“This is behaviorist psychologist Skinner's famous utopian novel of a commune based on psychological principles. From everything I had ever heard about this book, I expected to hate it; but it was not nearly as bad as it is often presented. The first hundred pages or so is basically a utopian socialist argument not much different from many earlier books, apart from a less primitive technology, and most of it I would agree with; later on he begins presenting his theoretical views, which are less application of his psychological theories (he deals in generalities) than a standard technocratic view of politics, with "experts" making decisions for the community without any democratic discussion or participation. This of course is the part of the book that generates the most heat, and which is the weakest.
The "devil's advocate" of the book, the philosophy professor Castle, presents very poor arguments against Skinner's thesis, as one would expect -- he continually tries to present it as "fascist", which it certainly isn't -- it strikes me more as Stalinist, in that it tries to achieve a socialist community from the top down through "planners and managers", and I think in reality it would fail for the same reasons as the USSR, because there is no easy way to correct the inevitable mistakes or exercise any control of the leaders. He argues that there would be no reason for the planners and managers to become corrupt in a non-competitive society, but this is the same mistake the early Soviet leaders made, which resulted in the Stalinist bureaucracy becoming entrenched before anyone realized what was happening -- after all, the first managers and planners were not products of the new society, and the corruption occurred before the society could be changed enough to prevent it. Interestingly, the book mentions "Russia" in only two pages, and gives a rather superficial explanation of its failings (although this might have been hard to do in a book written at the height of the witch hunt and the beginning of the cold war.) I think the general idea is not dissimilar to the present European theories of the "end of politics."
Skinner also argues that society could be radically changed by setting up these utopian communes without any political movement; this is the most "utopian" aspect of the work. The Waldens might be left alone as long as they are a game for white middle class Americans who are already among the most privileged people on Earth, but could one really imagine that they would not be suppressed as soon as they began attracting the working class and non-whites (to say nothing of trying to set them up in other, poorer parts of the world -- compare Dr. Farmer's experiences in Haiti, for example.) It is perhaps not accidental that all the characters in the novel are white, and that it says nothing about Blacks or the race question (in 1948!)”