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Technocracy is an Elitist form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Engineers, Scientists, Health care professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body. In a technocracy, decision makers would be selected based upon how knowledgeable and skillful they are in their field.

Technical and leadership skills would be selected through bureaucratic processes on the basis of specialized knowledge and performance, rather than democratic election by those without such knowledge or skill deemed necessary. Some forms of technocracy are envisioned as a form of meritocracy, a system where the "most qualified" and those who decide the validity of qualifications are the same people. The way technocracy would be applied to a country would be to give control of the industries to the technical people to manage. Second the country would be ruled by a bureaucracy of scientists, lawyers, political scientists, economists, historians and other skilled people in those areas.

A big weakness with technocracy is that if the technocrats or the bureaucrats who choose them are corrupted by power there is no protection for ordinary people.

History of the termEdit

The term technocracy derives from the Greek words tekhne meaning skill and kratos meaning power, as in government, or rule. William Henry 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".Smyth used the term "Technocracy" in his 1919 article "'Technocracy'—Ways and Means to Gain Industrial Democracy]]," in the journal Industrial Management (57). Smyth's usage referred to [[Industrial democracy: a movement to integrate workers into decision making through existing firms or revolution. In the 1930s, through the influence of Howard Scott and the Technocracy movement that he founded, the term technocracy came to mean government by technical decision making.

Technocracy movementEdit

The American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen was an early advocate of technocracy, and was involved in the Technical Allianceas was Howard Scott and M. King Hubbert. Veblen believed that technological developments would eventually lead toward a socialistic organization of economic affairs. Veblen saw socialism as one intermediate phase in an ongoing evolutionary process in society that would be brought about by the natural decay of the business enterprise system and by the inventiveness of engineers. Daniel Bell sees an affinity between Veblen and the Technocracy movement.

In 1932, Howard Scott founded Technocracy Incorporated, and proposed that money be replaced by energy certificates denominated in units such as ergs or joules, equivalent in amount to an appropriate national energy budget, which could be divided equally among all members of a North American continental Technate. The group argued that apolitical, rational engineers should be vested with authority to guide an economy into a thermodynamically balanced load of production and consumption, thereby doing away with unemployment and debt.

The technocracy movement was highly popular in the USA for a brief period in the early 1930s, during the Great Depression. But by the mid-1930s, interest in the movement was declining. Most historians have attribute the demise of the technocracy movement to the rise of Roosevelt's New Deal.


Before the term technocracy was coined technocratic or quasi-technocratic ideas involving governance by technical experts were promoted by various individuals, most notably early socialist theorists such as Henri de Saint-Simon. This was expressed by the belief in state ownership over the economy, with the function of the state being transformed from one of political rule over men into a scientific administration of things and a direction of processes of production under scientific management. Scientific socialist theorist Friedrich Engels had a similar view; the state would die out and ceases to be a state when the government of people and interference in social affairs is replaced by an administration of things and technical processes.

Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian scientist and social theorist, also anticipated a conception of technocratic process. Both Bogdanov’s fiction and his political writings which were highly influential suggest that he expected a coming revolution against capitalism to lead to a technocratic society.


Technocrats are individuals with technical training and occupations who perceive many important societal problems as being solvable, often while proposing technology-focused solutions. The administrative scientist Gunnar K. A. Njalsson theorizes that technocrats are primarily driven by their cognitive "problem-solution mindsets" and only in part by particular occupational group interests. Their activities and the increasing success of their ideas are thought to be a crucial factor behind the modern spread of technology and the largely ideological concept of the "information society". Technocrats may be distinguished from "econocrats" and "bureaucrats" whose problem-solution mindsets differ from those of the technocrats.

The former government of the Soviet Union has been referred to as a technocracy. Soviet leaders like Leonid Brezhnev had a technical background in education, and in 1986 89% of Politburo members were engineers.

Technocracy and engineeringEdit

Following Samuel Haber, Donald Stabile argues that engineers were faced with a conflict between physical efficiency and cost efficiencyin the new corporate capitalist enterprises of the late nineteenth century United States. The profit-conscious, non-technical managers of firms where the engineers work, because of their perceptions of market demand, often impose limits on the projects that engineers desire to undertake.

The prices of all inputs vary with market forces thereby upsetting the engineer's careful calculations. As a result, the engineer loses control over projects and must continually revise plans. To keep control over projects the engineer must attempt to exert control over these outside variables and transform them into constant factors.


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