One possible issue with expecting players to police themselves is whether the act of policing is rewarding. Either it has to be fun, or it has to provide some other reward that they can use to find fun in the game in some other way. Like, getting in-game credit to buy things to allow them to split their time between policing and adventuring. On the other hand, if volunteering to police destructive players has no rewards, there is no incentive.
It is in the interests of the developers to find any and all ways possible to assist members of the player community who volunteer their time in this way. In the real world, police get paid and get respect, and are part of a kind of fraternity. They also (hopefully) get a personal sense of righteousness from their belief that they are doing the right thing, and a sense of accomplishment from doing a good job and keeping people safe. In real life, protection of life and property is very important. In a game, this is less true, since it's all imaginary.
Another approach is to reduce the cost of doing damage. For example, if players build something and it takes a long time, they will be unhappy if it can easily be destroyed. Unless it's easy to re-build it. Perhaps by saving the blueprint of their creation, and letting them assign virtual workers to re-build it.
All-in-all, emergence is a really exciting idea, but it's also highly risky. It comes down to providing a toolbox and/or sandbox and hoping that sufficiently creative players find it and help make it an interesting and lively environment.
Most games rely on text to some degree. As Poigahn said, RPGs rely on text a lot. And even spoken dialogue isn't that different from text, in terms of gameplay. So there are lots of examples of how to use text.
As MarkS said, it's important to consider the game environment. Very few people consider a purely text-based user interface to be "normal", unlike when the first text adventures were released. Are you thinking of 100% text-only game? That would seem very antiquated today.
A console-like input system where the user has to type everything is missing out on all the benefits of and knowledge about contemporary UI and UX design. Text input requires memorizing or guessing commands, and can be very frustrating.
I recommend separating the content from the interaction when you design. Even word processors use buttons, tables, lists and other modern UI elements, although the content is predominantly text.
One thing you can't avoid in a text-centric game is that you will have to do a lot of writing. And ideally, the writing will be good on its own: with memorable characters, an evocative setting and convincing dialogue. This will go a long way to ensuring your game is fun.
Ultimately, you have to think of your audience—your players—and what they like, and what they will want to do in the game. Will they want to do a lot of typing, or would they rather click buttons every now and then? How much interaction is required? I mean, how much time is spent reading versus actively inputting commands (either typing or mouse-based)? Different people will like or dislike different designs.