Mobilising classics

Reading radical writing in Ireland

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.

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