The origin of the political theory on which Orwell based 1984 (written in 1948) came from James Burnham’s Theory of Managerial Revolution and sources within the Fourth International from which Burnham derived the ideas for his theory. This theory is renamed the Theory of Oligarchical Collectivism in Orwell’s utopian novel. James Burnham was once a leading intellectual of the Socialist Workers’ Party but came to a renunciation of Marxism and eventually ended up as a pro-fascist and a leading light for the U.S. State Department, helping William F. Buckley found the National Review. In his transition to fascism, Burnham for a while advanced the Managerial Revolution thesis – taking the position that both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. were moving in the direction of a new system in which industrial managers and government bureaucrats would create a new political system modeled after the totalitarianism of Hitler and Stalin (to equate the two, as if Stalinism were “red fascism”, an oxymoron, is characteristic of impressionism* and a rejection of Marxism). Burnham chose to support the U.S. managerialists because he believed that American managerialism was politically younger and therefore healthier than that emerging in the U.S.S.R. His pro-fascist book, The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, offers such thinkers as Vilfredo Pareto (whom Mussolini called “the father of fascism”) as “defenders of freedom”.
* impressionism A comment by Peter Lloyd at the Free Society website does a fair job of defining political impressionism by example, but his comment focuses on impressionistic judgement as dominated by mass media-supplied memes. But to define the word explicitly, impressionism is an aspect of idealism, and refers to the assessment of reality without the aid of a philosophical ground (Grund), or theoretical basis. “There is nothing more practical than a good theory.” –John Maynard Keynes A “trained eye” sees what it’s looking for better than an untrained eye. –common wisdom Impressionism sees the surface of a phenomenon without regard to its historical and existential relations to other things.
The Contemporary Political Climate of 1948
- Larry Trainor Communist League of America to Hitler (audio)
Track 01 29:47
Track 02 29:21
- …suggestions for Right sources on the political climate are encouraged
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