Why talk about desire in an economy that appears to have a desire deficit? And why would Illahee land on this topic as we try to figure out how civilization is going to make a go of it in the next century? And why talk about sex, addiction, Wall Street and happiness when the big problem on this planet is that we’re chewing though our resources and each other like locusts? It’s simple, really. Desire drives consumption. And we’re consuming the earth.
OK, that begins to answer the first question, but now that we’re spiraling into a severe recession or worse, isn’t the topic of desire and consumption irrelevant? It looks like we have a market-based solution to our consumption binge.
Here’s the problem. No matter how delighted Jim Kunstler may be that, yes indeed, he was right all along and we’ve completely overshot our capacity to support this latte and iphone economy, we will climb out of this hole. Maybe not all the way. But humans are resilient, and we love to consume. No, we have to consume, at some level. And as we’re climbing out of this debt hole, there are about three billion fellow humans who will be trying to climb up over our backs just to get where we are now, never mind where we were during the bubble.
And when we do climb out of this hole, what will we do if we don’t learn how to deal with our all-too-often unchecked desires. We’ll consume.
President Obama made much the same point about energy policy a few weeks ago (and his first steps as president are encouraging). He said that even with gas at $2 a gallon, we still had to take action on alternative energy. In essence he said we can’t let short-term economic swings distract us from the big picture. We have to move toward renewables, now. Even with oil at $45 a barrel.
Same thing goes for consumption. Even with our desires dampened by this economy, we need to deal with desire, the prime drive of over-consumption. The goal being not so much to control it, as not to be controlled by it.
Fine, so examining desire is not just a legitimate exercise for a group of progressive enviros, it’s really at the center of our global dilemma. But again, what about all this sex-addiction-Wall Street stuff? Why not just bring in five or six people to talk about voluntary simplicity?
We wanted to take a bigger picture look at the nature of desire; the simplicity part is up to you.
Even in this dumpster of an economy, there has to be room for fun.