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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:Obviously the world of 1984 - Orwell's later fiction.
Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralised society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic. The rulers of this new society will be the people who effectively control the means of production: that is, business executives, technicians, bureaucrats and soldiers, lumped together by Burnham, under the name of “managers”. These people will eliminate the old capitalist class, crush the working class, and so organise society that all power and economic privilege remain in their own hands. Private property rights will be abolished, but common ownership will not be established. The new “managerial” societies will not consist of a patchwork of small, independent states, but of great super-states grouped round the main industrial centres in Europe, Asia, and America. These super-states will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom.
Today if you base a work of popular fiction off of existing theories you may find yourself in court. (While sales of the plaintiffs' work soar.)
But all's well that ends well is what I always say.
By the way, the Orwell essay is worth your time. Another excerpt:
Suppose in 1940 you had taken a Gallup poll, in England, on the question “Will Germany win the war?” You would have found, curiously enough, that the group answering “Yes” contained a far higher percentage of intelligent people—people with IQ of over 120, shall we say—than the group answering “No”. The same would have held good in the middle of 1942. In this case the figures would not have been so striking, but if you had made the question “Will the Germans capture Alexandria?” or “Will the Japanese be able to hold on to the territories they have captured ?”, then once again there would have been a very marked tendency for intelligence to concentrate in the “Yes” group. In every case the less-gifted person would have been likelier to give a right answer.
If one went simply by these instances, one might assume that high intelligence and bad military judgement always go together. However, it is not so simple as that. The English intelligentsia, on the whole, were more defeatist than the mass of the people—and some of them went on being defeatist at a time when the war was quite plainly won—partly because they were better able to visualise the dreary years of warfare that lay ahead. Their morale was worse because their imaginations were stronger. The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it, and if one finds the prospect of a long war intolerable, it is natural to disbelieve in the possibility of victory. But there was more to it than that. There was also the disaffection of large numbers of intellectuals, which made it difficult for them not to side with any country hostile to Britain. And deepest of all, there was admiration—though only in a very few cases conscious admiration—for the power, energy, and cruelty of the Nazi régime. It would be a useful though tedious labour to go through the left-wing press and enumerate all the hostile references to Nazism during the years 1935-45. One would find, I have little doubt, that they reached their high-water mark in 1937-8 and 1944-5, and dropped off noticeably in the years 1939-42—that is, during the period when Germany seemed to be winning. One would find, also, the same people advocating a compromise peace in 1940 and approving the dismemberment of Germany in 1945. And if one studied the reactions of the English intelligentsia towards the USSR, there, too, one would find genuinely progressive impulses mixed up with admiration for power and cruelty. It would be grossly unfair to suggest that power worship is the only motive for russophile feeling, but it is one motive, and among intellectuals it is probably the strongest one.
About the copyright infringement claim at least one person I heard made the remark that in order to make that claim the authors of the first book had to admit that what they'd written was fiction. ;-)
Ideas can not be copyrighted and, as the ruling said, fiction authors are allowed to draw historical information from sources.
Fantastic Orwell essay. It's amazing how stuff stays the same. And I think he may be right about people getting caught by having stronger imaginations.Posted by Julie (Synova) at April 7, 2006 05:23 PM
Great essay. Thanks for making us think.Posted by Lucifer at April 7, 2006 07:16 PM
What Orwell said about the Brits is, of course, true about the Americans (and any Western-educated country). The highly-educated social elites believed that we could not win against Nazism and Communism and, to a great degree, agreed with the values of these philosophies. They never consider that, along with the Jews, Christians, and conservatives, they would also go under the axe if we lost.
Today, the same game plays out. The elites oppose our efforts to defend ourselves against Islamofascism and defend the rights of terrorists, never considering that they would be the first to die if Islamofascism takes control of our world.
They worship any power that appears to resist democracy. I pity them.
There have been so many conspiracy theories about the Catholic Church through its history that it has become a kind of body of folklore, which I suspect is what Brown uses in his work. although I haven't read it. After reading its description in its coverpage it sounded so derivative of the same sort conspiracy theories made about Freemasons that it didn't seem worth it.Posted by Patrick (gryph) at April 7, 2006 10:54 PM
One of the problems with the new book was that it used names that were in the earlier publication. Names that had been created by using the names of the authors of the older publication.
This in itself was cause to question the later author.
I would suggest that plagarism should have been used and not the argument put forward.Posted by davod at April 8, 2006 01:00 AM
There is the strong horse and there is the weak horse. Not much matters in the end, in the propaganda war. There is much to be learned from the enemy, especially when they announce it to your face.Posted by Ymarsakar at April 9, 2006 10:03 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)