Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Small is Beautiful

About 35 years ago, a man called Ernst Schumacher wrote a book entitled the same as the title of this post. Despite his name, he had become 'English' in every sense, and had been a very successful executive in the British Coal Board decades earlier. I was fortunate to hear a talk given by him in London, just prior to his death around 1976/77.

In my view, the man should be recognised as a prophet. In his well-written book he described how necessary it was (for the sake of man's well-being as much as anything) to downsize our approach to everything, that it was not necessary to plot solutions to technological problems on a huge scale. He illustrated how 'big' solutions for under-developed countries often ended in failure. But he went beyond that, he pointed out the need for people to be involved in what they're employed by - to have a 'say' in their collective welfare; the aplication of the 'commonwealth' or 'cooperative' principle.

Schumacher was speaking about matters related to man's spirituality. He saw that we were moving into a post-industrial age and was trying to guide man into a constructive alternative. Instead, financial institutions became the Mecca, and money-making the creed. And we now have the mess to sweep up.

But his points did seep through to some. Out of that era grew the idea of wind-up radios, intended for the African living miles from an electrical socket, but have even entered our own domestic markets as an ecological benefit.

For more on this topic, see this site.

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