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Howard Scott in front of Technocracy Inc. Section house RD-11833-2 SHQ in 1942.

Howard Scott (April 1, 1890–January 1, 1970) was a controversial engineer who had an interest in technocracy, and helped to form the Technical Alliance, Committee on Technocracy, and Technocracy Incorporated.

Early life

Little is known about Scott's background or his early life and he has been described as a "mysterious young man".[1] He was born in Virginia in 1890 and was of Scottish-Irish descent. He claimed to have been educated in Europe, but his training did not include any formal higher education.[1]

In 1918, shortly before the end of World War 1, Scott appeared in New York City. Scott worked in various construction camps, where he picked up on-the-job engineering experience, and in 1918 was working in a cement pouring gang at Muscle Shoals.[2][1] Following this, Scott established himself in Greenwich Village as "a kind of Bohemian engineer".[1] Scott also ran a small business called Duron Chemical Company which made paint and floor polish at Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Scott's job was to deliver his goods and show his customers how to use the floor polishing material.[2][1]


At the end of World War I, Howard Scott helped to form the Technical Alliance which explored economic and social trends in North America; the Technical Alliance disbanded in 1921.[3] In 1920, the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization which shared Scott's desire for radical social change, hired him as its first and only "Research Director".[4]

Scott, together with Walter Rautenstrauch formed the Committee on Technocracy in 1932, which advocated a more rational and productive society headed by technical experts. The Committee disbanded in January 1933, after only a few months, largely because of different views held by Scott and Rautenstrauch as well as widespread criticism of Scott.[3][5] Scott had "overstated his academic credentials",[6] and he was discovered not to be a "distinguished engineer".[7][8]

On January 13, 1933, Scott gave a speech about technocracy at New York's Hotel Pierre, before a live audience of 400, which was also broadcast on radio nationwide.[8][9][10] The speech was subsequently called a "grave mistake",[9] "disastrous",[11][10] and "a complete failure".[8] The speech was seen to be "the last straw for disillusioned technocrats".[11]

Later in 1933 Scott formed Technocracy Incorporated and was its director.[12] Scott "argued indefatigably that scientific analysis of industrial production would show the path to lasting efficiency and unprecendented abundance".[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e William E. Aikin (1977). Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocracy Movement 1900-1941, University of California Press, pp. 28-29.
  2. ^ a b Science: Technocrat TIME magazine, December 26, 1932.
  3. ^ a b Beverly H. Burris (1993). Technocracy at work State University of New York Press, p. 30.
  4. ^ William E. Aikin (1977). Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocracy Movement 1900-1941, University of California Press, pp. 37-38.
  5. ^ Book review: Technocracy and the American Dream, History of Political Economy, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1978, p. 682.
  6. ^ David E. Nye (1992). Electrifying America: social meanings of a new technology, 1880-1940 p. 344.
  7. ^ Edwin T. Layton. Book review: The Technocrats, Prophets of Automation, Technology and Culture, Vol. 9, No. 2 (April, 1968), p. 256.
  8. ^ a b c William E. Aikin (1977). Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocracy Movement 1900-1941, University of California Press, p. 87.
  9. ^ a b Kevin Baker. The Engineered Society American Heritage Magazine, Vol. 51, No. 2, April 2000.
  10. ^ a b Howard P. Segal (2005). Technological Utopianism in American Culture Syracuse University Press, p. 123.
  11. ^ a b Harold Loeb and Howard P. Segal (1996). Life in a technocracy: what it might be like p. xv.
  12. ^ Jack Salzman (1986). American studies: an annotated bibliography, Volume 2 p. 1596.
  13. ^ Frank Fischer (1990). Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise, Sage Publications, p. 85.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Howard Scott (1 April 18901 January 1970) was founder of the Technocracy movement.


  • We never had any use for Taylor nor 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.
    • "History and Purpose of Technocracy" in Northwest Technocrat (July 1965)

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