Monday, October 31, 2016

"Full of Apocalyptic Visions"

"In 1941, he argued that Germany was sure to defeat the Soviet Union. In 1943, he predicted that 'there will almost certainly be a terrific economic crisis after the end of the present war.' Throughout the Cold War he claimed that the failure to roll back communism would lead the Soviet Union to get the upper hand. In 1953, he wrote that the Marshall Plan had failed to create 'a situation of socioeconomic strength' in Western Europe. He adamantly opposed the decolonization of Asia and Africa, arguing that the world was best served by a continuation of European domination. He justified the war in Vietnam on an extreme version of the domino theory, saying a loss there would lead America to retreat back to Hawaii. He also wanted America to use biological and chemical weapons in Vietnam.
"From the late 1950s until 1977, Burnham refused to accept the reality of the Sino-Soviet split, thinking it instead an elaborate ruse to fool the West into complacency. Burnham's root error was that he had a childish view of communism as a monolithic global conspiracy. He was not capable of realizing (as figures like Kennan and Walter Lippmann did) that communist leaders were often guided by national interest more than ideology."

Jeet Heer at The New Republic revisits James Burnham.

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