Tuesday 21 March 2023

Builders and Destroyers

The world is filled, not with good and bad people, but with the builders and the destroyers, and the battle between them is eternal.

Hugh Walpole - The Bright Pavilions (1940)

There is much to recommend this idea as the basic political divide – builders and destroyers. Somewhat tongue in cheek perhaps, but it isn’t a new idea. Political radicals have always wanted to tear down old systems in order to replace them with something new and noble which unfortunately doesn’t work.

Taking it a little further, we could modify Walpole's idea and suggest a division between builders and bunglers instead. Yet destroyers are almost always destroyer/bungler hybrids so this isn't quite right either. Suppose we refer to the hybrids as destroyers for simplicity.

In which case, the basic political division is not left and right, socialists and capitalists and all the other ists, but this more fundamental, more visceral division. A division between men and women who aim to build for future generations and those who do not because the incentive to build has been dissipated within the comforts and complexities of modern life.

It is something many people appear to have noted for years, especially via the internet. Those who build, make, repair or grow tend to see the world in a far more pragmatic and constructive light than those who live by words rather than deeds. It’s a crude division but maybe there is something in it, something at the core of our wider political interactions.

The orthodox climate change narrative is a destroyer’s narrative. Net Zero is a destroyer’s policy. The focus is on cannot do rather than can do. The promise of a better world tomorrow is subservient to the destruction waged on this one today.

As for gender politics, we certainly see destroyer politics there. The aim is to destroy biological science and commonplace certainties. They are gone, destroyed, expunged in pursuit of a victory of words over the very basis of life itself. The ultimate in wordsmith arrogance if ever there was one.

Destroyers tend to be political, builders apolitical as far as they are allowed to be by the need to oppose destroyer narratives. All of our major political parties are filled with people not necessarily good or bad, but the ambitious find it easier to be a destroyer rather than a builder. The destroyer vote is much easier to address.

It’s why we have cancel culture because it is a necessary destroyer strategy - destroy the possibility of debate. There is no point being a destroyer who values pragmatic analysis – that would turn a destroyer into a builder. Doesn’t make sense, but cancel culture as a necessary destroyer strategy does make sense.

Inevitably, mass media pander to destroyer sentiments. It’s easier and cheaper and the market is a large one. The number of people living on words rather than deeds has grown enormously over recent decades and it has not been a healthy growth.

Let us hope Walpole was right and the battle is eternal. It doesn’t seem so at the moment.


Sam Vega said...

To be a destroyer and one who lives by words is always easier than to be a builder. The latter is risky, because one is never sure that what one builds won't be superseded. Jobs are a good example. Train for a trade? It might be useful now, but be obsolete in a couple of years. As Marx noted, capitalism destroys even the builders - it's supposed to.

Destroying, though; that never goes out of fashion.

A K Haart said...

Sam - that's it, destroying never does go out of fashion. A third type could be the idler who neither destroys nor builds but envies the builder, not the destroyer. It's surprising how far it is possible to go with this.

djc said...

Relates to something I have been thinking upon of late:

Legacy or Inheritance? The same think from different perspectives? What you give or what you get.

A K Haart said...

djc - that's an interesting alternative perspective - givers and takers. Brings out the inevitability of where we find ourselves in voting for takers.