One of the most extraordinary and puzzling events of the twentieth century is surely the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. This most profound crisis in the history of the Peking regime provides us with the best available opportunity to study the Chinese political system. For it is during a crisis that the nature, the strength, and the vulnerabilities of a political system fully reveal themselves. Further-more, we can attempt not only to note the unique features of this extraordinary event, and of Chinese politics itself, but also to see whether the seemingly unique Chinese experience does not reveal some universal dilemma of the human condition and fundamental problems of the socio-political order in a magnified and easily recognizable form. It is my belief that the Chinese political system prior to the Cultural Revolution is one of the purest forms found in human experience of a type of association in which there is a clear-cut separation between the elite and the masses. If one follows Ralf Dahrendorf in asserting that in every social organization there is a differential distribution of power and authority, a division involving domination and subjection, the Chinese political system can be taken as one of the polar examples of all social organizations, showing clearly their possibilities and limitations, their problems and dilemmas. From this perspective, the Maoist vision as it has revealed itself in its extreme form during the early phases of the Cultural Revolution can be considered a critique of this type of political organization.