The Corner

Engineers

I’m getting lots more angry emails from engineers who don’t want to smeared as liberals. I hear what you are all saying and that’s why I posted that email from the engineer. But I should say two things:

1) I don’t think Sanchez meant, literally, engineers so much as people who see problems and automatically set about solving them. Alec Guiness from Bridge on the Rive Kwai might be a good example or analogy. Guiness got it in his head that he should solve a problem, he didn’t ask the larger question about what it would mean if he actually built the bridge. Anyway, I don’t think engineers should get too bent out of shape about what Sanchez wrote. If you disagree, take it up with him.

2) Engineers have not always been conservatives. Back when socialism was considered “scientific” lots of engineers and other scientists were not merely liberals, but Marxists. As one reader (my Middle Eastern history guy) explains:

Jonah,

In the U.S. context, engineers may be politically conservative, but

historically, their predilection for viewing human nature, politics,

etc., as problems to be solved has led them to be over-represented in

various totalitarian movements. A wise friend of mine once said,

“America is run by lawyers; the Soviet Union was run by engineers.”

(“Social engineering” was originally a positive term.)

A more contemporary example might be the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,

whose membership was so characterized by middle-class, disaffected

technocrats that Egyptian slang dubbed the Ikhwân al-Muslimîn (Muslim

Brotherhood) the Ikhwân al-Muhandisîn (“The Brotherhood of Engineers”).

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