What inspires me – EF Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

EF Schumacher inspires me every time I read something of his. How I wish that when I studied economics at university that we had been taught, Schumacher. I would have remembered the subject.


I am currently rereading his book “Small is beautiful” which has the subtitle “A study of economics as if people mattered”. If you ponder this title and the subtitle it will tell you all you need to know about what is wrong in the world of economics today where exactly the opposite is taught as desirable.


It is easy to just admire his English, he was born in Germany and only came to the UK as a Rhodes Scholar, but there is much more to him than his cogent thoughts. He lectured in economics but found this dull and then started some businesses, one of which was Scott Bader which was a leader in polymer chemistry and common ownership.


Underpinning all his writing are, for me, two themes namely justice for humans and the earth and, although he does not use the phrase, true cost accounting.


I have quoted from the book below


The most striking thing about modern industry is that it requires so much and accomplishes so little. Modern industry seems to be inefficient to a degree that surpasses one’s ordinary powers of imagination. its inefficiency, therefore, remains unnoticed.


Man is small and therefore small is beautiful. To go for gigantism is to go for self-destruction.


Science and engineering produce know-how but know-how is nothing by itself; it is a means without an end, a mere potentiality, an unfinished sentence. Can education help us to finish the sentence, to turn the potentiality in to a reality to the benefit of man?

To do so, the task of education would be, first and foremost, the transmission of ideas of value, of what to do with our lives.

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