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The word technocracy (also technocrat) has often been applied (or misapplied, depending on one's own opinion) to ideas revolving around technology, and such examples and references may include:
- A political party
- A political theory
- A financial racket
- A religious organization
- A philosophical concept
- A variant of Communism, Socialism, Fascism, or any other "-ism"
- Rule by a technological "elite"
- Putting scientists or engineers in "power"
- A corporate dictatorship
- A shadowy villain in a role-playing game
- A dead organization
- Seeking to overthrow the government and "take over"
- In support of violent change
Originally, a rather obscure movement during The Great Depression that advocated an alternative economic system based upon the amount of energy that was required to produce goods, equal energy quotas for everyone, and an equal number of hours of work from everyone. The idea was that everyone, regardless of their job, would work the same number of hours per week, and receive the same energy allowance with which to purchase mass-produced goods.
Virginia Postrel lists technocrats as one of the opponents of dynamists in The Future and Its Enemies. Basically a technocracy governs by centralised, calculated control. Economic models are one of the primary tools of a technocracy and they use the results of these models to inact things like price fixing, centralised interest rates, and grain subsidies. So although technocrats aren't against big business, they believe that only centeralised micromanagement by big government can keep a country running. Her description of technocracy makes one think of big iron and dumb terminals extended to an entire social system.
A society governed by technicians. Controlled through the use of scientific mass manipulation of people, ideas and the economy. George Orwell wrote in his essays on fascism that "a technocratic society is a prerequisite for fascism," as the strict procedural approach of the Nazi government demonstrated.
Technocracy is a (thus far) fictional form of government which appears in the Call to Power turn-based strategy games. This notional state, however, is far older. The game's designers have almost certainly read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and have lavishly furnished their own dystopian future vision with many of his concepts. To whit:
- State sponsored cloning and genetic modification
- A rigorous caste system
- State control of industry
- Creation of an ultra-affluent consumer class
- Perpetual surveillance
- Social control through psychoactive and narcotic drugs
In game terms, such social conditions are conducive to exponential industrial output, presumably as the proletariat no longer have to be negotiated with. Oddly enough, for such a sinister governmental model, the drawbacks are relatively negligible; pollution is relative prevalent; but not dangerously so. One can only guess that the designers hoped the players would come to terms with the moral implications of such a society (this is, after all, a game were players can choose to engage in the slave trade, or to become fascist dictators).
Unlike Brave New World, there is little intellectual subtlety here. Of the three major theoretical future governments: Virtual Democracy, Ecotopia and Technocracy, the latter is without doubt the "bad guy". The genius of Huxley's work lies in the question it ultimately puts to the reader: "Do you want to live like this?" In the case of Technocracy, it is a question not even worth asking.
Footnotes and references
- In spite of the somewhat misleading name, Virtual Democracy is model in which every state decision is taken on a "one man, one vote" system. As a result, society immediately becomes a pacifistic, egalitarian wonderland of freethinking and scientific discovery.