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  • Review of Donald C. Hodges' Deep Republicanism:Prelude to Professionalism
  • Benli M. Shechter (bio)

Completion of Deep Republicanism by the recently deceased Donald C. Hodges (1923–2009) rounded out a tremendous body of work—including 25 books and over 100 journal articles—and gracefully brought to a close his unintended, yet bona fide, quadrilogy on professionalism. It began with America's New Economic Order (1996),1 where Hodges first built the case for professionalism, then calling it "managerial socialism," which he saw as the new corporate, socio-economic and political order that had come to replace the bourgeois capitalism of modern times. Interestingly, Hodges' threshold to a new order was not the Bolshevik take-over of 1917, and neither was his focus the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Instead, his concern was with our own U.S.S.A, the United Socialist States of America, wherein Hodges charted a creeping, managerial take-over of the economy, dating from World War I and maturing in the decades after World War II. Influenced by his great teacher and mentor at New York University, James Burnham (1905–1987), America's New Economic Order was a reappraisal of the managerial revolution, and a reassessment of what is happening in the world.2

Following Burnham, Hodges sees two kinds of control that figure into class rule. First is domination over the production process, and second is preferential treatment in distribution of the economic surplus. What was seen as decisive was the former, power ; the latter, wealth, seemed sure to follow. Left scratching his head, then, was Burnham, when in 1978 he concluded that managerial elites had yet to use their power to redistribute the wealth to their principal benefit.3 Less perplexed was Hodges, for the possibility of "socialism without socialists" had never occurred to his teacher, whom apparently in this crucial respect had yet to break with Marx. This time following Michael Bakunin (1813–1876)—the Russian anarchist and Marx's principal rival for control of the First International—Hodges extended the scope of the "new class" to include professional elites, as well, thus including all those equipped with expertise as their specific form of "mental capital."4 The details are laid out by way of heavy-weight economic formulae in his book, but the conclusion is that professionals as a class had already acquired the lion's share of the economic surplus by 1955. So that capitalists, while still individually the richest, collectively, were falling by the wayside.

Then, Class Politics in the Information Age (2000)5 —intended as a post-communist counterpart of Milovan Djilas's New Class,6 the extremely influential analysis of the mislabeled communist system—offered the new economic order's dissection, examining the professionals' origins as a class in the United States, its development over the course of the "short twentieth century,"7 as well as its aims and means. In this book, the term, "managerial socialism" is dropped for the simpler one, "postcapitalism." Additionally, corrections are made to shift the threshold date from 1955 to a more conservative estimate placing it at 1965. Hodges still employs his obsolete terminology, i.e., "socialism without socialists," even "fascism without fascists," in a seeming effort to be cute, but fails to call the new order by what it eminently is, i.e., a professional society. Nonetheless, the work is remarkable, and reads like an instant classic.

Hodges' next work, Mexico, the End of the Revolution (2002),8 marks an important addition to the mix, for it addresses his previously inadequate treatment of globalization, empire, and the passage from corporate multinationals to transnationals in the "new world order." At most, in Class Politics, Hodges articulated an interesting consequence of the major thesis of his book: That if the United State is postcapitalist, then globalization—better yet, global "corporatization"—is also postcapitalist. Hence, American imperialism, once seen as reactionary has become a revolutionary force for the under-developed, still eminently capitalist, third world; and, that through the agency of multinational and transnational corporations, America's progressive postcapitalist society is being exported the wide-world over. This view is corroborated in full statistical detail in Hodges and Gandy's Mexico, where it is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-9731
Print ISSN
1089-0017
Pages
pp. 69-72
Launched on MUSE
2009-12-31
Open Access
No
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