Silence is a Commons by Ivan Illich

“Asahi Symposium Science and Man – The computer-managed Society,” Tokyo, Japan, March 21, 1982

Computers are doing to communication what fences did to pastures and cars did to streets. Illich addresses the distinction between the commons within which people’s subsistence activities are embedded, and resources that serve for the economic production of those commodities on which modem survival depends.

He notes:

As enclosure by the lords increased national productivity by denying the individual peasant to keep a few sheep, so the encroachment of the loudspeaker has destroyed that silence which so far had given each man and woman his or her proper and equal voice. Unless you have access to a loudspeaker, you now are silenced.

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