“[James Burnham is] the real intellectual founder of the neoconservative movement and the original proselytizer, in America, of the theory of ‘totalitarianism.’”
– Christopher Hitchens, “For the Sake of Argument: Essay and Minority Reports”
In the first part of this two part series, I went over how the roots for the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset can very clearly be traced back to 80 years ago, when an American, former high-level Trotskyist who later went on to become the intellectual founding father of neo-conservatism, James Burnham, wrote a book on his vision for “The Managerial Revolution.” And that it was in fact, these ideologies of Burnham that triggered Orwell to write his “1984”.
[Feature Image is from left to right: James Burnham, Priscilla Buckley and William F. Buckley Jr. The relevance of Burnham and the Buckleys’ role with the CIA, and the creation of the publication National Review will be discussed in a future instalment.]
From Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution to Global Fascism: Burnham’s Recruitment into Allen Dulles’ OPC
“Burnham was a consultant to OPC on virtually every subject of interest to our organization. … He had extensive contacts in Europe and, by virtue of his Trotskyite background, was something of an authority on domestic and foreign Communist parties and front organizations.”
– E. Howard Hunt’s Memoirs (Watergate ‘plumber’ and famous CIA dirty trickster)
It is understandably the source of some confusion as to how a former high level Trotskyist became the founder of the neo-conservative movement; with the Trotskyists calling him a traitor to his kind, and the neo-conservatives describing it as an almost road to Damascus conversion in ideology.
However, the truth of the matter is that it is neither.
That is, James Burnham never changed his beliefs and convictions at any point during his journey through Trotskyism, OSS/CIA intelligence to neo-conservatism, although he may have back-stabbed many along the way, and this two-part series will go through why this is the case.
As I discussed in part one, Burnham had by May 21, 1940 officially resigned from the “‘philosophy of Marxism,’ dialectical materialism,” and by 1941 achieved fame and fortune with his book “The Managerial Revolution.”
Burnham, made clear in this book, that he was not only very ready to accept the outcome of a victorious Nazi Germany (this was his conclusion at the time), but that this was both a natural and an inevitable course that the entire world would have no choice but to follow. Burnham made no qualms that Nazi Germany was considered by himself as the most superior form of his concept of a “managerial society.”
He would go on to state in his “The Managerial Revolution” that the Russian Revolution, WWI and its aftermath, the Versailles Treaty gave final proof that capitalist world politics could no longer work and had come to an end. He described WWI as the last war of the capitalists and WWII as the first, but not last war, of the managerial society. And, that many more wars would have to be fought after WWII before a managerial society could finally fully take hold.
This ongoing war would lead to the destruction of sovereign nation states, such that only a small number of great nations would survive, culminating into the nuclei of three “super-states”, which Burnham predicted would be centered around the United States, Germany and Japan. He goes on to predict that these super-states will never be able to conquer the other and will be engaged in permanent war until some unforeseeable time.
He predicted that Russia would be broken in two, with the west being incorporated into the German sphere and the east into the Japanese sphere. (Note that this book was published in 1941, such that Burnham was clearly of the view that Nazi Germany and fascist Japan would be the victors of WWII.) Burnham states that “sovereignty will be restricted to the few super-states.”
This future of “forever wars” amongst a few super-states has obvious remnant influences from Trotsky’s “Permanent Revolution” militant ideology.
This was also just the kind of thing Allen Dulles was talent searching for.
During the 1920s and 1930s both Dulles brothers acted as significant players in the “Rearming of Germany by Night,” largely organised through their law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, which operated as the center of an intricate international network of banks, investment firms, and industrial conglomerates that helped rebuild Germany after WWI.
The German representative of the Dulles brothers’ law firm was Dr. Gerhardt Alois Westrick, who acted simultaneously as a financial agent for Hitler and an Abwehr spymaster in the United States. In January 1940 Westrick was given the title of Wehrwirtschaftsführer for his contributions to the war effort. He was then assigned by von Ribbentrop to undertake a mission to the United States to meet American business leaders and gain their support for Germany. (1)
Allen Dulles was also a director of the J. Henry Schroder bank, whose German chairman, SS General Baron Kurt von Schroder, was one of the main assistants to Schacht in organizing the fund that financed Hitler’s 1933 rise to power. Allen Dulles remained on the board of the Schroder Bank until 1944, well after he had taken his post as chief of the OSS in Switzerland.
Allen Dulles also worked very closely with Thomas McKittrick, an old Wall Street friend who was president of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Five of its directors would later be charged with war crimes, including Hermann Schmitz, one of the many Dulles’ law clients involved with BIS. Schmitz was the CEO of IG Farben the chemical conglomerate that became notorious for its production of Zyklon B, the gas used in Hitler’s death camps, and for its extensive use of slave labour during the war. (2)
David Talbot writes in his “The Devil’s Chessboard”:
“The secretive BIS became a crucial financial partner for the Nazis. Emil Puhl – vice president of Hitler’s Reichsbank and a close associate of McKittrick – once called BIS the Reichsbank’s only ‘foreign branch.’ BIS laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in Nazi gold looted from the treasuries of occupied countries.”
Allen Dulles was first recruited into the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in October 1941, a forerunner of sorts of the CIA. During most of his work with the OSS he was stationed in Bern, Switzerland, where he was later found to be implicated in a number of incredibly suspect activities that would raise concern that his allegiance and loyalty was really with Nazi Germany.
Such activities included sabotaging the success of operations by American intelligence and engaging in secret negotiations on behalf of individuals directly or indirectly affiliated with the Nazi Party, one of the most well-known incidents of this is Dulles’ curious conduct during Operation Sunrise, aka the Bern incident, in favour of SS Gen. Kurt Wolff.
[In a previous three-part series paper I go through further details of the fascist roots of the CIA, and how Allen Dulles, and his brother Foster Dulles, play instrumental roles in all of this.]
The Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was created as a department of the CIA in 1948, but operated as a rogue operation until Oct. 1950. Many of the agency’s recruits were “ex” Nazis. (3)
OPC was preceded by the Special Procedures Group (SPG), whose creation in March 1948 had been authorized in December 1947 with President Harry Truman’s approval of the top-secret policy paper NSC 4-A.
NSC 4-A was a new directive to cover “clandestine paramilitary operations, as well as political and economic warfare,” this provided the authorization for the intervention of the CIA in the Italian elections of April 1948 (in favour of Italy’s Christian Democrats, which hid thousands of fascists in its ranks, over what would have been the election of the Communist Party of Italy, who were admired for leading the fight against Mussolini). This success in tampering with the Italian elections demonstrated that psychological/political warfare could be the key to “winning” the Cold War.
When OPC was created, it inherited all of SPG’s resources.
On June 18, 1948, NSC 4-A was replaced by NSC 10/2, creating the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). NSC 10/2 was the first presidential document which specified a mechanism to approve and manage covert operations, and also the first in which the term “covert operations” was defined.
George F. Kennan, the director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, was the key figure behind the OPC’s creation. (4) Frank Wisner, who worked as a Wall Street lawyer for the law firm Carter, Ledyard & Milburn, was former OSS and very close to Allen Dulles. He would be called in from the State Department as OPC’s first director.
From 1948-1950 the OPC, though technically a department within the CIA was not under the CIA’s control, it was a renegade operation run by Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner. OPC was brought under CIA control in October 1950, when Walter Bedell Smith became Director of Central Intelligence, and it was renamed the Directorate of Plans (for more on this refer to my paper).
During the period of 1948-1950, Dulles and Wisner were essentially operating their own private spy agency, likely with the special blessing of George F. Kennan, as the OPC was actually more beholden to the State Department then the CIA during this period. (5)
During WWII, Burnham would leave his teaching post at NYU to work for the OSS and carried on to work for the CIA when the OSS was disbanded in Sept. 1945. He would later be recommended by George F. Kennan to lead the semi-autonomous “Psychological Strategy Board” (PSB) division of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). (6)
This is hardly a coincidence, as Jewish-American author Naomi Wiener Cohen states in her book “Jacob H. Schiff: A Study in American Jewish Leadership” concerning the disastrous effects to Russia of the British-inspired Russo-Japanese war (Feb 1904-Sept 1905), which provoked the 1905 Russian ‘revolution’ that lasted until 1907. That revolution paved the way for the overthrow of the Tsar and the coming to power of the Bolsheviks in the October revolution of 1917:
“The Russo-Japanese war allied Schiff with George Kennan in a venture to spread revolutionary propaganda among Russian prisoners of war held by Japan (Kennan had access to these). The operation was a carefully guarded secret and not until the revolution of March 1917 was it publicly disclosed by Kennan. He then told how he had secured Japanese permission to visit the camps and how the prisoners had asked him for something to read. Arranging for the ‘Friends of Russian Freedom’ to ship over a ton of revolutionary material, he secured Schiff’s financial backing. As Kennan told it, fifty thousand officers and men returned to Russia [as] ardent revolutionists. There they became fifty thousand “seeds of liberty” in one hundred regiments that contributed to the overthrow of the Tsar.”
Thus one can make a good case that George Kennan brought Burnham in, specifically due to his history as an experienced high-level Trotskyist with “the right stuff,” for his, as Orwell puts it, readiness to worship the power of the moment and his agreement that ultimate power could only be achieved through a “permanent revolution.”
George Kennan was also not an ideological socialist, best known as the author of the Cold War strategy of “containment,” he adamantly opposed FDR’s recognition of the Soviet Union, refused to support the United States working with the Soviets in defeating Hitler, accusing Stalin of being just as bad…or perhaps he preferred Hitler’s succession to power?
Kennan writes in his Memoirs:
“We should have no relationship at all with them [the Soviets]…Never- neither then nor at any later date- did I consider the Soviet Union a fit ally or associate, actual or potential, for this country.”
Kennan made it clear he was no fan of Stalin’s Soviet Union, but he certainly thought differently about the uses of “former” militant Trotskyists, possibly it was this branch of the Bolsheviks he truly wished to see succeed? Perhaps they were to play a similar role for subversion from within in the United States as they did in Russia?
[In a future installment I will discuss how “former” Trotskyists infiltrated the RAND Corporation, the Pentagon, and the CIA (as part of the second purge of American intelligence). For part of the story you can refer here.]
As Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould put it in their excellent article “How the CIA Created a Fake Western Reality for Unconventional Warfare”:
“Burnham functioned as a critical connection between Wisner’s office and the intelligentsia moving from the extreme left to the extreme right with ease. Burnham found the congress to be a place to inveigh not just against Communism but against the non-communist left as well and left many wondering whether his views weren’t as dangerous to liberal democracy as Communism.
According to Frances Stoner Saunders [author of the acclaimed book ‘The Cultural Cold War’], members of the British delegation found the rhetoric coming out of the congress to be a deeply troubling sign of things to come… ‘I felt, well, these are the same people who seven years ago were probably baying in the same way to similar German denunciations of Communism coming from Dr. Goebbels in the Sports Palast. And I felt, well, what sort of people are we identifying with? That was the greatest shock to me. There was a moment during the Congress when I felt that we were being invited to summon up Beelzebub in order to defeat Stalin.’
The Congress for Cultural Freedom didn’t need Beelzebub. It already had him in the form of Burnham, [Sidney] Hook and Wisner, and by 1952, the party was just getting started… In 1953 Burnham was called upon again by Wisner to reach beyond Communism to help overthrow the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in Tehran, Iran…His book, “The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom,” would become the CIA’s manual for displacing Western culture with an alternative doctrine for endless conflict in a world of oligarchs.” [emphasis added]
The Machiavellians: Burnham’s “Managerial” Defenders of Freedom
“The modern state … is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. This propaganda, in order to be successful, demands the cooperation of writers, teachers, and artists not as paid propagandists or state-censored time-servers but as ‘free’ intellectuals capable of policing their own jurisdictions and of enforcing acceptable standards of responsibility within the various intellectual professions.”
– Christopher Lasch “The Agony of the American Left”, author of “Britain’s Secret Propaganda War”
In Burnham’s “The Managerial Revolution,” he writes:
“Most of these intellectuals are not in the least aware that the net social effect of the ideologies which they elaborate contributes to the power and privilege of the managers and to the building of a new structure of class rule in society. As in the past, the intellectuals believe that they are speaking in the name of truth and for the interests of all humanity…Indeed, the intellectual, without usually being aware of it, elaborate the new ideologies from the point of view of the position of the managers.”
What this means is that the intellectuals themselves do not understand who in fact will benefit in the end by the philosophies and theories they support and defend, they are mere instruments for the propagation of a new ruling class and hold no true power. Aldous Huxley’s, who also promoted a managerial ruling class in his “Brave New World,” speech to naïve Berkeley students, titled “The Ultimate Revolution” comes to mind…
As Huxley put it:
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it.”
As already stated, Burnham had been recommended by George F. Kennan to lead the semi-autonomous “Psychological Strategy Board” (PSB) division of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). The PSB D-33/2, created on May 5, 1953, laid out the strategy for how “free intellectuals” could be manipulated against their own interests to facilitate a CIA dictated transformation of Western culture. In fact, as Frances Stoner Saunder’s makes the point in “The Cultural Cold War,” it is likely Burnham himself was the one to draft PSB D-33/2.
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould write in “The Final Stage of the Machiavellian Elite’s Takeover of America”:
“PSB D-33/2 foretells of a ‘long-term intellectual movement, to: break down world-wide doctrinaire thought patterns’ while ‘creating confusion, doubt and loss of confidence’ in order to ‘weaken objectively the intellectual appeal of neutralism and to predispose its adherents towards the spirit of the West.’ The goal was to ‘predispose local elites to the philosophy held by the planners,’ while employing local elites ‘would help to disguise the American origin of the effort so that it appears to be a native development.’
While declaring itself as an antidote to Communist totalitarianism, one internal critic of the program, PSB officer Charles Burton Marshall, viewed PSB D-33/2 itself as frighteningly totalitarian, interposing ‘a wide doctrinal system’ that ‘accepts uniformity as a substitute for diversity,’ embracing ‘all fields of human thought — all fields of intellectual interests, from anthropology and artistic creations to sociology and scientific methodology.’ He concluded: ‘That is just about as totalitarian as one can get.’
With ‘The Machiavellians’ Burnham had composed the manual that forged the old Trotskyist left together with a right-wing Anglo/American elite. The political offspring of that volatile union would be called neoconservatism, whose overt mission would be to roll back Russian/Soviet influence everywhere. Its covert mission would be to reassert a British cultural dominance over the emerging Anglo/American Empire and maintain it through propaganda.” [emphasis added]
As already discussed in part one, Burnham describes how it is necessary that the masses believe the revolution to be beneficial to them, when in reality it is just to transition from one ruling class to the other. The promise of some form of socialism free from the oppression of capitalism is offered, but the masses are told that true socialism will need time and can only be achieved further in the future, in the meantime, a managerial class is put in place.
“The ideology must ostensibly speak in the name of ‘humanity,’ ‘the people,’ ‘the race,’ ‘the future,’ ‘God,’ ‘destiny,’ and so on. Furthermore, in spite of the opinion of many present-day cynics, not just any ideology is capable of appealing to the sentiments of the masses. It is more than a problem of skilful propaganda technique. A successful ideology has got to seem to the masses, in however confused a way, actually to express some of their own interests.
…At the present time, the ideologies that can have a powerful impact, that can make a real headway, are, naturally, the managerial ideologies, since it is these that alone correspond with the actual direction of events…In place of the ‘individual,’ the stress turns to the ‘state,’ the people, the folk, the race…In place of private enterprise, ‘socialism’ [only by name] or ‘collectivism.’ In place of ‘freedom’ and ‘free initiative,’ planning. Less talk about ‘rights’ and ‘natural rights’; more about ‘duties’ and ‘order’ and ‘discipline.’ Less about ‘opportunity’ and more about ‘jobs’.”
He goes on to discuss the need to change the meaning of words such “destiny,” “the future,” “sacrifice,” “power,” from the old ideologies of capitalism to suit the new ideologies of managerialism.
George Orwell would address this in his “1984,” where Burnham’s “The Managerial Revolution” appears pseudonymously as “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism.”
“There will be no the managerial ideology any more than there was a the capitalist ideology. The several managerial ideologies will, however, revolve around a common axis, as the capitalist ideologies revolved around a common and different axis…In this country, Technocracy and the much more important New Dealism are embryonic and less-developed types of primitive, native-American managerial ideologies.”
Burnham’s reference to New Dealism as a managerial policy may be troubling to some, however, Burnham only looks at the mechanics of a social situation and its potential uses in a managerial society, it does not mean that the thing he is talking about as it is currently functioning is a form of oppression on the people. As Burnham states in his book, Roosevelt’s New Dealism is not what was intended on paper so to speak.
“The firmest representatives of the New Deal are not Roosevelt or the other conspicuous ‘New Deal politicians,’ but the younger group of administrators, experts, technicians, bureaucrats who have been finding places throughout the state apparatus…in short, managers.”
Keynes’ vision for New Dealism opposed that of Roosevelt. Burnham expresses frustration that a man that had nothing to do with the creation of an idea was now pulling the strings, for more on this refer here. One example of the sort of New Dealism Burnham is referencing, fit for his vision of a managerial society, can be found in the Green New Deal, or the anti-BRI Build Back Better for the World (aka: B3W).
These are the sorts of ideologies we are told will be universally beneficial, when in reality they are meant to benefit a select ruling class, in this case a managerial class, with the intention to maximize global control to the detriment of the majority.
As Orwell put it in his essay “Second Thoughts on Burnham”:
“It will be seen that Burnham’s theory is not, strictly speaking, a new one. Many earlier writers have foreseen the emergence of a new kind of society, neither capitalist nor Socialist, and probably based upon slavery…”
The Great Reset: Oligarchical Collectivism
“What you radicals, and we who hold opposing views differ about, is not so much the end as the means, not so much what should be brought about, as how it should, and can, be brought about.”
– Otto H. Kahn (speaking to the League of Industrial Democracy in New York Dec 30th 1924), partner of Jacob Schiff and Felix Warburg’s Kuhn, Loeb & Co. and director of American International Corp.
Burnham concludes in his “The Managerial Revolution”:
“The new world political system based on a small number of super-states will still leave problems-more, perhaps, than a unified single world-state; but it will be enough of a ‘solution’ for society to keep going. Nor is there any sufficient reason to believe that these problems of the managerial world system, including the managerial wars, will ‘destroy civilization.’ It is almost inconceivable even what it could mean for civilization – to be literally destroyed. Once again: what is being destroyed is our civilization, not civilization.”
For the destruction of our civilization, this is precisely the intent of the World Economic Forum and its Club of Rome/Henry Kissinger affiliations, and it is their intention that the very people who will be enslaved by such a ruling class, will ironically be the ones who passionately fight to see it through. The masses themselves will be the ones willing to sacrifice and defend at all costs a growing power structure that intends to bring about their very own destruction.
There are perhaps even those who know this and believe in such a cause nonetheless, after all, if they agree that “the real enemy is humanity itself” as concluded by the Club of Rome on solving the problems of mankind, then the destruction of our civilization is not only justified, it is also our duty to bring it about.
But if such an ideology proves to be a sham, a fairy-tale meant to benefit a select ruling class, its believers will be complicit in bringing about the most atrocious crimes ever committed upon humanity in our entire history of existence.
We are now standing on that precipice…
Orwell concludes in his “Second Thoughts on Burnham”:
“It is curious that in all his talk about the struggle for power, Burnham never stops to ask why people want power. He seems to assume that power hunger, although only dominant in comparatively few people, is a natural instinct that does not have to be explained, like the desire for food. He also assumes that the division of society into classes serves the same purpose in all ages. This is practically to ignore the history of hundreds of years…The question that he ought to ask, and never does ask, is: Why does the lust for naked power become a major human motive exactly now, when the dominion of man over man is ceasing to be necessary? As for the claim that ‘human nature’, or ‘inexorable laws’ of this and that, make Socialism impossible, is simply a projection of the past into the future. In effect, Burnham argues that because a society of free and equal human beings has never existed, it never can exist. By the same argument one could have demonstrated the impossibility of aeroplanes in 1900, or of motor cars in 1850.
…so long as they [the Nazis] were winning, Burnham seems to have seen nothing wrong with the methods of the Nazis…This implies that literally anything can become right or wrong if the dominant class of the moment so wills it…That a man of Burnham’s gifts should have been able for a while to think of Nazism as something rather admirable, something that could and probably would build up a workable and durable social order shows, what damage is done to the sense of reality by the cultivation of what is now called ‘realism’.”
Cynthia Chung is the President of the Rising Tide Foundation and a writer at Strategic Culture Foundation, consider supporting her work by making a donation and subscribing to her substack page for free.
This article was originally published on Strategic Culture.
(1) Bloomenkranz, Sol (2012-07-06). Charles Bedaux – Deciphering an Enigma. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4759-2637-8.
(2) David Talbot “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government”
(3) Ibid., pg 128
(4) Corke, Sarah-Jane (1 May 2006). “George Kennan and the Inauguration of Political Warfare”. Journal of Conflict Studies. 26 (1). ISSN 1715-5673
(5) Miscamble, Wilson D. (1992). George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947-1950. Princeton University Press. p. 199. ISBN 0691024839.
(6) Kimball, Roger (September 2002). “The power of James Burnham”. The New Criterion. Archived from the original on 2019-10-14. Retrieved 2020-06-03
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