Saintly Thoughts

Disrupting a Disruptive Paradigm

We hear over and over again that all industries need to be "disrupted" so that new methods of scale and efficiency might be implemented.  While I am no lover of unnecessary inefficiency, I find it troubling that so much of this efficiency seems more and more an attempt to disassociate the human person from the process of production, management, and ultimately of creation, as though our ultimate desire is to destroy the very necessity of work so that all that must be done to maintain a livable environment might be done by machines and computer processes.  It is an old adage that a person who competes with slaves becomes a slave.  Might it not be the case that this drive to efficiency is then an attempt to drive out the component of free labor from the marketplace to be replaced by the electronic slave of automation?  And heaven help us if these automatons were ever to develop to the level whereby they might mimic human creativity, for then what place would there be for the human mind?

These musings, at least for now, may be rather premature and alarmist, true.  But returning to the paradigm of "disruption" (which I take to be much the same thing as the older calls for "creative destruction") if taken to its logical extreme, might not the next step in such disruption to be rather the disruption of the disrupters?  For if disruption becomes the accepted paradigm, and is normalized to the point where it becomes a staid truism chanted by the vast throngs of middle management, it seems to me that the only place to go applying "disruptive" logic is to its antithesis, that is towards rigor, stability, and retrenchment.  It is ironic that this should be so, that at such a moment the most revolutionary and "disruptive" of all actions is to cultivate stillness and stability.  We are already seeing the stirrings of such a movement, whereby those left behind by the rapture of disruption feel the call to those older ways which refuse to jettison the human from the cauldron of necessary production.  

Perhaps this is incorrect, and the creative fires of this disruption shall yet create meaningful work which shall enervate the life of human persons.  There certainly exists such work, but the scale and swiftness of change seems often to dissemble the newfound skills necessary to compete in such a landscape long before the span of three score and ten allotted to life of the human soul.  Perhaps if each generation had to recreate itself in a new direction, that would be sufficient, for each generation naturally has to remake itself as against the inevitable change wrought not by the machinations of mankind but rather by the simple turning of the earth.  But even here, might not the change be too swift, for what father and mother does not wish to bequeath to their children the inheritance of their knowledge and labor, untwisted yet by a foreign idiom unintelligible to themselves?  

Do not misunderstand me, change is inevitable, but so is stability.  These two dynamic forces must ever vie for ascendancy and it is this very conflict which sows the seeds of human creativity.  But give too much to the one or to the other, and the chaos unleashed by the power of this force's unrestrained torrent will wash over society with the strength of a tsunami, demolishing both the innovators and the reactionaries alike, until both are reduced to a wretched mass, vying alone against a cruel earth.  And so, in this time of unrelenting change, when the generations are so far sundered as to be unintelligible to one another, I will stand firm and solidly against the disruptive paradigm (ironically becoming "disruptive" in an antithetical sense), reminding those who would listen that there is much that must stand solidly if the human is not to be swept away by the innovative and efficient.  I do not know what means must build a bulwark against the coming storm, but I will construct a levy with what materials I might find--art, family, culture, tradition, religion, community--and brace myself for what must come.  This is the only way that I know to be disruptive.