Neoconservativism: The Cult of Techno-Socialism
by Paul and Phillip Collins ©, Feb. 1st, 2005
The actions taken by the Bush Administration in the aftermath of 9-11 have caused muckrakers from across the political spectrum to take a closer look at the hidden hand guiding the current President. Researchers, both left and right, have identified the same enemy: a faction of the elite known as neoconservatives. The exposure has led to mounting opposition against the neoconservative agenda from numerous grassroots activists.
Now, several neoconservatives are launching a counterattack. The strategy is one of vilification. In an article for National Review, Michael Rubin characterized the neocons’ opponents as anti-Semites obsessed with conspiracy theories (Rubin). Max Boot continued with the “conspiracy theory” angle, claiming that the neocons’ opponents have overactive imaginations:
“A cabal of neoconservatives has hijacked the Bush administration’s foreign policy and transformed the world’s sole superpower into a unilateral monster. Say what? In truth, stories about the ‘neocon’ ascendancy-and the group’s insidious intent to wage preemptive wars across the globe-have been much exaggerated. And by telling such tall tales, critics have twisted the neocons’ identities and thinking on U.S. foreign policy into an unrecognizable caricature.” (Boot)
Why have the neocons’ retaliation been so aggressive? Do they simply wish to “set the record straight”? Are Rubin and Boot merely trying to correct several misconceptions over neoconservatism? The tone of their rhetoric and apologetics suggest another motivation: obfuscation. The neocons realize that continued exposure will eventually lead to the destruction of even the most well constructed disguise. One individual who realizes that the neocons have camouflaged their real intentions is Pulitzer Prize winning author Seymour Hersh. Hersh characterized the neocons in the following way: “…one of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is we are been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government” (Hersh). Cults are usually very adept at the concealment game. Many times the masquerade is so effective that a group’s own members do not even realize they are part of a cult. What lies at the center of the cult of Neoconservatism?
The Neoconservative cult has always paraded around under a patriotic, pro-American, anticommunist facade. What lies behind this veneer? Frank Fischer answers this question in his book Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise: “…neoconservativism is at base an elitist ideology aimed at promoting a new group of conservative technocrats.” (172)
What is a “technocrat?” A technocratic society, or Technocracy, can be defined as follows:
“Technocracy, in classical political terms, refers to a system of governance in which technically trained experts rule by virtue of their specialized knowledge and position in dominant political and economic institutions.” (Fischer 17)
Professor Carroll Quigley also wrote about a dictatorship of “experts,” suggesting that a cognitive elite “will replace the democratic voter in control of the political system” (Quigley 866). Of just such a democracy of “experts,” Freemason and Fabian socialist H.G. Wells stated:
“The world’s political organization will be democratic, that is to say, the government and direction of affairs will be in immediate touch with and responsive to the general thought of the educated whole population.” (The Open Conspiracy: H.G. Wells on World Revolution, 26)
Literary critic and author W. Warren Wagar comments on this statement:
“Read carefully. He did not say the world government would be elected by the people, or that it would even be responsive to the people just to those who were ‘educated.’” (Wells, The Open Conspiracy: H.G. Wells on World Revolution, 26)
Wells would elaborate on the concept of Technocracy in his novel entitled The Shape of Things to Come. Disguised as “science fiction,” Wells’ roman a’ clef propagandized the masses on behalf of world government. In its pages, one finds an elucidating portrait of the technocratic tradition that spawned neoconservativism.
The Technocratic Roots of Neoconservatism
In The Shape of Things to Come, Wells calls Technocracy an “expressive and significant word.” In The Technocrats: Prophets of Automation, Henry Elsner states that Technocracy became the “new word of 1932” (1). With the Depression sinking to its nadir, the technocratic Weltanschauung “exploded into public attention” and “marked the conversation of millions of Americans” (1). The epidemic scope of this ideational contagion is made evident by the prolific media exposure that it enjoyed:
“In the closing months of 1932, as the Depression deepened and national politics seemed to be drifting helplessly, speculations about Technocracy swept across the country in almost every available form. The high point was reached in January, 1933. The New York Times alone had no less than sixty articles on Technocracy that month. Forty-one periodical articles and seventeen books and pamphlets on Technocracy were included in the standard indexes for the beginning of 1933.”(7)
In The Shape of Things to Come, Wells succinctly characterizes this phase of popularity as an “outbreak.” Indeed, the 30s witnessed the rampant metastasis of technocratic thought. Elaborating on the epidemic of Technocracy, Wells writes:
“Everywhere in that decadence, amidst that twilight of social order, engineers, industrialists and professors of physical science were writing and talking constructive policies. They were invading politics.”
Wells characterizes the men who would comprise the technocratic movement as follows:
“Now the skilled and directive men of the collapsing order of the twentieth century were of an altogether livelier quality. Their training was not traditional but progressive, far more progressive than that of any other class. They were inured to fundamental changes in scope, method and material. They ceased to be acquiescent in the political and financial life about them directly they found their activities seriously impeded.” (The Shape of Things to Come)
Wells proceeds to reveal a Fabian strategy of gradual ideological assimilation: “The movement spread from workshop to workshop and from laboratory to laboratory with increasing rapidity all over the world” (The Shape of Things to Come). Indeed, Technocracy did spread. James Dowell Crabtree expands on the pandemic breadth of this ideational contagion:
“Technocracy has spread from America to other parts of the world. In many recent articles, the People’s Republic of China’s new generation of leaders have been called ‘technocrats,’ as were some leaders in the former Soviet Union.” (148)
In fact, technocratic concepts have pervaded the very fabric of socialist totalitarian regimes throughout history. Author Frank Fischer elaborates:
“In practice, the technocratic concept of the administrative state has been most influential in the socialist world of planned economies. Given their emphasis on comprehensive economic and social planning, the technocratic theory is ready-made both to guide and to legitimate the centralized bureaucratic decision-making systems that direct most socialist regimes. Easily aligned with the ideas and techniques of scientific planning, particularly those shaped by Marxist economists, technocratic concepts have played an important role in the evolution of socialist theory and practice.” (25)
It comes as little surprise that the technocratic movement would initially pledge its support to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s overtly Marxist New Deal. Indeed, many adherents of Technocracy believed FDR’s policies for economic recovery would facilitate the nation’s final metamorphosis into a Technocracy. In the early days of the 1932 election, economist Henry A. Porter published Roosevelt and Technocracy. The book concerned itself with a pivotal question: “Will TECHNOCRACY be the ‘New Deal?'” (45). Based on his examination of New Deal policies, Porter gravitated towards the affirmative.
In fact, Porter voiced his resounding approval of FDR and other closely aligned New Deal liberals:
“Only skillful statesmanship–the statesmanship of a Roosevelt, and sound economic principles — the principles of Technocracy, can lead us out of the valley of Chaos and Despair into which we are plunging.” (71)
There was good reason for the technocratic movement’s initial support of Roosevelt. The socialist founder of the Nationalist movement, Edward Bellamy, heavily influenced FDR. Bellamy authored Looking Backward, 2000-1887, another piece of sci-fi predictive programming literature that proselytized readers on behalf of global socialism. James Crabtree synopsizes the book as follows:
“Inadvertently, Edward Bellamy and his Looking Backward, 2000-1887 tapped into the latent American faith in technology as the solution to humanity’s every problem. Looking Backward is a science fiction novel, telling the story of a man from 1887 thrust into the future and learning of all the changes that had taken place in America during the intervening century. In the year 2000 all wants are met. Society has eliminated non-progressive institutions that were corrupt in the 1880s and replaced them with a government-run industrial state. In Looking Backward everyone could retire at the age of 45 after a life of serving in a job for which he or she was best suited. Bellamy’s future was indeed Utopian. Bellamy characterized society as machine. Whereas in 1887 it was a machine badly managed and inefficient, in the year 2000 society was well run. His ‘everyman’ character, Julian West, found himself in a future where the ‘regime of the great consolidations of capital’ had been overthrown and the ‘concentration of management and unity of organization’ had taken control. Whether he meant to or not, Bellamy had defined the managerial concept of society. What is more important, he gave many people an ideal of an industrial, or technological, state towards which to strive. (7-8) ”
Looking Backward would later become “officially recommended reading for members of the Technocratic movement” (Crabtree 8). In fact, the Nationalist movement that sprouted from Bellamy’s sci-fi predictive programming could be considered “a precursor to the Technocrats, and its members ‘pre-Technocrats'” (Crabtree 8). Henry Elsner delineates the various commonalities shared by the technocratic movement and Bellamy’s Nationalist movement:
“Despite differences in detail, a number of the basic principles of organization are remarkably similar in Bellamy’s and in technocratic. (1) The organization of all industries into a few large-scale, publicly owned units, administered by technical experts who are selected from within the ranks of the units concerned. (2) A bureaucratic rather than an industrial-democratic organization of the workplace. (3) Equal, independent income issued to all members of society as a right of citizenship. (4) Income distribution through a nonmonetary accounting system wherein the registration of items purchased serves as an automatic means of estimating future production requirements. (5) The elimination of a political government, i.e., officials other than those at the heads of the productive, distributive, and professional units, and the abolition of political parties. (221)”
Yet, Elsner correctly identifies various differences between Bellamyism and Technocracy (223). These dissimilarities suggest that Bellamyism acted as a conceptual segue, “a transition between an older, essentially pre-industrial ‘utopian’ societal socialism, and technocracy” (223). Indeed, Technocracy did appear on the horizon and would give way to the New Deal. Shortly after being sworn into office, Roosevelt outlined his plan for economic and social recovery in the book Looking Forward (Crabtree 105-06). The title itself seemed to be an allusion to Bellamyism:
“By picking ‘Looking Forward’ for the title, Roosevelt almost certainly thought to follow in Bellamy’s footsteps and produce his own version of Looking Backward that would serve as a model for future society.” (Crabtree 106)
In Looking Forward, Roosevelt wrote: “A greater efficiency [in government] than we have heretofore seen is urgent” (71). Within this statement, one immediately discerns the technocratic preoccupation with governmental efficiency. This preoccupation is probably attributable to the mutual doctrinal foundation of both Technocracy and New Deal liberalism: Progressivism. In particular, the ideational strand of Bellamyism is evident.
The precursory technocratic concepts of Bellamy found some fragmentary expression through the policies of the New Deal. One manifestation of Bellamyism was the Social Security Act, which was inspired by a retired physician named Dr. Francis Townsend (Crabtree 105). Townsend’s concepts were cribbed from Bellamy’s Looking Backward (Crabtree 104). Among one of his theoretical policies was a federal program that would have allocated $200 a month to unemployed citizens over the age of sixty (Crabtree 104). According to Townsend’s conjectural program, the recipients of this financial assistance would have thirty days within which they would be required to spend the $200 (Crabtree 104).
While the Townsend Bill did not enjoy passage by Congress, it did inspire the Social Security Act that was successfully signed into law later (Crabtree 105). Diffuse in its transmission, technocratic thought remained at the root of this New Deal machination. Crabtree explains:
“In this way, one might say that the Technocrats did indeed have an indirect influence on the New Deal, by way of one of the contributors to their doctrine (Bellamy) to an activist who espoused their ideas of guaranteed income (Townsend) and finally into law.” (105)
In addition to this program of “guaranteed income,” FDR’s administration would introduce a plethora of government agencies. These would included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), and, most notably, the National Recovery Administration (NRA) (Crabtree 106). What was initially a small federal government was soon transformed into a massive bureaucracy. In some ways, this new “[c]entralized and functional” monolith was similar to the continental administration promoted by Technocracy Inc. (Crabtree 106). Moreover, its impact upon America’s Federal government would leave a “permanent mark” (Crabtree 106). Big government was born and Technocracy’s rise in the West had begun in earnest.
Historically, FDR’s overtly socialistic policies clashed with the anti-statist sentiments of many Americans. Yet, neoconservatives, who have been consistently characterized as “anticommunist” and “pro-American,” supported the New Deal. Irving Kristol, the “godfather of neoconservatism,” states in his book Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea that neocons: “…accepted the New Deal in principle…” (x). Later in his book, Kristol writes:
“In a way, the symbol of the influence of neoconservative thinking on the Republican party was the fact that Ronald Reagan could praise Franklin D. Roosevelt as a great American president-praise echoed by Newt Gingrich a dozen years later, when it is no longer so surprising.” (379)
Why were neoconservatives so amicable towards the socialism of the New Deal? The answer is because Roosevelt’s Marxist proclivities harmonized with the neoconservative variety of Technocracy. It is interesting to note that “godfather” Kristol was a Trotskyist in his youth. Kristol makes it clear that he is unrepentant: “I regard myself lucky to have been a young Trotskyist and I have not a single bitter memory” (13). The statist tradition found in Marxism is also carried on by the neocons. This is another point made clear by Kristol: “Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable” (“The Neoconservative Persuasion”).
Marxist economic theory remains firmly embedded within neoconservative ideology. Several neoconservative ideologues have espoused socialist ideas. Arch-neocon William F. Buckley has written: ” Congress shall appropriate funds for social welfare only for the benefit of those states whose per capita income is below the national average” (qutd. in Epperson 49). Commenting on Buckley’s statement, researcher Ralph Epperson writes:
“This writer [Buckley] advocated a newer brand of Marxism: “From each state according to its ability, to each state according to its needs” (emphasis added). This writer advocated that the national government divide the wealth, taking it from the wealthier states and giving it to the less productive. Pure Marxism, except the writer involved both the state and the federal governments rather than just the federal government as Marx envisioned. This is only expanding Marx one step: the result is the same. Property is distributed by the government just as before. The shock is that this new thought came from the pen of William F. Buckley, Jr., hardly a paragon of Marxism. But notice that Buckley’s intent is the same as that of Marx: to use government to redistribute Consumption and Capital Goods. (Epperson 49)”
No doubt, these Marxist proclivities were a consequence of neoconservativism’s technocratic heritage. Of course, there are those who would argue that the technocratic tradition has been at variance with Marxism. Indeed, technocratic and Marxist theoreticians have feuded on occasion. Yet, the common thread of state socialism binds both, as is evidenced by their closely aligned economic policies and virtually identical outcomes. The petty differences between theoreticians become inconsequential. Technocracy was a logical outgrowth of earlier variants of socialism. The ideational continuum appears to have been a drift from Bellamyism to Technocracy to New Deal socialism. Neoconservativism is the latest segment in this larger continuity of thought.
From Technocratic to Technetronic
Since the 1970s, the next developmental stage of Technocracy “has been both theorized and hailed under the banner of ‘postindustrialism'” (101). Examining this shift in technocratic thinking, Fischer states: “contemporary technocratic theories are now theories of postindustrial society” (101). Yet, some technocratic ideologues regard “postindustrialism” and “postindustrial society” as potentially misunderstood or derisive characterizations. One such ideologue is Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Carter and the chief inspiration for the geostrategy being currently implemented by the neocons. Eschewing the “postindustrial” portraits of Technocracy, Brzezinski fancies the euphemism of “technetronic” society (101).
Brzezinski’s “technetronic” model is no less elitist or anti-democratic than its theoretical progenitors. According to Brzezinski, this new stage in Technocracy’s evolution will witness the ascendance of a “scientific/technical elite” that would seize control of the “essential flow of information and production” (Fischer 103). This epistemological cartel would subsequently direct its consolidations of knowledge toward the scientific subjugation of the masses. Fischer elaborates:
“Increasingly, scientific knowledge will be used directly to plan almost every aspect of economic and social life. In the process, Brzezinski avers, class conflict will assume new forms and modes: Knowledge and culture will replace material needs in the struggle between the scientific/technical elite and the masses of people who will have to be integrated into and subordinated in the postindustrial system.” (103)
Although accurate, Fischer’s synopsis of Brzezinski’s vision is stated in somewhat euphemistic terms. Yet, Brzezinski’s own portrait is far more authoritarian in character. In Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, Brzezinski more vividly describes the “gradual appearance of a more controlled and directed society” (252). With painful candor, the former national security advisor proceeds to paint his technocratic picture for the future:
“Such a society would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know-how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under close surveillance and control.” (252)
In short, Brzezinski’s “technetronic” society, the “postindustrial” incarnation of Technocracy, is the “scientific dictatorship” advocated by Aldous Huxley. This “scientific dictatorship” has always represented the fulfillment of technocratic doctrine. Akin reiterates:
“The technocrats attempted to pull all of these strands–their faith in positivistic science; their mechanistic view of man with his essentially animal-like irrationality, his desire for security, abundance, and tranquility; the organizational imperative caused by natural inequality; and the dominance of technology–together into one functional ideal whole. It resembled Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and the managerial society that James Burnham deplored; it could lead equally to B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two.” (148)
This, the technocratic agenda of a fully functional “scientific dictatorship,” is the objective to which the neoconservatives have resolutely committed themselves. One needs to look no further than the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, and other recent neoconservative-conceived machinations to see the intimations of this emergent “scientific dictatorship.”
By now, there should be no more confusion over the true identity of neoconservatism. They are not the Godly statesmen endorsed by America’s evangelical Christian establishment. Nor are they the pro-American anticommunists portrayed by left-wing ideologues. They are a cult of techno-socialists and the outgrowth of an older conspiratorial traditional. The post-September 11 world is swiftly becoming the tangible enactment of their Utopian doctrine: Technocracy.
- Akin, William E. Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocrat Movement, 1900-1941. Berkeley and Los Angeles: California UP, 1977.
- Boot, Max. “Think Again: Neocons” Foreign Policy January/February 2004.
- Brzezinski, Zbigniew. Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
- Crabtree, James Dowell. Progressivism, the New Deal, and the Technocratic Movement of the 1930s. Dayton, Ohio: Wright State University, 1995.
- Elsner, Henry. The Technocrats: Prophets of Automation. New York: Syracuse UP, 1967.
- Epperson, A. Ralph. The Unseen Hand: An Introduction to the Conspiratorial View of History. Tucson, Arizona: Publius Press, 1985.
- Fischer, Frank. Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications, 1990.
- Hersh, Seymour. “We’ve Been Taken Over by a Cult.” Democracy NOW! 26 January 2005.
Kristol, Irving. Neoconservativism: The Autobiography of an Idea. New York: The Free Press, 1995.
- “The Neoconservative Persuasion.” Weekly Standard, 25 August 2003.
- Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time. New York: Macmillan, 1966.
- Rubin, Michael. “You Must be Likud!” National Review Online, 19 May 2004.
- Wells, Herbert George. The Shape of Things to Come. 1933. Electronic Text Collection. Ed. Steve Thomas. U of Adelaide Library. 29 Oct. 2003.
- The Open Conspiracy: H.G. Wells on World Revolution. 1928. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2002.
About the Authors
Paul D. Collins has studied suppressed history and the shadowy undercurrents of world political dynamics for roughly eleven years. In 1999, he completed his Associate of Arts and Science degree. He is working to complete his Bachelor’s degree, with a major in Communications and a minor in Political Science. Paul has authored another book entitled The Hidden Face of Terrorism: The Dark Side of Social Engineering, From Antiquity to September 11. Published in November 2002, the book is available online from www.1stbooks.com, barnesandnoble.com, and also amazon.com. It can be purchased as an e-book (ISBN 1-4033-6798-1) or in paperback format (ISBN 1-4033-6799-X).
Phillip D. Collins acted as the editor for The Hidden Face of Terrorism. He has also written articles for Paranoia Magazine and B.I.P.E.D.: The Official Website of Darwinian Dissent. He has an Associate of Arts and Science. Currently, he is studying for a bachelor’s degree in Communications at Wright State University. During the course of his seven-year college career, Phillip has studied philosophy, religion, and classic literature.
Their book, The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship: An Examination of Epistemic Autocracy, From the 19th to the 21st Century, is available online.