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James Burnham

Editorial: The Sterility and Futility of Ex-Communist "Intellectuals"


 The Manchester Guardian for the 10th July contains an article giving a report of the “Congress for Cultural Freedom" that was held in Berlin from June 26th to 30th. The article is by H. R. Trevor-Roper who attended as one of the British delegates and who appears to have summed up the nature of the congress and the delegates with a considerable amount of clear-sightedness.

     :-  “This congress turned out to be a political demonstration. As such it was well organised and no doubt successful. My only objection is that it was not advertised as such, and I do not think it would have obtained all its sponsors or all its delegates if it had been correctly advertised.”

The Phoney Revolution: Part One - The Burnham Thesis

The roots of James Burnham's Managerial Revolution go back to the early 19th century Utopian Socialist, St. Simon, who first systematised the notion of the managerial society. Burnham's second edition of this concept was neither analytical nor in the strict sense statistical, only crudely and melodramatically descriptive. Nevertheless, it met a need in that it gave food for thought to a theory hungry intelligentsia and presented them with a plausible view of what was supposedly happening in contemporary society.

Burnham and the Reformists

Are the Managers Really in Control? Part Two

In Part One (Socialist Standard, January 1981 ) we discussed James Burnham's clearly expressed  argument that class society could exist without property titles vested in individuals. He was of course proved wrong by events: industrial managers have not replaced private capitalists as the possessing, ruling class, on the basis of the state ownership of the means of production (for Burnham never expected the managers to come to power within the legal framework of private capitalism).

Burnham gave as the reason why the "managers", by which he meant those who actually managed the process of production, would be the new ruling class the alleged fact that a ruling class must have some function in the process of production :

Private Property and Class Possession

Are the managers really in control? Part One

The basis of any society is the way its members are organisedfor the production of wealth. Where a section only of society controls the use of the main means of production then we can speak of a class society.

Control of the means of production by a minority class implies the exclusion from such control of the rest of society, an exclusion which can only rest ultimately on physical force. A social organ of coercion, the state, is thus a feature of all class societies and historically first made its appearance with the division of society into classes.

The class that controls the means of production can be said to constitute a stable ruling and privileged class when it:

   1. controls the use of the means of production (possession);

   2. controls the state (rule);

   3. has preferential treatment in the allocation of goods for consumption (privilege).

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