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The way in which our individual and collective freedoms are diminished and undermined by political-economic powers is clear to us on a day-to-day basis. A political decision to give planning permission for a factory within an area zoned for domestic-living usage immediately reduces the viability of healthy living for the people who have to now breath polluted air.
Ivan Illich has long pointed out the ways in which our societies have become increasingly degraded by the pursuit of the interests of the few over those of the many. His analyses have spanned the major events of every human life, and how we have been increasingly dispossessed of our personal and collective ownership of these personal events.
He has shown how our personal embodiment has been expropriated by the profession of medicine (Medical Nemesis); how our intellect, learning, idiosyncratic curiosity, and interests was expropriated by the educational system (De-Schooling Society); how our pre-industrial constructive male-female art of living was transformed into a mutually crippling model of 'economic sex' (Gender); how there is the perpetuation of increasing social inequalities by the abuse of energy (Energy & Equity); how the autonomy of our personal productivity was expropriated by the dominance of industrial productivity (Tools for Conviviality); and how the expropriation of our own self-reliance for our living has been achieved by a growing number of professional elite who we are told we need because they are 'experts' (Disabling Professions).


In the two essays reproduced here you can read some of the earliest formulations by Illich of these themes, which almost 20 years later are not only still entirely relevant, but have become more than urgent to address.

Silence is a Commons (1983) 
Vernacular Values (1980)




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