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Our Secret Economy of Desire

What do companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Tesla know about human desire? They all tap into what the French thinker René Girard called mimetic desire. People don’t desire anything directly, entirely on their own. Instead, they take their cues about what to want from other people. The consequences of this phenomenon are anything but obvious: rivalries, wars, relationships, and billion-dollar investments rise and fall on the back of human desire.

In WANTING, author and entrepreneur Luke Burgis brings his unique perspective to mimetic desire and explores its origins (it turns out our brains are hardwired from birth for this type of wanting), its pitfalls (by wanting what others want, we become competitors) its repercussions (this rivalry can lead to violence), and how it can be used for great undertakings and solidarity.


Through case studies and a diverse range of examples, he shows how mimetic desire affects all aspects of our lives—from choosing a romantic partner to modeling good behavior for our children; from getting a job to reacting to a social media post; from electing officials to surviving in a world of dwindling resources.

Ultimately, Burgis shows us how to be more aware of our desires and how it is possible to counteract the mimetic forces around us by turning blind wanting into intentional wanting—not by ridding ourselves of desire, but by choosing to want something greater.


Do you know what your organizational desire is? It’s not the sum total of all of the desires that much it up—desires interact in complex ways. WANTING reveals the hidden logic of why people want what they want.

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