Translation as a New Tool for Philosophizing the Dialectic between the National and the Global in the History of Revolutions: Germanizing the Bible, and Sinicizing Marxist Internationalism

Sinkwan Cheng


This paper uses Martin Luther and Mao Zedong's translation strategies to philosophize anew the dialectic between the national and the global in the history of revolutions. Luther and Mao each instigated a "revolution" by translating a universal faith into a vernacular; the end product in each case was the globalization of his vernacularized faith and the export of his local revolution all over the world.

By vernacularizing a universal faith, Luther and Mao respectively inaugurated a new national idiom, a new national identity and, in the case of Mao, founded a new nation. The far more intriguing phenomenon which I identify – and on which I seek to make my most original contributions is: Protestantism and Maoism developed global reach not despite, but because of, their insistence on a local translation-articulation of a universalist ideology.

My paper attends to both the similarities and differences between Luther and Mao.



global, local, revolution, Martin Luther, Mao Zedong, Marxism and Maoism

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