Destrative Crestruction Dept.


Detroit, the New Greece - NYTimes.com

... free-market enthusiasts love to quote Joseph Schumpeter about the inevitability of “creative destruction” — but they and their audiences invariably picture themselves as being the creative destroyers, not the creatively destroyed. Well, guess what: Someone always ends up being the modern equivalent of a buggy-whip producer, and it might be you.

Once upon a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth I had an essay titled "Why Social Darwinism Is Neither" that drew the same conclusion via a different route. Those who worship power and strength inevitably cast evolution and natural forces (like, say, market forces!) as being on their side. They're never willing to entertain the possibility that one day it might be someone else's boot on their neck — because if they did, then that would mean they weren't worthy of calling themselves the baddest mothers in the room anymore. It would also mean their definition of "fitness" — as in survival of the most fit — would be wrong, which is only inevitable since fitness for survivial does not always equate to brute strength.

Barrows Dunham of Man Against Myth wrote about this problem right when the world was still wiping the blood of WWII off its hands. He felt the same way: those who extol the superiority and inevitability of "nature" inevitably see themselves as being exempt from its influence, by dint of being its shamans or invokers. They refused to believe the very things they were unleashing could ever corrupt them, or, heaven forbid, turn against them wholesale. When he shook his head at the whole affair with the words "The gains hardly seem worth the degeneracy," he was as appalled by the degeneracy of their thinking as he was the degeneracy of their behavior.

That said, the opposite of the worship of power is not the abdication of power. That only touches off a whole new race for survival of the fittest. Barring the voluntary abolition of power entirely, something I only see possible in the most temporary and limited of circumstances, the best answer is the sober and responsible use of power — the measured diffusion of its corrupting tendencies.


Tags: economics sociology




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