Entities formed with the sole or primary purpose of bringing about their own demise/destruction

I was thinking about the delicious futility of this object the other day (a machine that is designed to unplug its own power supply), and another device I saw a while back consisting of a box with a switch on it which, when flicked, a lever would emerge from a flap and turn the switch off again.

Then I got to thinking about cases where, say, a steel works is closing and a few employees set up their own company to manage the closure, demolish and salvage the buildings, plant, etc, after which the company winds itself up.

I think the concept of an entity whose primary purpose is to knowingly bring about its own end is quite fascinating - in a melancholy sort of way. What other examples of this phenomenon can you think of?
I’m not really talking about humans committing suicide, so it would be good if we don’t have to dwell entirely on that.

I know of several instances where a test automation harness was written by the QA department, then deployed in production to replace the QA department.

The last Legislative Council of New Zealand (the then-upper house of the Parliament) was packed with a “suicide squad” appointed to abolish the house.

Most charitable organizations are examples, aren’t they? I mean inasmuch as their goals are attainable, then attaining the goals would take away the purpose of the charity. If people stop driving drunk, then no more MADD. If we cure cancer, then no more American Cancer Society.

The L5 Society. Its stated mission is to dissolve itself at the first meeting held at either the L4 or L5 Lagrange points:

Some organizations just change their goals, though. The March of Dimes would be a classic example. Originally, they were meant to stamp out polio. With this done, they switched to premature birth.

There’s the United Nations Trusteeship Council; somewhat along the same lines, a successful peacekeeping mission will presumably end with the end of the organization itself.

With stops at treating and preventing birth defects and SIDS in between. I’ve always admired March of Dimes for just this flexibility and willingness to accept reality. It’s wonderful that they are honest enough to admit when they’ve done all they can, and it’s time to pick a new cause.

Seems a harder thing to do if your very name is American [Disease] Society.

Here is the machine that turns itself off. The inventor made another machine with similar goals that I found quite amusing as well.

If only. MADD is a neo-temperance movement, so much so that its founder quit the organization in 1985 over disagreement with policy direction.

Personally, I’ve encountered MADD lobbying against the licensing of farm wineries and craft distilleries in my state. Neither of these have a thing to do with drunk driving, except the overarching bugaboo of alcohol.

It may as well call itself the New Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, except that the WCTU still exists.


Pretty much all bombs.

A bomb’s primary purpose is rarely to destroy itself. That is just incidental to the actual primary purpose of destroying other things.

I did wonder if I should mention bombs - but yeah, their purpose us to destroy other things.

Fireworks might qualify.

The regional party to which I belong has as its primary purpose a change in the Spanish Constitution. The party’s regs indicate that once that objective is achieved we’ll dissolve. Whether that means our people will spread around other parties with similar ideologies, or one or more new parties will pop up remains to be seen, of course, but I for one wouldn’t mind getting to see it.

Would a star qualify? I don’t mean like Whitney, but an astral body. Matter brought together to burn itself out.

I don’t think Gravity is that purposeful, Isamu, or that it gets cold hands. Make it smaller and we’ll accept bonfires.

I have a memory that one of the policy platforms of theSun Ripened Warm Tomato Party was to abolish the new ACT Legislative Assembly, to which it was seeking election. I can’t find proof of this on the internets though. It was a while ago. They were certainly formed with the intention of not taking the event very seriously.

I have to disagree with this – the bomb’s purpose is to destroy itself and other things.
A Bomb that destroyed other things, but not itself would be an armorer’s dream. We have such automated devices now – things like unmanned drones. But people don’t call them bombs – they’re given other names, specific to the task. If anyone built a non-self-destroying bomb, it would be called something else. otherwise it would be mistaken, in conversation or writing, with the self-destroying device. The word “bomb” pretty much implies self destruction. If a non-self-destroying “bomb” comes up, it gets called something else.

However, if a bomb destroys only itself, it’s probably not served its purpose.

It’s a borderline case, at best.

Likewise, a bonfire is built to create light and heat or to appease some gods or purify your cattle or signal your neighbors or have something to play drums and pass the mead around.

A bonfire with no purpose other than burning is just an accidental fire.