The Managerial Revolution


By James BurnhamJOHN DAY

OF all the many books which seek to explain the world crisis, and predict the shape of things to come, this is one of the most striking — and in a rather special sense satisfying. It is striking because it explains by a relatively simple hypothesis so many puzzles. It is satisfying because it is written with vigor anti simplicity — and with no apparent axe to grind. The hypothesis is this: most persons believe that out of the present crisis Capitalism will survive; or, it it doesn’t survive, that there is but one alternative, Socialism, in one or another of its several variants. Burnham repudiates this doctrine of the ‘only alternative.’ He believes, and says so bluntly, that Capitalism is dying, and that this war will kill it. But what is going to take its place, he tells us, is not Socialism but ‘the rule of the managers’ — the political and industrial ‘ bureaucrats.’
The ‘managerial revolution’ has already occurred, he says, in Russia, where there is not an atom of Socialism. It is well under way in Germany, where only the vestigial remnants of Capitalism remain. It has just begun in America, where industrial managers are more important than bankers, and where the heads of federal agencies and of New Deal Commissions are but a foretaste of the all-powerful political managers of the future. One may or may not agree with this forthright thesis of a ‘managerial revolution,’ but the book is both provocative and useful. C. R. W.