Deschooling Revisited


When I discovered Deschooling Society in my mid-twenties, it gave words to things we’d known instinctively a decade earlier. There is an innate human capacity for learning, we are not dependent on learning transmitted from professionally accredited teachers, and the primary social function of the schooling system is to shape us for and assign us a place within the existing social order of the...

End of an Epoch?


Walking aimlessly through north London, a decade ago, I was stopped in my tracks by a glowing sign that read ‘Holocene Motors’. What dark coincidence or twisted joke was this, an auto repair shop named after the geological epoch that our motorised way of life is bringing to an end?

When Promises of Progress Fail Us


Published in Resurgence: Issue 289. A review of two books that grew out of conversations among the friends and collaborators of Ivan Illich: Grassroots Postmodernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures by Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash, and The Future of Development: A Radical Manifesto by Gustavo Esteva, Salvatore Babones and Philipp Babcicky. When I hear the word ‘postmodernism’ outside of a...

Excavating Buried Assumptions


Order a second-hand copy of one of Ivan Illich’s books over the internet, and it will more than likely come with the insignia of a university library and a stamp confirming that it has been ‘Withdrawn’. This says something about the trajectory followed until recently by the reputation of this deeply radical thinker – but the publication of a new collection of four of his most insightful essays...