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James Burnham: An Original American Thinker

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July 28, 2021 will mark the 34th anniversary of the death of James Burnham, one of the great American thinkers of the 20th century — or, for that matter, any century. Burnham was the author of seminal books on global sociopolitical developments, geopolitics, the Cold War, liberalism, and the power relationships that underlay the American republic. He wrote a regular column for National Review from 1955 to 1978, which one admirer called the "best column on international affairs in contemporary English journalism." Unfortunately, Burnham is largely unknown among younger conservatives. That is something that needs to be remedied.

Burnham studied at Princeton (graduating first in his class) and Balliol College, Oxford, and taught at New York University from 1929 to 1954. In the 1930s, he was a member of the Trotskyite Worker's Party and wrote for The Symposium, The New International, and other left-wing and Marxist journals. He broke with Marxism in 1940 and began writing for Partisan Review, a leading journal of the non-communist left.

In the early 1940s, he wrote two major sociopolitical works — The Managerial Revolution (1941) and The Machiavellians (1943). Young conservatives can learn much in both of these books about how oligarchies and ruling classes wield political power in all countries, including the United States. Burnham's description in The Managerial Revolution of the rising "managerial class" of the 1930s and 1940s is eerily similar to today's ruling class of governmental, corporate,........

© American Thinker

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