E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered, Vintage Classics, 2011. (First published, 1973).
In his Introduction to this reprint of Small is Beautiful, Jonathan Porritt writes, “Fritz Schumacher (1911-1977) was a great synthesizer, bringing may disparate concerns within the same frame of reference. He was the first of the ‘holistic’ thinkers of the modern Green Movement.” In essence this book examines our modern economic system and asks the important question whether or not it reflects what we truly care about. For those who wish to revisit this book, or read it for the first time, the chapter on Buddhist economics struck me as especially pertinent to our situation today.
AS THE SWEDISH SCHOOL GIRL, GRETA THUNBERG, KEEPS REMINDING POLITICAL AND BUSINESS LEADERS AROUND THE WORLD—ECONOMIC GROWTH AND WELLBEING NEED COMPLETELY NEW METRICS—ONES THAT MEASURE CARBON AND EMISSIONS
“Needless to say, wealth, education, research, and many other things are needed for any civilization, but what is most needed today is a revision of the ends which these means are meant to serve. And this implies, above all else, the development of a life-style which accords to material things their proper, legitimate place, which is secondary, and not primary.” (p. 249).
“If we squander our fossil fuels, we threaten civilization, but if we squander the capital represented by living nature around us, we threaten life itself.” (p.5).
“If human vices such as greed or envy are systematically cultivated, the inevitable result is nothing less than a collapse of intelligence. A man driven by greed or envy loses the power of seeing things as they are, of seeing things in their roundness and wholeness and his very successes become failures. If whole societies become infected by these vices, they may indeed achieve astonishing things but they become increasingly incapable of solving the most elementary problems of everyday existence.” (p.18).
“Scientific or technological ‘solutions’ which poison the environment or degrade the social structure and man himself are of no benefit, no matter how brilliantly conceived or how great their superficial attraction. Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom.” (p. 20).