Written during the opening phase of World War II, James Burnham proposed the theory of managerialism, which argues that "managers" are the main decision-makers in the modern economy. This theory influenced J.K. Galbraith’s thinking on managerial capitalism and has experienced a recent renaissance in the writings of Professor Michael Lind and American Affairs' Julius Krein, among others.
Burnham’s claim was that capitalism was dead, but that it was being replaced not by socialism, but a new economic system he called ‘managerialism’ – rule by managers. Written in 1941, this is the book that theorised how the world was moving into the hands of the ‘managers’. Burnham explains how Capitalism had virtually lost its control, and would be displaced not by labour, nor by socialism, but by the rule of administrators in business and in government.
This revolution, he posited, is as broad as the world and as comprehensive as human society, asking ‘Why is “totalitarianism” not the issue?’ ‘Can civilization be destroyed?’ And ‘Why is the New Deal something bigger than Roosevelt can handle?’ In a volume extraordinary for its dispassionate handling of those and other fundamental questions, James Burnham explores fully the implications of the managerial revolution.
Praise for James Burnham:
- ‘Burnham has real intellectual courage, and writes about real issues.’ – George Orwell
- ‘The stoic, detached, empirical, hard-boiled, penetrating, realist mind of James Burnham is something to behold, to admire, to emulate.’ – National Review
- ‘James Burnham was an astonishing writer. Subtle, passionate, and irritatingly well-read.’ – New Criterion
- ‘The immense significance of Burnham’s approach is potential. We can ignore it only at the risk of being disarmed by the future course of events.’ – Irving Kristol