Saturday, May 20, 2006

Technocracy Inc. Predicted Oil Crisis Over 50 years ago

I thought I would re-post this article here, as it is buried deep in my RedBetweenTheLines blog at Modblog. And given how often Modblog fails, which is why I no longer post there, I thought I would republish it here. Just in case it disappeared into the cyberabyss. And it is still relevant since it was published in January 2005. Wow way back then.

Recently a discussion on M.K.Hubbert arose on the marxism discussion list. This in itself was rather surprizing since Hubbert is a technocrat, and Technocracy Inc. is usually dismissed by the left as being some utopian scheme, or some kind of strange sect or cult. They were the original scientists and engineers for social responsibility, and being ahead of their time their theories appear to read like science fiction.

Hubbert is a favorite reference for my uncle, John Gregory, a professional engineer and geologist who worked for the National Research Council of Canada and is a long time member of Technocracy Inc here in Edmonton. As a social democratic technocrat living in the energy capital of Canada, his promotion of Hubberts therom was downright heresy. I grew up with a political understanding of technocracy as a progressive movement thanks to my uncle. Technocrats in Edmonton have always been activists appearing at all the progressive rallies and forums promoting their form of planned industrial/energy economy.

M. K. Hubbert predicated the Oil Crisis of 1972, waaaay back in the Fifties. He predicts that we will face a further oil crisis in the early part of this Century as reserve stocks decline along with increased demand.
Hubbert was dismissed at the time as a technocrat and his work is still villified in some circles today.Hubbert's work however has gained further legitimacy as oil prices have rocketed, and the Imperialist oil wars have drawn attention to this ongoing crisis.

Hubberts solution to this crisis was his theory of steady state economics. What was once thought of as crackpot theories of Technocracy, Hubbert has gained with new respect for his predictive analysis. Especially now that the impact of oil culture on the biosphere has been documented. Hubbert had already predicted that increasing reliance on oil would lead to an evironmental crisis in 1974.

Before dismissing Technocracy, one should review their work on economics needing to be energy based, actual credits based on the total value of physical energy available in an industrialized society. Not wage based, in other words they call for abolishing the wage system! Technocracy opposes capitalisms m-c-m formula (money-capital-money, or as we would call it today the Casino Capitalism of the Stockmarket) they oppose this money economy or price economy as they call it and propose replacing it with an energy economy.

Technocracy is a left wing industrial/social planning model , once banned at the same time as other left wing groups in the US and Canada. They promoted the theories ofthe Icelandic/American socialist Thorstein Veblen, author of the Leisure Class which gave us the term 'conspicious consumption'. Spefically Technocracy was influenced by his work: The Engineers And The Price System, regarding the social responsibilities of Science and Engineering which were direclty linked to the radical workers movement of the 1920's. The opening chapter is about Sabotage in the work place, the workers dissastisfaction with work and their alienation in industrial societies.

Technocracy Inc. from its beginings had friendly relations with the IWW, and was influenced by its unique form of North American syndicalism. Howard Scott was a friend of IWW General Secretary Vincent St. John, who got him to write articles for the union. Like other brain workers Technocrats viewed themsleves as workers, not a professional managment class as scientists and engineers have become today.

Unfortunately like left wing ideas of workers control, or self management which have been recuperated by capitalism and its managment theorists, technocracy and the term technocrat have been used as a prejorative for years. The reality is that technocrats are not just social engineers but socialist engineers, and an open organization to everyone, except politicians. Why thats downright anarchist of them.

Which may explain why politicians use technocrat as prejorative, they don't like being left out of anything.

Modblog stories on Peak Oil

Le Revue Gauch stories:

Thorstein Veblen


Peak Oil

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1 comment:

skip sievert said...

Hi Eugene,You have the story pretty close here. Technocracy was never banned in the U.S. . It was indeed banned in Canada for a time. Canada has always been a hotbed for the technocratic movement though,anyway. A Canadian site which is a plain and clear outline of the future technate is - A John Darvill, an old time member of techinc operates it. The techinc site itself is being remodeled presently. It will have a new and more vital look very soon. Any one wishing to check out my site and my book may do so also. - This is a simple site, which contains my book, Beyond the Cloak of Deception, Politics ,Religion & Economics in the Price System. Also here is the 1934 Technocracy Study Course. - Both of these books can be captured to your files for free there, my favorite business plan. For a complete understanding of the concepts of the technocracy movement, a reading of our study course is the place to start. This explains the social proposal,and how we use science as a way to administer it. - Many people have referred to this book as the most important of the 20th century. Perhaps the 21st also. It is not dated as to the concepts.It is a refreshing reality check. Little has changed as to the actual template of society since it was published, and you are right that some of the most creative and original thinkers of the north American continent came up with a unique and bold way to create a different kind of society. Thats right.No private property. No contracts. Freedom of and from belief.Getting rid of our abstract concept that we measure things by,money. Freeing humans from the drudery that all the pointless and humiliating so called jobs bring. No more corporations with the only reckoning factor that they use,money./// Thank you for bringing new attention to our movement. It has gotten renewed interest at all levels presently. Probably because of the tenuous situation of our pathetic culture right now. Technocracy still makes sense. It may be a way out of the horrible predicament this type of society breeds. Growth, War, Stupid Belief Systems, that people believe are real and will kill for. Technocracy advocates the idea of changing the template of society. By doing that you change the rules of the game. Moralizing and preaching does not work. We can create a good society that we can be proud of. A Place where the cost of education or environmental cleanup is not measured in dollars. Every one could have a roof over their head and food to eat. Also meaningful work. You are right that a more radicaly interesting program has never been developed for this area. Howard Scott our founder, along with M.King Hubbert were about as radical as that concept can get from where we are today. Many people do not really understand what alternative is until they are familiar with technocracy. I hope that I have intimated enough for your readers to look at more material in this direction. Explore Technocracy~! Skip Sievert member at large, technocracy.