A Platforin for Leadership
It is generally accepted that revolutionary leaders emerge from a particular social-historical context. Their social backgrounds provide them with a set of values and prepare them for the political role they will be called upon to play in the future. In addition, revolutionary leadership, it has been asserted, is primarily "situational," that is, it emerges when a crisis situation propels the revolutionary leader into prominence and provides him with a "ready and willing followship." 1
Nonetheless, important gaps exist in the scholarship about revolutionary leadership. For example, if revolutionary leaders are the product of social-historical conditions, what are the normative factors that are likely to produce a radical leader? If revolutionary leadership depends upon social situations, why is it that some crises engender revolution while others do not?
In this chapter, I argue that the presence of millenarian expectations performed an important functional role in producing and sustaining radical leadership bent on social transformation in the Chinese, Mexican, and Iranian revolutions.
An important characteristic of leaders of social movements bent on revolutionary change, including millenarian movements, is a profound sensitivity to the present conditions of society and to the unique needs and desires of their potential followers. 2 The millenarian leader comes to define his role as that of the shaper, articulator, and director of a new political program, which is often poorly defined and boundless, but nevertheless appeals to the expectations and aspirations of his followers. 3 As a result, in order to understand the relationship between millenari-