Many of my friends and acquaintances have this in common: they make things. I’ve always admired the effort, creativity, and persistance that’s needed to craft a new concept, illuminate something in writing, create a photograph or painting, synthesize a new chemical, build or repair a mechanical device, or synthesize views on a complex subject. Of the many ways to make a contribution, creating new things is a great one.
At the opposite end of the creative spectrum, we have the deniers. It’s a genuine – and often very positive – skill to deconstruct what is complex, and then identify how to make it better. However, there is no particular talent or skill required to simply destroy creative output. When destruction takes place without understanding, when it is asserted that destruction is just as good – or better – than creation, then we’re at the point of a toxic and terminal demagoguery.
In the realm of governmental policy, we’re there, now. I’ve written that the only mandate a winning Republican ticket would have was one of destruction, and it looks like that’s their plan, if you can call that planning. It’s truly ironic, for many who supported the Republican ticket are skilled and creative craftspeople in their varied fields.
The new regime has brought us a depressing lineup of knowledge-free and destruction-oriented administration: a proposed Secretary of State without diplomatic credentials; an EPA Administrator denying the notion of climate change (not to mention its causes); a Health and Human Services Secretary committed to eliminating healthcare mandates; an Energy Secretary who has said the Department of Energy should be eliminated, but doesn’t know what the DOE does. Not to mention at-risk legal protections….
Destruction may not take much skill, but it can be very satisfying to frustrated citizens who come to discover that His Flatulence isn’t giving them the jobs or validation they wanted. No job yet? Here, take a few (real or conceptual) whacks at an existing structure with this sledgehammer… The Trump proto-regime has already applied these techniques, in the best tradition of mass movements. The problem is this: as the stakes get higher, history tells us that the need for new targets of destruction also gets higher. And as the arguments for destruction are emotional, they are also potentially random.
Hopefully I’m wrong, but we might be prudent to consider any creative line of work, including our own, as a potential target. A little defunding (and as an added innovation, public humiliation) of environmental science, macroeconomics, materials research, support for the arts will go a long way to thwarting short- and long-term activity. There is no need to re-read 1984: It’s already happening…
The defense? I know it’s a theme around here, but we’re our own best defense. Mindless destruction is not just an attack on intellectual elitism, but an attack on anyone and everyone who has taken the time to learn a skill and apply it usefully for the benefit of others – that’s just about all of us. A teardown-oriented government is really nothing more or less than a personal attack on us, and what makes us valuable as people. Valid governance is supposed to work for people, as the art of sensible, prudent, often incremental, policy construction. What we have is far from perfect, and when someone has a better idea, let’s hear it. But the notion that what our current structures are simply bad, to be shod without any proposed alternative? That’s no idea at all, and no government at all. Buyers beware.