Disabling market intensity

Crisis has come to mean that moment when doctors, diplomats, bankers and assorted social engineers take over and liberties are suspended. Like patients, nations go on the critical list. Crisis, the Greek term that has designated ‘choice’ or ‘turning point’ in all modern languages now means ‘driver, step on the gas’. Crisis now evokes an ominous but tractable threat against which money, manpower and management can be rallied. Intensive care for the dying, bureaucratic tutelage for the victim of discrimination, fission for the energy glutton, are typical responses.

Crisis, understood in this way, is always good for executives and commissars, especially those scavengers who live on the side effects of yesterday’s growth: educators who live on society’s alienation, doctors who prosper on the work and leisure that have destroyed health, politicians who thrive on the distribution of welfare which, in the first instance, was financed by those assisted. Crisis understood as a call for acceleration not only puts more power under the control of the driver, while squeezing the passengers more tightly into their safety belts; it also justifies the depredation of space, time and resources for the sake of motorized wheels and it does so to the detriment of people who want to use their feet.

Ivan Illich