Wars on Desires

December 11, 2011
/ Author: Rick

It is no secret to anyone who has regularly read my blog that I appear to have a love-hate relationship with blogging. Truth is, though, it’s not blogging with which I have a love-hate relationship. It is futility. Trying to convince people who are either too ignorant or apathetic to be amenable to being convinced. Fighting the unwinnable war.

There is an irony here. The unwinnable war I fight is largely brought about by reactions against other unwinnable wars.

You can usually spot an unwinnable war because “the enemy” is not a Person, but a Desire, or an Emotion.

I’ve often wondered why anyone would believe that a Desire is something against which one can successfully go to war. Desires don’t have territories. Desires don’t have governments or structures. But, more importantly, Desires aren’t even Things. At best — and even this is questionable — they are Ideas, or Concepts.

Consequently, most Desires are immortal. You can’t kill them. You can’t, in any meaningful sense of the word, defeat them. They just are. Like dictionary definitions of some word — you might change their connection to a particular word, but you can’t define what it represents out of existence.

We are perhaps mislead because so many of the Desires we fight, even if they are not Things, appear to be about Things. The War on Drugs, for example, would, at first blush, appear to have as its target chemical substances, or at least a Person’s manufacturing, finding, having, possessing, using, giving away, or selling chemical substances. And chemical substances are Things.

That misguided understanding of the War on Drugs is somewhat understandable. After all, there really are Things called chemical substances.

However, putting aside for the moment the virtual impossibility of destroying all the chemical substances of the world which those engaged in the War on Drugs might wish to target, the fact is that the destruction of all such chemical substances would not solve the problem. It would not end the War on Drugs.

This is because the War on Drugs is not really about chemical substances — about Things — however much it may appear to be so. The War on Drugs is against the Desire of a Person to achieve a Feeling that chemical substances have been found to provide. It may be that the Person whose Desire is seemingly met is wrong about its having been met, but the fact is that the Feeling is the goal and the Desire is what drives the behavior.

You can kill a Person, thus killing the vessel, the holder, the experiencer of the Desire. You can lock up a Person who is the vessel, the holder, or the experiencer of a Desire, to try to keep them from being able to act on their Desire to obtain the chemical substances that will provide the Feeling they Desire. But if your war is against a Desire, you are hopelessly doomed to lose.

Pruno, if nothing else, should teach us that. Drug smuggling prison guards should drive the point home.

Wars on Desires are unwinnable.

Moreover, Wars on Desires are not even — if you’ll pardon my choice of words here — desirable.

Because Wars on Desires are not winnable, but nevertheless fought with great determination, every war on desire is destructive of that which Americans value the most. Or, at least, what we’ve always said we value the most.

The first casualty in every War on a Desire is some value enshrined in the United States Constitution. It might be the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, enshrined in the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution — contained in what has become known as The Bill of Rights. It might be the right not to be held for capital or “infamous” crimes, indefinitely, without a trial, enshrined in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, which have most recently been erased from that Constitution — without a new Constitutional Amendment, as required — by the legislative bodies of the United-States-of-America-in-Name-Only. (Update 2/12/2017: Link broken) (It should go without saying that the War on Terror which has spawned this latest travesty is itself just another War on Desire.)

No, you simply cannot win a War on a Desire. At best, you can frustrate it, at least for awhile.

Ironically, though, the easiest of all Desires to frustrate — perhaps the only Desire against which a War can be won — is the Desire for Freedom.

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  1. I’m not sure what Leslie had in mind, but to me you seem less hopeful than you used to be — and it’s not like you were exactly a ray of fucking sunshine before. However, I don’t see this as a loss of will. If anything, I think you’re becoming more and more radicalized.

    1. Now that I agree with, Mark. And there’s a correlation — actually, it’s causation.

  2. I’m not sure what Leslie had in mind, but to me you seem less hopeful than you used to be — and it’s not like you were exactly a ray of fucking sunshine before. However, I don’t see this as a loss of will. If anything, I think you’re becoming more and more radicalized.

    1. Now that I agree with, Mark. And there’s a correlation — actually, it’s causation.

  3. Perhaps your need a new perspective on how you see things as you were much sharper about things a year ago. Perhaps your just looking for a reason to sell out? Just trade your ideals for the money you could earn if you got rid of them. I seen your will weakening for a while now in your blogs and I don’t think its what you want to do but you’re getting tired! I have read every thing you’ve written on your blogs and I have wished the world were full of people like you so everything would be fair and right. On this one You are not thinking clearly!!! You are thinking one sided! The war is not about desires!!! Its about absolute power corrupting absolutely. Those that war against drugs, the constitution and our rights could give a flying f**k about our desires and are they themselves intoxicated on power. Power we allow them to take from us because there are not enough like you you who will stand up and call them on it. Your only problem is your defending criminals so your victories are shallow compared to what you could have in civil rights cases or large class actions. So sit down have a couple of stiff drinks and listen to the the Sister Hazel song Change Your Mind a couple times – and come out fighting

    1. I believe you have not only misunderstood my post, but you apparently have no clue about who I am. To suggest that I am looking for a reason to “sell out” is about as idiotic a statement as I think anyone could make about me. Similarly, the idea that my will is weakening is simply ridiculous. I’ve had colleagues suggest that I need to tone it down, because I’ve taken to advocating that armed conflict is perhaps a necessary step. I would submit that my suggesting armed conflict is our next step is anything but “selling out” or “weakening.”

      As I said, though, you have apparently misunderstood my post. The point of the post is that the various “wars” our government wages are doomed to failure because they are not “wars” against any kind of thing that can actually be defeated. Desires cannot be defeated. They are a part of human nature and humans don’t stop having desires just because someone (or “the government”) doesn’t want humans to have those desires anymore.

      Think of it this way: Would you not think anyone advocating a War on Sadness was doomed to fail? Of course you would. “Sadness” is not the type of thing which a government can defeat. (It can create a great deal of it, but it can’t eliminate it!)

      I appreciate that — if you are to be believed — you’ve been reading my blog articles (which is what I think you mean by using the plural term “blogs”) for some time. To the extent that you think my will is weakening, I don’t even know how to address the ridiculousness of that statement.

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