Technocracy Movement

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TECHNOCRACY MOVEMENT of the 1930s advocated the radical reorganization of American society around the principles of advanced technology. William Henry Smyth, an inventor and social reformer from California, first coined the term "technocracy" in 1919. Engineer Howard Scott revived the idea of a technological society during the economic depression that swept the United States in the 1930s. Scott believed that "technocrats" familiar with modern machinery could automate production, distribute industrial wealth, increase consumption, and spark a national economic recovery. Scott also argued that technocrats could apply their skills to remake the nation's financial system and prevent future depressions. They could set a product's value by the amount of energy consumed in production and redesign a monetary system based on "energy certificates" good for a certain amount of consumption. In Scott's utopia, the government would also provide each citizen an annual income of $20,000 in exchange for a minimum amount of work. To lay the groundwork for his technological society, Scott and a group of coworkers conducted an energy survey of North America from office space provided by Columbia University. Although their efforts fueled public interest, they also attracted the scornful denunciation of professional economists, and the Technocracy Movement essentially ended in 1933. However impractical Scott's technocracy may have been, however, his theories highlighted the impact of machines on society and the pervasive economic inequality of the 1930s. Technocrats ultimately stimulated discussion of the nation's economic problems and probably helped create a climate favorable for increasing the federal involvement in the economy.


Akin, William. Technocracy and the American Dream. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1977.

Noble, David F. Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation. New York: Knopf, 1984.

Scott, Howard. Introduction to Technocracy. New York: J. Day Co.,1933.

Harris GaylordWarren/e. m.

See alsoAutomation ; Great Depression ; Share-the-Wealth Movements ; Townshend Plan .

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Technocracy Movement

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