"What we want, and what we need, have been confused, been confused."
Joseph Pearce's "Small Is Still Beautiful" is a reflective book, drawing upon E. F. Schumacher's influential treatise "Small Is Beautiful". Touching upon many topics, Pearce provides several themes:
1.) Corporate greed and hording are leaving third world nations bereft and in a despairing cycle of debt.
2.) Both big business and big government are undermining each man's individual rights for fulfillment and prospering. Local concerns and small businesses should thrive because they provide greater distributive justice and more individual freedom(s).
3.) Given the ramifications of the first two prospects, greed is swallowing up our natural resources and destroying the earth's soil, while man continues to poison himself and his environment with too much pollution and pesticide.
Given the nature of dwindling resources, Pearce offers (but not exclusively) the following antidotes:
1.) Allowing small businesses to thrive creates variety and equanimity.
2.) Co-Ops are successful and create a rewarding environment for employees who are drawn to initiative and a part of the decision making process.
3.) Organic farming is a growing alternative that keeps soil thriving and people healthy.
Prime Examples of Persuasion (or to offer some PEP):
1.) Four British friends, discontent with the bland homogenization of their country's beer, decide during a holiday in Ireland to form their own tasty brew. From their efforts to form CAMRA (or The Campaign for Real Ale) in 1971, they not only launched a successful local brewery, but also started a microbrewery movement with ramifications on both sides of the Atlantic.
2.) Whatever merits and demerits can be said for the EU (European Union), Pearce gives startling examples of how their centralized power hurts local businesses. One account tells how the EU threatened to close West Country meat business because EU officials wanted everyone to wear new grey uniforms for "safety" reasons.
3.) Pearce documents the thriving organic food market and demonstrates how it rejuvenates the soil as well as people's spirits.
The problem, however, goes to the heart of darkness. Pearce faults a consumer society where it is hard to be satisfied by all the new goods and products. As long as the wealthy remain unsatisfied, there will be less resources for those who are most in need.
Sources: Besides persuasive arguments and ample examples, Pearce relies partly on...
1.) British author, G.K. Chesterton's "Distributivism"
2.) Soviet Nobel Prize winning author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Peril of Progress"
3.) Catholic scholar Dorothy Sayer's reflections, including her "Seven Deadly Sins" of Consumption balanced by Schumacher's "Seven Life Giving Virtues".
Mostly a smooth and engaging read, Pearce makes a solid if not alarming case to "cooperate and prosper" for our future survival.
Personal Reflection (or PR): With oil prices up and alarming reports of food shortages (from rice to dwindling fishing resources), it isn't hard to find Pearce's book a practical and convincing argument for changing our world. I was recently delighted to watch Pixar's 'WALL-E' where all the major themes are illustrated so well in an animated movie.
And, finally, a quote from the book of G.K. Chesterton that succinctly solidifies our purpose: "That which is large enough for the rich to covet...is large enough for the poor to defend."