Who's Afraid of Desires & Pleasures? (Re: Desire & Scarcity)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMosu.edu
Sun Jan 30 00:04:22 MST 2000

>I wonder if a theory of individual desires (as opposed to a theory of
>the social determination of desires) isn't about as unrealistic as a
>theory of individual dreams.  Isn't asking Carrol why he is depressed
>similar to asking why he has certain dreams? I have as I am sure many
>people have had very perverse dreams. How could it ever be proved that
>these represent some sort of repressed desire?  And repressed by what?
>And even if they are repressed desires, I hope that the communistsociety
>of the future does not encourage me to act them out.!
>Michael Yates
>Carrol Cox wrote:
>> Doug Henwood wrote:
>> >  But Carrol tells us
>> > we don't need to have a theory of psychology; blame it all on
>> > neurotransmitters, or don't blame it on anything at all. The
>> > revolution will resolve the Neurotransmitter Problem.
>> Come on Doug, you're a better reader than that. I specifically
>> said (1) that neurotransmitters do *not* explain any problem
>> at all and (2) [sharpening a bit] that revolutionaries and reformists
>> *both* ought to recognize some limits to human knowledge. You
>> seem to believe that human knowledge is infinite, and that therefore
>> before we can act we must have a detailed map of all future
>> social and individual possibilities.
>> Carrol

Eric reproaches me for not "accounting for how they [emotions] might arise
in our intimate relationships" in a communist society, but it is neither
possible, necessary, nor desirable to do such precise accounting.  The only
possibility allowed us is to make a reasonable inference based upon the
analysis of the present.  For instance, as I suggested in another post, I
think it reasonable to infer that there might be much less "fear,"
"jealousy," and like emotions of the kind that has negative feedback on
soma in a classless society without gender oppression, in that, in such a
society, private property, competition, and bourgeois moralism (e.g.,
yucking about "extra-marital sex," blaming the poor for their "moral
deficiency," etc.) are absent.  But other than such negative predictions of
a limited character, I don't think we can say much about the shape of a
communist future.  Engels is quite right when he says in _The Origin of the
Family, Private Property and the State_ (1884):

*****   What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations
will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production is
mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will
disappear.  But what will there be new?  That will be answered when a new
generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have
known what it is to buy a woman's surrender with money or any other social
instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is
to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love or
to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic
consequences.  When these people are in the world, they will care precious
little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own
practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each
individual -- and that will be the end of it.   *****

BTW, I am interested in discussing emotions.  Has anyone read _Shame and
Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader_, eds. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Adam
Frank (Durham: Duke UP, 1995)?  His theory of affects is quite interesting
and gives us a much richer description of emotions than Freud's or Lacan's
work does.  Now that we are speaking of emotions, we might also consider
why some people feel obligated to voice a knee-jerk, emotive rejection
("impossible, undesirable, dull, sanitized, icky") whenever they hear even
a casual remark on the possibilities of a future more pleasant than the
present.  Who's afraid of desires and pleasures?  Us or Doug & Eric?


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