Coming Soon: Technocracy Now!

Technocracy is the idea that experts should govern. For the common good, presumably.

It makes a certain amount of sense, given how irrational our politics seem to be right now. So, technocracy is seductive.

In fact, it’s an idea as old as politics itself, and it emerges just about everywhere — left, right, and somewhere in between. From Plato’s philosopher kings, to Soviet economic planners, the cybernetic dreams of Cold War liberals, and today’s algorithmically-governed workplaces.

So next episode, we begin a three-part series telling stories of technocracies past, present, and future.

We’ll start with the purest expression of technocracy: Technocracy, Inc. This 1930s movement aimed to install non-democratic North American “technate” where we only work from the ages of 25 to 45, for 16 hours a week. It might surprise you to learn that Elon Musk’s grandfather was one of its leaders.

The movement was short-lived, but many of its assumptions live on through the New Deal, Cold War liberalisms, and the dreams of our new technocratic overlords. Like Elon Musk’s proposed ‘Martian technate,’ Peter Thiel’s floating platforms in the ocean where Silicon Valley “seasteaders” give government an ‘operating system update,’ to the emerging neoreactionaries that hope to install a techno-monarch.

This is our biggest production yet, so we’ve got some of our biggest guests. Including Noam Chomsky, who has long been a critic of unaccountable expert authority.

Part 1 of Technocracy Now! starts Monday, 3rd October on our main feed, but you can listen now on our Patreon. Episodes will be released weekly for the next three weeks.

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Theme: Tech-Bro Philosophers

Today, our leading public intellectuals aren’t people like John Dewey, Emma Goldman, Bertrand Russell, Rosa Luxemburg, or Stuart Hall. They’re more like: Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Gary Vee, Curtis Yarvin, and the like. We have techbro philosopher kings, and their millions of fans wait on bated breath for their infinite wisdom.

Their politics is kind of an anti-politics. It’s a politics of  technological solutionism, technological determinism, and technological utopia (or dystopia, depending on who you ask). On this series, we examine the thoughts of our new ‘thought leaders,’ and tell stories of technological utopias past, present, and future.

This series of episodes received funding from the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada. The scholarly leads are Professors Tanner Mirrlees  at Ontario Tech University and Imre Szeman at the University of Toronto Scarborough. They both provided research and editorial guidance to these episodes.