The technocracy movement is a social movement which arose in the early 20th century. Technocracy was popular in the USA for a brief period in the early 1930s, before it was overshadowed by other proposals for dealing with the crisis of the Great Depression. The technocrats proposed replacing politicians and businesspeople with scientists and engineers who had the technical expertise to manage the economy.
Technocracy advocates contend that price system-based forms of government and economy are structurally incapable of effective action, and promoted a more rational and productive type of society headed by technical experts.
The coming of the Great Depression ushered in radically different ideas of social engineering, culminating in reforms introduced by the New Deal By late 1932, various groups across the United States were calling themselves "technocrats" and proposing reforms.
The technocratic movement has its origins with the progressive engineers of the early twentieth century and the writings of Edward Bellamy, along with some of the later works of Thorstein Veblen such as Engineers And The Price System written in 1921. William H. 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", and in the 1920s it was used to describe the works of Thorsten Veblen.
Early technocratic organisations formed after the First World War in both Europe and the United States. In the U.S., these included Henry Gantt’s "The New Machine" and Veblen’s "Soviet of Technicians". These organisations folded after a short time, but not before Howard Scott attended a series of "Soviet of Technicians" lectures.
United States and Canada 
Howard Scott has been called the "founder of the technocracy movement" and he started the Technical Alliance in New York near the end of 1919. Members of the Alliance were mostly scientists and engineers. The Technical Alliance started an Energy Survey of North America, which aimed to provide a scientific background from which ideas about a new social structure could be developed. However the group broke up in 1921 and the survey was not completed.
In 1932, Scott and others interested in the problems of technological growth and economic change began meeting in New York City. Their ideas gained national attention and the "Committee on Technocracy" was formed at Columbia University, by Howard Scott and Walter Rautenstrauch. However, the group was short-lived and in January 1933 splintered into two other groups, the "Continental Committee on Technocracy" (led by Harold Loeb) and "Technocracy Incorporated" (led by Scott). However, the movement largely failed to gain traction in other major metropolitan areas during this time period.
At the core of Scott's vision was "an energy theory of value". Since the basic measure common to the production of all goods and services was energy, he reasoned "that the sole scientific foundation for the monetary system was also energy", and that by using an energy metric instead of a monetary metric (energy certificates or 'energy accounting') a more efficient design of society could be made. Technocracy Inc. officials wore a uniform, consisting of a "well-tailored double-breasted suit, gray shirt, and blue necktie, with a monad insignia on the lapel", and its members saluted Scott in public.
Public interest in technocracy peaked in the early 1930s:
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 13, 1933, when Scott, attempting to silence his critics, delivered what some critics called a confusing, and uninspiring address on a well-publicized nationwide radio hookup.
Following Scott's radio address (Hotel Pierre Address), the condemnation of both him and technocracy in general reached a peak. The press and businessmen reacted with ridicule and almost unanimous hostility. The American Engineering Council charged the technocrats with "unprofessional activity, questionable data, and drawing unwarranted conclusions".
The technocrats made a believable case for a kind of technological utopia, but their asking price was too high. The idea of political democracy still represented a stronger ideal than technological elitism. In the end, critics believed that the socially desirable goals that technology made possible could be achieved without the sacrifice of existing institutions and values and without incurring the apocalypse that technocracy predicted.
The faction-ridden Continental Committee on Technocracy collapsed in October 1936. However, Technocracy Incorporated continued, adopting distinctive red and grey uniforms for its staff and a fleet of cars in these colors. These features brought the organization under suspicion during World War II. The organization was banned in Canada for several years, but the ban was lifted in 1943.
There were some speaking tours of the USA and Canada in 1946 and 1947, and a motorcade from Los Angeles to Vancouver:
Hundreds of cars, trucks, and trailers, all regulation grey, from all over the Pacific Northwest, participated. An old school bus, repainted and retrofitted with sleeping and office facilities, a two-way radio, and a public address system, impressed observers. A huge war surplus searchlight mounted on a truck bed was included, and grey-painted motorcycles acted as parade marshalls. A small grey aircraft, with a Monad symbol on its wings, flew overhead. All this was recorded by the Technocrats on 16-mm 900-foot colour film.
1948 saw a decline in activity and considerable internal dissent. One central factor contributing to this dissent was that "the Price System had not collapsed, and predictions about the expected demise were becoming more and more vague". Some quite specific predictions about the Price System collapse were made during the Depression, the first giving 1937 as the date, and the second forecasting the collapse as occurring "prior to 1940".
Membership and activity declined steadily in the years after 1948, but some activity persisted, mostly around Vancouver in Canada and on the West Coast of the United States. Technocracy Incorporated currently maintains a website and distributes a monthly newsletter.
In Great Britain, Political and Economic Planning, a think-tank founded in 1931, also advocated similar economic intervention. In Germany prior to the second world war a technocratic movement based on the American model introduced by Technocracy Incorporated existed which ran afoul with the political system there.
A Russian movement existed based on similar beginnings from the North American movement also.Alexander Bogdanov's concept of Tectology bears some semblance to technocratic ideas. Both Bogdanov's fiction and his political writings as presented by Zenovia Sochor, imply that he expected a coming revolution against capitalism to lead to a technocratic society. The most important of the non-Leninist Bolsheviks may have been Alexander Bogdanov.
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