1.The vital question: The régime of the USSR and the phenomenon of bureaucracy

In order for the revolutionary movement to be able to attack the Marxist-Leninist 'system', to revise and replace it, a formidable obstacle had to be overcome : the critique of the Soviet revolution. While it is not inconceivable that the CP might have been 'by-passed' to the left in 1938-40, in view of the signs of its more sober approach since the time of the Popular Front and the 'wildcat' methods first introduced in the strike of 1936, the last war and the experience of the French Resistance helped somewhat to refurbish its image. For the generation which came to the Party in 1930, and for that which rejoined it in the Resistance, communism was the incarnation of the doctrines of Marx, Engels and Lenin, as Stalin's Soviet Russia was the logical and legitimate continuation of the Russia of 1917-23. For a wide range of Communist Party supporters, whether manual workers or intellectuals, progressive Party workers or 'fellow-travellers' from the prosperous middle class, the Communist Party was not merely the 'party of the 75,000 martyrs of the Resistance', the party which had contrived to reconcile patriotism with internationalism, revolutionary struggle with governmental responsibility, but also and above all the party connected with the USSR, that country whose enormous sacrifices had made possible the defeat of Nazi barbarism. To the whole world, whether sympathetic or hostile, the Party was the undisputed incarnation of the revolution : its leadership of the working class appeared wholly legitimate, as by divine right.

To contest the Party's 'revolutionary representativity' meant instant ostracization from the movement, and in practice this often meant joining the ranks of the enemy. To thousands of militants, 'to be outside the Party meant giving up the struggle to change the world, it meant a renunciation of all that was best in oneself. It meant sinking back into the petty-bourgeois slime. [1] Besides, most Party members did not ask themselves too many questions : those who were not members but regarded themselves as revolutionaries or even just 'of the left' were invariably hamstrung, by the Sartrean philosophy of commitment : but to be committed between 1944 and the beginning of the fifties could mean nothing other than commitment to the 'Great Cause'. Outside the Party, there was no salvation.

Similarly, the part played by those who attempted to maintain a balance between the rejection of Stalinism and the rejection of pro-American social democracy was extremely difficult to keep up. Yet some mention must be made of the experiment made by Sartre and his friends, for it illustrates at once an attempt at a leftist critique of Stalinism and its dismal failure. The experiment goes back to the tiny movement called 'Socialisme et Liberté' which Sartre had created during the war : it was continued in the creation of Les Temps modernes and various attempts at establishing a political footing, among which the Rassemblement démocratique de la Résistance (RDR) had some ephemeral success.

Whereas the RDR was doomed from the start, because of the very fact of its heterogeneous composition, Les Temps modernes survived, but the experiment it represented (the attempt to keep at an equal distance from communism and the 'bourgeoisifed' socialism of the SFIO) was a failure : of its four founders, three (R. Aron, A. Camus and M. Merleau-Ponty) veered towards liberalism, while the fourth (Sartre) became, according to some, the 'Enlightened Companion' of the CP [2] or according to others an uncompromising Stalinist who had been of greater service to the Party from the outside than he ever was from within. [3]

However that may be, Les Temps modernes, by its readiness to inform its readers on the reality of the Stalin régime (camps, trials, dictatorship) and by its penetrating analyses, was able for a time to play the role of left-wing critic and tarnish the idyllic image of the Soviet Union entertained in left-wing circles in France. The theoretical debate introduced by the review from 1945 was aimed at a readjustment of Marxist theory to the current facts : it started out with a rejection of the Communist Party's yesmanship, its blind allegiance to the policies of Stalin. [4]

During the first period, which lasted until 1952, various voices could be heard, often discordant, sometimes going so far as to question Bolshevism itself. Those who moved the furthest along this road, and who were to make a reappearance in Socialisme ou Barbarie, were attempting to consider Stalinism in a new light : not as an accident attributable to Stalin's personality, but as an inevitable development of a bureaucracy inherent to the Bolshevik Party. Since the 'committee-men' first took over the controls of the Russian Social-Democratic Party in 1901, the Party cut itself off from the will of the masses, and the leaders even found themselves in opposition to the masses during the decisive periods of struggle in 1905-7 and in April 1917. [5] This kind of analysis gives a relativist view of the Bolshevik revolution, in fact the reflection of a backward capitalism, almost an accident of a history temporarily twisted out of shape by the will of Lenin.

The whole process which led to Stalinism was therefore fully in keeping with the image of a party completely removed from the masses, a party which had been forced to make itself authoritarian, centralist and bureaucratic in order to 'short-circuit' the gradual processes of the masses. By the same token, no Bolshevik could exempt himself from, the accusation of bureaucracy, least of all Trotsky. The so-called degeneration of the Russian Revolution had been the product of the Party itself, and Stalin was cast in the image of that Party. [6]

This critique of Bolshevism led on to an analysis of the Soviet Union to which few of the collaborators of Les Temps modernes were able to subscribe, since it called in question the socialist nature of Russian society and presented Stalinism as a system of exploitation even more highly developed and refined than the classic form of capitalist system. [7]

It is true that a tendency less critical of the journal's editorial team began to question the concept of liberty as understood by the Soviet leaders. After the revelations about Soviet internment camps, Sartre went so far as to admit 'that these facts (massive deportations) place the whole meaning of the Russian system in doubt'. [8]

Nevertheless, this 'centrist' trend, [9] of which Jean-Paul Sartre, from the height of his enormous prestige as a libertarian writer and philosopher, was the very incarnation, hesitated to draw all the conclusions which these revelations, among others, might be thought to entail. This Sartrean group, obliged to recognize the reality of oppression in the Soviet Union, the gap between the ideal and everyday practice, nevertheless opted for the latter, since it aligned itself with the progressive forces of this world and to take a stand against the USSR would mean alliance with her enemies.

Whereas Sartre, finding it impossible to maintain a position in unstable equilibrium between criticism and praise, deviated gradually from this perilous standpoint towards total alignment with the CP and 'fellow-travellership', [10] Merleau-Ponty, after following a different path, gradually moved towards the standpoint of bourgeois liberalism. The importance of his approach to a critique of the Stalinist system arises from the manner in which he formulates the problem : he sees it as a whole, instead of attacking one or other particular aspect. He recognizes the seriousness of the facts and the violence. He is also ready to excuse this violence (of which no-one was innocent, as he accepts, least of all Trotsky), on condition only that it leads towards a new humanity. [11] By asking this crucial question, he shook the very foundations of Bolshevism, even despite himself, before the 1950s. He was thus a part of the movement of leftist criticism of Bolshevism and the Soviet Union, and gave it a new philosophical dimension that was rare at that time.

But Merleau-Ponty's critique, drawn up in the form of a series of questions, became bogged down in an apparently unending chain of further questions, to the point at which their author broke with the revolution. By contrast, the Trotskyist critique, although part of a much more specious viewpoint, was at the same time far more fruitful, since it made it possible to attack Bolshevism without abandoning its revolutionary premises.

Trotskyism, therefore, provided leftism with its point of attack : Soviet bureaucracy. In a sense, Trotskyism itself started out as a form of leftism : by questioning the very structure of the Soviet régime, the Trotskyists started from a foundation which might have led to a critique of Leninism itself. However, they were never able to take this vital step, for they based their whole attitude on a single magic -- and arbitrary - date, 1923, before which everything was roses, while after it everything began to go wrong. [12] By virtue of this one fact, Trotskyism has more the characteristics of extremism than of leftism, to apply the distinction drawn in the Introduction.

So while the attempted critique by Les Temps modernes seems ambiguous, holding a very precarious balance between Stalinist orthodoxy and liberal thought, Trotskyism was the only movement in the immediate postwar period to sustain a serious left-wing critique of Stalinism. [13] Organized Trotskyism, and notably the PCI (International Communist Party), was also to provide the sounding-board for the political opposition to Stalinism : the reasoned negation of Leninism was constructed on the basis of Trotsky's ideas, but was also to be directed against them.

The condemnation of Stalinism as a caricature of socialism meant making a serious bid to challenge the Soviet régime. This is what Leon Trotsky dedicated himself to from 1923 onwards, from the formation of the Left Opposition in the Soviet Union. Between 1923 and 1940 he developed an analysis of great penetration which led him, on the basis of an exhaustive description of Soviet society, to state that the Soviet State under Stalin remained a workers' State, that Russian society was still very close to the Marxist model, but that its socio-economic régime was a transitional one between capitalism and socialism. Its transitional nature was, according to Trotsky, the result of the inadequate development of the factors of production on the one hand, and the existence of a bureaucratic stratum at the summit of the social structure on the other. [14] The ruling caste had taken over the apparatus of the State, had secured for itself all the privileges, carved itself the lion's share in the distribution of the national income and almost restored the conditions of a thoroughgoing exploitation. Nevertheless, having completed a description of Soviet society which has since become a classic, and from which it emerges that inequality, poverty, prostitution. abuses of every kind had made their reappearance in the Soviet Union, from which, above all, it emerges that the group in power possessed all the features of a dominant group, Trotsky concludes that the Soviet bureaucracy is not a class in the true sense. Although it had raised itself up above other groups in society, although it was a 'privileged and dominant' group, differing from every other bureaucracy in that it served only itself, it had not created any social base for its domination. In particular, since it did not own the means of production, and could not bequeath its goods and its privileges, it remained a political and not a social phenomenon.

To reach this conclusion, Trotsky had started from a highly literal interpretation of Marxism, according to which it is the ownership of the means of production which characterizes régimes. Since Marxism knows no other form of ownership than individual or collective, Trotsky defined the USSR as a degenerate workers' State, the base of which was socialist, but with a mode of distribution which was bourgeois and operated to the benefit of a tiny minority. This situation, according to him, could only be unstable and transitory; the régime would sooner or later have to move in the direction of complete socialism or tip backwards to capitalism. In the former case, it would probably need a political revolution; in the latter case a complete social counter-revolution would be necessary, since the relationships of production would have to be altered.

Whatever the value of this analysis, [15] it became, after Trotsky's death in 1940, the bible of all those who attached themselves to his cause.

After the war, this analysis came to appear both to go beyond the theses of the CP, in that it called Stalinism in question and aspired to a return to the pure and healthy springs of Leninist Bolshevism, but also as less far-reaching than some views which detected in Stalinism something other, and more, than a mere political structure.

Nevertheless, by his attack on Stalinism, supported by his personal prestige as the companion of Lenin, Trotsky had opened a breach in the monolithic structure of world communism, and through this breach poured every radical critique of Stalinism.

Within the Fourth International, after 1944, and in its French section, the PCI, it was assumed without question that the Soviet State was both proletarian and degenerate, half-way on the road between capitalism and socialism. But Trotsky, as we have seen, considered this state of affairs to be abnormal : the régime of the USSR seemed to him to be in unstable equilibrium; it was fated inevitably either to develop towards socialism or to '' into capitalism. The war, he was convinced, would precipitate this development : the USSR could only emerge from it as a fully fledged proletarian State, or slide back into the barbaric state of capitalism.

However, come the Liberation, not only was this 'unstable' régime in better health than ever. but the leaders of the Fourth International 'froze' any new interpretation of this phenomenon by attributing to Trotsky's analyses the qualities of an unassailable dogma. This situation drove a number of young Trotskyists to form a splinter group, which claimed that the analysis of the Russian régime and its bureaucracy should be carried further in the light of the new facts. Going back to the reasoning of the founder of the Fourth International, they came to the conclusion that the Stalinist bureaucracy had become a true ruling class.

The revolt and the subsequent breakaway by the young Trotskyist dissenters in 1948 was apparently based on a point of secondary importance : the designation of the Soviet ruling group. In fact, the real issue was the whole Trotskyist doctrine, which the expellees, grouped around the review Socialisme ou Barbarie, were subsequently to condemn as 'ideological conservatism'. [16]

Taking issue with Trotskyist dogma, which saw in Stalinism a phenomenon that was purely political and nothing else, Socialisme ou Barbarie asserted that the Russian bureaucracy was a veritable ruling class, oppressive and exploitative, the social expression of new economic forms and new models of exploitation. [17]

This was now a real innovation in the framework of Marxist theory, since a third socio-economic category had been created, besides free-enterprise capitalism and socialism. [18] This new category was State capitalism, resulting in a form of development common to all the industrialized countries and all modern societies, and which had its origins in the world of before the Great War. This development is characterized by an increasing concentration of property in the hands of those who also control the management of commercial enterprises and hold the reins of State. The bureaucracy is the new class which benefits from this development : it achieves the ambition of every capitalist, for it is the sole and undisputed wielder of economic and political power; it has no trade-union opposition to cope with, let alone political opposition.

By comparison with the bourgeoisie of the Western countries, the Stalinist bureaucracy possesses one peculiarity which might at first sight seem to deny its class nature : its members are not individually owners of the means of production. To the Socialisme ou Barbarie group, this is not a decisive argument, however. For a start, the Russian bureaucracy possesses all the attributes of a property-owning class -- it decides upon and directs investment, fixes prices and wages, appoints and dismisses local functionaries and enjoys a standard of living and a way of life which in the West would be the apanage of the bourgeoisie. At all events, and this is the second point, it controls the means of production and enjoys the attendant privileges collectively : but this is merely a question of legal status which in no way alters the bureaucracy's real situation as a class. Besides, in the capitalist countries it is no longer true today that the property-owning middle classes are the major beneficiaries of class exploitation, it is the executives and managers of industry and commerce and the higher civil servants who corner the benefits of the system, and this not by virtue of a formal title to property, but from the fact of their situation in the productive set-up.

The bureaucracy of the Eastern countries thus possesses all the characteristics of a dominant class : from its existence, the analysts of Socialisme ou Barbarie deduce that the Soviet Union is a society of exploitation and that the Soviet State is a capitalist State. [19]

Certainly this analysis of bureaucracy is not entirely novel : quantities of ink have flowed on the subject, from Hegel's Principles of the Philosophy of Right down to Djilas's The New Class. But Lenin and Bukharin, Max Weber and Trotsky all considered the problem from the political angle. Only Roberto Michels had gone one step further, by asserting that the management of an enormous volume of capital gave the managers a power comparable with that enjoyed by the actual owner. [20] But the first man to speak of 'bureaucratic collectivism' and explicitly to designate the Russian ruling group as a class was Bruno Rizzi, who expressed these ideas within the framework of a critique of Trotskyism when he left the movement just before the war.

In his dispute with Trotsky, Bruno Rizzi maintained [21] that the Soviet State is not a workers' State because the capitalist class has not been replaced by the working class but by the bureaucratic class, which includes State and Party officials, technicians and experts of every kind. He estimated this new ruling class as comprising fifteen million people, and the share of production monopolized by them on the eve of war at 40 per cent. [22] This class corresponds to a new form of social organization and results from a considerable growth in the forces of production, which excludes, according to Rizzi, any likelihood of a return to capitalism in the USSR.

The divergences with Trotsky are therefore apparent; but it was on the basis of the latter's analyses that Bruno Rizzi (who had already evinced an intuitive perception of the new Russian ruling class in 1936, in his Oû va l'URSS ?) was to give a closely reasoned development of his thesis, and indeed he himself readily acknowledged the debt.

While it may thus be affirmed that the analysis of the Russian bureaucracy as a class springs from a common source (Trotskyism), from which both Rizzi and the founders of Socialisme ou Barbarie had drawn in abundance, and while we may even assume that the former had some influence on the latter, the differences of detail and, above all, the clearly contradictory conclusions drawn by the two parties from these common premises should not be overlooked . [23]

Whereas Rizzi lumped together the Nazi and fascist régimes with that of the USSR, applying to all three the term 'bureaucratic collectivism', the collaborators of Socialisme ou Barbarie regarded the fascist bureaucracy as a purely political phenomenon, since private property and its individual beneficiaries still existed; this was not the case in the Soviet Union, where the very form of property had been modified. The chief point of difference, however, is that Rizzi, convinced of the convergence of all types of régime towards bureaucratic collectivism, remained highly sceptical of socialism's chances of ever winning the day. Consequently he even went so far as to propose an alliance between the proletariat and fascism to oppose capitalism. [24] The collaborators of Socialisme ou Barbarie, on the other hand, considered socialism inevitable, and looked on their task as a preliminary demystification necessary to any reconstruction of revolutionary theory. [25]

For this reason, their analysis did not confine itself to an examination of economic and social relationships in the USSR : since it was supposed to provide the fundamentals of a revolutionary theory readjusted to fit contemporary reality, it went further than this. It endeavoured to answer the question 'Why was the class hatched by the October Revolution a new class ? Why was there no Thermidor, as Trotsky had maintained, i.e. a simple about-face ?' In order to answer this fundamental question, it was necessary to take a closer look at the bureaucratic phenomenon, to ask oneself if it represented an accidental, specifically Russian social form, or whether it represented a new, universal category which made it possible to understand the development of modern capitalism. Detailed study of the Russian economy, the social and economic relationships characterizing Soviet society, shows that it is going through the last phase of capitalist development -- that in which the development of technology has reached a peak, in which the concentration of capital and of power is at its most intense. P. Chaulieu has deduced from this that the bureaucracy is that precise class that corresponds to this stage in the development of capitalism, and that it has its roots in the absolute concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the Party. Now the concentration of political and economic power is a phenomenon which also characterizes the capitalist countries of the West -- the only difference is that in these countries it is not yet absolute. In this sense, the countries of the East present a picture of a concentration that is complete -perfect, one might say, from the point of view of a French, English or American industrialist. There is nothing to stand in the way of the march of the economy and the reality of exploitation : neither opposition parties, nor trade unions, nor even quarrelling capitalists. Just as it wants an entirely controlled economy (a process already begun by monopolistic mergers, nationalization and State controls), the bourgeoisie aspires to become a bureaucracy. In this sense, it may be said that the bureaucratization which is a reality in the Eastern countries is an irresistible tendency in the countries of the West. [26]

At this point, it may well be asked whether modern bureaucratic societies or societies in the process of bureaucratization have preserved all the classical features of exploitation : individual appropriation of surplus value by the owner of the means of production. By virtue of the fact that the bureaucracy operates as a collective entity, and because of the separation, in the West, of the functions of management and of ownership. the decisive boundary is no longer that between the propertyowner and the propertyless but that between management and operatives. [27]

Whereas the contradictions postulated by classical Marxism (between the individual nature of property and the social nature of labour) have been muted in the new situation which applies in all the developed countries, new contradictions have been introduced which the system cannot and never will resolve : the contradictions which result from the total cleavage between managers and workers, and which present-day capitalism must preserve in order to survive. The worker reduced to the condition of a mere robot. with no power of decision or control over his own actions, also loses his spirit of creativity and will tend to abandon all initiative in his work. But since the system of production is becoming technically and intellectually more and more complex. it can only continue to function with the active and willing assistance of those very people whose personalities are being eradicated. Consequently, the system needs a spirit of initiative in its workers in order to function; but if it were to acquire such a spirit, the ruling class would lose its permanent basis of domination -- the separation of management and work-force.

What interests us here is not to verify the accuracy of this analysis or to compare it with the facts, but to see in what way it has made inroads on orthodox Marxist analysis and, above all. to see how it has inspired and given consistency to a new revolutionary theory. The renewal (or revision, depending on the standpoint of the observer) of Marxist theory with regard both to capitalist society and to the society calling itself socialist is too obvious to need further emphasis; the lumping together of the régimes of East and West, their integration in a system of bureaucratization founded on new social relationships is of the very greatest interest for the development of leftist ideas. True or false, Socialisme ou Barbarie's analysis of bureaucracy is the only one that exists, if we exclude liberal thought on the one hand and Marxist-Leninist thought on the other. But the most striking and interesting feature of the approach consists in the potential development it allows. Such developments relate to three essential aspects of the leftist movement :

(1) the application of the bureaucratic pattern to modern society and the contemporary labour movement;

(2) the content of socialism as it appears in the (perhaps negative) light of the experience of Bolshevism triumphant;

(3) the conclusions which may be drawn from it with regard to the forms of organization of the revolutionary movement.

These are all questions which lie at the very heart of leftist theory; we shall return to them after considering the philosophical critique of Marxism.


[1] E. Morin, A Autocritique (Paris. 1959), p. 159. The best analysis of this state of mind among intellectuals is that by D. Caute, Communism and the French Intellectuals (André Deutsch. 1964).

[2] S. de Beauvoir, La Force des choses 1 Paris, 1963).

[3] J. Ardagh, The New French Revolution (Seeker & Warburg, 1968), Chapter 11.

[4] M. Merleau-Ponty : Tour la vérité, Les Temps modernes, 4 (1946).

[5] Benno Sarel : 'Lénine, Trotsky, Staline et le problème du parti révolutionnaire', Les Temps modernes, 73 (November 1951).

[6] Cl. Lefort : 'La Contradiction de Trotsky et le problème révolutionnaire', Les Temps modernes, 39 (January 1949).

[7] cf. in particular, besides the articles of Benno Sarel and Cl. Lefort already quoted, the latter's 'Sociologie du communisme', Les Temps modernes, 50 (December 1949).

[8] J.-P. Sartre and M. Merleau-Ponty : 'Les Jours de notre vie', Les Temps modernes, 51 (January 1951).

[9] From which Raymond Aron cut himself off from the start, attracted as he was by British Labourism, which he considered to have effected the takeover from the ruling class 'without any rupture or upheaval'. 'Chance du socialisme', Les Temps modernes, 2 (1 November 1945).

[10] cf. his article 'Les Communistes et la paix', Les Temps modernes, 84 (November 1952).

[11] cf. his article 'Pour la vérité' quoted above, and his book Humanisme et terreur (Paris, 1948), where the subject is dealt with in greaterdepth.

[12] This was not the only obstacle : the Trotskyists reproduced in their very organization a Leninist, even a Stalinist, model, so precluding any development in this respect.

[13] E. Morin, Autocritique, p. 77.

[14] L. Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed (Pathfinder Press, 1972); see in particular Section IX : 'What is the USSR ?'

[15] It has some glaring weaknesses : how could Trotsky, good Marxist that he was, so readily accept that an economy with a socialist base could produce a superstructure (i.e. the bureaucracy) so utterly nonsocialist ?

[16] Cl. Lefort : 'Organisation et Parti'. Socialisme ou Barbarie, 26 (November-December 1958).

[17] cf., for example, Socialisme ou Barbarie, 1 (March-April 1949), Editorial; and 9 (April-May 1952).

[18] In the early days, the review and the group hoped to remain within the limits of Marxist thought : indeed. the traces of Trotskyism were never entirely to disappear. Thus in the nineteen -fifties P. Chaulieu reiterated the analysis of the Russian bureaucracy as the result of a degeneration of the October Revolution, 'Réponse au camarade Pannekoek', Socialisme ou Barbarie, 14 (April-May 1954).

[19] Besides the articles already quoted. see P. Chaulieu, 'Sur le contenu du socialisme', Socialisme ou Barbarie. 17 (July-September 1955).

[20] For a historical analysis of the various concepts of bureaucracy, see P. Naville, 'La Bureaucratic et la révolution', Arguments, 17 (first quarter, 1960).

[21] Bruno Rizzi, La Bureaucratisation du monde (published privately, 1939).

[22] ibid., pp. 21-4 and 83. This estimate is the same as Trotsky's, who backed it with detailed statistics : op. cit., pp. 138-41.

[23] La Bureaucratisation du monde was published by the author in 500 copies. The war and Trotsky's death prevented discussion of the ideas contained therein during the 1940s. Chaulieu may possibly have known of it (a fact which seems to be suggested by the author of the article 'Les classes sociales et M. Touraine', Socialisme ou Barbarie. 27 (April-May 1959), note 13).

[24] Rizzi, op. M Chapter 7. One might also mention Rizzi's violent anti-semitism ('The struggle of National Socialism[against the Jews] ... is practically just' -- p. 295), which was not shared by Socialisme ou Barbarie.

[25] The all-embracing nature of the analysis undertaken by Socialisme ou Barbarie and the political conclusions which that group drew from it mark it off straight away from this review of theories otherwise close to it. It should not be forgotten that the discussion of the nature of the Russian ruling group had not ceased to preoccupy Trotskyist circles the world over since the beginning of the nineteen-thirties. Their origins may be traced to the platform of the Workers' Opposition in 1921 (reproduced in Socialisme ou Barbarie, 35[January-March 19641). The Trotskyist Rakovsky wrote in 1929 that the bureaucratically deformed State of the USSR had turned into a bureaucratic State. Trotsky took up this analysis on his own account (in The Revolution Betrayed) but drew no conclusions from it. Thus B. Rizzi was simply continuing in the same tradition, only he carried the discussion on to a higher plane (Trotsky was to acknowledge as much in The USSR in War, published in September 1939). By contrast, James Burnham, Max Schachtman and others merely copied Rizzi's arguments ; cf. P. Naville's article in Arguments quoted above and I. Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast (Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 463.

In fact James Burnham's theory of the 'managerial revolution' falls well short of Rizzi's analysis in the poverty of the concepts it employs and in the series of hypotheses it postulated which subsequently proved false. Incidentally Burnham abandoned not only Marxism but the revolutionary movement : he came to deny any possibility of socialist revolution, on the grounds that the proletariat does not have ownership of the means of production in bourgeois society, and consequently has no opportunity of reinforcing its position as a class, in contrast to the bourgeoisie under the feudal system. J. Burnham, The Managerial Revolution (Penguin, 1962), pp. 69-70.

The difference between Socialisme ou Barbarie and a man like Burnham is that the latter regards bureaucracy as a necessary parasitic phenomenon arising out of the technical requirements of a modern economy. The analysis given by Socialisme ou Barbarie, by contrast, concludes that it is a social phenomenon comprehensible only in the context of the development of the class struggle in modern society. As Lefort has written, Socialisme ou Barbarie begins its analysis where Burnham left off; see 'Sur l'article de Morin'. Arguments, 4 (June-September 1957).

As for Milovan Djilas's book The New Class it provides an illustration of these considerations, but at a very crude conceptual level. Its chief value is as a personal testament, but even from this angle it is disappointing.

[26] See, in particular, Chaulieu, 'Sur le contenu du socialisme', Socialisme ou Barbarie, 17 (July-September 1955), and A. Garros, 'L'Union de la gauche socialiste', 26 (November-December 1958).

[27] J. Burnham was well aware that property and management no longer coincide, but his analysis is impaired both by a number of false predictions (such as. for example. that of general unemployment in the capitalist countries) and by the purely circumstantial conclusions he draws from them, notably those relating to the existence of managers, the social basis for which he completely fails to demonstrate. Socialisme ou Barbarie's analyses of modern capitalist society may be found in the collected articles of P. Chaulieu : 'Le Mouvement révolutionnaire sous le capitalisme moderne', Nos. 31, 32 and 33 (December 1960, April-June 1961 and December-February 1961-2).