Monday, July 15, 2013

The idea of self-limitation

Even if you haven't read E F Schumacher's seminal work Small is Beautiful, first published in 1973, you can still sense the influence those arguments have in the present. Joseph Pearce examines the multifarious implications of growing materialism in this consumer's paradise to conclude that small is still beautiful. Written with care, compassion and clarity, Pearce draws distinction between a 'citizen' and a 'consumer' - citizens are humans and have souls whereas consumers are economic functionaries linked to growth. Unless the ‘citizen’ is reclaimed out of the ‘consumer’ the world will slip into materialistic hedonism, proclaims Pearce.

Since families form the smallest and most beautiful part of any healthy society, Pearce examines modern economics from the perspective of 'families' - economics as if families mattered. While championing the idea of self-limitation, Schumacher knew that this necessary virtue is enshrined in the everyday realities of family life. It is, however, another matter that while families have shrunk in size their needs have become over-sized.

Examining all aspects of the economy as it impacts families, from free trade to biological warfare and from perverse subsidies to democratic dictatorship, the book peeps into those initiatives which have successfully shun away from fashionable hedonism and a development hangover. In a world where we are not expected to ask why, but merely to know how, Pearce helps the reader in asking compelling questions on the insufficiency of science.

Since 'good' as a term has been has been replaced with 'goods', we seem to know the price of goods but not the intrinsic value of 'good'. With lust, envy, avarice, gluttony and pride being the essential marketing tools, sole aim of technological innovations targets market-driven self-gratification. Four decades since the publication of the timeless classic Small is Beautiful, Pearce argues in favor of bringing teaching of traditional philosophy back on the national curriculum to challenge such growing trend. There could hardly be a timelier book than Small is still beautiful - it is pleasingly reflective and its literary style makes it a rewarding and gripping read....Link

Small is still beautiful
by Joseph Pearce
ISI Books, Washington
336 pages, US$ 8.68

1 comment:

  1. Re: Small is Still Beautiful review. Whatever the merits of the arguments and reading for its literary style "gripping read" like a good fiction really quite irrelevant from contemporary issue solving since they are too embedded in macro level romanticizing a life that has been run over the roller coaster of global capitalism and modernization and hearkening bits and pieces of small is still beautiful are but reveries, Professor Amulya Tuladhar, Nepal