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Friday, April 19, 2024
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Elon Musk, the man with technocracy in his blood

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THE hundreds of Packard, Ford and Hudson cars driving in convoy up the western seaboard of the US in summer 1947 were all a similar shade of grey, with orange hub-caps. This was the livery of Technocracy Incorporated, an organisation that grew in the Great Depression of the 1930s, aiming to change the economic system and society radically through technological means. The motorcade started in Los Angeles and arrived in British Columbia on July 1 1947, where founder Howard Scott addressed a crowd of five thousand at Vancouver Forum. The event was the pinnacle of the movement, which faded away in the post-war boom. 

Seventy-five years later, technocracy has emerged from the shadows to become a looming reality. Whether this is fulfilment of a dream or nightmare is a dilemma. Should we entrust scientists and social engineers with our future? What are the motives of the ‘experts’ who apply the tremendous advances in digital technology to govern our lives? Such considerations and concerns are personified by controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk. Intriguingly, his grandfather was a leading member of Technocracy Inc.

Born in a log cabin in Minnesota in 1902, Joshua N Haldeman was raised on the Canadian prairie of Saskatchewan, where his family settled. As a young man, Haldeman studied chiropractic. He practised briefly before committing himself to the family farm, but he lost it in 1934 when unable to afford loan payments for equipment. In 1936 Haldeman opened a chiropractic clinic in Regina. Meanwhile, having directly experienced the ravages of economic depression, Haldeman involved himself in politics, particularly in representing farmers. In 1936 he joined Technocracy Inc and was appointed research director of the Canadian branch.  

In 1919 the Technical Alliance of North America was formed in New York, with a multidisciplinary membership from science, education, architecture, mathematics and medicine. Inspired by the scientific management theory of F W Taylor, the ideal was an efficiently managed society. In 1932 its leader Howard Scott, an engineer, met geologist M King Hubbert. Under the new name of Technocracy Incorporated, Scott and Hubbert presented a blueprint for a North American Technate, a highly regulated continent from Central America to Canada with control of energy based on constant monitoring of citizens. Industry would be restructured into a few centrally-planned corporations, citizens would receive an equal state subsidy (now known as universal basic income), and national governments would be replaced by scientists and technicians. The promise of an end to unemployment and poverty drew thousands of members. 

As Technocracy Inc boasted, ‘we have that plan and it is viable’. Bankrolled by the Rockefeller Foundation, the organisation’s heyday was brief, partly because its mission was unrealistic for technology of the time, and also due to the New Deal interventionism of Franklin D Roosevelt. Technocracy Inc was riven with opposing factions, some supporting the government, but others frustrated by slow progress and missed opportunities. Leading members urged Roosevelt to declare himself as dictator. 

When Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939, the dominion of Canada was immediately brought into the struggle. After the fall of France, Canada’s prime minister Mackenzie King proscribed several bodies of suspect loyalty to the war cause, including the Communist Party, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Technocracy Inc. Although Scott urged full conscription, Technocracy Inc was deemed subversive by Ottawa for allegedly aiming to ‘overthrow the government and the constitution of this country by force’. 

As a member of an illegal organisation under the Defence of Canada Act, Haldeman was arrested, but was acquitted in October 1940. The ban on Technocracy Inc was lifted in October 1943, but Haldeman had left by then. He resigned when policy changed from opposing communism to fully supporting the Soviet Union. After the war, Haldeman expected the economic crisis to resume, but instead there was steady growth. Frustrated with consumerism, he campaigned against Coca Cola. When a fellow activist died, recorded as suicide, Haldeman suspected murder and feared for his own life. This was probably a factor in the family’s decision to emigrate to South Africa in 1950. 

In 1971 Haldeman’s first grandson, Elon Musk, was born to his daughter Maeve. Musk won’t remember much of his grandfather, who died in 1974, but he was inspired by the literature on transforming society with technology. In 2008 Musk took over Tesla, which produced advanced electric cars ahead of the major motor manufacturers, and he invests in satellite and space ventures Reputedly the richest man in the world, he has shifted political allegiance from Democrat to Republican, and countered the official narrative on the war in Ukraine, relishing the resulting opprobrium.  

His recent purchase of Twitter has caused consternation in the American establishment and mainstream media. While conservative commentators enjoy seeing woke Twitter employees getting just deserts after banning political opponents, the reality may not match the hype. So far, Musk has not changed the platform’s censorial policies and algorithms, and leading vaccine sceptics have not had their accounts reinstated. My esteemed colleague Kathy Gyngell is one of many to appeal to Musk without success. To be fair, so ravaging was the cancel culture at Twitter HQ that Musk faces a deluge of such pleas. 

Just before sealing the deal, Musk said that he did not want the site to become ‘a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences’, an apparent shift from his previous pledge of a bastion of free speech. Money rather than principle may be the determining factor. In his first company-wide email, Musk warned that Twitter would not ‘survive the upcoming economic downturn’ if it fails to boost subscription revenue to offset reduced advertising income (exacerbated by a hostile political campaign to deter companies from supporting ‘hate speech’). It will be interesting to see if Musk replaces Yoel Roth, who resigned from his role in combating ‘hate speech, misinformation and spam’. 

Enjoying boyish mischief, Musk is undoubtedly a disruptor. He speaks the same language as Yuval Noah Harari, adviser to the globalist World Economic Forum, who envisages a future of transhumanism. Musk promotes artificial intelligence and microchipping. His company Neuralink is working on intelligent robotics, such technology potentially expanding to hook brains to a cybernetic matrix. His sympathies are equivocal – he has a both a libertarian bent and a proclivity for technological developments that will inevitably limit human agency and autonomy. He initially supported mass vaccination for Covid-19 but denounced mandates as an erosion of freedom

The Great Reset propounded by the World Economic Forum is strikingly similar to the plans of Technocracy Inc. The mantra to ‘follow the science’ during the purported pandemic put approved experts on a pedestal while suppressing debate. Common to Technocracy Inc and the Great Reset is Doomsday rhetoric: the former flourishing amidst economic decline, and the latter in ecological disaster. Both have used crises to push their agenda. Technocracy Inc wanted currency replaced by energy coupons with each purchase quantified in joules. Today, governments are preparing for central bank digital coupons and the end of cash. Every transaction will be known to the authorities, and access to goods and services may be restricted, either individually or collectively. Each of us will have a carbon footprint score, updated in real time.  An Orwellian social credit system is being built. 

Democracy is undermined by any totalitarian project. From the perspective of globalists, the people cannot be trusted, being prone to myth and misinformation; only the official narrative should be heard. Meanwhile the younger generations have been indoctrinated as ‘citizens of the world’, believing that they are leading us to a brighter future. Young Technocracy Inc recruits were named ‘Farads’ after Michael Faraday: they had seen the light, in the same way that the progressive youth of today are described as ‘woke’.  

The prospects, however, are not emancipation but enslavement. Taking the Great Reset to its conclusion, society will be restructured, with the sunlit uplands reserved for the elite who commandeer all resources. We shouldn’t be naïve about Elon Musk, who is driving the technocratic journey beyond his grandfather’s dreams. Yet could he be waking up to the megalomania of a new world order? As an avid childhood reader of science fiction, perhaps he will be our ‘action hero’ to save humankind from dystopia. 

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