Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of essays by German born British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase "Small Is Beautiful" came from a phrase by his teacher Leopold Kohr. It is often used to champion small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as "bigger is better".
First published in 1973, Small Is Beautiful brought Schumacher's critiques of Western economics to a wider audience during the 1973 energy crisis and emergence of globalization. The Times Literary Supplement ranked Small Is Beautiful among the 100 most influential books published since World War II. A further edition with commentaries was published in 1999.
The book is divided into four parts: "The Modern World", "Resources", "The Third World", and "Organization and Ownership".
Part I summarizes the Economic world of the early 1970s, from Schumacher's perspective. In the first chapter, "The Problem of Production", Schumacher argues that the modern economy is unsustainable. Natural resources (like fossil fuels), are treated as expendable income, when in fact they should be treated as capital, since they are not renewable, and thus subject to eventual depletion. He further argues that nature's resistance to pollution is limited as well. He concludes that government effort must be concentrated on sustainable development, because relatively minor improvements, for example, technology transfer to Third World countries, will not solve the underlying problem of an unsustainable economy. Schumacher's philosophy is one of "enoughness", appreciating both human needs and limitations, and appropriate use of technology. It grew out of his study of village-based economics, which he later termed Buddhist economics, which is the subject of the book's fourth chapter.
Part II casts Education as the greatest resource, and discusses Land, Industry, Nuclear Energy and the human impact of Technology.
Part III discusses the gap between the center of the World System and the developing world as it existed then, with a focus on village culture and unemployment in India.
Part IV presents a sketch of a Theory of Large Scale Organization, refutes and exposes some commonplace and false platitudes about Capitalism as a social order and discusses alternatives. Chapter 3 of this part concludes with advice to Socialists (who presumably are at the Commanding Heights):
"Socialists should insist on using the nationalised industries not simply to out-capitalise the capitalists -- an attempt in which they may or may not succeed -- but to evolve a more democratic and dignified system of industrial administration, a more humane employment of machinery, and a more intelligent utilization of the fruits of human ingenuity and effort. If they can do this, they have the future in their hands. If they cannot, they have nothing to offer that is worthy of the sweat of free-born men."
We live in a beautiful world.
Look around you, it is amazing: skyscrapers, gravity, daisies, peaches, archipelagos, children, languages, music, wars, phosphorous, galaxies, snow, literature, human existence.
We live in such a breathtaking environment that is full of magic and wonder. Although we can feel intense sadness, profound happiness can be just around the corner. One step away. One thought away. One kiss away. Sources of joy are literally everywhere; one just has to overlook all of the negative things trying to cover them up.
The world conspires for you to be happy, not unhappy. It is all a matter of perspective, of stepping back and taking a good look at the world around you. How can you ever be bored, depressed, frustrated, annoyed or jealous in a world of such infinite possibility?
Are you discontent with your current situation? Then change it. Move elsewhere. Do something else. Befriend other people. This world is not a single plane; it is vast and varied and waiting for you to experience it.
If today is not a good day, wake up tomorrow and start a better day. Better yet, close your eyes for one minute and open them looking for the beauty, the complexity, the awesomeness that is this Universe. Forget the ugliness, the adversity, the vacuous nature that so many impose upon the world around them for those details are not worth paying attention to, nor remembering.
What good do negative thoughts and actions serve? They only hurt, cramp and suppress positivity. It is only with optimism, altruism, and compassion, that we can cure this world of its ills. Judgment, hatred, egotism, bitterness, and despair only bring more evil into a world already riddled with problems. Even a very small amount of a good can exponentially spread because it is so much more rare than bad in this universe.
Regarding good, people are the ultimate source of it. Every single human being is completely different with their own flaws, skills, experiences, secrets, and dreams. Every man and woman hold inside them a story so infinitely interesting that it could never be told completely in a film, book or conversation. People cannot be defined as ignorant, pretty, selfish, purple, happy or conservative. Every person is a unique being shaped by the infinite amount of variables that our Earth-bound existences offer us. The Earth is a museum, and we all are the art within it. Study all of the art regardless of its shape, color or texture, and you will gain a greater understanding of the museum.
Life is what you make of it. Life is perception: sight, taste, smell, sound, and touch. Reality depends upon the intensity and angle with which light hits our eyes. Reality sounds only because of the way our brains decipher the vibrations of the air around us. That same air is only felt because of the stimulation of our nerve endings and the subsequent signals to our brains. We are only told what is around us; it is our job actually to interpret that information. A “negative” sensory input can be a source of anguish, or simply an inspiration to change everything and attract more positive inputs. It is up to you, and you alone. No one thing or one person can decide or influence how you feel. That is completely up to you. Decide to be happy about life, and you will remain that way. It is your perception, so why not make it a positive perception?
We live in a beautiful world. It is time that you see the beauty. It is ever-pervading and impossible to miss unless your eyes are closed. So open them.