Energy and Equity by Ivan Illich: reviewed

This short political tract was published about 40 years ago. Reading it, one wishes that public authorities around the world had paid some heed to it. Long before global climate change became a matter of huge public concern, the iconoclastic Illich attacked the way people ruined parts of their lives via inappropriate transport choices.

Illich noted that the bicycle was an efficient means of transport, nor did he dismiss walking. In contrast, he argued that cars and aeroplanes were wasteful menaces that reinforced inequality. He contended that the car industry had acquired a “radical monopoly” and that this had a variety of negative consequences. He wrote:

“Any industry exercises this kind of deep-seated monopoly when it becomes the dominant means of satisfying needs that formerly occasioned a personal response.”

Any reader who has waited for a bus while parents drive their obese children to school will understand some of what the deceased anarchist was getting at. This work deserves a bigger audience!

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