Small is Beautiful

Last year I reviewed E.F. Schumacher’s “Good Work”. In the spring I stumbled upon a copy of “Small is Beautiful” for a dollar at a book sale. Although written in 1973 many of his ideas are still relevent and have been ignored by mainstream economists. He was truly a man ahead of the times. Here are a few quotes outlining his beliefs:

“The capital provided by nature…is not recognized as such. It is now being used up at an alarming rate, and that is why it is an absurd and suicidal error to believe…that the problem of production has been solved.”

“We must thoroughly understand the problem and begin to see the possibility of  evolving a new life-style, with new methods of production and new patterns of consumption: a life-style designed for permanance.”

“We still have to learn how to live peacefully, not only with our fellow men but also with nature.”

“We must look for a revolution in technology to give us inventions and machines which reverse the destructive trends now threatening us all.”

“Production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life.”

“The urban dweller is more isolated than his ancestors were in the countryside: ‘The city man in a modern metropolis has reached a degree of anonymity, social atomisation and spiritual isolation that is virtually unprecedented in human history.’ ”

“What is the point of economic progress when the Earth, only Earth we have, is being contaminated by substances which may cause malformations in our children or grand-children?”

“It is possible to give a new direction to technological development, a direction that shall lead it back to the real needs of man, and that also means: to the actual size of man. Man is small and therefore small is beautiful. To go for giantism is to go for self-destruction.”

“The all-pervading disease of the modern world is the total imbalance between city and countryside, an imbalance in terms of wealth, power, culture, attraction, and hope. The former has become over-extended and the latter has atrophied. The health of the cities depends on the health of the rural areas. The prevailing lack of balance…today threatens all countries throughout the world. To restore a proper balance between city and rural life is perhaps the greatest task in front of modern man.”

Based on the quotes I selected Schumacher may seem like more of a sociologist rather than an economist. Although interesting, parts of this book were difficult to read. I started with gusto, but the last few chapters were less interesting (to me anyway).

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