"Extermination must be put on a scientific basis if it is ever to be carried out humanely and apologetically as well as thoroughly… If we desire a certain type of civilisation and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it."
-George Bernard Shaw
The progressives believed, first and foremost, in the importance of science and scientific experts in guiding the economy, government, and society.
Against the selfishness, disorder, corruption, ignorance, conflict and wastefulness of free markets or mass democracy, they advanced the ideal of disinterested, public-spirited social control by well-educated elites.
The progressives were technocrats who, Leonard observes, “agreed that expert public administrators do not merely serve the common good, they also identify the common good.”
"Embedded in progressivism was the idea of scientific management - long-range planning by university-trained experts. This new managerial class became increasingly vital to the economic process.
In a country that had nurtured a reverence for invention, the use of scientific management had a special appeal. Progressive reformers had a strong faith in science as the cure - all that would herald in a new era of rational control of both nature and human society.
Under these conditions, it is not surprising that the revelations of a new science of genetics gave birth to a new science of social engineering - eugenics."
-Garland E. Allen
Back when Woodrow Wilson was a professor at Bryn Mawr, he published a seminal essay extolling “the science of administration.”
His case was characteristic of the times and the ideology he helped shape. Wilson imagined technical experts, the new breed of social scientists emerging from the universities, who could help steer the economy.
For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class -- social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies -- arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).
United Nations Climate Chief Christiana Figueres explained her job this way: “It is the most inspiring job in the world because what we are doing here is we are inspiring government, private sector, and civil society to [make] the biggest transformation that they have ever undertaken.
The Industrial Revolution was also a transformation, but it wasn't a guided transformation from a centralized policy perspective. This is a centralized transformation that is taking place because governments have decided that they need to listen to science.
So it's a very, very different transformation and one that is going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different.”
Wilson once told a black delegation, that "segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen."
But his racism wasn't just a product of his Southern roots; it was often of a piece with the reigning progressive obsession with eugenics, the pseudoscience that strove to perfect society through better breeding.
"Progressives saw sterilization as having natural advantages over traditional methods of helping the poor, such as charity.
Sterilization was 'scientific' -- its rationale could be found in the writings of Charles Darwin's cousin Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, who mused that superior people, like superior crops and farm animals, were the product of good breeding."
Nearly the entire liberal elite, including much of FDR’s Brain Trust, had made the pilgrimage to Moscow to take admiring notes on the Soviet experiment. Their language was both religiously prophetic and arrogantly scientific.
Stuart Chase reported after visiting Russia in 1927 that unlike in America, where “hungry stockholders” were making the economic decisions, in the Soviet Union the all-caring state was in the saddle, “informed by battalions of statistics” and heroically aided by Communist Party officials who need “no further incentive than the burning zeal to create a new heaven and a new earth which flames in the breast of every good Communist.”
If Only Scientists Were In Charge...
He asks: "If you think biological complexity can come about through unplanned emergence and not need an intelligent designer, then why would you think human society needs an ‘intelligent government’?"
Science as an institution has "a naive belief that if only scientists were in charge, they would run the world well."
The scientistic delusion—the pretense of knowledge, Hayek called it—promises us that there is a way forward, that it is discoverable, and that it may be revealed to us by applying familiar, widely understood principles.
The alternative—that minds and markets are beyond management—is for many too terrible to contemplate.