CCP’s agenda-setting role rather than the rebel group’s own politics. He points to alternate cases where revolutionary groups engaged in large-scale governance before the CCP claimed success in China, questioning the idea that the CCP’s strategy was exemplary. Staniland also notes that Stewart’s attempt to provide a parsimonious argument for the extent of rebel governance leaves behind some important nuance that should be part of the story, like the importance of rebel ideology. Despite these concerns, Staniland sees value in the attempt to measure variation in the degree to which rebels govern and encourages scholars to build upon Stewart’s efforts.

In her response, Stewart engages deeply with these suggestions and critiques, adding to them her own questions and ideas about future avenues of research. She carefully addresses each of the concerns laid out by the reviewers, discussing the ways in which she came to settle on the main mechanism she posits in the book, and considering counterfactuals and alternative explanations.  This roundtable, like Stewart’s book, makes a significant contribution to an important and burgeoning body of research, revealing the complicated dynamics at play when rebels choose to govern.



Megan A. Stewart is an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Her work focuses on the intersection between structural inequality and political violence. She explores these themes in her book, Governing for Revolution, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021. She is currently working on a second book about the success and failures of radical projects to restructure enduring social inequities.

Melissa M. Lee is Klein Family Presidential Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies the international and domestic politics of statebuilding and state development. Lee is the author of Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State (Cornell University Press, 2020). Her work has received the American Political Science Association’s 2016 Helen Dwight Reid (now Merze Tate) award, APSA’s European Politics and Society Section 2020 Best Article Prize, and Perry World House’s Emerging Scholar Global Policy Prize. 

Katherine Sawyer is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at Stony Brook University. Her research investigates rebellion movements, leaders and organizational dynamics, biopsychological predictors of political violence, and spatial/computational models of conflict.

Paul Staniland is Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago and a nonresident scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.



After the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, it became fashionable in policy and practitioner circles to speak of “ungoverned spaces”—territories where state authority is contested or absent.[2] The absence of state authority, however, does not imply the absence of any authority. Many seemingly ungoverned spaces are in fact governed, not by state actors but by rebel groups seeking to supplant the state itself. In some cases, these spaces are heavily governed: rebels regulate social and economic behavior, restructure class relations, and provide health and education services—even in the midst of warfare and even when their efforts are costly and politically unpopular.

Megan Stewart’s well-researched Governing for Revolution asks why rebel groups govern in ways that can trigger resistance and undermine the war effort. After all, she observes, rebels could simply focus on achieving military victory first, taking up the challenge of governance and administration only after winning control of the state. Alternatively, they could pursue only popular forms of governance. Why engage in such costly and risky behavior during wartime?

Stewart argues that the key to the puzzle of costly rebel governance lies in the transformative ambitions of the rebel group. Groups that espouse transformative social, economic, and political goals are more likely to engage in costly governance during wartime than groups with more moderate goals. Crucially, Stewart’s argument is not reducible to the claim that “rebels that want to change society build institutions to change society.” Rather, rebels with transformative goals understand what they want to achieve but not how to achieve it. Given this lack of know-how, they therefore turn to models of success for guidance.

The most successful model of rebel governance is the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) revolutionary struggle during the Chinese Civil War. The Chinese model combines two features: governance that is both intensive and extensive and provided during wartime rather than after victory. Once in control of the state, the CCP exported its model beyond Chinese borders. Stewart argues that these two factors—the CCP’s success and its conscious effort to export its model—deeply influenced how rebels thought about how to wage a revolutionary struggle. In particular, rebels espousing transformative goals were more likely to emulate the Chinese model, and powerful foreign actors reinforced the Chinese model as appropriate behavior for revolutionary groups. Emulation and reinforcement together incentivize rebel governance, despite its potential for civilian backlash.

Stewart deploys a well-designed multi-method strategy that combines cross-case comparisons with within-case analysis to bring rich evidence to bear on her argument. She moves easily between actors, conflicts, and contexts with purposeful focus. In the case-study portion of the book, she examines the Eritrean Liberation Front and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front; traces the evolution of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army’s goals and governance provision; and demonstrates the applicability of her argument to non-Communist groups like the Front for an Independent East Timor and Hezbollah. Not content to rest the book only on the case evidence, in the final empirical chapter Stewart offers a quantitative test of her argument. That analysis uses statistical techniques to rule out concerns about omitted variable bias and to explore the implications of transformative governance for rebel victory.

Stewart offers a careful and unusually transparent discussion about what constitutes evidence in favor of her arguments and what would instead support the alternative explanations. Because no single form of evidence or methodological approach is decisive, Stewart triangulates across sources and corroborates findings across time and space. The result is convincing: groups with transformative goals are more likely to undertake costly governance during wartime. Much as her transformative rebels imitated the Chinese model, so too should other international relations scholars take a cue from Stewart and adopt her thoughtful approach to multi-method research design.

The hallmarks of a good book are not simply convincing theory or compelling evidence, but also its ability to provoke new lines of inquiry for future research. Governing for Revolution offers several possibilities. Lacking space to discuss all of them, I will focus on how the book changes how we think about the nature of rebel governance.

At the heart of the book’s puzzle is a simple but powerful observation: governance is not always popular. In some literatures, including a significant body of scholarship on state development, this idea is both obvious and banal; what is interesting are the politics of societal resistance and how state actors overcome that resistance.[3] In other literatures, such as the scholarship on counterinsurgency and rebel governance, this idea runs counter to the conventional wisdom.[4] Simply put, the notion of unpopular governance challenges the implicit assumption in these literatures that civilians desire public goods and services. For example, existing scholarship on rebel governance argues that providing governance will mobilize civilian support and enhance collaboration in ways that can pay dividends for the rebels on the battlefield.[5] For these scholars, the puzzle is why rebels fail to provide governance despite its benefits. For Stewart, the puzzle is why rebels provide governance despite its costs.

Flipping the question in this way is not just a matter of word choice. It reflects an important point of conceptual and theoretical disagreement, and thereby opens up a new line of scholarly inquiry. Only by relaxing the assumption that people desire governance can Stewart pose the question that she explores in her book. This move represents an important advance in the literature and is itself a contribution.

The recognition that certain kinds of governance can provoke backlash and resistance raises the question of which types of governance institutions are likely to generate these effects. Stewart approaches this issue by identifying two dimensions of variation: extensiveness and intensiveness. Extensiveness captures the set of individuals who are subject to governance institutions. This dimension ranges from active supporters to the whole of society. Intensiveness captures the degree of societal disruption that a governance institution can provoke. This dimension ranges from relatively innocuous public works projects and education and health services to the restructuring of gender and class relations.

Stewart operationalizes the intensiveness dimension by privileging comparisons between governance institution types. This is a reasonable decision given the task at hand and the theoretical centrality of the Chinese model with its specific package of institutions. Yet once we accept that governance might provoke backlash, it is also reasonable to ask not only what types but when and for whom. That is, one can extend the conceptualization in the book by inquiring when a single institution is more likely to provoke resistance. Such an approach would examine within-institution variation rather than between-institution variation.

Consider education as an example of a governance domain with considerable potential for within-domain variation. As Hillel Soifer and Federico Tiberti argue in pioneering new work, the state development literature largely adopts one of two perspectives on education that they call “provision” and “imposition.”[6] In the case of schooling, the former perspective stresses education as a means for increasing human capital, and thus is provided to a willing population.[7] The latter perspective sees education as a vehicle through which the state inculcates loyalty and compliance and achieves cultural homogeneity while disrupting existing social hierarchies and practices; education is thus imposed from above rather than demanded from below.[8]

Justice offers another example of a governance institution that can vary in terms of potential for backlash. The provision perspective in the state-building literature sees state justice (and the state more generally) as an efficient solution to contract problems and property right insecurity under anarchy.[9] The imposition perspective recognizes the multiplicity of non-state actors involved in dispute resolution and acknowledges the possibility of resistance to alternative models of justice.[10]

Stewart places education and justice toward the less intensive end of the spectrum, while land reform and changing gender roles lie at the more intensive end. The possibility of within-domain variation suggests that the ordering of governance institutions by degree of intensity may differ depending on the societal context. In fact, the ordering may differ for different groups in the same society. In other words, the provision-imposition dichotomy points to the importance of asking for whom governance is popular or unpopular.

Stewart’s second dimension, extensiveness, begins to take up this question. Governance provided to a rebel group’s core supporters and family members is more likely to fall within the provision approach, since these individuals are likely to buy into the same transformative vision for which the rebels themselves are fighting and therefore demand the same institutions. Those who are not active supporters are less likely to share this vision and are more likely to see governance as imposed by rebels. The possibility of resistance and backlash from this latter group is what makes some forms of rebel governance a risky and costly prospect.

Here, too, insights from the statebuilding and state development literatures point to new directions for research that build upon Stewart’s work. How do rebels with transformative ambitions manage the potential for backlash and resistance without compromising their goals? To what extent does their management ability affect their success on the battlefield? What is the role of persuasion versus coercion versus co-optation of local intermediaries?

Answering these questions will be challenging. Extensiveness and intensiveness, as operationalized in the book, are conceptually separate. But the provision-imposition dichotomy suggests that it is not so easy to distinguish the question of for whom from the question of what when aggregating across different domains of governance. In part the difficulty lies in the fact that some groups (or individuals) will find certain parts of the governance package more appealing than others. Thus, future research could move beyond the book’s treatment of extensiveness in terms of active supporters, tactical supporters, and non-supporters to consider the role of other social factors.

That Governing for Revolution raises so many fascinating questions about the nature of governance attests to its achievements. By placing imposition on the table and showing that some rebel groups with transformative goals will pursue intensive and extensive governance despite the unpopularity of these institutions, Stewart’s book makes it possible to pose these new questions about rebel governance in the first place. Carefully researched, thoughtfully argued, and convincing in evidence, it represents a significant advancement in the rebel governance literature.


In Governing for Revolution: Social Transformation in Civil War, Megan Stewart rejects the conventional wisdom within the civil conflict literature concerning the wholly strategic and pragmatic motivations for rebel governance. In so doing, Stewart makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the possibilities of rebellion. For Stewart, rebel governance is not only strategic and pragmatic, it can also be ideational and transformative. Stewart’s reconceptualization of rebel goals as the impetus for rebel governance is consequential and will reform the literature on rebel governance in civil war.[11]

Stewart’s work is both theoretically rich and efficient. Stewart moves beyond a rationalist bargaining framework by first dropping “assumptions about the consistent military benefits of governance to rebel groups (7). Stewart then explains puzzling variation in rebel governance, for example, in the case of Raqqa during the Syrian Civil War, by proposing two key dimensions of rebel governance: intensiveness and extensiveness. Intensiveness measures the potential costs associated with implementing certain aspects of rebel governance. Extensiveness measures the degree to which rebels allow civilians access to rebel governance institutions and their associated provisions. Stewart uses these two dimensions to identify three patterns of governance: less intensive and less extensive, less intensive and more extensive, and more intensive and more extensive. As more intensive institutions are almost always provided alongside institutions that are inclusive of civilians, rebels that engage in more intensive governance in practice usually also engage in extensive governance.  It is the rebel group’s chosen goals that determine the optimal mix of intensive and extensive governance and explain variation in patterns of rebel governance.

Similar to intensive and extensive forms of governance, Stewart argues that the transformativity of rebel goals falls along a continuum; rebellions that were fought solely on the grounds of personal gain represent the least transformative while rebellions that sought to fundamentally alter social and political institutions represent the most transformative. With its revolutionary goals, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) stands as a transformative prototype, implementing a strategy of both highly intensive and extensive rebel governance. Stewart argues that almost all rebellions following the CCP either explicitly discussed the CCP’s strategies or modeled themselves after groups such as the Viet Minh, who themselves copied the CCP model.

Stewart conducts nuanced case work coupled with large-N statistical analyses to demonstrate the wide applicability of her theory.  Her knowledge of the cases is impressive and displays the flexibility of the theory as well as its limitations. Stewart’s multi-method approach is one of the strengths of this work. An interesting extension of this research would be to examine if the CCP model continues to dominate governance decisions of rebel groups in the twenty-first  century particularly considering that strategic movement away from the CCP model occurs in part due to “a rapidly collapsing state…[or] because a conflict is occurring in an industrialized country (70).” In addition, Stewart primarily restricts her analysis to cases in which rebels exercised territorial control and convincingly argues the case for this approach. Given the variation in the degree of territorial control rebels hold, including groups that engage in governance, a valuable extension of this project would be to examine systematic differences in both goal setting and forms of governance between groups that control territory and those that do not.

The implications of Stewart’s work are considerable. By addressing the possibility that rebel governance is not always worth the costs, at least militarily, Stewart’s work better explains puzzling variation in rebel governance institutions. For example, her theory is able to explain differences in the governance activities of the otherwise similar Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) rebel groups. These two Eritrean rebel groups existed in the same environment and faced a similar set of constraints, with similarly sized armies, ideologies, and some overlapping members.[12] Yet, the EPLF engaged in more intensive and extensive governance than the ELF. Structural, environmental predictors of rebellion do not predict differences in governance between the EPLF and the ELF. By identifying the difference in the degree of transformativity of their respective goals, Stewart is able to explain previously inexplicable observed variation in rebel governance.

The contrast between the systems of governance put in place by the EPLF and the ELF is striking as both groups stated a desire for independence, with the main difference being the EPLF’s more transformative goals of improving repressive gender and ethnic hierarchies. A reformation of repressive social structures is the key feature to defining truly transformative goals—particularly interesting given the consequences Stewart describes for transformative groups that succeed. Groups that begin with transformative goals often evolved into regimes that repressed the very same groups they proposed to elevate. To what extent are transformative goals more than words? Do groups abandon these goals if and once they take power? How performative are these more transformative goals?

Moreover, goals are not static across time but are malleable and are themselves affected by governance decisions. To this point, Stewart persuasively illustrates that in most cases, rebel goals pre-dated governance decisions. But, this is not to say that group goals are always fixed. Rebel goals do evolve over the course of the conflict, with some groups altogether abandoning more transformative goals, particularly if the conflict is intractable and lesser government concessions have been made. Movement from less transformative to more transformative goals over the course of the conflict is arguably rarer but perhaps more noteworthy. How and why do group goals evolve?

Stewart explicitly addresses several competing explanations.[13] One counterargument is the reconceptualization of “benefits.” Transformative goals in rebel governance are assumed to be for the most part materially non-beneficial. Certainly, they are not as directly beneficial as additional fighters, territorial control, or funding, all of which may be gleaned from systems of rebel governance. These resources are, however, indirect, secondary consequences of strong group goals. Groups with more transformative goals, particularly in a repressive environment, are arguably more inspiring and better able to attract and strengthen existing support from the local and international community. Are goals a part of the strategic calculus of rebels? Are transformative goals a benefit unto themselves? This is similar to the differentiation between the “instrumental” and aspirational/ideational adaptation of ideologies by Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín and Elisabeth Jean Wood (2014).[14] Weaker research programs emphasize the strictly “instrumental” nature of goals; stronger research programs recognize the value of transformative goals on their own. By moving beyond a discussion of the strategic use of rebel goals and governance, Stewart’s work takes its place alongside these strong research programs.

Stewart artfully and convincingly addresses each of these questions prompting scholars to focus on the agency of rebel actors and the purpose of rebellion: transformation. While all scholars of rebellion should read Megan Stewart’s book, her work transcends the context of civil war and speaks to larger issues of state formation, colonial legacies, and international legitimacy.[15] In so doing, Stewart reaffirms the role of politics in the study of conflict and challenges future researchers to do the same.



Megan Stewart has written an innovative and thought-provoking book that should be carefully read by anyone interested in rebel governance, the outcomes of revolutions, and/or the trajectories of new regimes after war. Governing for Revolution is important and impressive work. Stewart argues that the nature of social transformation pursued by rebel groups is driven by the ambition of their goals—rebels with transformative goals pursue more sweeping governance, while those with less transformative goals pursue less intensive or extensive governance.

Stewart’s book offers several genuinely important contributions. Above all, it highlights the trade-offs involved in governance while offering a fundamentally political argument that  clearly advances the state of the field. Existing research tends to focus on the benefits of governance to rebel groups.[16] But Stewart notes that governance is often actually quite costly and poses challenges for groups: rather than a seamlessly beneficial form of building power, ambitious governance strategies can generate backlash, resistance, or other forms of cost that are not necessarily useful to a group that is trying to win a war or consolidate a new regime. This is an important corrective to a literature that at times can adopt a soft functionalist perspective on rebel governance, in which rebel groups govern because it strategically helps them.[17]

The picture that Stewart presents is more complicated, with governance having a deeply political aspect: groups govern in order to achieve particular ends, which may or may not be in line with what civilians actually want. This is a crucial theoretical point with which future work on rebel governance must directly grapple: Stewart correctly notes the limits of the assumption in existing work that “because governance is beneficial to rebels, limitations to governing initiatives are a reaction to local, organizational, or wartime conditions that hinder or obviate the need for governance” (6). The choice to govern is itself potentially costly, and choosing not to govern in some way may in fact be functionally/strategically optimal; indeed, “the institutions that rebels build are not always militarily efficient, popular, or desirable” (260). If groups care about other objectives, like radical shifts in the class composition of political power, the institutions serve different purposes than generating narrow but functionally optimal support for war-fighting. This was the crucial “big picture” takeaway of the book for me and it has far-reaching implications.

Stewart also offers a valuable typology of governance, exploring its extensiveness and intensiveness. Intensiveness is a measure of potential costs associated with governance, while extensiveness examines the scope of the civilians included within groups’ governance activities. This nuanced way of thinking about governance opens the door to studying variation beyond the (obviously still important) distinction between more governance and less governance.[18] I particularly liked the way Stewart encourages us to think about categories of civilians and how groups can choose to include or exclude them in complex blends and bundles of governance. Future work will be able to further build on these important innovations.

Governing for Revolution offers impressive data that is both informative in its own right and valuable in showing the importance of the theory for making sense of patterns of governance. Stewart uses case studies from Eritrea, Sudan, East Timor, and Lebanon to show variation both across groups and over time within them. I am not an expert in the cases, but they are capably done and make a reasonable case for the argument. Stewart empirically concludes with cross-national data that shows the reach of the argument beyond the case studies as well. I admire the reach of the cases and quantitative data, and learned a lot, especially from the focus on how shifts in goals can induce shifts in strategy.

As with all excellent books that tackle big and complex topics, I also came away with questions. I found the focus on the “Chinese model” somewhat overstated—while there is no doubt that Chairman Mao Zedong’s model was inspirational and widely known, the implied counterfactual seems to be that without Mao’s organizational innovation and public relations skills, we would not see armed groups pursuing ambitious governance project—the “cumulative consequences of the [Chinese Communist Party’s] CCP’s efforts fundamentally shaped later rebel leaders’ decisions” (29).

I found this claim somewhat implausible: if, for instance, the Kuomintang (KMT) had ultimately emerged victorious over the CCP in the 1940s, would we expect the Viet Minh to simply have decided to ignore rural governance and the establishment of base areas? Indeed, the World War II-era Viet Minh in French Indochina, and anti-Japanese insurgents in the Philippines, Malaya, and Burma, all pursued something like governance even when the ultimate fate of the CCP’s revolution was very much still in the balance.[19] My suspicion is that this could be because many of the tasks of intensive/extensive governance are simply politically and organizationally necessary for ambitious rebel groups. It is unclear what the decolonization or revolutionary wars of the second half of the twentieth century would have looked like if they did not involve governance of some sort, since these were fundamentally wars over who governs. Indeed, not only did some prior rebel groups pursue these tasks (as Stewart notes), but they had already been central to modern state-building, from revolutionary France and America to Meiji Japan.[20] Some of Stewart’s consequent discussions of emulation can feel unnecessary if this basic claim about the centrality of governance to struggles over control of state power is correct. There is a real tension between the Chinese model (governance as inspiration/emulation) and the political story (governance as achieving desired political goals) at the core of her theory. I lean toward the latter over the former.

This leads to the larger question of how to think about what a disconfirmation of the argument would look like. Stewart is right that groups’ goals are often fixed ahead of time, and that they vary in important ways that have implications for the governance projects they pursue. She notes the potential methodological pitfalls. But the argument shrinks a bit too much for my taste as the book goes on—ideology is stripped away, for instance, and radically different kinds of groups end up being lumped together as more/less transformative. The importance of politics, which is Stewart’s calling card in the big framing of the book, can feel like it diminishes in actual importance.

At times, this simplification risks difficulty in pulling apart cause and effect. For instance, values of “the transformativity of rebel goals” in Figure 3.1 include “New Political Institutions,” “New Political Institutions and fundamentally restructure one durable inequality,” and “New Political Institutions and fundamentally restructure multiple durable inequalities.” When goals (the independent variable) are articulated in terms of specific governance outcomes like institutional changes (the dependent variable), the argument can at times read that more ambitious goals generate more ambitious governance because ambitious goals call for ambitious governance. This is true, and it is an improvement over the arguments in the existing literature, but at the same time it’s not obvious how we could end up with a group with ambitious goals that was also uninterested in pursuing intensive/extensive governance. The closest I could get are the urban vanguard groups associated with a particular flavor of leftist revolt in the 1970s (which Stewart also mentions), but my concern remains that the outcome may be, to some extent at least, ‘baked in’ to the goal.

The open question that then emerges, beyond concerns about falsifiability, is whether this extremely tight link between goals and governance truly captures the kind of complicated trade-offs and political calculations that Stewart earlier argues armed groups must confront.

On this front, I think Governing for Revolution actually provides a promising direction for future research: we would do well to build on, and fill out, Stewart’s typology of governance in a more fine-grained way to give us variation in governance beyond ‘little/some/lots.’ Her innovations on inclusion/exclusion of categories of citizens, for instance, might let us examine particular bundles of governance that are more genuinely multi-dimensional. This may benefit from bringing in variables like ideology (who cares about class, and how is it defined? What are groups’ views of ethnicity and its boundaries?) and resource flows (are there particular economic bases of groups that would shift their approach to governance?) to map out the constituencies that groups care about and how they treat different categories of citizens. There is a lot of space for analytical disaggregation of governance.

Yet regardless how one thinks about the answers to these questions, there is simply no doubt that Stewart has written an important and impressive book. Put simply, Governing for Revolution deserves to be widely read, seriously responded to, and carefully thought about.


I want to begin by expressing my heartfelt gratitude and abiding appreciation for the time and attention that Melissa Lee, Katherine Sawyer, Paul Staniland, and Jakana Thomas have dedicated to this roundtable on my book. I am honored that these outstanding scholars have so thoughtfully and deeply engaged with Governing for Revolution. The generous and thoughtful comments raise questions about the argument and measures used in the work while pointing to avenues for future research.

To summarize, the book asks: why do some rebel groups undertake costly and perilous governance projects while most other rebel groups do not? Unlike existing works which presume that most forms of governance produce military benefits (more resources and recruits) for the rebel group, I relax this assumption.[21] Instead, I argue that governance projects vary along two dimensions of costliness: intensiveness and extensiveness. More intensive governance includes redistributive schemes, which can occasionally provoke a backlash. More extensive governance is more costly because it involves service provision to persons outside of the rebel group who benefit from rebel goods with almost no contributions back to the organization. These dimensions produce three potential governance strategies that range in the degree of costliness. The first strategy is governance targeted to groups or individuals and is not redistributive (less intensive and less extensive governance). This strategy is the least costly option. The second strategy is governance that is broad but not redistributive (less intensive but more extensive). This strategy is moderately costly. The third strategy is governance that is both broad and redistributive (more intensive and more extensive). This approach is the most costly, and as a result, it is a particularly surprising strategy to undertake during war.

Because more intensive and more extensive governance is the most costly governance approach, historically, leaders of rebel groups often decided to postpone such projects until after victory, when they were in complete control of the state. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) changed this trend. During the Chinese Civil War, the CCP, as a rebel group, implemented more intensive and more extensive governance. The CCP itself considered its approach to war to be a model for other groups, so I refer to the CCP’s governance as the Chinese Model. Throughout the conflict, the CCP propagated its strategy globally, attracting widespread attention and notoriety. With its victory, the Party’s unusual approach of wartime intensive and extensive governance seemed like a viable path to success. As state leaders, members of the CCP also trained leaders of later rebel groups to introduce its model. The CCP’s actions ultimately changed the global informational infrastructure in which rebel leaders operated.

Although the CCP spread information about its strategy globally, not all rebel leaders decided to adopt its strategy of more intensive and extensive governance, especially given its costs and risks. I argue that the transformative nature of rebel organizations’ long-term goals determines which of these three governance strategies rebels will pursue. By transformative, I mean how much change rebels seek over the status quo: from autonomy or preserving existing culture on the less transformative end, to independence and the simultaneous overthrow of multiple social hierarchies along racial, gender, class, ethnic, or religious lines on the more transformative end, and other goals falling in between these two points. Once rebel leaders determine their goals, they exist in a highly uncertain environment: how do they achieve their ambitions? Rebel leaders seek guidance in how to proceed by looking to other, previously successful rebel groups for guidance. The CCP’s global propaganda campaign about its experience and intensive and extensive governance model meant that rebel leaders easily encountered information about the Party.

Though most rebel leaders encountered information about the CCP, only rebel groups with similarly transformative objectives decided to imitate its strategy. In a highly uncertain environment, actors frequently imitate others with similarities and shared goals. For rebel leaders who had more transformative goals but were unsure of how to proceed, the easily accessible information about the CCP and the match between their objectives and those of the CCP led these leaders to imitate the Chinese Model of more intensive and extensive wartime governance. As more and more rebel groups with more transformative goals imitated the CCP’s approach, what emerged was a prototype for rebel groups that had more transformative goals. A prototype refers to a general idea about how a particular type of actor behaves without reference to a specific individual or organization. The prototype for rebel groups with more transformative goals included more intensive governance. This prototype effectively set expectations among invested onlookers (supportive countries, transnational activists, other rebel leaders, aspiring rebel leaders) about how rebel groups with more transformative goals should act. Social psychology research finds that conformity to expectations is often a sufficient behavioral motivator in and of itself, but such conformity was often materially rewarded by invested onlookers. To demonstrate conformity to expected behaviors, rebels with more transformative goals often highlighted to the international community the extent to which their governance conformed to this prototype, further reinforcing the idea about the appropriate strategy for governance among rebel groups with more transformative ambitions.

As the ambitions of rebel groups become less transformative, the extent to which they imitate the CCP's Model becomes less precise. Rebels with moderately transformative goals acknowledge the costs of more extensive and intensive wartime governance, recognize some similarities in the degree of transformativity of their goals with the CCP’s, and acknowledge some material benefits of conformity. To balance potential costs with potential benefits, rebel leaders with moderately transformative goals avoid intensive governance projects but typically provide more extensive governance. Finally, rebel groups with less transformative ambitions see no overlap with the CCP's goals and the significant costs associated with less intensive and extensive governance. They prioritize the military struggle and structure their administration to be more light-handed, engaging in less intensive and less extensive governance.

I test this argument over five chapters with four case studies covering conflicts in Eritrea, South Sudan, East Timor, and Lebanon. The case-study chapters rely on data from archives, fieldwork, and secondary sources. I then use a quantitative analysis of an original dataset to assess the global association between goals and governance.

Alternative Mechanisms and Counterfactuals

One of the crucial questions raised by the reviewers is how influential the CCP was in shaping subsequent rebel governance decisions. In contrast to my argument, Staniland suggests that the CCP's influence was perhaps more circumscribed. Instead, he proposes that it is more likely that the governance that rebel groups undertake during war reflects the rebels' realization of their stated political goals. Irrespective of the CCP, rebel groups with transformative goals introduce a specific set of governance institutions that make up more intensive and more extensive governance because these institutions are often drivers of the social change that is necessary for political actors with transformative goals to realize their ambitions. Furthermore, he wonders what would happen if the CCP had failed and if groups like the Viet Minh and others would have abandoned governance up to that point. Ultimately, Staniland suggests that another mechanism might explain the relationship between goals and governance approaches and questions the counterfactual implied by the work.

These questions are excellent, and I wrestled with them for a considerable amount of time while writing and researching the book. When adjudicating between mechanisms, I initially considered the mechanism that Staniland suggests. However, the more I continued with my research, the more the evidence compelled me to recognize that this mechanism did not sufficiently capture the processes underlying the relationship between rebel goals and governance strategies. Below I explain the evidence that eventually pushed me to reject this mechanism in favor of the one I present in the book. 

If the CCP did not affect rebel governance strategies, we would expect less variation in the governance among rebel groups with more transformative goals before and after the Chinese Civil War. If rebel governance strategies were simply products of the rebels’ sociopolitical goals, we would observe pre-CCP rebel groups with more transformative goals governing similarly to post-CCP rebel groups with more transformative goals. By contrast, if the CCP had a significant influence on the wartime behavior of rebel groups with similar goals, then rebel groups with similar goals should behave differently before and after the CCP's rise.

Chapter 2 explores the pre-CCP governance by rebel leaders with more transformative goals. I found that pre-CCP rebel groups with more transformative goals recognized that they had two choices when pursuing more intensive and more extensive governance. They could either wait until they were in control of the state or implement governance during war. If rebels waited to undertake intensive and extensive governance until after victory, they could wield the power of the state’s coercive apparatus to realize their sociopolitical goals. By contrast, rebel groups could introduce more intensive and extensive governance during war. Although intensive and extensive governance would facilitate progress towards the political goals of the rebels, the potential costs and burdens associated with this governance strategy might make military victory more elusive.

As a result, a little more than a decade before the Chinese Civil War, rebel leaders with more transformative goals made the explicit calculation to postpone intensive and extensive governance until after victory. During the Mexican Revolution, Emiliano Zapata, a rebel leader against the Mexican government, and his supporters issued proclamations that the land reform poor persons craved would be undertaken after the war. Francisco “Pancho” Villa, another rebel group leader, made a similar decision because to his mind, the risks of wartime intensive and extensive governance did not outweigh the costs. Likewise, Staniland rightly characterizes the decolonization wars of the twentieth century as “fundamentally wars over who governs,” but so too were the decolonization wars of the nineteenth century. As I demonstrate on pages 29-32, however, nineteenth-century decolonizing rebel groups postponed intensive and extensive governance like emancipation and land reform until they won the war. The behaviors of these pre-CCP rebel groups with more transformative ambitions represent a stark departure from that of their twentieth-century counterparts. Rebel groups with more transformative goals made different decisions about how to govern before and after the CCP's rise to prominence. In addition to rebel leaders' consistent acknowledgment and recognition of the Chinese Model of governance as a template, this evidence persuaded me of the utility of the imitative mechanism over others.

Staniland also raises a more nuanced question of what would have happened had the CCP not been victorious. I argue that the CCP clarified a wartime intensive and extensive governance strategy then propagated, trained, and supported other rebel groups who pursued this strategy during war. The counterfactual implied by my argument is that in the complete absence of the CCP, rebel groups with more transformative goals would not frequently have relied on intensive and extensive governance during war. Variation in governance strategies across all rebel groups would be more circumscribed.

But what would happen if the CCP existed, propagated its strategy globally, but ultimately failed? Would the Viet Minh have wholly ceased with their imitation of the CCP's approach? What would later rebel groups with more transformative goals have done? My argument suggests that the Viet Minh would not have abandoned their strategy if the CCP failed: the CCP trained Viet Minh cadres, who "were dazzled by the new light of the Chinese Revolution which was acclaimed as our role model. We accepted everything impetuously and haphazardly without any thought, let alone criticism.”[22] Beyond the Viet Minh, however, it is ultimately unclear what would happen with later rebel groups. As I explain in Chapter 2, the CCP's victory and subsequent policies leaders of the Chinese state helped spread information about the group’s wartime governance while reinforcing the Chinese Model as the appropriate strategy for rebel groups with more transformative ambitions. The absence of this continued propagation and training may have reduced information about and pressures to accept intensive and extensive wartime governance as the appropriate wartime strategy for rebels with more transformative goals. But information about the CCP was already widely available when the Viet Minh began their campaign. The Viet Minh's success could have served a similar role to the CCP's in ways that would not have vastly changed predictions in the argument. The difference might be that rather than the Chinese Model, we might observe the Vietnamese Model.

Measuring Key Concepts and Falsifiability

Sawyer and Staniland questioned how I operationalize and measure goals, as well as the relationship between rebel goals and ideologies. Staniland suggests that “ideology is stripped away, for instance, and radically different kinds of groups end up being lumped together as more/less transformative.” There are two issues here: the first is the role of ideology, and the second is how I categorize groups as having more or less transformative goals.

As explained above, I measure the transformativity of goals as to how much change over the status quo the rebels themselves say that they seek. On one side of the spectrum of transformativity, rebels may want to preserve cultural practices or autonomy, indicating little (if any) change over the status quo. On the opposite side, rebels may want to create a new regime and overthrow several entrenched social hierarchies that are predicated on racial, gender, class, religious, or ethnic lines. Rebels with these ambitions articulate more transformative goals. Other goals fall within these bounds. While I measure goals through rebel-produced documents and statements, I use Francisco Gutiérrez-Sanín and Elisabeth Jean Wood's definition of ideology as an “identification of a referent group (a class, ethnic, or other social group), an enunciation of the grievances or challenges that the group confronts, 1 the identification of objectives on behalf of that group (political change—or defense against its threat), and a (perhaps vaguely defined) program of action.”[23]  

With these definitions of ideologies and goals, I explain rebel groups with different ideologies can have the same goals: a rebel group might seek to create a new state, identify a specific class as its referent group, and endeavor to overthrow social hierarchies on racial, class, and gender lines (49-50). By contrast, a rebel group might seek to create a new state, identify a specific religion as its referent group, and endeavor to overthrow social hierarchies on racial, class, and religious lines. Both groups have the same goals as defined by me, but they diverge in their ideologies as defined by Gutiérrez-Sanín and Wood.

If I had defined more transformative goals narrowly to mean only communist ideologies, this would contradict research by civil war scholars such as Stathis N. Kalyvas,[24] as well as research on revolutions.[25] This idea also implies that there have been very few rebel groups with more transformative goals since the 1990s or before the CCP, and I would not have been able to explain why non-Communist rebel groups adopted the Chinese Model. I preferred to cast a broader net in defining groups with more transformative ambitions, maintaining consistency with existing work.

Because I argue that long-term goals determine rebel groups’ governance strategies, however, does not mean that ideology is unimportant to governance. Rebel goals determine the package of governance institutions the rebels decide to implement. But as I demonstrate in Chapter 8, ideology contours the nature of those institutions. For instance, Hezbollah decided to build schools, but the content of the schools' curriculum mapped onto Hezbollah's ideology. Goals determine the package of institutions rebels decide to construct during war. Ideology shapes these institutions.

Questions of measurement are also associated with questions of falsifiability, which Staniland raises. My argument must be falsifiable. I cannot measure goals and governance so loosely that I could categorize any group to fit the theory with the benefit of hindsight. One way I do this is to use rebel documents or discussions among rebel leaders about the organizational goals. This approach is consistent with work by Adria Lawrence,[26] and it gives me an observable indicator of rebel goals, as well as providing a publication date or timeframe for the discussion which helps to address potential endogeneity.

With this measure, there are three ways to falsify the argument. The first is to find that rebel groups articulating objectives such as a desire for autonomy or to preserve the status quo engaged in intensive and extensive wartime governance. The second is to discover that rebel groups communicated more transformative goals and provided more intensive and extensive governance but had no knowledge of the CCP or other rebel groups that imitated the CCP. That would falsify my mechanisms. The third is to locate a rebel group that met the scope conditions (controlled territory, had clear command and control of subordinates, and was not in danger of collapsing), articulated clear objectives to overthrow several social hierarchies and restructure political institutions, but decided not to undertake intensive and extensive governance. One potential example of the latter might be al-Qaeda Central: the group operated freely, knew about the CCP and the CCP's governance, but did not attempt to adopt it. Given these possible disconfirmatory pathways, I believe the argument is falsifiable. I even discuss how some of the cases that I focus on do not match perfectly with all expectations (150).

Next Steps for Future Work

Lee, Sawyer, and Staniland offer several possible suggestions for future work. First, Lee encourages greater integration between conceptualizations of governance used in research on civil war, and conceptualization of governance used in research on state-building. Staniland similarly suggests that the conceptualization of governance could be further refined and sharpened. Lee points to Hillel Soifer and Federico Tiberti’s work,[27] which considers how local populations might understand different institutions: as services or impositions. He also suggests that even intensive governance projects might yield some benefits and resources to rebel groups in some areas.

I enthusiastically agree and think that this is a promising avenue for future research. I derived the terms and dimensions for my conceptualization of governance from words that rebel leaders themselves have used to describe their governance (8). I wanted to theorize about the options and tradeoffs that the rebels perceived to be in front of them. Although I argue that there are three potential governance strategies with varying degrees of costs, in reality, the costliness of implementing any one strategy will vary from place to place across the territories that rebel groups control. My research asks why some rebel groups select a typically more burdensome approach over others, but future work can investigate the local conditions that might increase or reduce these costs. Building on these suggestions, I wonder if a unified framework that accounts for the costs, benefits, and perceptions of governance choices—and which researchers can apply to state-building, imperialism, foreign intervention, and non-state actors—might be a necessary next step.

Sawyer asks what the implications of my argument are if the goals of the rebels change. I assume that rebel goals are typically static and do not deviate dramatically throughout the war. As my case of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) shows, however, goals do occasionally shift. Suppose rebel goals become more transformative (as they did with the SPLM/A). In that case, my argument suggests that the rebels should introduce at least more extensive governance, if not also more intensive governance (depending on the nature of the change). Perhaps more interesting but unexplored is what happens if the goals of the rebels become less transformative. If those goals decline in their level of transformativeness, my argument implies that rebels might reduce their governance efforts. Yet, rebels may have already established institutions, networks, or programs to deliver services. Would rebels dismantle these institutions to correspond to their less transformative goals? Would rebels continue providing services but try to minimize the costs by outsourcing, or by more precisely funneling goods to individuals? My hunch is that the latter is more likely, but Sawyer is right to suggest that future work should explore these dynamics.

Both Lee and Sawyer call for the need to consider the effects of rebel governance. For instance, Lee wonders how resistance to forms of rebel governance might improve rebel resilience and adaptability on the battlefield. Certainly, rebel leaders often considered their previous failures and the challenges to governance as the wars dragged on. Still, the extent to which rebel leaders learn over time, and in which domains (governance or military endeavors), remains to be explored. Future work might consider learning between rebel groups (as I do) and learning within rebel groups over time.

Similarly, Sawyer asks about the consequences for rebel groups once they take power. Recent research by Jean Lachapelle, Steven Levitsky, Lucan Way and Adam Casey suggests that revolutionaries who came to power through violence, many of whom are frequently successful rebel groups with more transformative goals, established enduring authoritarian regimes. Yet, as I show in my book, these same groups held elections during war. What is the relationship between wartime governance institutions and post-war institutions? Indeed, even successful rebel groups with more transformative goals rarely succeeded in reducing social hierarchies along all dimensions they claimed to want to change as rebel groups (e.g., gender or class divisions still exist in society). Perhaps once the state is won, rebel leaders become more risk-averse, and thus work to preserve their power by limiting the extent to which they pursue certain intensive and challenging governance projects. Future research might explore the relationship between pre-and post-war governance among successful rebel groups with more transformative goals.

Staniland questions whether the choice to govern territory, something I consider to be a scope condition, is a choice that automatically implies deciding to imitate the Chinese Model. The cases in the book demonstrate that rebel groups that control territory introduced a wide array of governance from almost nothing to land reform. Thus, among similarly organized rebel groups with territorial control, rebel groups with more transformative goals engaged in more intensive and extensive governance relative to rebel groups with other types of goals.

Nevertheless, perhaps there are two models for rebel groups with more transformative goals: the Chinese Model and the urban vanguard model suggested by Staniland. By selecting the Chinese Model, the rebels necessarily select the pursuit of territorial control and intensive and extensive governance, while choosing a different model leads the rebels to forgo both simultaneously. Exploring alternative models is a plausible and exciting path for future research that augments my framework of well-known rebel templates and mimicry mechanisms to cases outside my scope conditions.

Ultimately, Lee, Sawyer, Staniland, and I all encourage a richer examination in future research of the role of politics in civil war. In the book, I consider the “politics” of war to be the distributional challenges certain forms of governance evoke and the salient, political identities along which rebels distribute resources. In this light, some rebels’ governance choices are political, made through a lens of the logic of appropriateness and not instrumental military calculations. Lee and Staniland see room for future innovations on this front. Staniland also wonders whether alternative models of governance and rebel organizing exist and, if so, what might be the internal-organizational political dynamics that lead a group to select one model over the other. Sawyer questions what happens when high-minded political ambitions meet the cold realities of war's aftermath. I cannot answer these thoughtful and incisive questions here, but I encourage others to do so.

I want to conclude by underscoring my appreciation of Lee, Sawyer, and Staniland, for their engaging, careful, and thought-provoking reviews and to thank Thomas for her efforts to coordinate and organize the forum, as well as writing the introduction.


[1] Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham and Cyanne Loyle assert that “the rebel governance literature has provided both theoretical foundations and empirical evidence that suggests that any rebel group could reap benefits from governing.” However, they also describe several studies that acknowledge the costs of governance to rebel groups. See Cunningham, and Loyle, “Introduction to the Special Feature on Dynamic Processes of Rebel Governance,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 65:1 (2021): 3-14; Nelson Kasfir, “Guerrillas and Civilian Participation: The National Resistance Army in Uganda, 1981–86,” The Journal of Modern African Studies 43:2 (2005): 271-96; Mara Revkin, “Competitive Governance and Displacement Decisions Under Rebel Rule: Evidence from the Islamic State in Iraq,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 65:1 (2021): 46-80; Cunningham, Reyko, and Katherine M. Sawyer, “Voting for Militants: Rebel Elections in Civil War,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 65 (1): 81-107.

[2] Mitch Downey, “Did the War on Terror Deter Ungoverned Spaces? Not in Africa,” Journal of Development Economics 151:102648 (2021): 1-18; Melissa M. Lee, Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2020); Anne Clunan and Harold A. Trinkunas, eds., Ungoverned Spaces: Alternatives to State Authority in an Era of Softened Sovereignty (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010); James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010); Angel Rabasa, Steven Boraz, Peter Chalk, Kim Cragin, Theodore W. Karasik, Jennifer D.P. Moroney, Kevin A. O’Brien, and John E. Peters, Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 2007); Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg, “Why Africa’s Weak States Persist: The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood,” World Politics 35:1 (1982): 1–24.

[3] Melissa M. Lee, “International Statebuilding and the Domestic Politics of State Development,” Annual Review of Political Science 25 (2022): 261--281; Hillel David Soifer and Federico H. Tiberti, “Is State Building Imposed or Provided, and Why Should We Care?” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 9-13, 2020); Reo Matsuzaki, Statebuilding by Imposition: Resistance and Control in Colonial Taiwan and the Philippines (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019); Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast, Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded History (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2009); James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998); Joel S. Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988).

[4] Christoph Mikulaschek, Saurabh Pant, and Beza Tesfaye, “Winning Hearts and Minds in Civil Wars: Governance, Leadership Change, and Support for Violent Groups in Iraq,” American Journal of Political Science 64:4 (2020): 773-790; Renard Sexton, “Aid as a Tool against Insurgency: Evidence from Contested and Controlled Territory in Afghanistan,” American Political Science Review 110:4 (2016): 731-749; Eli Berman, Jacob N. Shapiro, and Joseph H. Felter, “Can Hearts and Minds be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq,” Journal of Political Economy 119:4 (2011): 766-819; U.S. Department of the Army, The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006). Not all scholars agree with the conventional wisdom. See Jacqueline L. Hazelton, Bullets Not Ballots: Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).

[5] Mara Redlich Revkin and Ariel I. Ahram, “Perspectives on the Rebel Social Contract: Exit, Voice, and Loyalty in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” World Development 132:104981 (2020): 1-9; Ana Arjona, Rebelocracy: Social Order in the Colombian Civil War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Reyko Huang, The Wartime Origins of Democratization: Civil War, Rebel Governance, and Political Regimes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Zachariah Mampilly, Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life during War (Cornell University Press, 2011); Alexus G. Grynkewich,  “Welfare as Warfare: How Violent Non-State Groups Use Social Services to Attack the State,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 3:4 (2008): 350–370; Jeremy M. Weinstein, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

[6] Hillel David Soifer and Federico H. Tiberti, “Is State Building Imposed or Provided, and Why Should We Care?” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 9-13, 2020).

[7] Stephen Kosack, “The Logic of Pro-Poor Policymaking: Political Entrepreneurship and Mass Education,” British Journal of Political Science 44:2 (2013): 409–44; Ben W. Ansell, From the Ballot to the Blackboard: The Redistributive Political Economy of Education, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Peter H. Lindert, Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth since the Eighteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

[8] Agustina S. Paglayan, “The Non-Democratic Roots of Mass Education: Evidence from 200 Years.” American Political Science Review 115:1 (2021): 179-198; Alexandra L. Cermeño, Kerstin Enflo, and Johannes Lindvall, “Railroads and Reform: How Trains Strengthened the Nation State,” British Journal of Political Science FirstView (2021): 1–21; Nan Zhang and Melissa M. Lee, “Literacy and State-Society Interactions in Nineteenth-Century France,” American Journal of Political Science 64:4 (2020): 1001—1016; Eugen Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870–1914, (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1976).

[9] Mancur Olson, “Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development,” American Political Science Review 87:3 (1993): 567-576; Douglass North, Structure and Change in Economic History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981).

[10] Geoffrey Swenson, “Why U.S. Efforts to Promote the Rule of Law in Afghanistan Failed,” International Security 42:1 (2017): 114-15; Kate Baldwin, The Paradox of Traditional Chiefs in Democratic Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Jeffrey Herbst, States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).

[11] Stewart’s work contributes to a burgeoning literature on rebel governance.  Also see: Ana Arjona, "Wartime Institutions: A Research Agenda,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 58: 8 (2014): 1360-1389; Ana Arjona, Nelson Kasfir, and Zachariah Cherian Mampilly, eds., Rebel Governance in Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Reyko Huang, The Wartime Origins of Democratization: Civil War, Rebel Governance, and Political Regimes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Cyanne E. Loyle, Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, Reyko Huang, and Danielle F. Jung, “New Directions in Rebel Governance Research,” Perspectives on Politics. (2021): 1-13 https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592721001985; Zachariah Cherian Mampilly, Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life during War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011).

[12] The ELF, as opposed to the EPLF, mobilized more specifically around ethnic and religious subgroups. For an alternative perspective on the fragmentation of the EPLF and the ELF on the basis of external support, see Jeremy M. Weinstein, “Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 49:4 (2005): 598-624.

[13] For example, on the diffusion of public policies see Frank Dobbin, Beth Simmons, and Geoffrey Garrett, “The Global Diffusion of Public Policies: Social Construction, Coercion, Competition, or Learning?” Annual Review of Sociology 33 (2007): 449-472. On the competition among rebels for public support see Mia Bloom, “Palestinian Suicide Bombing: Public Support, Market Share, and Outbidding,” Political Science Quarterly 119:1 (2004): 61-88.

[14] Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín and Elisabeth Jean Wood, “Ideology in Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond,” Journal of Peace Research 51:2 (2014): 213-226.

[15] See: Bridget Coggins, “Friends in High Places: International Politics and the Emergence of States from Secessionism," International Organization 65:3 (2011): 433-467; Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, Inside the Politics of Self-Determination. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Tanisha M Fazal, State Death. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011); Julian Wucherpfennig, Philipp Hunziker, and Lars-Erik Cederman. "Who Inherits the State? Colonial Rule and Postcolonial Conflict," American Journal of Political Science 60:4 (2016): 882-898.

[16] Ana Arjona, Nelson Kasfir, and Zachariah Mampilly, eds., Rebel Governance in Civil War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Reyko Huang, The Wartime Origins of Democratization: Civil War, Rebel Governance, and Political Regimes, Reprint edition (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017); Zachariah Cherian Mampilly, Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life During War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011).

[17] The clearest statement of this approach can be found in Ana Arjona, Rebelocracy: Social Order in the Colombian Civil War by Ana Arjona (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

[18] Other examples, reaching into the domain of criminal politics and vigilantism, include Zachariah Mampilly and Megan A. Stewart, “A Typology of Rebel Political Institutional Arrangements,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 65:1 (January 1, 2021): 15–45; Benjamin Lessing, “Conceptualizing Criminal Governance,” Perspectives on Politics 19:3 (September 2021): 854–73; Regina Bateson, “The Politics of Vigilantism,” Comparative Political Studies 54:6 (May 1, 2021): 923–55.

[19] Benedict J Kerkvliet, The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); Bertil Lintner, The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) (Ithaca: Cornell University SEAP Publications, 1990); Martin J Smith, Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity, 2nd. (London: Zed Books, 1999); David G. Marr, Vietnam: State, War, and Revolution (1945–1946) (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013).

[20] Richard F. Doner, Bryan K. Ritchie, and Dan Slater, “Systemic Vulnerability and the Origins of Developmental States: Northeast and Southeast Asia in Comparative Perspective,” International Organization 59:2 (Spring 2005): 327–61; Harris Mylonas, The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities, 1st edition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Andreas Wimmer, Waves of War: Nationalism, State Formation, and Ethnic Exclusion in the Modern World (Cambridge, UK: New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979); Charles Tilly, “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime,” in Theda Skocpol, Peter Evans, and Dietrich Rueschemeyer, eds., Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 169–91.

[21] See, for example, Jeremy M. Weinstein, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (Cambridge University Press, 2006). Zachariah Cherian Mampilly, Rebel Rulers (Cornell University Press, 2012); Reyko  Huang. The Wartime Origins of Democratization: Civil War, Rebel Governance, and Political Regimes. (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Ana Arjona, Rebelocracy (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

[22] Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (New York: Random House, 2019), 231.

[23] Francisco Gutiérrez-Sanín, and Elisabeth Jean Wood. "Ideology in Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond," Journal of Peace Research 51:2 (2014): 215.

[24] Stathis N Kalyvas, "Is ISIS a Revolutionary Group and if Yes, What Are the Implications?." Perspectives on Terrorism 9:4 (2015): 42-47.

[25] See, for example, Jack A. Goldstone, Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). Jeff Colgan. "Measuring revolution," Conflict Management and Peace Science 29:4 (2012): 444-467. Jean Lachapelle, Steven Levitsky, Lucan A. Way, and Adam E. Casey. "Social Revolution and Authoritarian Durability," World Politics 72:4 (2020): 557-600.

[26] Adria Lawrence, Imperial Rule and the Politics of Nationalism: Anti-Colonial Protest in the French Empire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

[27] Hillel David Soifer and Federico H. Tiberti, “Is State Building Imposed or Provided, and Why Should We

Care?” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 9-13, 2020).