Howard Scott (April 1, 1890 – January 1, 1970) was an American engineer who had an interest in technocracy, and helped to form the Technical Alliance, Committee on Technocracy, and Technocracy Incorporated.
Little is known about Scott's background or his early life and he has been described as a "mysterious young man". He was born in Virginia in 1890 and was of Scottish-Irish descent. He claimed to have been educated in Europe, but his training did not include any formal higher education.
In 1918, shortly before the end of WWI, Scott appeared in New York City. Scott worked in various construction camps, where he picked up on-the-job engineering experience, and in 1918 was working in a cement pouring gang at Muscle Shoals. Following this, Scott established himself in Greenwich Village as "a kind of Bohemian engineer". Scott also ran a small business called Duron Chemical Company which made paint and floor polish at Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Scott's job was to deliver his goods and show his customers how to use the floor polishing material.
At the end of World War I, Howard Scott helped to form the Technical Alliance which explored economic and social trends in North America; the Technical Alliance disbanded in 1921. In 1920, the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization which shared Scott's desire for radical social change, hired him as its first and only "Research Director".
Scott, together with Walter Rautenstrauch formed the Committee on Technocracy in 1932, which advocated a more rational and productive society headed by technical experts. The Committee disbanded in January 1933, after only a few months, largely because of different views held by Scott and Rautenstrauch as well as widespread criticism of Scott. Scott had "overstated his academic credentials", and he was discovered not to be a "distinguished engineer".
On January 13, 1933, Scott gave a speech about technocracy at New York's Hotel Pierre, before a live audience of 400, which was also broadcast on radio nationwide. The speech was subsequently called a "grave mistake", "disastrous", and "a complete failure". The speech was seen to be "the last straw for disillusioned technocrats".
Later in 1933 Scott formed Technocracy Incorporated and was its chief engineer. He remained as chief engineer until his death in 1970. Scott "argued indefatigably that scientific analysis of industrial production would show the path to lasting efficiency and unprecedented abundance". Scott gained many supporters within the movement. M. King Hubbert, for example, considered Scott extremely knowledgeable in physics. There was some discontent with Scott's leadership during WWII and a number of technocrats broke away from Technocracy Inc. and established their own breakaway organisation which only lasted for about a year.
- William E. Akin (1977). Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocrat Movement 1900-1941, University of California Press, pp. 28-29.
- Science: Technocrat TIME magazine, December 26, 1932.
- Beverly H. Burris (1993). Technocracy at work State University of New York Press, p. 30.
- Book review: Technocracy and the American Dream, History of Political Economy, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1978, p. 682.
- David E. Nye (1992). Electrifying America: social meanings of a new technology, 1880-1940 p. 344.
- Edwin T. Layton. Book review: The Technocrats, Prophets of Automation, Technology and Culture, Vol. 9, No. 2 (April, 1968), p. 256.
- Kevin Baker. The Engineered Society American Heritage Magazine, Vol. 51, No. 2, April 2000.
- Howard P. Segal (2005). Technological Utopianism in American Culture Syracuse University Press, p. 123.
- Harold Loeb and Howard P. Segal (1996). Life in a technocracy: what it might be like p. xv.
- Jack Salzman (1986). American studies: an annotated bibliography, Volume 2 p. 1596.
- Frank Fischer (1990). Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise, Sage Publications, p. 85.
- Henry Elsner, jr. (1967). The Technocrats: Prophets of Automation, Syracuse University.
- The Hotel Pierre Address
- A pamphlet of a given address by Howard Scott before the National Technological Congress and the Continental Convention on Technocracy at the Morris Hotel, Chicago, Ill. in June, 1933