We all know the word, and we all seem to have a sense that we live in a technocractic society, but I am not sure how well aware we are of how this translates into our reality, or why it is quite possibly destroying us.

This is not a harangue against technology itself. Technocracy and technology are two separate phenomenon, the one being an outcome of human nature itself, and the other a result of the particular and peculiar social and economic institutions that we have constructed.

But, technocracy to me is the utter detachment of planners and engineers from the systems in which they seek to intervene. And tecnhnocracy is alive and well in the Third World, folks. It amazes me how a room full of 11 consultants can develop a business plan for a group of small-holder farmers who live 11 hours away from, and are not represented in, said meeting. And it amazes me further how this business plan is designed to protect a forest that the vast majority of the consultants have never seen or touched.

If the decentralized revolution we seek to undertake is to have any hope of succeeding, then technocracy must slowly be starved of oxygen. Empowerment means that technocrats must, from time to time, leave their offices to tend to the garden, to touch the soil, to turn wrenches, and to fix things and watch them grow. And, not in isolation from the interventions they implement, but side by side with them, hand in hand with the folks whom they purport to be helping. Empowerment means slowing down, stopping, observing, listening, and reflecting. Empowerment is the slow, cultural death of technocracy.

I don’t know if the revolution will be swift and sure enough to arrest the current crisis. I don’t know if it will come soon enough to prevent a downward spiral into war and genocide.


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