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Wars on Desires

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.