By John M. Jordan
During this interdisciplinary paintings, John Jordan lines the numerous impression on American politics of a impossible hero: the pro engineer. Jordan exhibits how technical triumphs--bridges, radio broadcasting, airplanes, vehicles, skyscrapers, and electric power--inspired social and political reformers to borrow the language and common sense of engineering within the early 20th century, bringing phrases like efficiency, technocracy, and social engineering into the political lexicon. Demonstrating that the cultural impression of expertise unfold a long way past the manufacturing facility and laboratory, Jordan exhibits how a panoply of reformers embraced the language of equipment and engineering as metaphors for contemporary statecraft and social development. President Herbert Hoover, himself an engineer, grew to become the main robust of the technocratic progressives. somewhere else, this imaginative and prescient of social engineering was once debated via teachers, philanthropists, and commentators of the day--including John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, Lewis Mumford, Walter Lippmann, and Charles Beard. the end result, Jordan argues, was once a brand new manner of conversing concerning the state.
Originally released in 1994.
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Additional info for Machine-Age Ideology: Social Engineering and American Liberalism, 1911-1939
ORIGINS OF AMERICAN RATIONAL REFORM The politics of efﬁciency, social control, and planning originated in tangible causes and effects, not in mass movements or charismatic leadership. Even the philosophical bases of social engineering—pragmatism and Veblenism—begin with human action and emphasize performance. The rational reform impulse stressed present-tense problem solving, not historical precedent. European predecessors like Comte and Mill inﬂuenced a few important individuals—especially Herbert Croly, who was actually baptized into Comte’s religion of humanity—but most Americans tried to redesign society with little sense of intellectual genealogy.
Every redblooded man,” he wrote, has a right “to be assured that his work . . ” Not content to claim merely technical expertise, and unconsciously echoing Edward Bellamy, Hoover contended that “the very essence of the profession is that it calls upon its members to direct men. ” Still, the brightest days lay in the future, no matter how prosperous the present. While “the real engineer does not advertise himself,” the “engineering profession generally rises yearly in dignity and importance 3 4 D E F I N I T I O N S as the rest of the world learns more of where the real brains of industrial progress are.
He studied under Charles Sanders Peirce, worked alongside John Dewey and George Herbert Mead, and read William James closely. Sharing the pragmatists’ stress on truth found in meaningful human action, Veblen named the tendency toward usefulness the “instinct” of workmanship. He 1 4 P R E D E C E S S O R S deﬁned human life as a series of causal actions, the meaning of which is found in their effects. 5 Despite assuming the pose of the scientist, Veblen created in his economic anthropology not so much a science as an epic allegory.