The Week’s Most Interesting Reads
52 minutes ago
As a set of ideas, they’re not particularly systematic, particularly when compared with more radical philosophies like Marxism and its innumerable offshoots, or at the other extreme, the Objectivism of Ayn Rand. They are arguably more a set of generalized assertions and attitudes rather than principles per se. Even so, they do represent a particular worldview, though it is not the worldview of the Founding Fathers or of the early American political generations. Notice as well that several of these principles are primarily defined by that which they opposed: the dominant left-liberal worldview of the mid-20th century. From their very beginning the principles of conservatism were subordinate and defensive in nature, or less charitably, they were submissive and passive-aggressive in their relation to the left.
As he aims to achieve a more ‘convivial society,’ Illich unpacks the concept of ‘modernized poverty’ as an oppositional factor. With the exception of the mega-rich, who can disappear into luxury, he understands everyone else as living in conditions of ‘modernized poverty.’ Within this, the proliferation and dominance of commodities prevents any autonomous living, culturally shaped use-value, and subsequently renders satisfaction outside of market-relations impossible. He instead suggests a method of ‘convivial austerity,’ where people would put a limit on the maximum amount of power that anyone could hold, re-activating the possibility for personal use-value.
Here is my proposal: Imagine that every student were required to take one class dedicated to the study of their local community in order to graduate from high school. This class could be a multi-disciplinary course in which students would create an individual project focused on a particular aspect of their city, town, or neighborhood. In the process of studying the history of a local bike trail, for example, a student might discover its origins as an ancient indigenous footpath and explore community efforts to preserve the trail over the course of many decades. Others might choose to research art in nearby public spaces, building heights and noise pollution, the quality of water, or the history of local war memorials.