Direct Technocracy

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Anna-Verena Nosthoff and Felix Maschewski:

"Before we delve into the origins of cybernetics, a preliminary review of some of the most recent theoretical trends in neo-cybernetic politics is useful. We start with one of the most controversial figures. Political scientist and consultant Parag Khanna, a strong advocate of the ultimately cybernetic idea that connectivity per se is of intrinsic political and moral value, has most recently argued for what he terms ‘direct technocracy’. By this term, he refers to the intermingling of real-time information and an ‘info-state’, which is, for the most part, governed by non-party experts. Such ‘info-states’, the prior examples of which according to Khanna are Singapore and Switzerland, are driven by the ideology of supposedly ‘neutral’ pragmatism, with the only aim being to maximize efficiency. ‘In the long run, the quality of governance matters more than regime type,’ Khanna argues, believing that, ‘with good governance comes trust.’ Khanna’s book, Technocracy in America, was published just weeks after Trump’s election, a cleverly chosen moment to actively promote his tech-expertocracies alongside their presumably non-reactionary and, as he puts it, ‘non-ideological’ forms of anti-politics. The author is convinced that ‘America has more than enough democracy. What it needs is more technocracy– a lot more.’ Most dubiously, Khanna openly promotes not only Singapore but also China – which, as is known, has announced its ‘social-credit-system’ – as future role models for both the US and Europe. ­­­­

Khanna’s neo-cybernetic agenda can, in parts, be traced back to Tim O’Reilly, one of the first defendants of neo-cybernetic concepts. O’Reilly coined the term ‘Algorithmic Regulation’ around 2011 and ‘Government as Platform’ in 2010."


More information

  • Khanna, Parag, Technocracy in America. Charleston, South Carolina: CreateSpace, Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.