Almantas Samalavicius talks to Sajay Samuel at Eurozine:
Sajay Samuel: The anthropologist Max Gluckman once noted that the ritual rain-dance had a curious property. The belief in its powers is rarely shaken – should it rain after a dance, that is taken as proof of its efficacy, and when the ground remains parched under unclouded skies, that is a signal to dance even harder, that the dance was badly choreographed. Upon bringing out this set of essays by Illich, I do think the belief in progress and general prosperity through economic growth is less self-evident than it was a generation ago. But this is an uneven phenomenon: in the West (roughly speaking), and particularly after the recent so-called “economic crisis”, many are out of work or working much harder for less, carrying large amounts of debt, and experiencing their daily lives and future prospects as being more fragile and precarious. The ritual dance of work and consumption has been interrupted, and this leads many to examine again their belief, even faith, in progress and economic prosperity. Even the most diehard economists are bewildered about what can be done – though they continue helplessly to whip those tired horses, “more work” and “more consumption”, even while dimly recognizing that these nags will not run much more.
However, the mantra of prosperity and progress through economic growth seems comforting to those recently converted to market economies after decades of Development, Planning or Communism. Faith in the economy seems to have taken hold in the so-called BRIC countries, but also in eastern Europe, Latin America and on the African continent.