Technocracy Incorporated is one of the great vanishing acts of history. At the peak of its existence, Technocracy Inc. had half a million members in California alone and received extensive press. Today, they are virtually forgotten.
(Above: a Technocracy sign in a Depression-era town)
To over simplify: the goal of Technocracy Inc. was to create a socio-economic system run entirely by engineers. It was founded by Howard Scott, an engineer with dubious credentials.
Above: Technocracy founder Howard Scott
Scott’s basic idea was that all human endeavor could effectively be measured in terms of energy expended. Whatever it took to make anything could be translated into pure ergs and joules. Therefore, the first thing to do was to take a grand energy survey of all the nations industries, a project to which Rautenstrauch actually got Columbia’s venerable president Nicholas Murray Butler to lend his support. Once it was determined how much energy it took to make everything, the nation’s engineers could step in and eliminate the irrational â€œsocial motivesâ€ in business. That is, all the energy businessmen put into making luxury goodsor profits.
Scott was always vague about just what would happen next. When pressed, he and his associates finally theorized that some sort of scrip, equivalent to the energy the nation used in a year, could be distributed on a perfectly equal basis to all U.S. citizens. To keep everything balanced and that pesky capital from accumulating, people would have to use up their â€œenergy certificatesâ€ during the year or see them become worthless. The result, Loeb asserted in a book he rushed into print by early 1933, would be such abundance that no one would have to work more than four hours or so, four days a week. (Source)
Sounds nice. But things got a little creepy.
Above: a fleet of official Technocracy gray cars, from this IWW profile of Scott.
Technocracy’s program gained in popularity over the 1930s and 1940s, with members from all over North America. The organization gave lecture tours, study courses, and held motorcades, where hundreds of official “Technocracy Grey Cars” travelled all over the United States and Canada as part of the organization’s “symbolization” campaign. The Grey Cars sparked fears that Technocracy was a secret society with resources to create a fleet of vehicles in the midst of a depression. In reality, the organization only supplied grey paint so that members could customize their own vehicles. A grey suit became the organization’s uniform, and a red and grey monad its official symbol. (Source)
Names, too, were suspect for some reason so members of the movement in California were designated only by numbers. A speaker at one California rally was introduced only as 1x1809x56! (Source)
Numbers instead of names. Gray cars and uniforms. A completely engineered vision of society. Oh my.
To tie it back to the Dharma Initiative a bit, check out these training videos on YouTube:
They are forgotten, but not gone. Technocracy Incorporated is alive and active today, but their numbers have diminished. Perhaps, as we enter a new depression and a crashing banking system they will be able to rise again. China actually accomplished part of what Technocracy Inc. sought: rule by engineers. As the United States and Europe’s economies melt down, we can no longer use practicality as a justification to avoid Chinese economic and political policies. Technocracy may well be in our future.
Time Magazine article on Scott from 1932.