It’s fun to smash things

Dalrymple on the riots, in The Spectator:
The evident glee of the rioters, celebrating and smiling triumphantly among the devastation they wrought, as if in victory, is testimony not to their outraged feelings, but to the strength of the destructive urge that lies within us all and has always to be kept under firm control. I remember as a child the sheer joy of smashing a radio on our lawn with a croquet mallet, a joy that was quite unrelated to any personal animus against the radio, which could not possibly have done me any harm. I loved the destruction for its own sake and wanted it to continue for as long as possible, smashing the parts into dust long after there was no possibility of repair, feeling that I was almost performing a duty in being so thorough in my annihilation of them. And the first riot, in Panama, that I ever attended — reporting on it for this magazine — taught me that rioting is fun, that the supposed reason for it is soon forgotten in the ecstatic pleasure of destruction….
In Liberia during the civil war, I saw in Monrovia the meticulous dismantlement of every last vestige of civilisation. The hospitals, for example, had not been destroyed by bazookas or bombs in fighting, but by a kind of obsessive vandalism by the rebels who had swept through them. Every castor had been cut from every trolley; every item of equipment had been damaged irrecoverably. In the Centennial Hall, the principal ceremonial building in the country, where presidents were inaugurated, I saw the body of a Steinway grand piano resting on the ground, surrounded by its legs, which had been carefully and no doubt laboriously sawn off. The library of the university had been ransacked, not to steal the books (I doubt that the vandals were great readers), but for the sheer pleasure of assisting entropy in its great work of returning the world to chaos. Incidentally, it is not unknown for librarians in Britain to react against the orderliness of their institutions in a similar way; but one can easily imagine the joy, the uplifted hearts, of the vandals in Monrovia as they went about their painstaking destruction.
(h/t Ravi)

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