radio killed technocracy

Though its vocabulary was not altogether intelligible, it talked in terms of power energies, mechanics, efficiency, elimination of waste, and these, even more than its utopian promise of $20,000 a year incomes, were calculated to capture the American imagination.  Howard Scott, its progenitor, had been a familiar face in radical bohemian circles for many years, during which time had been pouring forth his scorn on the radicals’ schemes of mass revolution and demonstrating that twelve revolutionary engineers in strategic places could bring capitalism to knees in three days.  Coming now from the hollowed precints of Columbia University, backed by an imposing array of academic sponsors and assistants, his theories took on an authority and dignity that made Scott the Man of the Hour.  A Technocracy Craze swept the country.  The newspapers were full of it; whole magazines were devoted to it; fierce controversies raged around it.  Verblins’ The Engineers and the Price System, which contained the essence of technocratic theory, was republished and became a best seller.

Scott himself helped to kill the movement several months later in a rambling, incoherent and confused speech that was broadcast throughout the country.  A few stubborn admirers hoped, and claimed, that their idol was somewhat “tight” when he made it.  But a new prophet had toppled from his pedestal.  The new panacea died a rapid death.

——      Rebel America, Lilliam Symes and Travers Clement, page 369, 1934

4 Responses to “radio killed technocracy”

  1. Grad Says:

    Misinformation about Scott and a rambling speech. That was the Hotel Pierre speech which was ‘reported’ by the NewYork Times to be ‘rambling’ something that Wikipedia now perpetuates since many people use that as a source.

    Reality was that the media buried the Technocracy movement at that point out of fear of loosing their sponsors. That is the way the press works by the way.

    Listen to the speech for yourself and see

    Technocracy remained fairly strong for a long time only falling apart more recently… though it is still an organization of sorts. FDR recruited 18 technocrats for his administration for instance and it is doubtful the social reforms he did would have happened had it not been for the many former card carrying Technocracy members.
    Another back ground link on energy economics

  2. Justin Says:

    something that Wikipedia now perpetuates since many people use that as a source.
    Who said anything about wikipedia? I posted an excerpt from a book, published in 1934.

    On FDR…

    You’re referencing Tugwell, right?
    Curiously, a quick google search shows up on google books a book I’m somewhat familiar with — (right -wing) John Flynn’s “The Roosevelt Myth”

    The Dies Committee — something of a forerunner of the UnAmericans Activities Committee – “Are you now or have you ever been a member of –?” is a little interesting in relation with asking about Technocracy.

  3. Grad Says:

    I guess your phrasing of questions is a little abstract for me. I just mentioned that the source you quote is quoting the NewYork Times for their ‘source’. The speech was not rambling. Read a transcript of The Hotel Pierre Address.

    The speech marked the end of the ‘love’ affair that the press had with Technocracy ideas. It became a serious threat to the status quo at that point and the media buried it in a mass of propaganda… such as you are perpetuating still. Scott was clear and articulate. They just did not like his message.

  4. Grad Says: This is part one and there is a part two also.

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