Arming Desire in Disarming Times by Lawrence Jarach

  • Posted on: 22 April 2005
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>As the magazine moves into its 25th year, I thought it would be a good opportunity to revisit the title. What is the “Liberation of Desire,� and what does it mean to arm it?

In an era of untrammeled consumerism and acquisitiveness the question of desire is, to say the least, complex; fueled by the inherent anxiety that exists within capitalism, enormous amounts of time and energy are expended in an unparalleled effort to get people all over the world to spend their money on commodities that are shoddy, unnecessary, harmful, and/ or trivial. </td><td><img src="./files/pictures/chair.gif"></td></tr></table>

Economists will drone on endlessly about “supply and demand� as if these two poles of economic activity were discrete, as if the demand weren’t manufactured at the same time, using the same techniques— and often enough by the very same people—as the supply of gadgets.

And that leaves aside the attractively packaged, but empty promise that consumption will alleviate the anxiety. Moralizing leftists who bemoan the supposed irrationality of capitalism remain blissfully (if not willfully) ignorant about the brilliant logic behind the various mechanisms that capitalists continually refi ne to keep the rest of us bewildered by the allure of fake choices, and enraged by the apparent inevitability of the system that creates those choices. Given such a pervasive and global system, what is authentic desire? When we try to remove individual desire from the collective onslaught of what the Situationists called “the Spectacular-Commodity Economy,� what are we left with? The pursuit of pleasure and/or the avoidance of discomfort is not nearly descriptive enough to give us an inkling of what is authentic, radically subjective, desire. Flamboyant self-indulgence is clearly not what we mean when we discuss desire.

In order to begin liberating desire from the parameters and confi nes of economics, repetition, conformity, hierarchy, and bureaucracy (or capitalism and the state, for those who prefer slogans and other forms of distinctly uninspired and unimaginative terms) we need to look at what humans have in common outside those realms. A yearning for sociability; the need for companionship, friendship, kinship, and love; our attraction to intelligent activities that facilitate what it means to be human… these are the foundations and processes of real desire. None of these things are, nor can they possibly be, facilitated by the greed and atomization required by capitalism, and the crushing fear and alienation required by statecraft. Each day we are forced to acquiesce to, comply with, and—yes—reproduce, this system of domination, exploitation, and destruction is another day our desires are thwarted. In order to liberate our desires it is necessary to remove the obstacles that hinder what brings us happiness, to destroy that which destroys us. To arm our desires means to use any and all means, any and all resources, at our disposal to make that happen. Self-theory, self-organization, critical solidarity, voluntary cooperation, and mutual aid are but a few of the tools we can utilize to help propel us toward a better tomorrow.

Over the past 25 years the various contributors to Anarchy have aspired to foment the realization of this liberation, promoting a vision of radically egalitarian and non-hierarchical relations in all spheres of activity. We hope you have appreciated our efforts during that time, and we look forward to furthering intelligent dialog and lively debate for the next 25!

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