Martin Wiener

Ivor Catt,

For Electronics World,

July 2004.

Britain’s fight to escape from manufacturing and hi technology

Britain’s fight to escape from manufacturing and hi technology.

Letter to the Editor, EW

Ending hi-tec in the UK

As the actress said to the bishop, Bryce Kearey's letter, EW June p54, is very good as far as it goes, but it lacks the final thrust. This failure to pursue the argument to its crucial climax is endemic among electronic engineers.

My article in Wireless World, December 1982, ventures further. Britain had to get out of hi technology in order to save the existing political structure. The struggle, to get out of manufacturing industry, and later, even more crucially, to get out of hi technology, began in around 1885, and took a century to triumph. The book which proves this comprehensively is "English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980" by Martin Joel Wiener, 1982

I will give access to my article, and to further relevant material, via

Ivor Catt

St. Albans, UK


English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980
by Authors: Martin Joel Wiener
Released: 24 June, 1982
ISBN: 0521270340


Martin J. Wiener does an excellent job describing Englands lack of commitment to the industrial spirit and the very real economic impact such a philosophical malaise engendered.
The author logically begins his thesis by pointing to 19th Century English cultural and political elites from across the political spectrum who decried the mechanical horrors of the Industrial Revolution. From the philosophical radical JS Mill to the pragmatic Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin (ironically, the son of an industrialist), Wiener displays a general consensus among the ruling and influential elites of England that industrial development is, essentially, not right for Little England. Other Conservatives at the turn of the century, such as Lord E. Percy, felt that laissez-faire was best left with America as the U.S. was more favorably placed for her less noble experiment of unrestrained growth. Etc.

A 300 word anonymous editorial in Wireless World led to its author (who the Dutch did not know was named Catt) being invited to speak at the AGM of the top computer institution in Holland. He gave then an enlarged version of The New Bureaucracy . It was again extended into the third version published in Wireless World December 1982. Only the third version outlines both of the two similar three-way sequential battles for control; (1) between the feudal, manufacturing and hi-tec power bases; and (2) between industry owners, management and technocrats.


Some of the second battle is also outlined as the chapter “The Management-Technocracy Guerilla” War in Catt’s book “Computer Worship”, pub. Pitman 1973.

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