Adam's Reviews > Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered: 25 Years Later...With Commentaries

Small Is Beautiful by Ernst F. Schumacher
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it was amazing
bookshelves: the-problem-of-civilization, mudd-library, favorites, non-fiction
Recommended to Adam by: Melody Moberg
Recommended for: Everyone, particularly college students

Like William Catton's Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, the fact that Small is Beautiful was published in 1973 is simply frightening. That a book this rich with understanding, bursting with enthusiasm and ideas for moving our society towards a human utopia has managed to shift so little of our civilization's efforts indicate the stubbornness and institutional inertia that will bring it crashing down. Schumacher understood the predicament we are in now when it was far less dire; he gave realistic, extremely well thought-out ideas that could practically help us escape that doom and move quickly towards a positive, healthy way of life.

I suspect that I will someday look back on the time I read this book as a powerful directing experience. The idea of intermediate technology in particular speaks to me as a great way to solve a number of problems at once. Appropriate technologies allow a community to use the resources (natural and social, renewable and not) it has to create a sustainable, fairly independent local economy that provides good lives to everyone involved. It ameliorates economic inequality and gives people a way to stand up for themselves.

Intellectually, Small is Beautiful was just what I needed to finally fill in the gaps between my ideological tenets and the real-world practical understanding that I am seeking today. I could never overcome the moat of mythology surrounding my anarchist understanding of economics and society to effectively articulate the problems I saw intuitively with the traditional economic explanations and justifications I got from my Dad and saw in mainstream publications. Now, while I could probably not do a very good job articulating them, Schumacher has given me ways to think about these problems that put them in the language of traditional economics but illustrate the omissions and errors that perspective includes.

I believe this book has given me a depth and number of revelations comparable to my most profound, influential reading experiences: Derrick Jensen's Endgame, Jared Diamond's Collapse, Overshoot, etc.

Indispensable if you care about things (and you do, even if you don't know it!)

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Reading Progress

July 25, 2010 – Shelved
October 21, 2010 – Started Reading
October 22, 2010 – Shelved as: the-problem-of-civilization
October 22, 2010 – Shelved as: mudd-library
October 25, 2010 –
page 48
16.78%
October 30, 2010 –
page 84
29.37%
October 31, 2010 –
page 130
45.45%
November 2, 2010 –
page 187
65.38%
November 5, 2010 – Finished Reading
July 11, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites
January 9, 2013 – Shelved as: non-fiction

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