Specific Counterproductivity

The industrial distortion of our shared perception of reality has rendered us blind to the counterpurposive level of our enterprise. We live in an epoch in which learning is planned, residence standardized, traffic motorized, and communication programmed, and in which, for the first time, a large part of all foodstuffs consumed by humanity passes through interregional markets. In such an intensely industrialized society, people are conditioned to get things rather than to do them; they are trained to value what can be purchased rather than what they themselves can create. They want to be taught, moved, treated, or guided rather than to learn, to heal, and to find their own way. Impersonal institutions are assigned personal functions. Healing ceases to be considered a task for the sick. It first becomes the duty of the individual body repairmen, and then soon changes from a personal service into the output of an anonymous agency. In the process, society is rearranged for the sake of the health-care system, and it becomes increasingly difficult to care for one’s own health. Goods and services litter the domains of freedom.


– Ivan Illich


Art: Kate McDowell




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