Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Uncreative Destruction, Stimulus Packages, & Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg

I loved Fifth Element when it came out in 1997, as well as Luc Besson's (of  The Transporter fame) vision of NYC in The Professional/Léon (1994) (this is the one where the original version/version integral creeped out US test audiences with this scene between Natalie Portman & Jean Reno) and Fifth Element (1997).  Years ago, when I was a student of the dismal science, I was faced with a similar paradox, as the one illustrated by Gary Oldman as Zorg.  The economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term creative destruction (focusing on innovation as creatively destroying old ways of doing things), but can mere destruction or war serve the same ends?  Here's Zorg's soliloquy (at 00:44)::
"Life, which you so nobly serve, comes from destruction, disorder and chaos. Take this empty glass. Here it is, peaceful, serene and boring. But if it is...(pushs a glass of the table) destroyed...(robots come to clean up the mess) Look at all these little things. So busy now. Notice how each one is useful. What a lovely ballet ensues so full of form and color. Now, think about all those people that created them. Technicians, engineers, hundreds of people who'll be able to feed their children tonight so those children can grow up big and strong and have little teeny weeny children of their own, and so on and so forth. Thus, adding to the great chain... of life. You see, by creating a little destruction, I'm actually encouraging life."
  • What are your thoughts?
  • Should we consider desstruction as a way to stimulate the economy?
  • How might this logic be flawed?  How might it be on to something?