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James Burnham's book, The Managerial Revolution, made a considerable stir both in the United States and in this country at the time when it was published, and its main thesis has been so much discussed that a detailed exposition of it is hardly necessary.
As shortly as I can summarise it, the thesis is this: Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it.
In his next published book, The Machiavellians, Burnham elaborates and also modifies his original statement.The greater part of the book is an exposition of the theories of Machiavelli and of his modern disciples, Mosca, Michels, and Pareto: with doubtful justification, Burnham adds to these the syndicalist writer, Georges Sorel.What Burnham is mainly concerned to show is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist.Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud.
Burnham does not deny that ‘good’ motives may operate in private life, but he maintains that politics consists of the struggle for power, and nothing else.All historical changes finally boil down to the replacement of one ruling class by another.All talk about democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, all revolutionary movements, all visions of Utopia, or ‘the classless society’, or ‘the Kingdom of Heaven on earth’, are humbug (not necessarily conscious humbug) covering the ambitions of some new class which is elbowing its way into power.The English Puritans, the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks, were in each case simply power seekers using the hopes of the masses in order to win a privileged position for themselves.