Monday, October 5, 2020

The Managerial Revolution, Burnham

 I'm on a bit of a Burnham tear, primarily because I believe that even though most of his specific predictions have proven wrong ( Germany defeating the USSR and winning WWII, later, the triumph of "efficient" USSR Socialism being inevitable), he correctly points out the big picture -- the rise of bureaucratic power linked with increasingly massive and powerful corporations. 

To a major extent, the world is now run by "managers" both in the government and in corporations -- to a large extent we in the "Proletariat" largely work for Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc, although the vast majority have no idea this is so. We are increasingly Orwellian "Proles", believing "Newspeak" in the form of "Fake News", and living in fear that we will say something not allowed by the elite, and be "Canceled". 

My full set of notes and comments are here

The managers will exercise their control over the instruments of production and gain preference in the distribution of the products, not directly, through property rights vested in them as individuals, but indirectly, through their control of the state which in turn will own and control the instruments of production. The state—that is, the institutions which comprise the state—will, if we wish to put it that way, be the “property” of the managers. And that will be quite enough to place them in the position of ruling class.

While Burnham somewhat understands the impact of money, he seems to have significantly missed the requirement for a incentive (profit, wealth) and reality based feedback (profit/loss) in the system. The demise of the USSR and China's creation of a crony capitalist (Fascist) economy, as well as the US and Western Europe ending up with a softer version of the same, seems to have at least for the present vindicated Capitalism as the equivalent of fossil fuel for the creation of wealth. 

We have seen that its structure is based upon the state ownership and control of the major instruments of production, with the state in turn controlled by, and acting in the primary interests of, the managers. This in turn means the disappearance of capitalist private property rights vested in individuals.

Well, no ... what Burnham thought inevitable. wasn't.  

The book is well worth reading for those of us that are cultural, historical nerds. Metaphysical truth is often at least hinted at in human error!

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