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A. Roland

Technocracy Evolves Openly Toward Fascism

New Agitation Timed to Take Advantage of Growing Discontent
with Failures of Capitalist Production

(28 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 13, 28 March 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Technocracy has emerged from its seeming twilight and taken on a new lease on life. The entire press has taken note of this resurrection. It is taken for granted – quite correctly – that the new, streamlined movement has secured the financial backing of some big business interests. Why do they feel the need for this movement? What is its significance?

Technocracy takes pains to differentiate itself from fascism, just as it does from communism and from democracy. Fascism is not much favored in view of its history and the war alignment. Scott, leader of the technocrats, denounces Italian fascism as “the consolidation of all the minor rackets into one major monopoly.” Nevertheless, the new movement emerges with all the outward symbols and trappings of a fascist grouping.

More important is the timing and the kind of appeal that technocracy makes to an America at war. The war demands the most sweeping concentration of power in the hands of the government. There is the greatest urgency to speed up war production and to utilize every element that enters into the productive process at its greatest efficiency. Every day there is new proof of the inability of capitalism to really plan production, even for its own war. The profit system works against the most effective carrying on of the war. The resignation of Guthrie throws this fact into relief once again.

Perfect Timing

But here is precisely the field in Which Howard Scott and his technocrats claim to be right in their element. They offer what seems a bold program, and one that appeals to the masses in many ways. The masses are being conscripted to fight in the war. Their lives are at stake. Yet they see business carried on pretty much as usual. Scott demands the conscription, the total conscription, of all men and women, of all machines, material and money. He demands national service from all and profits to none. There could not have been a more perfect timing for such a movement!

That is why this movement must be watched and countered in every way. It has just that demagogic appeal to the middle class and to many elements among masses that is required to build up a mass basis for American fascism. All the other attempts have been failures and have been discredited for the most part. The same big interests that backed Coughlinism, the Silver Shirts, the Ku Klux Klan, the Christian Mobilizers, etc., find it necessary to put forward Howard Scott now. The war reveals and at the same time extends and deepens the instability of the present social system. Finance capital looks with misgiving to the future, to the post-war period. It will do everything that it feels is necessary to assure its domination. The two-party system that sufficed capitalism up to now, has a highly uncertain future. The organization of the labor movement has taken on challenging proportions. The state has been forced to give legal recognition to labor’s rights in many fields. Should it become necessary for the big financiers to crush the labor movement, it will be necessary for them now to resort to extra-legal means, to fascism.

Scott’s Demagogy

But a fascist movement does not come into existence overnight, by mere command on the part of those who so much desire it. Hitler took ten years to create his movement and then to take power. His appeal was to the despairing, impoverished middle class. His program seemed to be directed against both the workers and the big capitalists Scott is beginning to modify his propaganda along these same lines. His movement also claims to be against the working class and against the owning class in the “Price System.”

In the early period of the evolution of technocracy, Scott said he saw the rise of a new class, the class of technicians. The proletariat was disappearing with the growth of technology and with the coming into being of automatic factory production. The owning class stood in the way of the future development. Its whole money and price system was dead weight keeping back the rise of the new society. But once they organized, the technicians would realize then nature as a new social class and would one fine day take over production and run it scientifically, – for the benefit of all, of course.

Technocracy and Politics

Any group that seeks to take over state power, that seeks to gain control of the government to achieve its aims, is obviously a political movement. But Scott, like Hitler, for the longest time tried to make use of the contempt and hatred of the masses directed against corrupt capitalist politics and politicians. Scott denounced all politics and said that “technology is the nemesis of political government and the precursor of technological social control.” Government to Scott was nothing but a form of exploitation of their own people by a group of self-seeking individuals whose interest lay, as a result, in maintaining existing society just as it was.

This “radical” doctrine was empty of all real analysis and verged on anarchism. Scott never made clear just how he proposed to get rid of the present form of state. At most he visualized the taking of power by an organized minority which Would execute a sudden seizure of industry and of the state apparatus.

Technocracy has now taken a leaf out of the Burnham notebook. It proposes to use an ideology which will mobilize the masses behind the clever engineers and technicians who will really get the power, though with the help of others.

Technocracy sees the rule over society by a minority, the technicians. Naturally, the technocrats cannot therefore believe in democracy. Scott has continually classed democracy with communism and fascism as useless and outworn.

What distinguishes the technocrats from other folk? How come that they form a class apart and are destined to become the ruling directorate? Scott does not point merely to social function as the answer, but to – heredity! After all there are those born with superior brains. It is not surprising that this view becomes quickly coupled with nationalism. Scott sees the United States as the dominant world power. He is an outright imperialist. He derides Roosevelt’s namby-pamby “Good Neighbor” policies. Let us take all of Central and South America by force! Scott is interested in applying technocracy only to America, but to an extended America. Hence his talk in terms of the continent. His is an American scheme. All other races and lands be damned! The earlier writings of the Chief Technocrat in fact speak in the familiar terms of autarchy, of a self-contained United States.

Technocracy and War

Up to the outbreak of the war, Scott was in the camp of the “isolationists.” He said: “America has no war off this continent. America’s war is here and now in this country and on this continent – a patriotic war against the peace of this Price System.” A scientific veneer was added also in the statement: “Technocracy is not in favor of killing off our citizenry in either peace or war. Technology objects to military warfare not merely because death is involved – death is involved in all life – but because military warfare kills off the physically fit and permits the unfit to live and propagate.”

But the war came and with it a vision of opportunity. Technocracy offers its best services to the government to win the war. It sends in ideas on supertanks and super-airplanes. It urges the completely totalitarian state now, at once.

Technocracy has a fundamental contempt for the lowly masses. But it has stepped beyond the chart and blueprint stage in its evolution. It now emerges as the American brand of National Socialism with more and more of its effort directed at enlisting in its ranks the middle class. It will resort more and more to demagogy to achieve this aim. Its program will veer with every current to make use of every opportunity to win over one or another group that feels the heel of capitalist rule grinding it into the dust. No longer will it appeal only to the technicians “as a class.” Its behind-the-scene masters have other plans for it.

The working class must be wary of this movement. We know well that every movement which pretends to serve the interests of neither the capitalist class nor the working class, winds up as the henchman of the big bankers and capitalists. When such movements emerge, they are not accidental. They are symptoms of moods and currents existing in different groups and classes of society which seek organized expression. The growth of such movements would mean a threat to the existence of organized labor. That is why workers must consciously watch such movements, interpret them properly, and take the appropriate measures to counter their threat. Technocracy stands revealed today as a form of American fascism in the position of being groomed by big business to act in its behalf when the necessity arises. The very creation of such a movement tends to separate society into two camps, the camp of the bourgeoisie and the camp of the working class. The workers must be equally aware with the capitalists that this tendency exists. They must learn in time to defend their interests against capitalist reaction.

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