Technocracy (bureaucratic)

Technocracy (bureaucratic)

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Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making
Decision making
Decision making can be regarded as the mental processes resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternative scenarios. Every decision making process produces a final choice. The output can be an action or an opinion of choice.- Overview :Human performance in decision terms...

 in their respective fields. Economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

s, engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

s, scientist
Scientist
A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word...

s, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body. In a technocracy, decision makers would be selected based upon how knowledgeable and skillful they are in their field.

Technical and leadership skills would be selected through bureaucratic
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 processes on the basis of specialized knowledge and performance, rather than democratic
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 election by those without such knowledge or skill deemed necessary. Some forms of technocracy are envisioned as a form of meritocracy
Meritocracy
Meritocracy, in the first, most administrative sense, is a system of government or other administration wherein appointments and responsibilities are objectively assigned to individuals based upon their "merits", namely intelligence, credentials, and education, determined through evaluations or...

, a system where the "most qualified" and those who decide the validity of qualifications are the same people. Other forms have been described as not being an oligarchic human group of controllers, but rather administration by discipline-specific science, ostensibly without the influence of special interest groups.

History of the term


The term technocracy derives from the Greek words tekhne meaning skill and kratos meaning power, as in government, or rule. William Henry Smyth, a Californian engineer, invented the word "technocracy" in 1919 to describe "the rule of the people made effective through the agency of their servants, the scientists and engineers". Smyth used the term "Technocracy" in his 1919 article "'Technocracy'—Ways and Means to Gain Industrial Democracy," in the journal Industrial Management (57). Smyth's usage referred to Industrial democracy
Industrial democracy
Industrial democracy is an arrangement which involves workers making decisions, sharing responsibility and authority in the workplace. While in participative management organizational designs workers are listened to and take part in the decision-making process, in organizations employing industrial...

: a movement to integrate workers into decision making through existing firms or revolution. In the 1930s, through the influence of Howard Scott
Howard Scott
Howard Scott was a controversial engineer who had an interest in technocracy, and helped to form the Technical Alliance, Committee on Technocracy, and Technocracy Incorporated.-Early life:...

 and the Technocracy movement
Technocracy movement
The technocracy movement is a social movement which arose in the early 20th century. It put forth a plan for operating the North American continent as a non-monetary society. Technocracy was highly popular in the USA for a brief period in the early 1930s, when it overshadowed many other proposals...

 that he founded, the term technocracy came to mean government by technical decision making.

Precursors


Before the term technocracy was coined, technocratic or quasi-technocratic ideas involving governance by technical experts were promoted by various individuals, most notably early socialist theorists such as Henri de Saint-Simon
Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon
Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon, often referred to as Henri de Saint-Simon was a French early socialist theorist whose thought influenced the foundations of various 19th century philosophies; perhaps most notably Marxism, positivism and the discipline of sociology...

. This was expressed by the belief in state ownership over the economy, with the function of the state being transformed from one of political rule over men into a scientific administration of things and a direction of processes of production under scientific management. Scientific socialist
Scientific Socialism
Scientific socialism is the term used by Friedrich Engels to describe the social-political-economic theory first pioneered by Karl Marx. The purported reason why this socialism is "scientific socialism" is because its theories are held to an empirical standard, observations are essential to its...

 theorist Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 had a similar view; the state would die out and ceases to be a state when the government of people and interference in social affairs is replaced by an administration of things and technical processes.

Alexander Bogdanov
Alexander Bogdanov
Alexander Aleksandrovich Bogdanov –7 April 1928, Moscow) was a Russian physician, philosopher, science fiction writer, and revolutionary of Belarusian ethnicity....

, a Russian scientist and social theorist, also anticipated a conception of technocratic process. Both Bogdanov’s fiction and his political writings which were highly influential suggest that he expected a coming revolution against capitalism to lead to a technocratic society.

Characteristics


Technocrats are individuals with technical training and occupations who perceive many important societal problems as being solvable, often while proposing technology-focused solutions. The administrative scientist Gunnar K. A. Njalsson theorizes that technocrats are primarily driven by their cognitive "problem-solution mindsets" and only in part by particular occupational group interests. Their activities and the increasing success of their ideas are thought to be a crucial factor behind the modern spread of technology and the largely ideological concept of the "information society
Information society
The aim of the information society is to gain competitive advantage internationally through using IT in a creative and productive way. An information society is a society in which the creation, distribution, diffusion, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic,...

". Technocrats may be distinguished from "econocrat
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

s" and "bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can comprise the administration of any organization of any size, though the term usually connotes someone within an institution of a government or corporation...

s" whose problem-solution mindsets differ from those of the technocrats.

The former government of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 has been referred to as a technocracy. Soviet leaders like Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 had a technical background in education, and in 1986 89% of Politburo members were engineers.

Technocracy and engineering


Following Samuel Haber, Donald Stabile argues that engineers were faced with a conflict between physical efficiency and cost efficiency
Cost Efficiency
Cost efficiency , in the context of parallel computer algorithms, refers to a measure of how effectively parallel computing can be used to solve a particular problem...

 in the new corporate capitalist enterprises of the late nineteenth century United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The profit-conscious, non-technical managers of firms where the engineers work, because of their perceptions of market demand, often impose limits on the projects that engineers desire to undertake.

The prices of all inputs vary with market forces thereby upsetting the engineer's careful calculations. As a result, the engineer loses control over projects and must continually revise plans. To keep control over projects the engineer must attempt to exert control over these outside variables and transform them into constant factors.

Technocracy movement



The American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement...

 was an early advocate of technocracy, and was involved in the Technical Alliance
Technical Alliance
Towards the end of 1919, American engineer Howard Scott formed the Technical Alliance, a group of engineers, scientists, and technicians based in New York. The Technical Alliance started an Energy Survey of North America, aimed at documenting the wastefulness of the capitalist system...

 as was Howard Scott
Howard Scott
Howard Scott was a controversial engineer who had an interest in technocracy, and helped to form the Technical Alliance, Committee on Technocracy, and Technocracy Incorporated.-Early life:...

 and M. King Hubbert
M. King Hubbert
Marion King Hubbert was a geoscientist who worked at the Shell research lab in Houston, Texas. He made several important contributions to geology, geophysics, and petroleum geology, most notably the Hubbert curve and Hubbert peak theory , with important political ramifications. He was often...

. Veblen believed that technological developments would eventually lead toward a socialistic organization of economic affairs. Veblen saw socialism as one intermediate phase in an ongoing evolutionary process in society that would be brought about by the natural decay of the business enterprise system and by the inventiveness of engineers.
Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor emeritus at Harvard University, best known for his seminal contributions to the study of post-industrialism...

 sees an affinity between Veblen and the Technocracy movement
Technocracy movement
The technocracy movement is a social movement which arose in the early 20th century. It put forth a plan for operating the North American continent as a non-monetary society. Technocracy was highly popular in the USA for a brief period in the early 1930s, when it overshadowed many other proposals...

.

In 1932, Howard Scott
Howard Scott
Howard Scott was a controversial engineer who had an interest in technocracy, and helped to form the Technical Alliance, Committee on Technocracy, and Technocracy Incorporated.-Early life:...

 founded Technocracy Incorporated, and proposed that money be replaced by energy certificates denominated in units such as ergs or joules, equivalent in amount to an appropriate national energy budget, which could be divided equally among all members of a North American continental Technate. The group argued that apolitical, rational engineers should be vested with authority to guide an economy into a thermodynamically balanced load of production and consumption, thereby doing away with unemployment and debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

.

The technocracy movement was highly popular in the USA for a brief period in the early 1930s, during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. But by the mid-1930s, interest in the movement was declining. Most historians attribute the demise of the technocracy movement to the rise of Roosevelt's New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

.

See also

  • Positivism
    Positivism
    Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

  • Scientism
    Scientism
    Scientism refers to a belief in the universal applicability of the systematic methods and approach of science, especially the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints...

  • Imperial examination
    Imperial examination
    The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

     was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy.
  • Groupe X-Crise
    Groupe X-Crise
    The Groupe X-Crise was a French technocratic movement created in 1931 as an aftermath of the 1929 Wall Street stock market crash and the Great Depression. Formed by former students of the École Polytechnique , it advocated planisme, or economic planification, as opposed to the then dominant...

    , formed by French former students of the Ecole Polytechnique
    École Polytechnique
    The École Polytechnique is a state-run institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, Essonne, France, near Paris. Polytechnique is renowned for its four year undergraduate/graduate Master's program...

    engineer school in the 1930s
  • Redressement Français
    Redressement Français
    The Redressement Français was a French anti-parliamentarian movement founded in 1926 by electricity magnate Ernest Mercier. It advocated technocratic corporatism - a "government of authority" - instead of a government of politicians....

    , a French technocratic movement founded by Ernest Mercier
    Ernest Mercier
    Ernest Mercier was a French industrialist, director of the French Petroleum Company , the forerunner of the French petroleum conglomerate Total...

     in 1925
  • Calculation in kind
    Calculation in kind
    Calculation in kind is a type of accounting based on physical magnitudes and physical quantities rather than a common unit of accounting for economic calculation. Calculation in kind, or valueless calculation, is often described as the form of calculation that would supersede monetary calculation...

    , a type of resource management proposed for a socialist moneyless society
  • The Revolt of the Masses
    The Revolt of the Masses
    The Revolt of the Masses is the English translation of José Ortega y Gasset's La rebelión de las masas. The original was first published as a book in 1930; the English translation, first published two years later, was authorized by the author...

     a book containing a critique of technocracy
  • Player Piano
    Player Piano
    Player Piano, author Kurt Vonnegut's first novel, was published in 1952. It is a dystopia of automation and capitalism, describing the dereliction they cause in the quality of life. The...

    , Kurt Vonnegut's speculative fiction novel describing a technocratic society