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The Genius Of Ivan Illich

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The Genius Of Ivan Illich

First Things January 11, 2022
OtherCulture & Society

Ivan Illich’s star once burned brightly. From the late sixties through the mid-seventies—when his influence was greatest—this learned Roman Catholic became a countercultural guru, notorious for facing a 1968 Vatican inquisition that led him to cease exercising his priesthood, though he never renounced it. During this period, he published in rapid sequence incendiary books on the “counterproductivity” of modern institutions that won him admiring readers, including ­California’s young governor, Jerry Brown. His essays appeared in the New York Review of Books and other leading intellectual publications. He jetted across the globe, speaking to rapt audiences. Yet, by the time of his death at seventy-six in 2002, Illich was no longer fashionable. A New York Times obituary was typical in treating him largely as a hippie-generation relic who once preached “counterintuitive sociology to a disquieted baby-boom ­generation.”

Continue reading the entire piece here at the First Things

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Brian C. Anderson is the editor of City Journal.

Photo by Sigfrid Casals/Cover/Getty Images

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