While this page is intended to be a TI friendly presentation,
I have no membership nor other affiliations
with Technocracy Incorporated --other than having requested information from them and corrections for any factual errors
in this account. While I've quoted from their public documents, TI has neither sanctioned nor otherwise contributed
anything to this page. Nor are they responsible for the accuracy of my quotes. For the most accurate and current
information about TI, visit their web site at: http://www.technocracy.org/
Some TI stalwarts from years past
* Would you believe: --there was/is a home-grown group of social, economic, engineering, and political^ revolutionaries ---who had some of the best engineering and scientific talent in the United States signed up ---that they once wore gray suits, drove a fleet of gray cars, and greeted each other with "secret" handshakes? (I'm losing you, right?)
No: not Marxists, not "Trilateralists", not the "Illuminati", not Skull and Bones.
But if it wasn't something like "The Secret Government", ---why is it that they didn't get hauled before the HUAC later on???
* Aside from questions about who they were, what was their affiliations, and any secret agendas --it appears to me that the very nature of their movement, its culture (in many ways: our culture) --is becoming (oh dear!) a fait accompli.
** They were (and they are):
^Whoa! Before I get dinged about that, TI members still insist they're "not political". Others, however, might beg to differ, since their objectives were (are?) no less than the complete dissolution of the present power/administrative structures and political borders on this North American continent --!
Those pre-WWII gray cars are parked now, but as of 2003 there were two active TI publications (Technocracy Digest and The Northwest Technocrat). Tune into TI's web pages --and be prepared for some interesting stuff that was not in your American History books.
* I'm aware of (what I consider to be) two alternative efforts:
Arcosanti at http://www.arcosanti.org/ -- It was designed by Paolo Soleri in an attempt to make technology serve, rather than rule our nature.
"The Venus Project", designed
by Jacque Fresco (recently deceased) and his partner, Roxanne Meadows.
See it at:
> http://www.thevenusproject.com/ --yet another brave and fascinating gamble on technology as the solution. "Our present, outmoded political and economic systems are unable to apply the real benefits of today's innovative technology to achieve the greatest good for all people, and to overcome the inequities imposed upon so many."
* As you read these words, I can sense you reflexively stirring to rise up against a genuine heretic, but consider the core base behind President Donald Trump: pretty solid at 30% to 40%. There is, of course, not much to be done about that, save for being a bit more selective in our efforts to get out the vote.
* Even if Technocracy, Inc. isn't making any progress, on our present course, we're all being dragged backwards into an actual and dystopic technocracy. I suggest that humanity needs something in addition to "democracy" for its governance.
* Advocates for Technocracy Incorporated (if I read them correctly) envision an intentional technocratic future in which the inherent, corruption resistant, grounded, objective integrity of scientists, engineers and technicians would steer our ship of state --straight. (Yay! Go technicians --my kind of guys!)
Straight into what(?) is another matter, and for which answer/s, one might want to ask of artists, philosophers, ecologists, psychologists, spiritual humanist leaders --and a host of other such useless eaters ;-) List those aspects of living you'd seek to optimize. What problems with mental health and social behavior can be anticipated and managed? What tests of fitness and intentions should be required for initial participation (realizing, of course, that there'd always be a distribution of people with problems to manage in subsequent generations).
Size matters, and it matters a lot. To become genetically self-sustaining, a community (or association of communities) is said to require 1000 adult individuals. There've been suggestions that cities, towns, settlements become difficult to manage and self-identify if allowed to grow beyond 50,000 to 100,000. The state identifies parents and imposes requirements to ensure child welfare, upon which basics to build something much better (big discussion!). What should it take to become a fully franchised member (whatever that might mean --votingly, maritally, parentwise), and what about "right of birth" toward that end?
* Hopefully, TI is no longer serious about over-throwing all government and borders on the North American continent. (Sweetjeez!) There are a ton of critical issues to sort out(!) --after you officially lay that doozie to rest.
* I'm here to say: TI is more right than wrong, and that the "wrong" part has more to do with their dream being incomplete. We do need something better. We do need a much more competently managed society.
My suggestion to TI is that they link up with the resources at the Fellowship for Intentional Community, identify prospective members of a technate, identify leadership, and start collectively planning for how to model what it is they want to do (with legal advice) --particularly as to the self-governing, administrative structural aspects.
When I'm trying to materially realize a new idea for one of my contraptions, I often gain insights by getting my ass in gear and actually building the project --lessons which would not have otherwise been gained through years of theorizing and speculation.
~ Let's also be intentional about innovation and invention. Does a new idea, device, or even a concept (if applied) "fit" the needs and expectations of the intentional community? Would the consequent changes be worth the disruptions which all change brings about? Is a proposed new device and/or technology a good fit with the community: "commensurate" with our human/group "dimensions"? (All growth, even technological and cultural, must be checked, lest it become an unsupportable cancer upon us --right?)
~ Should honest differences of opinion arise, they might be
explored by trying out opposing ideas through parallel social enterprises
(probably under the same technate tent) --each adequately planned, funded
and contractually agreed to. Compromises with the "real world" would have
to be made in practice, which are best identified and admitted to, lest
"of necessity be made a virtue". TI has the signal advantage of being open
to competent, organized (and hopefully transparent) management --something
many community efforts perished for the want of.
In march of 2016 I contacted those who operate the (then) current manifestations and web site for TI, Inc., asking if this page struck them as being fair and accurate. Happily, they were pleased with my treatment --with one exception: the banner I was (then) placing on all of my web pages, soliciting support for Bernie Sanders. The folks at Technocracy Incorporated still steadfastly present their organization to be non-political, so I removed it.
* The armature of this "you will be assimilated" process is "the machine" --meaning: everything from a scissors jack to computer cybernation. The machine requires not only engineers and technicians, but categorical, grounded, logical thinking. (Not a bad thing, and which doesn't preclude such virtues as social motivation and empathy.)
Identifying strongly as a technician myself, I feel a natural affinity for these seemingly honest, open, non-violent, do-right people. Perhaps they were (and the few of them remaining --are) "guilty" of no more than leading us directly and efficiently to where we've long been going anyway --and to where most everyone (save a few aberrants like myself) think they want to go. ("Self-driving cars" --Sheesh!)
I found not a shred of concern in TI's literature for issues of disenfranchisement:
--how a specialty driven and led "technotronic" society would make actual
self-government/democracy but a quaint old notion. (Hey: I harbor mixed
feelings about "democracy" myself. I bet you
Many years ago I was honored with a visit from a fine old couple: an officer of TI and his wife, who I imagine to have been charter members of the original TI. We exchanged a few letters and I read his TI flyers, but the busy-ness of life precluded anything deeper. The gentleman left me with a standing invitation to quite sound each other out "by wrapping our knuckles around a few stiff drinks" :-)
His flyers were crisp and fresh but bore articles which dated back decades --like they came out of a time machine. The TI video tape he loaned me had good content, but its shaky time base bespoke early video tape technology, its staging evidenced old fashioned production values.
My heart went out to them, their idealism, and the cruel fate which "progress" deals most old technical people --despite that it's upon their broad shoulders which we all stand today.
The theme of my last letter to him had something to do with the limits of human understanding, reach, and grasp --that we might all find more dignity in setting our own limits as a society, --rather than flailing after an endless pursuit of "state of the art" technology. (It's obvious, and it's one of TI's points, that our society is becoming ever more dependent upon an ever thinner and less accountable veneer of competency.)
I re-wrote that letter several times, wanting to at least personally embrace these would-have-been leaders of their continental new world order.
As you'll learn by reading their vast library of outreach, some of the people behind TI have been heavy hitter scientists, engineers, and feet-on-the-ground intellectuals. A few of them later moved on into FDR's administration as his "Brain Trust".
Christened by Thorstein Veblen, these grand old engineers took a brave (if disturbingly cock-sure) run at a better world for all of us. What a fine (sounding) idea: a world run by "nuts 'n bolts" folks! (Or would you prefer the venal lawyers and power boobs we've got now?)
Those who can make a living at being a technician had best be the kind of person who can get 100% in touch with reality for extended periods of time --"flow". There's a lifestyle, a philosophy (unspoken, perhaps), and an attitude involved. No matter how "obsolete" our skills and knowledge, technicians are just naturally problem (ie: service) oriented. We measure, reference standards, think in a fine western "either-or" linear fashion, trust nothing (including our own assumptions and instruments), and keep dividing "the problem" in half until it's solved.
But the capacity for that "technicianship" (if not its practice) is nothing special --thanks be-- nor is it at all limited to those of us who work with hardware and wiring diagrams. Anyone who organizes an office, work flow or a body of knowledge/information into accessible categories, outlines a publication project/book, assembles a logical argument, or resolves real problems --knows this state of mind. Those of us who use the Internet/WWW become its technicians in varying degrees --and to the extent that our efforts meet with satisfaction. (Re: my earlier point about how we all end up adapting to "the machine".)
Technicians may not be the celebrities or the big picture planners, but they're always doing the real work to make stuff happen when someone else throws the switch or hits a key.
Mastery of the processes and the actual mechanics/technologies by which we live should be our birthright. I think that's at the very heart of being a "Yankee". --But: ever fewer individuals get to experience the sense of discipline, the essential enabling humility, but also the sense of empowerment which comes from personal involvement and hands-on technical achievement. The workings, real decisions and understandings about the infrastructures we live by, have become remote from the average experience of life. As technology and social organization grows more complex, our involvement (for most of us) becomes more that of on-off switch consumption.
^ I once corresponded with Mike Savage (no relation to the radio personality) --who at the time was this nation's leading Luddite (we corresponded on paper, since he was an Internet refusenik), but I've otherwise read little of the movement's history. I suspect, however, that many of those disparagingly named/labeled after Ned Ludd have been more concerned about the negative consequences of technological progress (economic and cultural/political disenfranchisement) --than with mindlessly holding back industrial efficiency.
And you want to read the introduction --from which: "Although the movement still persists, Technocracy's heyday lasted only from June 16, 1932, when the New York Times became the first influential press organ to report its activities, until January 13th, 1933, when its leader, Howard Scott, attempting to silence his critics, delivered a rambling, confusing, and most uninspiring address on a well publicized nationwide radio hookup."
Quoting Loeb: "Once the play of supply and demand had been discarded as the price fixer, there would be no turning back. A scientific cost accounting would have to be devised; production would have to be governed by consumptive needs and not by the lure of profit; consumption would have to be based on need and not on ability to buy. // The nature of the cost would have to be considered. Real cost cannot be figured in money because the price of the commodities which enter into the cost [now] depends on scarcity. With scarcity abolished, commodities, under the capitalist system, become worthless and gold infinitely valuable. This is patently absurd. Consequently a more useful measuring stick would have to be sought. // We have already at hand --- a means of measuring the real cost of a commodity; a measure of energy^ called the "erg" and its multiples. --- Thus the cost of a commodity would be [all the cumulative energy costs to produce it]."
* After Thorstein Veblen, an encyclopedic genius whose cynicism verged on misanthropy, it's my impression that Harold Loeb was the most thoughtful and perhaps a better motivated proponent of technocracy. (Veblen wasn't a member of TI, but his books and advocacy inspired both the movement and its principle leader: Howard Scott.) All of them were prone to slap some "science"/engineering talk on a subject and call it good, a social/political phenomena which is still going very strong today.
* Glaringly, and such was still the case during my encounter with TI people 20 years ago, the emphasis was on energy and thermal efficiency, seemingly to the exclusion of human hours of labor --and much else. They do have a prime consideration of human need as the driver of production (instead of profits), which is a socially nice thing to hear (and Loeb gets into the psychology of "need"). I'll have to read through Loeb's book and other TI literature some more to pick up better on how they treat of real world scarcities, labor, and ecological costs --while cutting them slack for it having come out of the 1930s and the Depression.
*^ A slippery point is that TI-ers speak of energy --itself (as in so many kilowatt hours --KWH being more familiar to us than "ergs")-- as the coin of the realm. Again: that's "KWH", not (say) "10 cents per KWH", and seemingly: they didn't (at that point) address the costs and resultant scarcities of producing energy. Those costs would have to be in terms of labor hours, ecological impacts and reduced life spans (then: due to dams, air pollution and coal ash; now-a-days: add in escaped radioactive substances, the hammering of wind turbines, the dispersal of discarded solar panel nano-particles and, of course, global warming).
* I should note that this talk of "ergs" and energy costs predated starry-eyed notions about nuclear energy being "too cheap to meter" (not!). I should also note that there'd be dire consequences if any new source of energy turned out to actually be so cheap (in the limited terms of labor and money). Meanwhile, the costs of renewable energy sources do keep getting cheaper, and it does seem that such concepts as "labor hours" and "quality of life" are here to stay --even after the advent of (costly to build and maintain) general purpose robots. (I suggest the movie version of "Bicentennial Man" for an appealing treatment of the general purpose robot.)
By HOWARD SCOTT (only extracts here --so you might want to see the entire document)
[Here Scott begins with a pair of classically western statements, then moves right into giving us the mental tools we need to usefully deal with the issues of a modern industrial society --circa 1930. ---Craig]
SOME BASIC DEFINITIONS
"I often say that if you can measure that of which you can speak, you know something of your subject; but if you cannot measure it, your knowledge is meager and unsatisfactory." Lord Kelvin.
"In physical science ... the first step is to define clearly the material system which we make the subject of our statements. This system may be of any degree of complexity. It may be a simple material particle, a body of finite size, or any number of such bodies, and it may even be extended so as to include the whole material universe." James Clerk Maxwell, from: "Matter and Motion."
Mass: The quantity of matter in a body, or, more correctly, the degree of resistance to changes of state exhibited by a body. (Weight, however, is an expression of the force with which the earth attracts the body.)
Motion: Change of position (displacement of a body with reference to another body). The determination of displacement involves two quantities: the length of the path traversed between the given points, and the direction of the path from origin to terminus (Vector).
Force: That which changes, or tends to change, the state of rest or uniform motion of a body. It is only through such changes that force can be detected or measured.
Energy: The capacity of a body or material system for doing work. Kinetic energy: Possessed by a body in virtue of its motion; summarized in the formula K.E. = 1/2mv^2, where m is the mass of the body and v its velocity. Potential energy: Possessed by a body in virtue of its position or configuration. (The case of water at the top of a fall, of a body suspended above the ground, of a taut cord or a coiled spring.)
Work: A force is said to do work when its point of application is displaced in the direction of its application (Cox). Expressed more generally by James Clerk Maxwell, work is "the transference of energy from one body or material system to another. The system which gives out energy is said to do work on the system which receives it, and the amount of energy given out by the first system is always exactly equal to that received by the second." Bear in mind that in practice allowance must be made for "losses" through friction, air resistance and heat; these losses, however, added to the total of energy effectively transformed into work, always equal the total energy originally expended.
Power: The quantity of work done by a body or material system in a unit of time. More tersely, a time-rate of doing work. This scientific definition of power must be kept clearly in mind in all discussions bearing upon the operation of physical equipment of any kind: no reference to "power" is correct that does not state a quantitative relationship between the factor of Work and the physical dimension of Time.
NEWTON'S THREE LAWS OF MOTION
1. Every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line except in so far as it is compelled to change that state by impressed force. (This is Galileo's Principle of Inertia.)
2. Change of motion is proportional to the impressed force and takes place in the direction of that force. (From this law is derived the method of measuring force, which can be observed only if. relation to changes of state in a body.)
3. To every action there is equal and opposite reaction. (This states that all force is of the nature of a stress, that is, a mutual action between two bodies. Force could not exist, nor would it be necessary, if there were no inertia or resistance to overcome.)
THE TWO LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS
1. The total energy of a body or system of bodies is a quantity which can neither be increased nor diminished by any mutual action of the bodies, though it may be transformed into any one of the forms of which energy is susceptible. (Clerk Maxwell.) This is the great Principle of the Conservation of Energy. Attempts to circumvent or violate it come under the head of perpetual motion of the first class.
2. The total energy of a material system (which includes its heat) tends to become uniformly distributed throughout the particles of the system. This process is described as "unidirectional and irreversible," and from any determinate energy state of the system (provided that no indeterminate external force is introduced) it is possible to calculate "the next most probable state" of the system. The final state of complete distribution or equipartition of energy is called the maximum entropy of the system. It is this law which in current physical theory is treated as a special case of the theory of probabilities: the state of a material system at any moment is a statistical expression of the combined (and individually indeterminate) states of the particles of which it is composed.
-------------------end quotes from TI / Scott
** There you have it: technical literacy in a nutshell! :-)
If you consider the prospect of a technical, managerial society (which would actually encompass and supervise everyone, including the honcho technicians, who are only expert in their respective specialties) --to be undemocratic, then you'd best open your eyes to a growing list of technological dependencies we buy into every year --and the international corporate oligarchy which manufactures this stuff for us --and is answerable to no one.
------------- (Or: whatever did you think the GATT and NAFTA agreements were about --"free trade" maybe? -ha -ha -ha -ha!)
Either way, the systems our lives depend upon will increasingly be in the hands of technical managers, be they faceless corporate ciphers or government installed bureaucratic officials.
Although Scott's technocrats loudly eschewed domestic political parties and any such "European" political influences as Marxism, it appears to me that the "industrial congress" systems of representation proposed by some socialist groups also amounted to a technocracy. Hegemony-wise, Marxists/socialists (with significant exceptions for the British Fabians and other democratic socialist groups) generally felt they needed to bring the whole world into the "International", while TI considered most places outside of the North American Continent to be culturally unsuitable. (Sure can't fault them on their Americanism! --even if they did/do want to do away with the whole USA / Star Spangled Banner / political borders schmear :-)))
So again: why wasn't there a political storm and witch hunt --on account of TI's membership (some of the nation's best science and engineering talent!) and their goals (no less than the complete dissolution and rebuild of all power and administrative structure on the North American continent)?! It should have made the HUAC's red-baiting of the 1950s an historical footnote by comparison.
Although there doesn't seem to have been a gun, bomb, or militia among them, can't you just IMAGINE their FBI files?! [An old response to that question from TI rep Trent Fisher reported that there is indeed an FBI file on Technocracy: nearly 3000 pages! At the time, however, efforts via the FOIA had only peeled loose a few of them.]
But instead, the Technocrats became a living footnote. From what I've read, the reasons had little to do with reaction (widely and wildly favorable at one point) to what TI was trying to accomplish, and much to do with historical context: --the unfolding history of the 1930s. Herren Hitler, Franco and Mussolini gave everyone the jitters about authoritarian movements of any stripe, while FDR's economic reforms became a safety release valve against the kind of structural blow-out that many socialist groups were pushing for. ("Little reforms prevent big reforms.")
At the end of a 1948 TI pamphlet on population issues titled: "The Ecology of Man" (reissued in '69), is an invitation to the reader to join TI's struggle --conditioned on the expectation that members would not be bucking or petitioning the TI organization on questions of policy. While that probably strikes the same kind of sour note to your ear as mine, I suspect this passage fairly represents what Technocracy Incorporated was like before the war --and might still be.
I'm not trying to be negative --and have myself long despaired of "democracy" --at least as we know and practice it. Considering that 90% of the voting public is easily manipulated and has but a tenuous grasp on the issues (let alone, technical literacy!), TI's in-your-face, top-down culture is probably a rational and honest (as in: "out front") position --but not a party plank which is likely to enlist the average American Joe and Jill --is it?
"As painful as it may be to you, you must make a decision. The March of Events will not let you sit on a fence or equivocate for long. So, you might as well decide now. Which are you for, the `blundercrats' of the Price System, or, the Technocrats? No matter how smart you are in the immediate manipulations of the moment, you have no security under `blunderocracy.' The only future worthwhile is a future in Technocracy. // You do not have to he a genius to be a Technocrat, but you must have integrity and an attitude of cooperative endeavor. You must be prepared to function as an integral part of a self disciplined body of people with a definite social objective. In Technocracy, there are many `little' jobs to be done which are as important as the so-called big jobs. In Technocracy, there is no place for individual anarchy, ego inflation, or opinionation. But there is plenty of room for function and it is function that will get the job done. There is no material reward and no glory beyond the satisfaction of doing what must be done. // For all who can qualify on this basis, there is room and a job in Technocracy. // Can you qualify?"
My take: The first political/societal reform organization which can constructively channel their member's creativity and opinions, rather than suppress or ignore them, is going to have this planet's climax social epoch named after it.
My take: The author and/or audience of this book are moss-back conservatives. Be my guess they tend to be global warming deniers^ and Christian creationists^^ who advocate privatizing government owned utilities, roads, bridges, parks, forests and other government managed tracts of land. I gather that they see "government" as the driver of technocracy/globalism, rather than the mega-corporations which largely stage manage government and elections. What they don't get: *That by weakening and infiltrating government with more of their kind, corporatism (fascism) will capture ever more of what we own, then rent and toll it back, making us their vassals, perhaps right down to privatized and patented chromosomes in our testicles and ovaries. *That by our own hands, we keep buying into the very technologies/machines/systems which require a top-down managerial society to function (which is becoming a top-down corporatocracy), and which spreads the competency to repair or replace its proprietary components out to an ever thinner strata of corporate controlled expert technicians.
* Sharing in that opinion is none other than Francis Crick (on page #51 of his book: Life Itself).
* While one might more reasonably conclude that God said: "Poof: let there be [whatever]", I'm going with a hunch on a greater miracle: that "evolutionary" diversification was/is actually a flexible, environmentally responsive, (many many) multiple pattern choice process --all preprogrammed into the common DNA of life. I'm also going with a humble "I dunno" as to how that came to be, and with "panspermia" ("directed"?) as to how it reached Earth.