Technocracy Incorporated proposes a fundamental change in both the economy and in forms of governance in North America. Technocracy Technate design is claimed by TechInc to be a science applied to society method, using the metric of energy and a new method of social operation. Today this groups members partake in discussion groups, publish quarterly magazines and a monthly newsletter called Trend Events, and advocate for the original concepts of a Thermoeconomics based scientific social design, presented in their publication Technocracy Study Course.
With Peak Oil, and the Global Warming crisis now developing, technate advocates contend that it is becoming ever more apparent that our present form of economy, a Price system, and our present form of governance, a political system, are structurally incapable of taking effective action. Technocracy technate design, is the possible 'Plan B,' according to them, for enabling a continuance of the technology, that will ensure our survival. Technocracy Incorporated proposes a non political governmental system using Energy Accounting in a Non-market economics method based on science principles.
The organization receives its funds entirely from dues and donations from its members. Because of the goal of abolishing political controls, membership is open to any citizen of North America, except politicians.
The Technocracy Monad, representing balance, is the official symbol of Technocracy, Inc.. The monad symbol is shown on the outside of a Technocracy section meeting place below in pictures.
In the early 19th century, the physical and ecological basis of economic production intuitively grasped by the physiocrats was formalized by the discovery of the laws of thermodynamics. Soon after Carnot, Clausius and others formalized the laws of thermodynamics, many physical and life scientists realized that those laws had enormous implications for their respective disciplines.
Thermodynamics and the study of energy flow became a universal index by which many disparate biological and physical processes were quantified and compared. Carnot’s steam engine experiments demonstrated the relevance of the second law of thermodynamics of economics, namely, how much useful work could be obtained from an energy conversion. Carnot’s experiments also showed that thermodynamic laws are essentially economic formulations of physical relations, for the terms ’useful’ and ’unavailable’ energy refer to the economy’s ability to use energy to upgrade the organizational state of natural resources into useful goods and services.
According to historian William E. Akin and other historians such as Donald R. Stabile, the technocracy technate design has its origins in the progressive engineers of the early twentieth century, along with some of the later works of Thorsten Veblen, such as "Engineers and the price system" written in 1921.
Frederick Soddy winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1921, published Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt (George Allen & Unwin 1926), which is used as a reference in the Technocracy Study Course. Soddy, later positively commented on the development of Technocratic ideas in North America.In Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt, Soddy turned his attention to the role of energy in economic systems. He criticized the focus on monetary flows in economics, arguing that “real” wealth was derived from the use of energy to transform materials into physical goods and services. Soddy’s economic writings were largely ignored in his time but viewed highly by Technocracy related groups. his ideas would later be applied to the development of biophysical economics and ecological economics and also bioeconomics in the late 20th century.
Scientific management was also a popular concept at this time. Howard Scott stated (History and Purpose of Technocracy.. in external links below) that technocracy was not related to the concepts of Scientific management, as Technocrats were not concerned with making Human toil more efficient, but instead wished to eliminate it in favor of Automation.
Josiah Willard Gibbs, a mathematician, engineer and chemist, was described by Howard Scott as the "intellectual forefather of technocracy" for his work on energy determinants. Howard Scott noted that the science behind the ideas of the Technocracy Technate design are based on the work of Willard Gibbs.In 1901, Gibbs was awarded the highest possible honor granted by the international scientific community of his day, granted to only one scientist each year: the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London, for being "the first to apply the second law of thermodynamics to the exhaustive discussion of the relation between chemical, electrical, and thermal energy and capacity for external work. This quotation summarizes Gibbs's greatest scientific contribution.
A variety of groups formed after the First World War concerned with engineering and social theory. These included Henry Gantt’s "The New Machine" and Thorstein Veblen’s "Soviet of Technicians". These organisations folded after a short time. The "Soviet of Technicians" resulted in a series of lectures which Howard Scott attended; Scott started the Technical Alliance in the winter of 1918-1919. Its members were mostly scientists and engineers, and included Veblen. The Alliance started an Energy Survey of North America, which would give a scientific background from which they developed ideas about a new social structure. However the Alliance broke up in the 1920s.
William Howard Smyth used the word "technocracy" to describe a government made up of scientists and engineers in the U.S. in 1919. . The view that technical concerns should take precedence developed among engineers such as Smyth based on the early conception of Industrial democracy which was limited merely to the technical government of firms. This school of thought amongst engineers eventually produced social institutions arguing for purely technical government of society in the 1930s. The word Technocracy has been used to describe some of the written works of Thorstein Veblen.Veblens book (The Engineers and the Price System) is a cited reference in the Technocracy Study Course.
In the winter of 1931, M. King Hubbert joined the staff of Columbia University and met Scott. According to Hubbert, he encouraged Scott to revive the Technical Alliance; the resulting group was formalised in 1933 as Technocracy Incorporated, with Scott as leader. Hubbert was a member of the Board of Governors that founded the organization, and served as Secretary; his membership of and involvement with Technocracy would be investigated in 1943 by his employers, the Board of Economic Warfare. Hubbert, a Geoscientist, would later give his name to the "Hubbert Peak", otherwise known as Peak Oil theory.
The new group sought to implement the findings of the Alliance and create a new kind of society based on energy accounting instead of a monetary system (the technocracy technate design). The group was incorporated in the state of New York in 1933 as a non-profit, non-political, non-sectarian organization. Led by Scott, then director-in-chief or "Chief Engineer", the organization promoted its goals of educating people about the Alliance's ideas via a North American lecture tour in 1934, gaining support throughout the depression years. The precedent document of the Technocracy movement is the Technocracy Study Course.
Today as they have done continuously since their inception, this groups members partake in discussion groups, publish quarterly magazines, and advocate for the original concepts of a Thermoeconomics based scientific social design. They also publish a monthly newsletter called Trend Events.
Technocracy Incorporated aims to establish a zero growth socio-economic science based system, predicated upon conservation and abundance as opposed to scarcity-based economic systems like capitalism or the so called planned economic system (within a Price System) used by Communist states.
The organisation argues that developments in mechanization have caused a massive shift of employment towards the service sector and that money creation and distribution jobs such as banking, insurance, etc. could be eliminated with the use of energy accounting. Further increases in efficiency and productivity mean that most of the tasks performed by human employees could be reduced or eliminated through better management, automation, and centralization. These trends could signal an increase in both production possibilities and leisure time since more can be produced with less human labor and many money related and service related jobs could thus be eliminated. Within a market system, however, increased productivity often leads to downsizing because companies need fewer workers, and also lower wages because of job competition. These conditions reduce purchasing power in a price system, which makes that system ultimately untenable in a technological society, or so goes that argument.
Non-market economics is the study of the production, trade, and distribution of goods and services via mechanisms other than the market. Non-market economies do not operate through the exchange of money. This type of exchange is also called reciprocity. This includes unilateral giving such as gifts and bilateral giving, meaning a person gives a gift expecting to be repaid at some unspecified time. The study of non-market economics is typically a part of economic anthropology.
Technocracy Incorporated proposes a non market economic system called energy accounting, which uses a post scarcity type of economy as its basis.The Technate design as projected, would include such post scarcity aspects as free housing (urbanates), transportation, recreation, and education. In other words free everything, including all consumer products, as a right of citizenship. Energy is used as an accounting system in this proposal and not a reward or punishment societal mechanism. Because some view money as being an unreliable tool of measurement as regards social and ecological concerns, this alternative concept could replace money in the future.
Energy Accounting is a hypothetical system of distribution, which would record the Energy used to produce and distribute goods and services consumed by citizens in a Technate. The units of this accounting system would be known as Energy Certificates, or Energy Units, these would replace money in a Technate, but unlike traditional money or currencies, energy certificates could not be saved or earned, only distributed evenly among a populace.
The amount of units given each citizen would be calculated by determining the total productive capacity of the technate and dividing it equally after infrastructure requirements were met. The Energy units or certificates themselves would probably not have to be physically used by the populace as the system would be computerised. In energy accounting the Technate would use information of natural resources, industrial capacity and citizen’s purchasing habits to determine how much of any good or service was being consumed by the populace, so that it could match production with consumption within a sustainable resource base. At the end of each balanced load period, those energy certificates not used would expire, and for the next period, new ones issued. Thus this system is not in any way a traditional economic device. There is no debt garnered. The energy units are an accounting system, not a monetary one. A monetary system is not used in a technate.
Some reasons given for the use of Energy Accounting are, to ensure the highest possible standard of living, as well as equality, among the Technate’s citizenry, as well as prohibit expending resources that go beyond the productive or ecological capacity of the technate. Technocrats point out that energy accounting is not rationing; it is a way to distribute an abundance and track demand. Everyone would receive an equal amount of consuming power via this Non-market economics, Post scarcity method, in theory.
Physical scientists and biologists were the first individuals to use energy flows to explain social and economic development. Joseph Henry, an American physicist and first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, remarked that the "fundamental principle of political economy is that the physical labor of man can only be ameliorated by...the transformation of matter from a crude state to a artificial condition...by expending what is called power or energy.
Energy economics relating to thermoeconomics, is a broad scientific subject area which includes topics related to supply and use of energy in societies. Thermoeconomists argue that economic systems always involve matter, energy, entropy, and information. Moreover, the aim of many economic activities is to achieve a certain structure. In this manner, thermoeconomics attempts to apply the theories in non-equilibrium thermodynamics, in which structure formations called dissipative structures form, and information theory, in which information entropy is a central construct, to the modeling of economic activities in which the natural flows of energy and materials function to create scarce resources. In thermodynamic terminology, human economic activity may be described as a dissipative system, which flourishes by transforming and exchanging resources, goods, and services. These processes involve complex networks of flows of energy and materials.
The North American Technate is a design and plan to transform North America into a Technocratic society. The plan includes using Canada's rich deposits of minerals and hydro-electric power as a complement to the United States's industrial and agricultural capacity (Many of the details of this plan are presented in the Technocracy Study Course).
The North America Technate would be composed of all of North America, Central America, the Caribbean, parts of South America and Greenland, encompassing some 30 modern nations (as well as numerous Non-Self-Governing Territories). If the Technate were set up today, it would contain nearly 600 million citizens and its total land area would be over 26 million square km (making it the largest nation on Earth). Its territorial claims would stretch from the North Pole in the north, to the Equator in the south and from the Caribbean in the east, to the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean, to the west.
Technocrats plan for Urbanates to be something akin to resorts, designed to give each citizen the highest standard of living possible. Getting around in an Urbanate would be inherently easy and efficient.
Urbanates would be connected via a continent-wide transportation network envisioned by Technocracy, which would involve a High-speed rail network linking every Urbanate, the Continental Hydrology (a Canal network), and air transport. These systems would also be connected to the Technate's industrial sites for easy transport of goods to consumers, and to all recreational and vacation areas of the continent.
The reason given by Technate advocates for all this ambitious restructuring of urban life is that modern cities are often extremely poorly planned and built in a haphazard way leading to major inefficiencies, waste, and environmental problems. Technocrats propose that rather than trying to solve these problems within the framework of existing cities based on current economic or price system agendas, new living constructs would reflect new values in a non monetary system.