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Back on the Earth, or in the West at least, we think of democracy as the ultimate political regime. Revolutions demand its establishment and some countries even add 'democratic' to their names (e.g.: Democratic Republic of Korea, aka North Korea).

But here, on Whateverius, technocracy is what people crave for. Other than that, this alien world is almost identical to Earth.

If such a world exists, would it be more advanced (economically, technologically) and less prone to armed conflicts? Or, due to the pragmatic nature of its leaders, more conflict oriented?

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    $\begingroup$ Two things. First of all, if you're American, you probably like your Constitutional Republic. Also, please define technocracy. I have never heard that term in my life, and some people will be confused by the term. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 27 '16 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ Technocracy in the Veblinist sense like the rule of Engineers? Where economics and society are known well enough that they can be engineered? $\endgroup$ – King-Ink Jan 28 '16 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ @King-Ink, I think you are giving more power to the word than Wikipedia does. When I looked it up, all I found was "right to rule based on depth of knowledge of a chosen subject, such as technology or science." What you are talking about is government by people qualified to lead, and there is no word for that because such people are a myth. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jan 28 '16 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ The entry on Veblen or on technocracy? $\endgroup$ – King-Ink Jan 28 '16 at 3:58
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    $\begingroup$ “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” ― Winston S. Churchill . And "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." ― Winston S. Churchill . So not sure "we" think of democracy as the "ultimate" political regime but it does seem to be the best we as humankind have come up with to date. $\endgroup$ – Selenog Jan 28 '16 at 11:24
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A technocracy is obsessed with efficiency in government. The problem with this is that it will tend to stamp out wasteful behavior. Which is fine if the behavior really is wasteful but not if the behavior leads to advancement. So a technocracy has the same problems as any other centrally-planned society.

Note that the problem isn't that the technocracy is less qualified than a democracy to run a government. It isn't. It is more qualified. The problem comes because the technocracy will almost inevitably try to control society more than it is capable of doing. They will think (correctly) that they are more qualified to make decisions

If individuals make their own decisions, they will inevitably make conflicting decisions. This is bad in the short term, as it makes the decisions less effective. In the long term though, it means that an unpopular decision may still turn out to be successful. This is particularly true if the situation changes.

Another way of saying this is that monoculture is dangerous.

For this reason, a technocracy might grow more slowly than a democracy. The technocracy will save by focusing resources on the most likely areas. But the occasional solution will arise in the less likely areas in the democracy.

It might well be less conflict-oriented. War is wasteful. Two technocratic governments may well be more likely to compromise. But that too is likely to lead to slower advancement. Necessity is the mother of invention after all. We didn't investigate nuclear fission and fusion to make electricity. We did so to make bombs to use in war.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for "monoculture is dangerous," but I'm not sure if I agree with the war bit. As is the case with many engineering solutions, there may be multiple right answers. If society A dislikes society's B solution, maybe society A feels obligated to "correct" society B, through force, if needed. We shouldn't forget cyber warfare, either, which may have a phenomenal destruction-to-effort ratio. $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Jan 28 '16 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ I guess you're referring to the 'democracy lab' I heard Americans talking about when asked about the numerous inconsistencies in policies and the like. $\endgroup$ – ahmed Jan 28 '16 at 12:00
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The European Union is considered a technocracy by a lot of people.

It's directed by people chosen and not elected. With the few elected representatives sent by their parties to get a golden retirement there. There is even a German party that was elected on the grounds they would change their representative early and just stay out of office.

Is it more advanced ? I doubt it.
The EU fold in the face of the US, the corporations and pretty much anyone who can lobby the "specialists". The people who decide are perceived as completely detached from reality and from the consequences of their work.

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    $\begingroup$ Also the power of lobbyists on national democratic governments is arguably even stronger, so using that as a specific downside for EU technocracy is grossly misleading. The whole point of the EU leaders being technocrats and having such good benefits is that it gives them some isolation from the lobbyists that national leaders do not have. What is bad about EU is their PR, since they do not need to get re-elected they do not "spin" their decisions the way national politicians do. The result is national politicians blaming the EU for anything unpopular while taking credit for popular decisions. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Jan 28 '16 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ "The European Union is considered a technocracy by most." Am European, never heard of this before this day. $\endgroup$ – Mike L. Jan 28 '16 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ I'm mainly stressing the lack of acountability of those people. Power without acountability is a child with the keys to the firework factory and a box of matches. A clear exemple : some directives were passed to regulate the shape of toilet seats or the power of vaccum cleaners ! It's not only because people are dumb that anti-european parties are raising all over the place. I'm not saying it can never work. $\endgroup$ – MakorDal Jan 28 '16 at 9:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MakorDal Sorry but you are simply wrong. The truth is that the national governments have the power in the system. The EU is accountable to them and lately to some extent the European parliament. The odd directives are due to common market requiring harmonization of regulation on products and services. This means that pretty much anything that someone could regulate in a manner that would create an issue gets a directive. There really should be a better way, but if anyone has invented one they have failed to publicize it. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Jan 28 '16 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ A practical example to make that bit more understandable. Few years ago a large shipment of Finnish pork was returned from China as spoiled. In actuality there was nothing wrong with it. It simply was the wrong color since the breed of pig used in the Nordic countries is different. So while it seems insane to regulate the correct color of meat, it actually has a practical purpose to people who make large shipments of stuff. Naturally all of this is totally invisible to ordinary people and the regulations still read as nonsense to vast majority of people, but... real world is complex. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Jan 28 '16 at 10:43
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By itself technocracy has no impact on the advancement or level of aggression a nation has. The difference between technocracy and democracy is in how you choose and oversee people in doing the government not in what the government does.

That said you could argue that technocracy would almost always be more advanced than a corresponding democracy since running a technocracy requires better communications which usually implies higher technology. But it is not a causative link from technocracy to advancement, rather better technology allows more advanced and extensive technocracy.

Similar argument applies to the pacifist nature of technocracies. A technocracy is a solution for efficiently handling predictable and repeating issues that are within the competence of the technocrats. As such it only evolves as a general solution to government in stable and peaceful conditions and will generally avoid doing things that would put the society outside those stable conditions. But it doesn't cause the stable conditions and stable conditions do not imply peace.

There are lots of empires in the history which for relatively long periods had stable expansion by conquest and had economies and political systems adapted to that. A technocracy evolved under such conditions would try to maintain a steady state of controlled and managed war with only brief periods of peace before the next war.

And, now that I think, the same would apply to technological advancement. A technocracy would try to maintain a steady rate of progress similar to the rate it evolved to manage. A technocracy evolved during a period of rapid technological progress would naturally be equipped to support and maintain rapid technological progress and end being advanced. A technocracy evolved during a period of technological stability and regression would not have a strong interest in technological advancement and would end up technologically retarded. Same applies to other aspects of society.

Which is why a technocracy is not a good solution as a monoculture. It is simply too stable to adjust well to changing conditions and requirements. Realistically an "advanced" government would mix it with something that is reasonably dynamic but is weak in handling long term stability and planning.

Democracy is one such system. The EU, for example, is a technocracy not because anyone things it is the best way to manage things, but because that best compensates the weaknesses of the democratic national governments in handling the long term planning required for something like the EU to function. The downside is that if you consider the EU in isolation of the national governments — or worse, in opposition — it simply won't make any sense.

Any really efficient system is a mixture of different solutions for different issues. And has the flexibility to change solutions as needed. Avoid monocultures, indeed.

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Scientists advance science out of a passion for learning.
Investors in scientific endeavors might hunger for power, but the actual scientists usually only hunger for insight and for the creativity needed to test weak theories to make them strong.

Distracting your technological leaders by forcing them to also run the government would only remove the finest minds from our exploration of the unknown. If anything, a government that discourages its best and brightest from running for office, will have the higher technology, because those precious few geniuses will not be distracted by the lure of power.

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@VilleNiemi has corrected my misunderstanding of the word Technocracy and under normal situations, I would delete my erroneous answer as irrelevant and off-subject. But in this particular case, there is value in leaving it here. You see, before writing this answer, I went to Bing to find out what Technocracy meant and this is what I found...

Bing's definition of Technocracy

A word of warning to anyone else who might use a browser to augment their vocabulary... Always check the little blue text under the definition. Just because it comes from a leading search engine, doesn't automatically make it right.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that's really true, people do what they're good at. If you're good at science, you'll be scientist, if your good at law, then you'll be a lawyer or judge. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 28 '16 at 1:59
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    $\begingroup$ To be truely great at anything, you must have a hunger for it, a drive that keeps you working when everyone else goes to bed. No one is extraordinary at anything as a means to an end. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jan 28 '16 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ Technocracy does not imply administration by researchers, it implies administration by people chosen based on relevant competence. Which would be administration not research. At anything else they'd only be good enough to understand what the experts say, not anything that would actually be a loss to research or development. This would still be a big difference since, for example, the recent crypto discussion highlights that most politicians and political appointees are totally ignorant about the basics of computer science and can't understand the arguments against backdoors. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Jan 28 '16 at 9:31

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