It is not infrequent in certain anarchist circles to hear the call to act on one’s instincts. But since so few people actually think about what they do, couldn’t it be argued that most people are acting on their instincts? Maybe – assuming that we have instincts at all – our greatest instinct is to do what comes easiest, what involves the least challenge, thus, in the present society, to conform. However, what the advocates of instinct are actually calling for is for individuals to discover their desires and act on them. But this is also too passive. Every society creates within individuals the desires – and the mode of desiring – appropriate to that society. If one merely discovers one’s desires, they may well just be those created within the person by social training, not their own desires. Thus, the anarchist who speaks of his freedom to fulfill his desire for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream as if such a desire is anything other than conformity to commodity consumption. We who desire the destruction of this society and the creation of new ways of interacting have to take conscious, willful action, not passively follow anything. We must become the creators of our desires – willfully creating them outside the mold of commodity consumption. In this light as well, the limits of automatism as an insurgent way of life becomes evident. One need only observe the automatons on the expressways, in the offices and factories, and at the malls with their glazed expressions to see that automatism is not sufficient as long as this society exists. It too readily creates the banality of habit, the repetition of patterns. This is not to reject the potential of objective chance (nor the use of automatism as one tool among many), but to recognize the necessity of seizing it with one’s full consciousness which is able to grasp with spontaneous intelligence the moment and the method for acting in the moment. We have been sleep-walkers for far too long… Let’s wake up to the joy of adventurous, insurgent living.
Resolute Playfulness >