In fact, as Wu explains, “Mao was convinced that after exploitive class relations based on private ownership were abolished, class conflicts would shift to the terrains of politics, ideology and culture” (Wu19). In the past the bourgeois elements or the imperialist people were the ones who led to the degeneration of socialism. However, during the time of the revolution, Mao contended that the degeneration would happen because of the creation of new bourgeois figures and their ideologies. There would be a shift from ownership to ideology as the tool that leads to the degeneration of socialism.
Wu argues that scholars might not have fully appreciated the concerns that arose after a cultural revolution. As soon as a vanguard party is suddenly crowned as the new ruling class, social crisis follows. The nature of power could cause divisions in the party. Wu states that when the radical Chinese Communist Party CCP seized power, it was a militarized model, revolutionary in its formation and taking over. However, in its working it had to be bureaucratic. The assignment of sub class, cadre and rank in the early inception of the PRC was against the revolutionary principles. Hence, the popular opinion of Mao that a newer bourgeois class would arise cannot be rejected completely. However, just as Wu presents it there were social and political antagonisms that ran parallel to these happenings. These happenings checked the demise of socialism in the revolutionary power classes that were being created. Hence, the popular opinion cannot be accepted completely.
Most Chinese scholars argue that a new class was developed in the late Maoism period. This new class was a socialist class that was built upon bureaucratic power. However, not all scholars entertained the idea that Mao destroyed what he created by allowing the socialist revolutionaries to come to power. Wu cites the work of Hong Yung Lee who states that the party needed to bureaucratic and at the same time it also faced the necessity of correcting the widening gap between elite and masses in socialist China. Wu argues that it was the attention given by scholars with respect to class-related elements in their writing which led to the criticisms on why the bureaucratic power was becoming a bourgeois power. “The Maoist theory of class focused largely on the distributional correlates or manifestations of power-such as bureaucratic privileges and the wage grade system-rather than on the political structure and institutions that gave rise to such power” (Wu, 36). In the ‘class and classification’ subsection the reader is in fact able to appreciate why the bureaucracy formation was viewed with an always critical eye. Notwithstanding the issues brought up in socialist circle degeneration, the hierarchy system that was used in bureaucratic formation reminds one about the hierarchies used in the past imperialist society of China. However, elements such as hierarchy have had an ambiguous definition in two different societies. Hence the popular theory cannot be accepted completely.
Wu places two arguments based on social and political antagonisms that were present in the case of Mao’s China and the inconsistencies and ambiguities that exist in the Maoist ideology and definition of class. Through the use of theoretical debates and also by means of arguments placed on Mao’s ideology, Wu is able to challenge the popular interpretation that scholars always had of the ideology.