It's a fictional streetscape we wander, here, a metropolis whose buildings, boulevards, and back alleys are in a constant state of flux. This is every place, and yet, no place at all - a city of dreams and a dream of a city.

Here, we explore the life and work of Ivan Illich and his circle of collaborators. There's no comprehensive index to the articles published, but we invite you to use the Search box, to the left, and to explore the Archive links that appear at the bottom of each page. Comments are welcomed.

Friday, March 29, 2013

"The return of subsistence knowledges"

A paper written by Jean Robert and Majid Rahnema, two of Illich's friends and collaborators, is available at ZNet. The paper (click here) is titled "The return of subsistence knowledges," and it was originally published in 2009 as part of ZNet's Reimagining Society Project. We've yet to read the paper so we can't provide a summary, but a quick skim reveals it as drawing on Illich, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, and Karl Polanyi, among others.

It opens thusly:

In Medical Nemesis, first published in French in 1975, Ivan Illich wrote:

The acute problems of manpower, money, access, and control that beset hospitals everywhere can be interpreted as symptoms of a new crisis in the concept of disease. This is a true crisis because it admits of two opposite solutions, both of which make present hospitals obsolete. The first solution is a further sickening medicalization of health care, expanding the clinical control of the medical profession over the ambulatory population. The second is a critical, scientifically sound demedicalization of the concept of disease

Much of this analysis of the crisis affecting clinical medicine at the middle of the 1970s could be applied to the examination of the "economic crisis" now facing the world. What societies need now is, in the first place, to reexamine the destructive effects of a globalized system of economic domination on the livelihood of human beings; it is then the search of entirely new organic links with the reality that the Greeks designated by the verb oikodomeo, meaning "I manage my and my family's own livelihood." It is from that verb that the Western world has derived the words economy and economics, giving them a meaning diametrically contrary to the verb's meaning.

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Santa Rosa, California, United States
Writer, photographer, music fan; father and husband living in northern Calif.