Atheist politics and technocracy

No time for a full post, but here’s a comment I wrote in response to a post on Friendly Atheist:

I’m a bit reminded of the technocracy movement that sprang up in the early 20th c. Nowadays, people use the word “technocrat” as a pejorative, especially when talking abou the EU. But there was a time when technocracy was a going political philosophy that, ultimately, went nowhere.

The problem is that you still need to have democratic involvement in defining what the actual problems are, before you start advocating solutions. Rationalists are very good at coming up with pragmatic solutions, but not everybody agrees on what the problems are. In the absence of democratic voices defining the problems, technocracy quickly becomes autocratic and authoritarian.

Suppose that, democratically, the people focus on “too much diversity” as a problem. Rationalists can come up with a workable solution to that problem, but the solution is not likely to be pleasant. Or suppose the problem is “not enough nationalism,” or “too many taxes.”

Likewise with atheists/secularists. Solving societal problems is easy, if everyone buys into it and places their trust in the experts. Defining the problem is the tricky bit.

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