By Ivan Illich
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Additional resources for Beyond Economics and Ecology: The Radical Thought of Ivan Illich
One of the first persons he approached was the Czech Comenius, leader and last bishop of the Moravian Church. Winthrop found him in London, where he was organizing the Royal Society and advising the government on public schools. In Magna Didactica, vel Ars Omnibus Omnia Omnino Docendi, Comenius had succinctly defined the goals of his profession. Education begins in the womb and does not end until death. Whatever is worth knowing is worth teaching by a special method appropriate to the subject. The preferred world is the one so organized that it functions as a school for all.
This expertly managed belief that humans are beings in need of services from certified professionals has deep roots beginning in the eighth century. As Illich elaborated in Taught Mother Tongue, it was then that priests became pastors by defining their “own services as needs of human nature” and by linking salvation to the obligatory consumption of those services. Illich proposed to resuscitate the word “vernacular” in its historical reference to what is “homemade, homegrown and homebred”, as a more fitting term than “subsistence”, “human economies”, or “informal sectors”, to refer to what people do for themselves, whether that is singing, cultivating crops, building homes or playing.
Today, it is recorded and will soon lead to a change in people’s outlook on the need for fuels. It would now be interesting to know what language accounting looks like, since the linguistic analysis of contemporary language is certainly not complete, unless for each group of speakers we know the amount of money spent on shaping the speech of the average person. Just as social energy accounts are only approximate and at best allow us to identify the orders of magnitude within which the relative values are found, so language accounting would provide us with data on the relative prevalence of standardized, taught language in a population – sufficient, however, for the argument I want to make.