Energy and Equity

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* Book. Energy and Equity. Ivan Illich. 197x

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John Thackara:

"Energy & Equity, first published in Le Monde in early 1973, observed that “it has recently become fashionable to insist on an impending energy crisis”. Illich continued: “This euphemistic term conceals a contradiction, and consecrates an illusion. It masks the contradiction implicit in the joint pursuit of equity and industrial growth. It safeguards the illusion that machine power can indefinitely take the place of man power”.Yep, pretty much the whole story in a few lines." (


Ivan Illich:

"The distinction proposed here, however, is not new. I oppose tools that can be applied in the generation of use-values to others that cannot be used except in the production of commodities This distinction has recently been re-emphasized by a great variety of social critics The insistence on the need for a balance between convivial and industrial tools is, in fact, the common distinctive element in an emerging consensus among groups engaged in radical politics A superb guide to the bibliography in this field has been published in Radical Technology (London and New York, 1976), by the editors of Undercurrents. I have transferred my own files on the theme to Valentina Borremans, who is now working on a librarians’ guide to reference materials on use-value-oriented modern tools, scheduled for publication in 1978. (Preliminary drafts of individual chapters of this guide can be obtained by writing to Valentina Borremans, APDO 479, Cuernavaca, Mexico.) The specific argument on socially critical energy thresholds in transportation that I pursue in this essay has been elaborated and documented by two colleagues, Jean-Pierre Dupuy and Jean Robert, in their two jointly written books, La Trahison de l’opulence (Paris, 1976) and Les Chronophages (Paris, 1978)."Thermodynamic Efficiencies