A technocracy it’s a system of government directed by technicians. This definition can be appreciated by carefully studying the etymology of the term, since it comes from two Greek words that can be translated as “technique” and “government.” The technician who specializes in a certain branch of knowledge and fulfills a public function to execute policies that transcend ideology is known as technocrat.
Hence, in a more precise sense, technocracy is the government of the technocrats. Officials of this type of government appeal to the scientific method to provide solutions to the population. In this way, decisions are guided by science and not by ideological issues.
The idea of technocracy began to develop in the first decades of the XIX century. The French Claude-Henri Rouvroy proposed at that time that political power be assumed by technicians and industrial entrepreneurs who were promoting the transformation of production and the economy of France.
Rouvroy, who was also Comte de Saint-Simon, made his position very clear regarding the importance of solidifying the foundations of politics. In his work entitled «Reorganization of European society«, Published in the year 1814, points out that any scienceRegardless of the branch to which it belongs, it is a set of problems that await a solution, of phenomena that are waiting to be observed and examined, and that the only difference that exists between one and the other is their nature.
Relying on this connection between the sciences, Rouvroy affirmed that if a method works for one then it should work for the rest, and that it seemed to him that it was time to include politics in that group, to which until now only the sciences had adhered experimental. The great variety of opinions and points of view that, according to the author, combined to build the principles and methods of politics had as a consequence a lack of accuracy and generality in solutions and results that were obtained. With the arrival of technocracy, it would be possible to leave behind that stage that Rouvroy points out in his writing as “the infancy of science.”
Although Rouvroy was not the only one, he was the first person to propose technicians and industrial leaders to be in charge of political power, relying on the fact that they were capable of directing the transformation process of the French economy. Wished that the science of production replaced politics, and that “the administration of things” replaced the “government of men”.
Auguste Comte, also a philosopher, was another of the thinkers who, in those years, argued that the society it had to be directed through technology and not through politics. The premise indicated that those who promoted and controlled the industrial society were qualified to take charge of the direction of the society in general.
It was only in the early 1930 The term technocracy was imposed, in order to indicate the progressive expansion of the power of the technicians; engineers, physicists and chemists, people with the necessary training to govern the industrial process of a company, can also govern an industrial society completely, according to this ideology that many came to fear in its early days.
In practice, the technocracy was never fully installed, but the technocrats often have limited power or dedicate themselves to advising political leaders. The notion of technocracy, in fact, is often used in a derogatory way towards those governments that privilege efficiency and minimize the importance of the social effects that their decisions have. A minister of Economy who decides to cut the budget of public hospitals to improve the accounts can be accused of technocrat by not taking into account the decisions of his decision on the population.