Brian Hioe in New Bloom Magazine:

FOR SOMEONE WHO has himself professed discomfort with Leninism and has sought to see in Bogdanov a lost possibility of the Russian Revolution that might have led to less authoritarian outcomes for the USSR, it is bizarre to watch Wark justify Wang’s statist views, apologism for contemporary Chinese imperialism and capitalism, and self-orientalizing Chinese nationalism. If Wark finds the eventual course that the history of the USSR took to be so repulsive, why does he not feel the same about China? Namely, Wark allows himself to be caught up in the Orientalist exoticization about 20th century Chinese history that Wang advances, something altogether too seductive to many western leftists, and fails to apply the same intellectual criticality to China which he does to the Soviet Union, apparently with the view that the Soviet Union can be critically censured because it was a “western” nation (Although of course, views of Russia as “Eastern”, “Oriental”, or “Asian” nation were commonplace in the early 20th century, this is no longer the case, with Russia more usually framed as part of Europe in contemporary political discourse).

As Wark states in his gloss on Wang’s intellectual thought, “Both the achievements and the failures of the Chinese Communist Party are on an unprecedented scale. And yet, given that much of the fate of global capitalism now rests in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s twentieth century cannot be left out of the formation of concepts for thinking and acting in and against these times.” For Wang, this means that the Chinese Communist Party should be affirmed rather than abandoned, particularly as a form of resistance against neoliberalism after Deng era economic reforms which introduced the free market into China, and led to the current economic inequalities which run rampant in China today. Consequently, the party-state must control capital, as a way of subjugating the excesses of capitalism.

But Wang defends against the claim that party rule is merely dictatorial, with the claim that the “mass line,” an innovation of Maoism, allows the party-state mechanism to serve as the means of realizing the people’s will. As Wark states, “The mass line means: all for the masses, all by the masses, from the masses to the masses. The mass line may have connections in Confucian tradition. Attention to rites and music (liyi) and not just statutory measures (zhidu) help create and maintain a kind of regulatory order, what Wang calls supra-representation.” Wang also draws analogy between the party and the Gramscian notion of the party as the modern prince.

More here.