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A Centennial History of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers: 1880-1980
Bruce Sinclair
Bruce Sinclair
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When the members of ASME wrote or spoke about the depression, they often did so in the language of warfare. The crisis demanded that kind of national mobilization and suggested the curtailment of normal attitudes and practices for the duration of the conflict. Because mechanical engineers felt themselves under siege, notions of defense and counter-attack also came easily to mind. But there was a set of medical metaphors that proved equally attractive and appeared even more appropriate. In a way that implied ancient ideas of bodily humors, the depression was seen as a matter of imbalance; constituent parts of the system were out of harmony. And since mechanical engineers claimed credit for the economy’s previous health, they saw themselves as the most likely physicians to minister to its ills. Furthermore, treating a sick economy, as the editor of Iron Age pointed out, called for an understanding of the true causes of disease, for remedies rather than palliatives.

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