The Urge to Destroy the World
This is going to be a difficult posting. My lead here is James S. Hans in his book The Question of Value, in its last chapter, which I am in the process of reading and rereading. And to be perfectly fair, the book The Master and his Emissary, which complements it.
Hans does not consider the impulse I am describing here – a strange blank spot in his reasoning which I cannot account for, because he describes its setting perfectly. Basically it is this: man is finding that the world limits his plans for infinite expansion; finds this intolerable; and therefore wants to destroy it. In the case of America, he is destroying America – and much of the rest of the world is doing the same, following our lead.
This is something few can see, even the brightest – probably because is it so horrible it is not believable. Hannah Arendt noticed this when she was writing about the Holocaust. The same thing happened in the Russian Gulag and in the Cultural Revolution – while the rest of the world still could not believe it. In that respect, nothing has changed.
I personally found this destruction intolerable in the working world, when I was part of it. Now that I am out of it, I can watch it happening; write about it; and see that this makes no difference to anyone. They cannot hear me talking.
This approach may sound familiar to you: apocryphal warnings have been going on for a long time. But the situation now is different: it is entirely new – and entirely new things are going on in it.
What is new? In the past five hundred years change has been so rapid and continuous that we are now looking at a new world – and we do not like what we see. People are ambivalent about this: insisting both that everything has changed and nothing has changed at the same time. It’s about time we made up our mind. But there is one problem: we have no mind left – it has been left far behind.
For most, this is not a problem at all. For them, it is a good thing: “Our minds only created big problems for us.” they say – and they are right. We misused our minds entirely. But this is no reason to quit using them entirely. We should start over and start using them right: in harmony with everything else. But this is precisely what they do not want to do. They are like spoiled children: insisting that they must have their own way – if not, they will demolish their play-pen.
Everything has to be taken into account when we think about changing things – and this is no easy matter. But, on the other hand, it is probably not impossible – we just have to start taking the first few baby steps in that direction.
There is no shame in being a baby – but for Americans, it is. Our history is clear: babies get destroyed.