Conspiratio: 3rd Issue
The theme of the third issue of Conspiratio is The Need for a Common Roof. It springs from the title and argument of an unpublished paper co-authored in 1971 by Valentina Borremans and Ivan Illich, a translation of which has appeared in Conspiratio (no.1 Fall 2021). They argued for communally decided limits on certain dimensions of technologies and professional services. More than fifty years ago, they thought self-imposed limits on technology and services were crucial to avoid both ecological disaster and individual impotence. Sadly, what they foresaw has come to pass — we live in the time of climate change and political theater. For precisely these reasons, their argument should be critically evaluated today.
After the passage of half a century, is the argument for communal self-limitation still comprehensible and coherent? How practical is the concept of limits in the age of private flights to space and trillion-dollar corporations? While Illich’s Energy and Equity answered one of the questions they posed in this paper — that of speed limit, others still remain unanswered: What is the maximum amplitude of the electronic spectrum used for communication; the expenditures permissible to keep some people alive; the quanta of pedagogical techniques that leaves room for learning? Are there other technologies or services that call for communal self-limitation? There are still more questions: Are there examples of groups who have invented ways to avoid the seductions of what Borremans & Illich call the ‘technological imperative’? Is ‘society’ the proper subject of self-limiting action?