“Revolutionaries, artists, and seers are content to be objective, merely objective: they know that desire clasps life in its powerfully productive embrace, and reproduces it in a way that is all the more intense because it has few needs.” Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari~Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
In keeping with the tone of today, Super Sunday, I’ll say a few words about desire. Yes desire, that hard to define feeling of wanting something to maybe satisfy a real need or a symbolic need or maybe just to feel better for the immediate future. Having your team win the Super Bowl fulfills the last criterion listed above. It really has no bearing on one’s life. It works vicariously to feel part of a bigger whole, a part of the team, a simulacra.
We all have some basic desire of wanting to be wanted. Being a non-social type actor, the way I was born, I find keeping a pet fulfills my need to be needed. So I have a cat. Most normal folks have a human relationship to fill that need. Then on top of this primary need comes the desire to fulfill other desires. Whether this need fosters desire, or not, may be part of the ambiguity of the human condition. Sometimes we don’t have any desires, our ‘desiring machines’, using Deleuzian terms, are quiet, our immediate needs are met and we rest content in the world. Maybe after your teams wins, for instance. This is usually fleeting at best. I am always looking for ways to engage my mind. This may be a ‘machine’s’ desire, I’m unclear as to how all this philosophy fits into my schema of daily affairs. But it’s there nonetheless.
So we all have basic desires. I like to place these on top of needs. Needs like breathing, eating, a safe harbor, a way to exist in a capitalist society. As of now I have enough Social Security to live a comfortable life. No excesses, like a car or fancy clothes; but a decent, safe roof over my head, and a cat that thinks I’m a food dispenser every time I go to the fridge. Fine, I’ve never had bourgeois aspirations, I find that whole realm plastic as all hell. I find it hard to comprehend sometimes why others look so kindly on the super wealthy, the billionaires. Their desire for wealth and power is so extreme as to be a pathological. And this pathology spills out in the ways that this nation is run.
This term is what I use to imply the levers of power in this powerful state of Empire. They, the ‘establishment’, the ruling classes, have complete control over the levers of power. That’s why I can’t agree with peaceful protest movements advocated by Chris Hedges, or going back a ways, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The riots of the civil rights movement of the 60’s were bloody affairs. I’m guessing the newer history books in school’s curricula glosses over this aspect of the movement. The Bill was finally signed by Johnson in 1964. It was a decades long battle to get rights genuinely restored for all. At least on paper. Women are still subservient to men in a lot of cases. They are paid less too in a lot of the jobs they work at. The minorities fare even worse than women in a lot of cases. My desire is to see less disparity in the system we inhabit. Less inequality in the way capital is distributed. This doesn’t mean my desires will be realized. The levers are all geared to enable the powerful individuals and corporations to keep capital flowing upwardly and the poor to be milked dry with no accumulation allowed. My desire is to have this changed.
Now these powerful enterprises are threatening human existence. Their unchecked desires are murdering us all. There’s no need for all the extreme excesses. That this system based on constant expansion and exploitation has to be halted. And I do mean halted. Half measures now won’t save Earth from environmental disaster. My desire is to see a reversal of order, an inverse of what’s happening now. And halting the apparatuses is the job at hand. Are we as a people powerful enough in desire to stop the levers of power that enable the murderers to keep murdering our home planet, Earth?
First one must decide on their own to start to desire change in the system. The political apparatuses in the US are far too slow to affect change in ways that will save a complete breakdown of the mechanisms that enable living as we do today. A collapse can happen quickly. The Soviet Union fell in short order. The people there were left without employment, healthcare, and basics like food and decent living conditions. It can happen here too. As Mark Fisher stated in his book, “Capitalist Realism”; ‘it’s easier for people to envision the end of the world that to see the end of capitalism’, paraphrased. Change is difficult. I had to change apartment units last May and I still don’t know where some of my stuff sits, I just know it’s here somewhere. It was traumatic for me. I certainly didn’t desire that change. But life is change even if we don’t desire it.
So we must desire change first. Then we have to desire to change our society for the betterment of humankind. Our ‘desiring machines’ must be kicked into overdrive to get the change ball rolling, so to speak. We have to change ourselves first. If that basic desire is lacking a collapse will most assuredly force change in the near future. My desire is to inspire some to start their ‘desiring machines’ whirring, to get on with saving Earth. I wish I could have done more throughout my life but I had little means to support an all out effort to be a real activist. So I write these days and I desire to do so, to spread the message that the white noise of the corporate(MSM) media has been subverted by the energy corporations to spread lies and misinformation. To create “controversy”, their desire to remain profitable. Global warming is as real as my breathing is as I write. Western US has been stripped of old growth forests. Canada is doing the same. Stripping the land for tar sands and felling trees to sell to China. Its ugliness is indescribable.
Yes, the hard part, the crux of the matters at hand. What to do next? I’m not sure, that’s my problem, I don’t know how to wake enough people up to form a big consensus to force the apparatuses of power to subside in their harmful activities without crashing the economy. The economy always looms large in any type of measure to affect real change.
For example: If folks stop flying to all the places they want to visit and stay home instead and look at pictures of Greece or paintings in the Louvre in picture books, the airline flyers’ and tourist destinations’ will be hard put to stay in business. Even if it means not pumping millions of tons of CO2 from the exhaust, thus helping global warming, the people working in those industries loose their jobs. Then a cascade of events will follow that will probably collapse the economy. The same holds true in most affairs. One portion of the economy supports other aspects. Decrease the defense budget — something sorely needed — and a whole host of people that are working in the contractor’s industries are put out of work. Stop bombing countries to rubble and the bomb makers and concrete pouring people are out of work. So a conundrum exists that desire can’t break through.
So here we are in 2020 without a way to stop the environmental devastation without tanking the capitalist economy. And I have no real answers. My desires can’t get around that folks will suffer in the ways that society as a whole must do to survive. Maybe it will shake out. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I envision. I hope it isn’t. But from my readings on collapses it seems inevitable. We do live on a finite Earth with a system, an economic system, that has to be in constant expansion to work. Recessions are bad for a portion of the populace. Financial depressions are worse. A collapse, even a partial collapse, will be devastating. I see the ‘20’s as the defining decade, the last decade really, to get real change started, to lessen a transition to a sustainable way of living. Trump says America will never be socialist. I say it must. And I don’t mean the socialized farms, energy corporations, and big Pharma of today. I mean the whole kit and caboodle. Top to bottom change and starting now helps the future of humankind.
I started today’s message with the desires within our ways of living. The superficial and the more profound. Now I’ll finish with my desire for our species. I find there’s enough good aspects of our species that make us worth saving. Our capacity for love, empathy, understanding, art, our humanness that sets us apart from other species. But we also have the dark side, the shadow, my lizard brain; the evil that we all can display if pushed too far. So now we have to halt the over ambitious desires of the few threatening our existence as a whole. My desire is that people, all people, find a way to save our species, and many others as well, from extinction. It will require a change in consciousness and a desire to change for the better, for all of humanity. The only question that remains: can we all do it in time? Peace, The Ol’ Hippy