‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /12 (2021)

“Society since the beginning has discouraged by means of church, school, and statutory restrictions all experimentation in the domain of spiritual living. The consequence has been a stultification of the intellect, a frustration of the emotions, and a damming up of nervous energy which is bringing many people to the verge of a nervous breakdown. A technocracy would attempt to set free that great surplus of vital energy now burning itself out, uselessly, in the business game, and redirect it into unexplored channels.”

“Research work, directed toward discovering the causes of psychic maladjustments, may prove more difficult than devising a machine to pick cotton; and successful achievement in this field will surely be harder to measure.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /11 (2021)

“As a last measure the energy certificate” – a measure reminding of today’s Chinese ‘social credit’ – “could be cancelled. This punishment should prove efficacious in most cases. When an individual proved obstinately recalcitrant for obscure reasons, the psychiatrists would attempt to unravel the trouble. In no case should real punishment, such as solitary confinement or labor forced by physical threats, be necessary.” “On first thought, tyranny, due to the human tendency to get drunk with power, would seem to be a grave menace to the technocracy. Our present constitution is so preoccupied with guarding against this menace that executive action is greatly hampered. In fact, action would be nearly impossible if every legal requirement were conscientiously fulfilled. In a technocracy there would be no statutory checks on tyranny.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /10 (2021)

“Human energy, applied to finding ways of life that satisfy, to creating values which uplift the spirit, may improve the lot of man on earth as emphatically in the inner psychic sphere as man’s genius, directed toward conquering the outer material world, has ameliorated the conditions of his physical existence.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /9 (2021)

“Man and his environment act upon each other. Both are altered in the process.” “Some men work upon the external world. The remolding of the earth’s crust in order to make it more congenial to human life, and the use of natural materials to satisfy physical needs are functions of men of action.” “Other men remold human nature. Their attempt is to adapt man to his environment rather than vice versa. The transmuting of the nature of man, the developing of his perceptions so that he is able to attune himself to those inner harmonies which give value to life, the digesting of phenomena so that instead of fear and disgust they give pleasure, and the interpreting of nature’s phases are the province of the artist.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /8 (2021)

“To avoid an enormous increase in discontent and misery of the psychological variety, the consequence of multiplying the individual’s leisure, provision must be made for pleasure stimulation. The intermediate period would be particularly difficult.” “The control of anything the appeal of which is subjective, such as the theater, or painting, should not be entrusted to the state. A state may be entrusted with engineering projects, with the production of goods, to a lesser extent, with the preservation of health. Values in these fields are objective and can be tested by trial and error experimentation. Consequently skillful work is easily recognized and successful accomplishment allows of no debate. This is not so with the more subtle longings of the human soul.”

Paul Goodman, 1945: ‘The Political Meaning of Some Recent Revisions of Freud’ (2020)

“Is it possible to draw any other conclusion from this reasoning than that the goal of therapy is the smooth running of the social machine as it exists?” “And what familiar name shall we call a “therapy” that pretends to create harmony on a mass scale?” “The need does exist in its millions — and there are, for instance, 250 Freudian analysts in the United States!”