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Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Power Doctor: James Burnham

Dan McCarthy in the American Conservative offers a nice write up on the work and overlooked ideas of James Burnham here:  American Machiavelli  At least three of Burnham's books stand up well adn are worth reading today:  "The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom,"  "The Suicide of the West" and "The Managerial Revolution."   "The Machiavellians" is the best introduction to elite theory I've ever read, and the best way to navigate through Pareto's social thought.   I re-read it every few years.  Dan is right in pointing out that China today demonstrates the relevance of Burnham's insights on how "management" overrides other governing forms.  But I think he's wrong to dismiss "Suicide" as just a Cold War tome; it offers a brutal dissection of liberalism's soppy rhetoric and logic.  The threat of a free society being pulled down by liberalism's soft-headedness is still alive.
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