The Cultural Revolution was a large-scale self-examination by the Chinese of their political system, involving all the ruling groups as well as the whole population. Not only specific policy issues but also social. economic and political institutions and their value premises were subjected to this examination. Hoping to reverse the trend towards social restratification based on Party bureaucratism, Mao sought to build a mass consensus on the future direction of the revolution. However, in the process of “freely mobilizing the masses,” some social groups found that their interests called for a radical restructuring of the Chinese political system, while those of others lay in the status quo. As the Cultural Revolution (CR) unfolded, the masses and the elite further divided among themselves over the various issues: elite groupings took conservative or radical positions, and formed coalitions with corresponding sections of the masses. Consequently, the division between the radicals and the conservatives cut through both the elite and the masses and set in motion forces that gave the Cultural Revolution its distinctive character.