The people at Merriam-Webster define technocracy as “management of society by technical experts.”
Technocracy is a word describing a mechanical rule over people. It applies the techniques of technology to the running of society which is of a different nature. Thus, such experts are, by definition, more comfortable with ideas, machines or processes than with people. They can provide some essential services, but they are best not entrusted with leadership over a whole society.
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Government Usurped by the Public Health Bureaucracy
Then came COVID.
Suddenly, a small group of “public health experts” closed offices, schools, churches and other places where people gathered. Downtown streets looked like ghost towns. When interacting with other people was unavoidable; everyone needed to wear masks and stand six feet apart. Living the good life became less about pleasant experiences and more about staying at home.
The technocrats were in control and quickly mobilized their “machinery” to contain the virus…and implement other reforms. Doctors—some who had not seen an actual patient in years—began telling everyone how to live with a disease that might never end. Actuaries compared typical mortality rates with those inflated by coronaviruses and mapped out the areas of most significant risk. Computer technicians created networks over which companies and schools could operate without bringing people together.
The Naysayers Emerge
However, even when the technocrats were at their apex, some naysayers refused to follow along. Society still needed plumbers, truckers, electricians and others in hands-on trades who couldn’t work from home. Grocery stores, hospitals and other “essential services” needed to operate to maintain life—even a life lived indoors.
Some schools—mostly parochial, private and charter schools—took basic precautions like regular hand washing and not allowing large groups to assemble but still held classes. Some restaurants served food outdoors.
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Even governments pushed back against the technocrats. The news media noticed that Florida, Sweden and other places didn’t impose the same rigid restrictions on their people. The cameras stood by as networks waited for death tolls to explode.
Unmet Visions of Doom
People questioned many of their measures when the experts’ dire predictions went unfulfilled.
However, the technocrats doubled down. They emphasized new threats. People without symptoms could spread the disease without knowing it. Those unaffected by COVID could still fall victim to unknown and unpredictable “variants.” Only those who got a booster every few months could be considered “fully vaccinated.”
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal examined the effects of technocratic rule during the COVID scare—March 2020 to the present. It carries an arresting headline, “Fauci and Walensky Double Down on Failure.”
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Three Streams of Failure
The article cites three bodies of evidence indicating that failure.
- “U.S. states with more restrictive policies fared no better, on average, than states with less restrictive policies.”
- “Florida and Sweden were accused of deadly folly for keeping schools and businesses open without masks, but their policies have been vindicated.”
- “Medical treatments and screenings were delayed, and there were sharp increases in the rates of depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, fatal strokes and heart disease, and fatal abuse of alcohol and drugs.”
Any one of these disastrous results is enough to confirm the failure of the technocrats. They overlooked massive amounts of contrary evidence. They clung to practices that not only failed but caused actual harm. In the world of private medicine, each situation would have given rise to a malpractice case that would ruin any doctor.
In fairness, separating the early stages of the crisis from the latter makes sense. The tendency was to err on the side of caution.
However, as the disease developed, all-but-irrefutable facts dispensed with many of the first guidelines. Nevertheless, the technocrats clung to the advice they dispensed during the initial days of the crisis. When challenged, they mouthed the catchphrase “follow the science” while they refused to use new evidence to alter their approach to the disease. They insisted that their detractors were conspiracy theorists, misinformed, “COVID-deniers” or some other pejorative terms.
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Such behavior is, unfortunately, very common among technocrats. Any acknowledgment of error undermines their credibility since everything is based on “the science.” Those tendencies are not limited to public health officials. They also exist in environmental protection, education and other contentious areas of public life.
Escaping the Expert Mindset
This bureaucratic shortsightedness is why society needs to hold the technocrats accountable for their COVID blunders. Machine-like measures should not be used on living institutions and peoples. Such matters are best left to social structures and natural leaderships that act from long experience and observation of the human condition bolstered by morality and culture.
Such organic societies may err on occasion. No human system is perfect. However, they are vastly more responsive to changing times and the real needs of the people than any clique of technocrats will ever be.
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