The biggest linguistic and grammatological engineering projects in modern history, the Chinese socialist script reform is now best remembered—inside and outside China—by its production and propagation of simplified characters. Understood to be the end product of the modern Chinese script revolution, these simplified characters are either lauded as an improved script that democratized character-literacy in China, or criticized as an injury inflicted upon the integrity of Chinese civilization. Either way, they underscore, on the one hand, the Chineseness of the script reform, which supposedly worked steadily toward the preservation and simplification of characters; and on the other, they are presented to embody the only response generated by the script reform that seemingly resolved all challenges laid at the door of the Chinese writing system at the turn of the twentieth century. However, a more critical reflection suggests that neither was true. This paper rethinks how simplified characters as national form redefined the very concept of alphabetization and constituted a surprising resolution of the script revolution in 1958 at its height. It starts by charting the scale and intensity of socialist script reform, then traces the life’s work of two script reform dissidents—Chen Mengjia and Tang Lan—and finally explicates how the phonocentric ideology imploded from within. Coinciding with the global conjuncture of decolonization and anti-imperialism, the resolution of the socialist script revolution raises crucial questions about the legitimacy of alphabetic universalism and the limits of phonocentrism, and opens up the possibility of a Chinese grammatology.