There is always among us a cadre of little boys who think that kicking over a sand castle is more clever, and more fun, than putting in the time to build it. Classic internet trolls try to kick over the sand-castle of civil discourse, thrilled when they can derail a potentially productive discussion, uninterested in contributing anything of value to it. Just thinking out loud here…

Wanton destructiveness, whether of art or literature or architecture, truth or democratic norms or civil discourse or other people, is always the drug of choice for a certain percentage of us primates. The measure of any civilisation, in the end, is the degree to which it discourages rather than encourages puerile sand-castle-kicking behaviour. No?

This mood of joy-in-destruction can infect any vanguardist movement whether left or right; the Red Guards episode in Maoist China comes to mind, and of course we can always look back on bookburnings, various, and to the history of warfare in general… all kinds of orgies of vandalism. (Those of us with civilised tendencies try not to be impressed by human vandalism, but may still feel a guilty thrill when watching YT footage of natural disasters.)

Whatever the ostensible ideology, there’s a momentum and appeal to destruction that we should, if thinking clearly, recognise as a dangerous drug, a force that needs to be watched carefully and defused where possible. Ideology is too often used as an excuse for simple nasty vandalistic “fun”.

The wheeee! of destruction doesn’t have to be malignant. Cheering for the Bang and Sparkle of fireworks is a benign outlet for the tendency. Enjoying documentary films of controlled demolition or car-crushers is another benign outlet. Demolition derbies, sure, relatively benign. But it can get serious. Packed arenas of Romans cheering for mass slaughter, not so pretty. Cheering as the smoke and flames rose over Baghdad — as many Yanks did during the US assault on Iraq — also not so pretty. An unhealthy fascination with weapons of mass destruction, or even weapons of local destruction — not benign. Cheering and applauding as the underpinnings of civil order are eroded, or as reasonable voices are silenced and noisy sand-castle-kickers rise to positions of power and high visibility… scary.

Since we wiped out the megafauna, the most frightening thing on this earth is a gang of primates drunk on destruction.

Retired; ex-software engineer. Paleo-feminist. Sailor. Arduino tinkerer. Enviro. Libertarian Socialist (Anarcho-Syndicalist, kinda). Writer. Altermondialiste.

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