Howard Scott

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Howard Scott (1 April 18901 January 1970) was an American engineer and founder of the Technocracy movement. He formed the Technical Alliance and Technocracy Incorporated.


  • We owe nothing in our origins from Adam Smith, Ricardo, Pareto, Proudhon, Bakunin, Karl Marx, Lenin, or any of the rest of the political philosophies. We do owe a debt to J. Willard Gibbs, Nikola Tesla, Steinmetz, Mac and John Rusk, and a thousand other American chemists, engineers, scientists, and technologists.
    • Howard Scott interviewed at Radio station KYW, Cleveland Interview with Howard Scott, 19 November 1964. Transcript online at, 2006.

History and Purpose of Technocracy, 1965[edit]

Howard Scott, "History and Purpose of Technocracy" in Northwest Technocrat (July 1965)

A sign on the outskirts of a Depression-era town about meetings of the local technocracy branch.
  • A number of engineers became so-called disciples of Frederick W. Taylor, even though he had passed on to his reward in 1915. A considerable number of engineers took up the so-called scientific management of Frederick Taylor and further embroidered it and publicized themselves as efficiency engineers and management consultants. Henry L. Gantt had been Taylor's assistant at the Midvale Steel and the Bethlehem Steel Company. Gant, Morris L. Cook, Leffingwell, Emerson, H. K. Hathaway, Frank B. Gilbreth, Harlow S. Person and C.G. Barth were among the many prominent advocates of Taylor's efficiency system with some variations.
Gant, Barth and others tried to start an organization, ' 'The New Machine." ' 'The New Machine" never got off the ground; all of them wrote articles and delivered papers in the engineering societies and management conferences. But their chief purpose was in creating a national image so they could sell their services to large-scale private enterprise as scientific managers and efficiency engineers who would be able to install the system that could extract more productivity from the American worker.
  • p. 7
  • We never had any use for Taylor or any of the efficiency or scientific management crowd. They never realized that human toil was the last thing in the world you had to be efficient about; the only way to be really efficient is to eliminate it entirely, and this would have been heresy to any of the Taylor, Gant, Barth, Cook efficiency crowd.
It is sad to contemplate that men of the technical ability of the names mentioned in this paragraph were so lame in their thinking and social outlook that they missed the boat so completely. Who in hell wants to be efficient with a shovel, and what sense would there be even if you succeeded? They should have had their heads opened with a shovel; it might have been more effective.
  • p. 7-8
  • The technological concepts of Technocracy are completely beyond any of the political and social philosophies, from Adam Smith, Ricardo, Proudhon, Bakunin, Karl Marx, Lenin and various other promulgators of rightist and leftist political philosophies.
    • p. 23

Quotes about Howard Scott[edit]

  • Technocracy originated in the winter of 1918-19 when Howard Scott formed a group of scientists, engineers, and economists that became known as the Technical Alliance--a research organization. Howard Scott was chief engineer of this group. The Alliance lasted about fourteen years. Its membership embraced many of America's top scientists and engineers, including such personalities as: Frederick Ackerman, architect; Leland Olds, statistician; Thorstein Veblen, economist; L. K. Comstock, electrical engineer, and Charles Steinmetz. It conducted what became known as the famous 'Energy Survey of North America.' Out of the survey, and under the guiding genius of Howard Scott, there emerged a completely new way of looking at life and human affairs. The social assets and liabilities (in a physical sense) of North America were laid bare for the first time. The social trends and tendencies were analyzed scientifically and for the first time in history a continental area (North America) had a glimpse of its future, or at least of the broad alternatives.
    • Technocrat (1976), Nr. 257-271
  • The technocrats made a believable case for a kind of technological utopia, but their asking price was too high. The idea of political democracy still represented a stronger ideal than technological elitism. In the end, critics believed that the socially desirable goals that technology made possible could be achieved without the sacrifice of existing institutions and values and without incurring the apocalypse that technocracy predicted.
    • William E. Aikin (1977). Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocracy Movement 1900-1941, University of California Press, p. 150.
  • Technocracy's heyday lasted only from June 16, 1932, when the New York Times became the first influential press organ to report its activities, until January 13, 1933, when Scott, attempting to silence his critics, delivered what some critics called a confusing, and uninspiring address on a well-publicized nationwide radio hookup.
    • Howard P. Segal (2005). Technological Utopianism in American Culture, Syracuse University Press, p. 123.

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