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Ivan Illich
Writing on the Web

Ivan Illich became well known in 1970, when he published Deschooling Society which argued that the top-down management of schools makes students powerless - and that the same top-down management is typical of the modern, technological economy that prevents people from learning. Tools for Conviviality made the same criticism of technology generally. Along with Energy and Equity, this book made Ivan Illich one of the most important theorists of the radical ecology movement of the 1970s.

Illich has the following works on the web:

  • Deschooling Society: At last, the entire text of one of Illich's most important works is available on line. This book made Ivan Illich famous, arguing that schooling is a model of our centralized consumer society.
  • Tools for Conviviality: The entire text of another of Illich's most important works, the most general statement of his view about technology. This book helped found the radical technology movement of the 1970s. (PDF format)
  • Energy and Equity: The entire text of Illich's book about transportation, city planning, and energy, written in response to the energy shortages of the 1970s.
  • Vernacular Values: This series of articles from CoEvolution Quarterly is the basis of most of Ivan Illich's book Shadow Work. It describes how professionals have taken over things people used to do for themselves - even learning their own language.
  • Silence Is A Commons: In this article from CoEvolution Quarterly, Ivan Illich takes on the electronic media.
  • L'obsession de la santé parfaite: In this 1999 article, Ivan Illich argues that our obsession with perfect health lets the medical system treat us as objects. In French.
  • Taught Mother Tongue and Nation State: A recording of Ivan Illich speaking about the invention of standard Spanish, the first language that people were taught to speak. (3.25 minutes).
These articles by Illich from the New York Review of Books are also available:

If you know of any other writing on the web by Ivan Illich, please let us know: send e-mail to:

The Natural Environment: The Social Environment