Within the layered and various theories of economics, a theory known as “creative destruction” is often invoked when discussing things such as job losses, industry changes or financial market turmoil. The concept, in essence states that in the often cyclical nature of market driven changes and innovations, much of the growth and evolution of given markets or industries comes either by way of or carries along with it sometimes severe negative consequences as old models of industry give way to new. In a sense, it offers a silver lining to whatever dark clouds that sudden or otherwise even predictable rises in unemployment in given capitalist societies might create.
In my own thinking on this concept in its most basic form, I have for a while now (especially in lieu of the ongoing election) been toying with the application of such to the world of politics. Now though some may take umbrage with the invocation of this theory as it is one largely spawned from Austrian schools of economics with roots in Marxist theory, it like many theories is neither universally applicable, nor devoid of merit. When taken then in a political vein, with as objective and impartial a view of politics as is possible, the concept itself poses some interesting perspectives in regards to matters such as what many regard as the swinging pendulum of popular political thought.
In the United States in particular, swings of voter enthusiasm for liberal leftist and right conservative politics do seem to follow a trend of switching back and forth over the course of election cycles. This left right dichotomy being itself a rather reductionist way of viewing things, it does help in this sense to establish a framework to observe American politics through. Yet as the heroes and leaders and new schools of ideological thought rise and fall on these given sides, it is in their populist decline that we often see a sort of ideological growth and diversion that so many desire yet so few generally observe.
Considering if we will the tremendous rise and then eventual downfall of neoconservative thinking in regards to public support, we see the beginnings of a creative growth in the conservative right which in many respects have led us to where we are in terms of what conservatism actually means to many. Once the bastion of unfettered patriotic and often militant nationalism, the neoconservative era for conservatism and for politics in general was one of staunch militarism, ideas about American exceptionalism and a genuine belief that the United States was both powerful enough and justified enough in effectively policing the world. Contrast this against what conservatism means today and you’ll find above all else that such means a great many things to a great many people, many standing in outright opposition to each other.
Be it libertarianism, the alt-right, traditionalists or the religiously motivated “values voters,” the homogeneity that the conservative right sought and largely achieved in the time between Reagan and Bush II is largely all but forgotten as the factions which make up the right fight for control of what conservatism means. Through and through within the circles which are regarded as the right, factions are at war with one another for claim over the very title of conservative. But of course, the same is very much alive on the left.
As the politically correct Gestapo known as the social justice warriors come further into view of the public, the fringe mania and orthodoxy of the far left has now presented itself in as loud and aggressive, albeit not as officially powerful or warmongering a fashion as the previous faction of the fringe right. However in an almost quicker fashion, this new fringe is offering up enough cringe to where people are already taking notice and disassociating in greater and greater numbers. But what however, does any of this have to do with creative destruction?
In short, while so many tend as I myself do, to pull their hair out and try their very hardest to simply give up on the mindless, deafening roars of the overly enthusiastic and generally dull, many more still are in fact taking to rejecting such orthodoxies –and in some cases orthodox ideologies outright- simply by virtue of the annoyance they’ve been forced to endure. Perhaps then as this election continues grinding onwards towards whichever inevitably cringey conclusion it arrives at, the near universal dissatisfaction with the state of affairs and available options may itself be a sign that the growing pains required for real change are now well upon us.
Through the Bush years, the conservative side of the body politic was forced into a nearly decades long self-examination and reformation, which would appear to continue to be going on at this very moment. Likewise then, as the left and those who may simply not be on board with the politics of Donald Trump press forward in an effort to elect Hillary Clinton, who to my mind is one of the most vile political machinations to come out of the Washington establishment, the divides between factions such as authentic classical liberals and more frenzied neoprogressives may themselves deepen and do so publicly.
In short, though various shades of absurd and terrifying the modern state of politics may simply be in the midst of a process of creative destruction, wherein the unavoidable exposure to bad ideas, corrupt and crooked partisanship and political horse trading is generating the very sort of general groundswell of anti-establishment sentiment that everyone from Sanders to Trump supporters are seeking. In this sense, while economic creative destruction obligates that there be winners and losers in market evolution, a political dynamic in this same respect could spell the end for the very establishment politics that people almost unanimously find aren’t working for them or their interests.
This may of course simply be a case of idealistic optimism on my part. A desire to see a bright side in an otherwise dark and depressing situation.
However if the concept of creative destruction and the observable patterns of our swinging political pendulum are any indicators at all, it is not unreasonable to think that maybe, just maybe, the banality of modern politics and immovable ideological orthodoxies may be approaching, at the very least, an evolutionary period. One day perhaps we may all have a chance to look back at the growing pains which preceded a new enlightenment. Or perhaps all may simply keep circling the drain.
Only time will tell.