New York: The John Day Company, 1941. First edition, first printing. Octavo. Original orange cloth in the scarce and well-preserved original dust jacket (not price-clipped). Chip to head and base of spine; one-inch closed tear to head of front panel; small scuff to rear panel. Exceptional first printing of Burnham’s groundbreaking work in an uncommonly bright dust jacket. Fine in a very good-plus dust jacket. Item #7
James Burnham’s (1905–1987) seminal work in which he argues that capitalism will be displaced by a form of global managerialism and, as a result, bureaucratic elites will supplant workers and capitalists at the apex of power. Prior to publishing The Managerial Revolution Burnham was a prominent Trotskyist, but he would resign from the Workers Party in 1940 and thereafter become an influential theorist in the post-war American conservative movement. Shortly after the outbreak of the European phase of World War II, Burnham wrote The Managerial Revolution to explain the major world powers’ movement toward a common destination—rule by an administrative elite. This work offers an important view into Burnham’s early social and political thought during his “Machiavellian years,” which was influenced by elite theorists such as Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, and Robert Michels. Two years later Burnham published The Machiavellians (also by The John Day Company) wherein he articulated his “science of power” to analyze exercises of political power. For Burnham—like Machiavelli, Pareto, Mosca, and Michels—the primary importance of political power is not its justification, but how political forces pursue, attain, use, and forfeit it. Burnham’s tight prose and sobering analysis are on full display in this seminal work of modern elite theory by one of America’s most influential conservative scholars. The Managerial Revolution would greatly influence modern conservative thought, and its publication inaugurated a Machiavellian revival on the Right. Burnham’s prescient analysis can be observed in the works of other modern elite theorists today, including Sam Francis’s magnum opus Leviathan & Its Enemies: Mass Organization and Managerial Power in Twentieth-Century America (2016). The Managerial Revolution remains a foundational work in the Machiavellian canon. First printings are exceedingly scarce in this condition.