The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #78659   Message #1420023
Posted By: Don Firth
24-Feb-05 - 05:12 PM
Thread Name: BS: Why do we need poverty?
Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
A modest proposal:

I remember back in the Thirties when I was a little wee kid, there was an organization called Technocracy, Inc. It was dismissed by most people as some sort of futuristic, Utopian social scheme, or as a cult, sect, or collection of pseudo-scientific crackpots. Nevertheless, some of them were the original Scientists and Engineers for Social Responsibility. Being way ahead of their time—and thinking outside the box—their theories appear to read like science fiction.

I didn't learn what they were really about until back in the early Sixties, when a drinking buddy of mine said that he was going to a lecture of Technocracy, Inc., and would I like to join him. That drinking buddy was Jerry Pournelle.

Yes, the science fiction writer. Back then, I didn't even know he was interested in writing, and I didn't find out until a few years after he and Roberta left for California and I started seeing his stuff appearing in Analog and his books showing up on paperback racks. Anyway, Jerry was pretty conservative (characterized himself as far to the right of Attila the Hun), and he and I had many a good discussion (argument) about politics and such. Shows that two people can disagree strenuously about a lot of things, but still be good friends. I haven't seen him since 1985 or so, but I check his website from time to time to see what he's up to lately. He now refers to himself as a "paleo-conservative" as distinct from a "neo-conservative." (Got that, DougR?)

Anyway, we took in the lecture. In the question and answer period, Jerry asked some very pointed questions. Afterwards, we went to the notorious Blue Moon Tavern (our customary watering-hole) and kicked it around. Jerry was a bit perturbed. He was trying to blow holes in it. There was something about it that he didn't like. Although in no way is it related to Marxism, communism, or socialism, it seems distressingly left-wing. The idea of managing and distributing goods and services in a way that everybody would have everything they need, and some people might not have to even work unless called upon to do so (and even then, they would work at jobs they like and are well-suited for), even if the whole idea was scientifically sound, somehow offended his conservative viewpoint. At the end of the evening, he allowed as how there had to be a flaw, but so far he couldn't find. "Might just work," he mused, uncomfortably. He may have changed his mind since then, but that, I don't know.

In the thread "Why do we need money," Little Hawk mentions Earth society as portrayed in Star Trek: The Next Generation a couple of times (for example, HERE). A consummation devoutly to be wished. It strikes me that, with some minor modifications and updating, the ideas extended by the advocates of Technocracy, Inc. way back in the Thirties have the potential of bringing that about.

One writer on Technocracy, Inc. puts it this way:   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 Capitalism's "money—>capital—>money" formula, or as we might call it today, the "Casino Capitalism of the Stock Market." They oppose this money economy, or "price economy," as they call it, and propose replacing it with an energy economy.

These days, if you mention Technocracy, Inc., most people have never heard of it. Those who have think of it as a crazy Utopian scheme from back in the Thirties. And those who know a lot about it, especially if they have a vested interest in the present system, can get downright hostile and abusive.

I'm not advocating it (yet, anyway), but don't think it should be dismissed without giving it a good look. The idea is still drifting around out there, and those who do advocate it have a website.

Don Firth