Ivan Illich was in Ireland as a guest of campaigners for alternatives in education, many of whom drew inspiration from his 1971 book Deschooling Society. In the wide-ranging and heated conversation provoked by Illich's stories and opening comments, topics discussed included domestic appliances, education and professionalism. Several of his best-known books, including Tools for Conviviality, which offers thoughts on conversations that took place in the Centre for Intercultural Documentation (CIDOC) in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The Cold War was a crucial aspect of the context in which Illich established CIDOC. Illich emphasised that in principle 'the distinction between convivial and manipulatory tools is independent of the level of technology of the tool'. Illich suggested that fundamental values for the political control of tools are survival, justice and self-defined work.
The dead body, the individual and the limits of medicine
This chapter explores how the efforts to increase the availability of human organs by moving to an institutional arrangement based on presumed consent necessarily extend beyond shaping people's cultural attitude towards organ donation. Transforming the prevailing cultural attitude and habitual behaviour in respect of organ donation also requires subtle but significant shifts in how people imagine the dead body, the individual and her or his responsibilities to others, and the limits of medicine. The chapter considers the debates in light of the ideas of Michel Foucault about the construction and government of the modern individual. Central to Foucault's conceptualisation of governmentality is that the modern sovereign state and the modern autonomous individual, homo economicus, co-determined each other's emergence. Peter Wehling is ambivalent about the emergence of active biological citizenship, which he regards as a new and significant element in contemporary governmental regimes of medicine.
This book provides a series of rich reflections on the interaction between the radical ideas and political action in Ireland. It aims to provide insights into how selected mobilising classics have framed or have the potential to frame Irish social movement discourses and oppositional activity. The book provides an account of the contributor's personal encounters with the classic text, some by word of mouth from their parents, others through copies passed around in activists' groups, and others still through serendipitous reading. The classic text were published over a period that spans three centuries. Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, published in 1791, is the oldest text considered, whereas Our Common Future, published in 1987 by the UN-established World Commission on Environment and Development, is the most recent. In Hilary Tovey's commentary on Our Common Future, the work of a committee, she reveals tensions within the classic text and argues that its key concept 'sustainable development' is an inspirational but confused one. Orla McDonnell's essay on The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz considers his ideas about the huge social costs of the medicalisation of 'the problems of living'. In contrast, Orla O'Donovan's reflections on Ivan Illich's Tools for Conviviality, consider how his ideas can springboard our thinking beyond the prisons of visionlessness or circumscribed political imaginations. Eileen O'Carroll's essay on William Thompson's Practical Education for the South of Ireland traces early Irish articulations of socialist feminism.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book aims to provide insights into how selected mobilising classics have framed or have the potential to frame Irish social movement discourses and oppositional activity. James Connolly, along with Thomas Paine and William Thompson, encountered by many Irish people when learning history, but few appear to be familiar with their intellectual legacies and how their ideas have influenced and used in various political struggles. The book provides an account of the contributor's personal encounters with the classic text, some by word of mouth from their parents, others through copies passed around in activists' groups, and others still through serendipitous reading. Contributors reflect on how the text has the potential to nourish and invigorate the political imagination of contemporary oppositional politics.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book addresses the problems of capitalism, they all by various means offer alternative ways of thinking and acting against oppression and inequality. It demonstrates the problems social movements encounter when the transformative potential of their language and its political implications becomes disarmed in some way. The book traces the afterlife of Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton's formulation of institutional racism, now 'hegemonic and state-sanctioned institutional racism-lite'. The book describes the simplest ways in which mobilising texts remain a necessity, by continuing to provide a template or a source for clarifying concepts, resisting their uncritical meanings, and reinforcing particular activist strategies. It also describes the ways in which the colonisation of movement language and concepts is symptomatic of problems at a more fundamental level for left-wing political strategies.