Small Is Still Beautiful - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Small Is Still Beautiful

Economics as if Families Mattered

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Joseph Pearce revisits Schumacher’s arguments and examines the multifarious ways in which Schumacher’s ideas themselves still matter.

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A third of a century ago, E. F. Schumacher rang out a timely warning against the idolatry of giantism with his book Small Is Beautiful. Since then, millions of copies of Schumacher’s work have been sold in dozens of different languages; few books before or since have spoken so profoundly to urgent economic and social considerations. Schumacher, a highly respected economist and adviser to third-world governments, broke ranks with the accepted wisdom of his peers to warn of impending calamity if rampant consumerism, technological dynamism, and economic expansionism were not checked by human and environmental considerations. Humanity was lurching blindly in the wrong direction, argued Schumacher. Its obsessive pursuit of wealth would not, as so many believed, ultimately lead to utopia but more probably to catastrophe.

Schumacher’s greatest achievement was the fusion of ancient wisdom and modern economics in a language that encapsulated contemporary doubts and fears about the industrialized world. The wisdom of the ages, the perennial truths that have guided humanity throughout its history, serves as a constant reminder to each new generation of the limits to human ambition. But if this wisdom is a warning, it is also a battle cry. Schumacher saw that we needed to relearn the beauty of smallness, of human-scale technology and environments. It was no coincidence that his book was subtitled Economics as if People Mattered. Joseph Pearce revisits Schumacher’s arguments and examines the multifarious ways in which Schumacher’s ideas themselves still matter. Faced though we are with fearful new technological possibilities and the continued centralization of power in large governmental and economic structures, there is still the possibility of pursuing a saner and more sustainable vision for humanity. Bigger is not always best, Pearce reminds us, and small is still beautiful.

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It is good to have Schumacher’s wisdom put before us again, after more than three decades, because the world has not heeded him in all this time, and given the peril it is in that wisdom is more necessary now than ever.”
Kirkpatrick Sale,, author of Human Scale and cofounder of the American E. F. Schumacher Society

“This could hardly be a timelier book. More and more people are coming to the realization that the materialism, the rootlessness, and the hedonism of this consumer’s paradise we’ve built for ourselves are taking America down a dead-end road. E. F. Schumacher shows where liberals and conservatives go wrong, and Joseph Pearce makes Schumacher relevant for a new generation—one that desperately needs to hear Schumacher’s message. Pearce shows why ‘small is beautiful’ is the only sane and humane response to our insane ‘supersize me’ culture.”
Rod Dreher,, author of Crunchy Cons

“A wake-up call. This book is a primer on what is wrong with our basic

economic principles and on what we need to do to re-think them.”
Dale Ahlquist, President,, American Chesterton Society

“A deliberate and skillful reprise of E.F. Schumacher’s monumental and influential book of 1973…Both books promote practicalities and Principles for ‘a human-scale way of life.'”
Reviews for Religious

Small Is Still Beautiful may be, then, a surprise to many readers, focused as it is on economics, ecology, technology and politics. But this is arguably Pearce’s most personal and passionate work… Pearce, a religious thinker and elegant author, masterfully writes about topics that could easily be dull and abstract. And he challenges readers to revisit and reconsider their assumptions about how and why the world works, or doesn’t work.”
National Catholic Register

“Many readers may have strong adverse reactions to this book’s challenges to medernism, but its erudite, charming, and compelling elements make it a pleasurable read.”
CHOICE Magazine

“Samll is indeed still beautiful, and Pearce wanders through economics, marketing, democracy, ecology, technology, cooperatives, the European Union, and many other Schumacherian subjects showing how and why. It is an important point and something industrial civilization needs to take to heart.”
Kirkpatrick Sale, Chronicles

“Pearce himself uncovers a number of oddities in the contemporary term conservatism, which seems to be not so much about caution and preservation as it is about bold proclamations of progress and the remaking of the world according to human desire.”

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