What is technocracy?
According to dictionaries, technocracy describes a government which is under control of technically skilled people. Many people have associated this interpretation of the concept of “technocracy” with what actual, existing organisations advocating technocracy want to establish. Technocracy is unique in the aspect that the word itself draws negative connotations from all directions. The political left accuses the political right of being “technocrats” and vice-versa.
Image by wallyg – http://flickr.com/photos/wallyg/180195953/ When technocrats are confronted about their ideological inclination, they often do not know how to deal with the hostility expressed by persons who have an inner mental picture of technocracy as some form of evil conspiracy, or mindless gray economistic totalitarian belief in the supremacy of industrialism.
We have most often discussed what technocracy is from a technical perspective, which has given the impression that we are hiding or downplaying the “ideological issues”. This has given room for accusations.
One could say that when technocrats are confronted on what technocracy is, they generally answer what we want to do. That is of course because no one has up to yet offered any viable definition of technocracy as an ideology. The reason for that is – shamefully enough – that no technocrat has ever investigated any eventual ideological foundation of technocracy.
In this article, we aim to explore why there is so little “ideological self-analysis” in technocracy, about the potential of the human being and the role of the technate, as well as human rights under a technate.
What is an ideology?
An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. The word ideology was coined by Count Antoine Destutt de Tracy in the late 18th century to define a “science of ideas.” An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare Weltanschauung), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society. The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought (as opposed to mere ideation) applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought. [Source: Wikipedia]
The three dominant ideologies in Europe and in the European off-shot cultures, have historically been liberalism, conservatism and socialism. Without going in-depth about them, we could state that they share some inherent similarities. What a lot of people tend to forget, is that all three of those ideologies are based on assumptions of human nature. Liberalism and socialism both stress a belief in progress and enlightenment, and share an optimistic view on the human being, while conservatism has generally viewed people as children in need for fatherly and paternal guidance (in some sense, that view is prevalent in marxism-leninism, social liberalism and social democracy as well).
Thus, similarities between the three basic ideoloigies from which all other modern ideologies have emerged are that they put human nature, human reason, and a vision for how the human being should pursue his/her happiness in the centre.
In technocracy, the nature of the human being is never investigated, since technocrats choose empirical evidence and statistical information before idealism in judging what should be done. The center of the technocratic world-view is the infrastructure, while the nature of the human being is left in the void, thus efficiently disconnecting technocracy from any short-sentenced reference to why we need to install it.
When technocracy was originally formulated in the 1920’s, it was a progressive standpoint reflecting the optimism of the early 20th century, the belief in technology itself as well as rationalism, taylorism and American pragmatism. In that essence, Howard Scott did have a point when he referred to technocracy as a post-ideology.
The original technocrats were not philosophers or sociologists, but people with education in natural sciences, with all the strong and weak points of a worldview following such an education.
Posted by: euzoia | October 17, 2008
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