BOOK: Leviathan & Its Enemies – Intro Reply

A good discussion of a great book.

As long as I’ve been politically aware, I’ve been anarchist. I’ve never been anything else. I’ve always despised both left and right totalitarians (fascists, nazis, communists) as well as mainstream liberals and conservatives. When it comes to other fringe ideologies, I’ve generally thought libertarians were the best on the state but weak on some economic questions (the state, economic power, and other forms of institutional power cannot be separated from each other in the neat and tidy way many libertarians claim). The Left is pretty good at critiquing traditional forms of oppression and authoritarianism (feudalism, theocracy, monarchy, capitalism, fascism, racism, sexism, et. al.) but they have a woefully inadequate understanding of power itself, which is why leftist revolutions almost always produce new tyrannies (and often extreme ones). I am much more of a cultural cosmopolitan and anti-traditional than the paleoconservatives, but the serious paleoconservatives like the late Sam Francis, or Machiavellian elite theorists like Pareto, Michels, and Mosca, present a much better critique of how modern institutions and systems of power actually work.

Leviathan and Its Enemies: Mass Organization and Managerial Power in Twentieth-Century America Reply

For those looking for an interesting book to read during the shutdown, I would suggest Sam Francis’ “Leviathan and Its Enemies.” It’s long (around 750 pages) but it’s the best modern work that I know of explaining how the modern American political and economic system actually works. Francis was a staunch paleoconservative (who flirted with white nationalism), and so plenty of leftists, libertarians, and anarchists will probably want to dismiss his ideas, much to their loss. But this work, written in the 1990s, and posthumously published only a few years ago, is a must-read for someone who wants to understand the dynamics of class conflict within the framework of American institutional structures. This book is basically right-wing Marxism, and Francis explains why both the 1960s New Left and the 1980s New Right failed to overturn the rule of the managerial elite that came to power in the US in the 20th century, replacing the classical 19th-century bourgeoisie in the process. His own preference was for Buchananite right-wing populism of the kind we’re seeing implicitly rising today with figures like Trump and Tucker Carlson (which I am sure will fail as well due to the shrinking demographics of its constituency). You don’t have to agree with Francis’ underlying philosophy or ideological preferences to benefit from the historical and institutional analysis he provides. The book is available from Amazon. The only other scholarly writer I know of who discusses these topics in-depth is Joel Kotkin.

Leviathan and Its Enemies: Mass Organization and Managerial Power in Twentieth-Century America by [Francis, Samuel T]

Leviathan and Its Enemies* is Samuel T. Francis’s magnum opus on political theory and the history of the modern world, which had been lost to the world after his untimely death in 2005 and is published here for the first time. This edition includes new introductory and critical essays by Jerry Woodruff, Fran Griffin, and Paul E. Gottfried. In his Introduction, Jerry Woodruff writes, “Following [James] Burnham, Sam believed a new ruling elite emerged in 20th-century. . . . the growth of giant corporations, the expansion of government power and bureaucracy, and the widespread emergence of mass organizations gave birth to a powerful class of skilled professionals to guide and manage the vast operations of the means of economic production, which, on a smaller scale, were once in the hands of private entrepreneurs and their families. As a result, the old ruling bourgeois elite, along with its political and social institutions and its view of society and politics, were replaced by a new “managerial elite,” with a world outlook that set out to remake society according to its own interests, and which was hostile to any bourgeois remnants in conflict with that project.