A fantastic and extremely rare 1940 map depicting the geopolitical program of Technocracy, Incorporated, at the time an influential organization fueled by Depression-era anxiety, quack economics, isolationism and more than a soupcon of Fascism.
The map envisions much of the Americas and eastern Pacific basin as merged into a single “Technate of America”, to be ruled by a technically skilled, empirically-driven, non-partisan elite. The Technate is shown stretching from Greenland west to the International Date Line and south to encompass the Caribbean and parts of Columbia, Venezuela and the Guyanas. Its territory is colored red—the semi-official color of the Technocracy movement, also seen on its logo—and small, circular symbols indicate “Defense Bases” at its outer boundaries, as far afield as Attu; Pago Pago; Cape Farewell, Newfoundland; and Georgetown, Guyana.
The map is extraordinarily rare: I am aware of but one institutional holding and find no record of another having been offered for sale.
The Technocracy movement had its brief heyday in the 1930s, its leading proponent engineer Howard Scott (1890-1970) and his Technocracy Incorporated, founded in 1933. The movement was ideologically somewhat diverse and fractious, but Scott’s version was fueled by the Great Depression and the crisis of capitalism, quack economics, post-First-World-War isolationism, and an infatuation with Fascist form and ritual. At the core of its ideology was a rejection of the “price system” underlying the global economy, in which money as a medium of exchange determines the value of goods and services and financial considerations are fundamental to all economic decision making. Citing the Depression as Exhibit A, movement adherents viewed this system as inherently unsustainable and predicted a total system collapse no later than 1940.
Technocracy Inc.’s prescriptive program had economic, political and geopolitical elements. At the core was a shift from the price system to what Scott called “an energy theory of value”, in which goods and services were to be valued based not on money but in terms of the energy inputs required to produce them. This in turn would necessitate the abandonment of democracy and the embrace of a technocracy—government by an unelected, technically skilled, empirically-driven elite with the expertise necessary to determine values and make rational resource-allocation decisions. The outward manifestations of this authoritarian outlook had a distinctly Fascist flavor: Technocracy Inc. members wore a uniform of double-breasted suit, gray shirt, and blue tie, with the red Technocracy logo worn on the lapel; drove gray-painted cars; and saluted one another in public.
As demonstrated by the map offered here, Technocracy, Inc.’s geopolitical program was simultaneously expansionist and isolationist. It called for a “Technate” consisting of a union of the nations of North America, Central America, the Caribbean and northeastern Pacific, along with the northern tier of South America. The rationale was that “the natural resources and the natural boundaries of this area make it an independent, self-sustaining geographical unit.” (The Technocrat, vol. 3 no. 4 (Sept. 1937), p. 3) In keeping with Technocracy Inc.’s authoritarian tendencies, the Technate would ensure its security by enacting a “Continental integration and mobilization”, and “complete conscription of men, materials, machines, and wealth by the government of the United States”, which were to be “placed before all other objectives of the American peoples” (The Technocrat, vol. 9 no. 3 (Apr. 1941).
Key to this project was the construction of a chain of far-flung “defense bases” along the Technate’s borders, as shown on the Technate of America map offered here. Behind these the Technate would be entirely secure, its economy “self-sustaining” and independent of global trade, and its defenses sufficient to deter would-be invaders. As such, it would have no need to become involved in the conflicts of either Europe or Asia.
“Opposition to American entry into the wars raging outside our Area is a keystone of Technocracy’s current basic policy. Lest that policy be mis- construed by uninformed persons in the public, Technocracy points out that this position is not held on the basis of humanitarian or pacifist tenets. America is worth fighting for! But we need fight for America only on American terms and from our own Continental defenses. Competent strategy will keep war out of our Area.” (Ibid.)
As with the broader isolationist movement, Technocracy, Inc. had its legs cut out from under it by the attack on Pearl Harbor, the subsequent entry of the United States into the Second World War, and the nation’s near-total mobilization to fight the good fight against Fascism, all within a democratic, capitalist framework. Nevertheless, the organization survives to this day, with a web site, membership and online meetings.
In all, an extremely rare and interesting artifact of this quirky-but-influential Depression-era intellectual and political movement.
OCLC 10502189, giving a single holding at the Wisconsin Historical Society (May 2022). OCLC 54645553 describes a very large (ca. 40” by 60”) map, The Technate of North America: The Minimum Area for the Maximum Defense and Efficiency (1941). It may be this map that is visible in a photo of Howard Scott at what appears to be a Technocracy Inc. office.