View Book

Thinking after Illich

ID: 3337 - View Book Page - Edit In OJS

Environmental sociologist and filmmaker, Neto Leao grew up in the countryside of Brazil. As a child, he experienced the destruction of local ways of living in the name of Development. As a young man he saw its continuing erasure, this time in the name of Sustainable Development, Emerging markets, and Regulated capitalism. The author argues that such ideas are in the vanguard of the forces that prosecute the war to pauperize the people. They serve to put a gloss on policies and programs that make people increasingly dependent on markets and professionals. The freedom and autonomy of a people to govern themselves is shattered when certain thresholds are breached.

This short book builds on and extends the work of the social critic, theologian, and philosopher Ivan Illich. It identifies conceptual criteria to discern when modern programs to uplift the people actually shatter their worlds. The expansion of property regimes whether private or public destroys the commons on which people can subsist. The spread of wage work or shadow work robs people of their leisure. The intensification of powerful technologies suffocates the ability of people to act for themselves. Personal freedom and social flourishing occur only when limits are placed on the regime of property, work, and technologies. In this personal account, Leao offers a searing glimpse into the shattered worlds of yesterday and the world yet to come.

Published: Mar 1, 2026