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Sorry if I was excessively defensive about the Technocrats.

The first Veblen conference I attended, I went essentially to ask if anyone understood "Engineers and the Price System."

For anyone who tries to wade through that book the basic message is: Modern societies have become so complex that only those who understand the technological umbilical cord that supports us are really qualified to make the big decisions of government and other group behavior.  The group with the best mechanisms for learning and teaching these facts is the engineers.

I understand THAT.  It's the rest of the book that baffles me.

Anyway, back to the conference.  I ask about Engineers and get some bad vibes.  Worse, I got a rant about the awfulness of Technocracy.

When I was doing research for Elegant Technology I had read a fistful of literature from some old Technocrats.  It wasn't very sophisticated in either conception or execution but it wasn't as hopelessly embarrassing as this cranky Veblenite would have us believe.  Veblen's reputation will not be destroyed because the Technocrats liked him.  

And if indeed you are a technologically literate lefty, congratulations on being part of a VERY small group in USA.  For example, I have met fewer than 10 fellow Americans who understand why Scandinavian engineers have a FAR higher social status in their home countries than engineers in USA while STILL finding it necessary to belong to a trade union.

I also want to be clear about my own technological literacy.  If you assign the above chart a scale from 1-100, I score about 200 points--NOT because I excel in any category, but because I score decent points in all four of them.  I am a bit like Veblen here--good enough to get into the club of technological literates but not so good I can make a living in any single category.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 02:17:53 AM EST
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