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When we say 'technocrat'...

What do we mean when we say the word ‘Technocrat’?

Liberal society - that is to say, ‘liberalism’ divorced from its current political turmoil and only made to carry the weight of its taxonomic origins - is a society in which peoples’ freedoms are maximized to the space that political realities allow for. We take for granted certain realities: That the defense of a state and/or polity must be provided for, that breaches of the social contract must be curtailed and investigated, and that things like economic transactions must be as fair as can be managed.

This means that a great deal of our social expectations rely on the ability to outsource ‘enforcement’ to a higher power. If one is robbed in the street, or if a company fails to live up to its expressed responsibilities in a contract, there are bureaucracies, Systems of Power, to appeal to. We have placed trust in these Systems of Power for the explicit sake of being able to, with a kind of implicit democratic motive, appeal to these bureaucracies to enforce the structures that make liberal society work.

Increasingly, the Systems of Power are themselves built to self-reinforce. They don’t rely on human input whenever there can be a completely systemic solution, and so Power is not at all resident in individual humans, whether those humans are autocrats, representatives, or appointees. Many people within the institutions of liberal society find themselves totally at the mercy of systemic requirements. (An example of this would be ‘mandatory minimum sentencing.’)

“Technocratic” notions are those in which the system, the outsourced originator of enforcement, is itself not directly responsive to human input. No one can touch the system, in the same way that you can’t simply shout at a computer to get it to stop behaving in error. The theory is that the system is not in error, because the system is in an ever-increasing state of perfection and nuance. It does make mistakes, but by being rigid and not theoretically falling to the everyday human frailties we all live with, it somehow manages to be sincere in ways that we might not be.
Or at least, so goes the theory.

When a system is immovable, implacable in the face of human nuance, and when enough people in positions of power simply Trust The System, they produce the opposite of the virtues of technocracy. Yes, it’s worth creating a system that properly enforces laws despite human frailties, and that generates supposedly equal outcomes. But ‘equally enforced outcomes’ in scenarios that are unequal serve only to reinforce inequalities.

Reinforcing inequality has been the product of technocracy since we began instituting it - which is a period of time far longer than the word itself has existed. We outsource Power to The System for everything we can.

Take, for example, the institution of civil police. It wasn’t always true in America that “the police” existed as an institution at all. Most police forces as we would recognize them today grew out of the posses gathered to find and collect escaped slaves.
Don’t believe me?

Take a second to imagine a common “Sheriff’s Badge” in your mind’s eye. Six points, silver star? Sound familiar?

It should:

The cultural inheritance of sheriffs, deputization, and civil policing originates directly from the public militias organized to capture black people who had been made into property.
‘Property’ is what the police originally defended, and they still do it today.

Police, under capitalism, exist primarily to be a System of Power to appeal to in the case of property crimes. We can go to them for murders and such, and their rubric has expanded to include that, but only after the fact. Police are seldom - practically never - on hand to actually confront murderous actions. Usually they’re there for cleanup, and oftentimes the only effort they put in is for people with political or demographic clout.

Don’t believe me?

This article is from 2006, but even if the exact number isn’t right, it’s a ballpark figure to give you some idea.

800,000 black kids missing every year. When’s the last time you heard of a Jon Benet Ramsey story with a little black girl?
Have you considered why that is?
Police are a political force, and their roots lie with the maintenance of liberal - and Liberal(™) - Systems of Power. Maintenance of the ‘status quo.’

This is one example among very, very many.

‘Technocracy’ is the belief that we’ve reached a social endgame, and that the systems we have are good enough to write them into stone. Technocrats believe that the system would be better if we didn’t mess with it too much, if we stopped listening to what flawed humans think and start outsourcing our social power to nigh-immovable systems.

Those systems are providing unequal outcomes, and so those who have invested their ego, their identity, their motives and their personal fortunes and futures into the maintenance of those systems must therefore be constantly on the move to defend the System against the very humans being victimized by it.

This is how Liberals end up on the wrong side of pro-human movements. This is how Liberals end up defending police in cases of egregious violence and obvious breaches of social contract. This is how Liberals end up complicit in de facto crimes against humanity.

‘Technocracy’ is the belief that we’ve figured everything out and we just need to lock things down so we don’t screw it up in the future. The fact is, what we’ve locked down is a screwup right now.

We cannot go on as we are, but we’ve built institutions that railroad us straight toward a cliff, and there are a surprising number of people who seem to think that brakes are immoral.