Small Is Beautiful - Economics As If People Mattered

Item Number: 57803

Catalog Code: 9780061997761

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 General Description:

The classic of common-sense economics.

"Enormously broad in scope, pithily weaving together threads from Galbraith and Gandhi, capitalism and Buddhism, science and psychology."-- The New Republic

A little about the author, from National Catholic Register:

A third of a century ago, in 1973, a German economist living in England wrote an international bestseller called Small Is Beautiful.

It had a huge impact.

The book’s author, E.F. Schumacher, became a celebrity overnight. He and his book became the icon of a new generation of environment-conscious politicians, economists and campaigners. The views expressed in Schumacher’s book became so fashionable that Jimmy Carter, following his election to the U.S. presidency in 1976, invited Schumacher to the White House for a photo shoot. Pictures of Carter and Schumacher, arm in arm, were splashed across the newspapers, indicating, so the president would have us believe, that he was in tune with the latest thinking on “economics as if people mattered,” which was the sub-title of Schumacher’s book.

There was, however, a secret behind Schumacher’s book that his millions of admirers did not know. It was a secret that some of them would wish not to know. It was, in fact, a secret that many of them still want to keep secret.

The secret is this: Schumacher was hugely influenced in his writing of Small Is Beautiful by the teaching of the Catholic Church.

At first skeptical that the popes “in their ivory tower” could have anything of worth to teach him in the sphere of economics, he read Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (“of new things”; On Capital and Labor, 1891) and Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (“the fortieth year”; On Reconstruction of the Social Order, 1931) and was astonished at the insight that the social teaching of the Church had to offer.

It was, however, the promulgation of another papal encyclical, Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (On Human Life, 1968), that would have the most immediate impact on his life. This encyclical prompted his wife and one of his daughters to seek instruction in the Catholic faith.

The message that Humanae Vitae conveyed, wrote Schumacher’s daughter, “was an affirmation and support for marriage, for women … who had given themselves entirely to their marriages and who felt acutely the pressure from the world outside that shouted ever louder that homebound, monogamous relationships were oppressive to women and prevented them from ‘fulfilling themselves.’” Although, at the time, Schumacher did not feel able to follow his wife and daughter into the Church, he concurred with their view of the encyclical. “If the Pope had written anything else,” he told a friend, “I would have lost all faith in the papacy.”

On Sept. 29, 1971 Schumacher was finally received into the Catholic Church.

Two years later his world bestseller, Small Is Beautiful, was published — a work, both popular and profound, that almost single-handedly redefined the public perception of economics and its impact upon the environment.

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