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Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered Paperback – September 27, 1989
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“An eco-bible” (Time magazine)
“Small Is Beautiful changed the way many people think about bigness and its human costs.” (New York Times)
“Nothing less than a full-scale assault on conventional economic wisdom. . . . Schumacher believes economists need a new set of values, to obtain maximum well-being with minimum consumption.” (Newsweek)
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Top Customer Reviews
Schumacher responds with a broad, big-picture discussion of our economic culture, noting that sustainability is an impossibility when ever growing demands for increased production, "assuming all the time that a man who consumers more is 'better off' than a man who consumes less", expend an environment with finite resources. He notes that lasting peace is threatened by extraordinarily unequal distributions of power and access to resources, "what else could be the result but an intense struggle for oil supplies, even a violent struggle," and echoes Gandhi's disapproval of "dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.Read more ›
The inspirational well-written contents cover:
*Part I- The modern world- problem of production, peace and permanence, role of economics, Buddhist economics, and a question of size.
*Part II- resources- education, proper use of land, resources for industry, nuclear energy, and technology with a human face.
*Part III_ the third world- development, social and economic problems requiring intermediate technology, two million villages, and the problem of unemployment in India.
*Part IV- organisation and ownership- a machine to foretell the future, towards a theory of large-scale organisation, socialism, ownership and new patterns of ownership.
Improvements could include up-to-date case studies (perhaps including material from VSO) showing the benefits of the approach; and an update on where intermediate technology is today. Note- the book `Flexible Specialisation' by Pedersen et al (ISBN 1853392170 publ.1994) provides some such case studies for Africa, Asia and Mexico.
Personally, this reviewer was inspired by the book to lead an undergraduate team project with Intermediate Technology (the company) and Sri Lankan men designing and implementing a self-build fretsaw for educational toys in 1991. Overall a stimulating, worthwhile addition to any library.
OK, Shumacher gets some of his facts wrong, can be over idealistic and some chapters are less interesting than others but he often speaks in a highly quotable philosophical vein touching areas beyond the scope of intermediate technology.
For example, a great deal of his commentary is about the moral and spiritual decline and consequent rot in aspects of Western civilisation - judging by the standards of current media output and social values he is prophetic in his assessment that people may be marching into a fool's paradise poised to collapse. His statements, especially in the first few chapters are gold dust for social reformers and social scientists, trying to tap into words to express their frustrations with what we can sometimes see as errors and an odious hollowness to many things conventionally regarded as Progress or Laudible. Who indeed can name the 7 deadly sins or the 4 cardinal virtues?
Then there are those more practical ideas about the ethics of hard work, the fallacies in development planning and how many limitations set by money and raw materials are not limitations but excuses against small scale progressive schemes. This is often the antidote to Adam Smith.
The ethics in planting trees if applied to India and many other places could undoubtedly solve the world's problems en masse it seems as reccommended for India, especially in reducing Green house gasses.
The question remains if communities and societies can grasp the nettle and act out some of Schumacher's more workable schemes, especially if the USA for example collapses into an economic oblivion. Can we learn to live without mass capitalism and be happy?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Outstanding book! Watched the movie CBGB's and it let me to read this book. Great read!Published 3 months ago by Yamil A. Hernández Figueroa
Required reading for anyone who is interested to learn of a sustainable economy, sustainable housing, and all things smaller and less wasteful! Read morePublished 11 months ago by Sabine Atwell
This book is remarkably ignorant of economic theory. For example, it only refers to Keynesian Economics by name. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Michael Naaden
Great book! I've learned a lot in it, and you should do too.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
EXCELLENT. If this book was presented to me when I was studying economics I may have actually studied economics. There were times when I wondered if he had a crystal ball. Read morePublished 16 months ago by @insurancebillvj
This book is an antidote for collapsing cities that see their populations relocating to the mega-cities begins with embracing their lack of scale and all of it's undesirable... Read morePublished on April 13, 2014 by Ken Kousky
Great Book. I bought this in 2010, read it then, and am now itching to read it once again. Highly recommended to those who want to understand basic economics on a smaller scale. Read morePublished on November 25, 2013 by Dregischan
I own a small business and think people do matter. Not just customers, my workers, my partner, my venders, my growers. Everyone I touch is important to me. Read morePublished on June 11, 2013 by Laurri Lindsey