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Small is Still Beautiful [Hardcover]

Barbara Wood Schumacher , Joseph Pearce
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 July 2001

The sequel to E F Schumacher’s best-selling SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL.

E F Schumacher argued that our current pursuit of profit and progress which promotes giant organisations has resulted in gross economic inefficiency, pollution and inhumane working conditions. He proposed a system of intermediate technology, based on smaller working units and regional workplaces that use local resources.

Joseph Pearce develops the ideas of Schumacher while taking up the themes of economic and political 'smallness' for our day. He continues his clarion cry against the idolatry of giantism by highlighting the beauty of smallness.

Pearce recognizes that our ever-increasing rate of global consumption is depleting non-renewable natural materials at an alarming rate. He encourages us to summon the courage to ask the difficult questions and make the hard decisions. For bigger is not always best but small is still beautiful.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (2 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002740907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002740906
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 962,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'A timely reminder of Schumacher's prophetic words; just as relevant now as when they were written 25 years ago… Everyone should read this book.' – Alan Gear, HDRA

'I welcome this timely reiteration of Schumacher's powerful ideas and philosophy brought up to date for the new millennium.' – Patrick Holden, Soil Association.

'I read Small is Still Beautiful with great interest … it captures the spirit of a number of organisations which are ensuring that co-operation makes a difference in the world.' – David Dickman, UK Co-operative Council

'[An] elegant and hard-hitting commentary on today's defective economic orthodoxy and political cowardice.' – Jonathan Porritt, Forum for the Future

'This book is well worth reading for a contemporary understanding of Schumacher's philosophy.' – Bob Allen, Social Enterprise Advisor

From the Back Cover

More than a quarter of a century ago, E F Schumacher rang out his timely warning that rampant consumerism would result in gross economic inefficiency, pollution and inhumane working conditions. In a world that places a larger burden than ever on the planet which sustains it, his voice of reason resounds with even greater urgency today.

Barbara Wood Shumacher develops her father's legacy while taking up the themes of economic and political 'smallness' for the new millennium. She continues his clarion cry against the idolatry of giantism by highlighting the beauty of smallness. When economic, political or social structures are too large, they become impersonal and unresponsive to human needs and aspirations. In such an environment individuals feel dispossessed, voiceless, powerless and alienated.

Schumacher recognises that our ever-increasing rate of global consumption is depleting non-renewable natural materials at an alarming rate. She encourages us to summon the courage to ask difficult questions and make hard decision. Will we continue on our present path, our foot on the accelerator, in pursuit of the bigger and the faster – and ultimate disaster? Or will we think again?

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mmm...............Interesting 3 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Being an economist, I expected that this book would just be a green peace, save the world, pile of trash book. However from the start it made me aware of how narrow minded and ignorant we all are.
The book adresses so many aspects of life rather than just economics and it does it in a way that even if you are not an economist you would fully understand and acknowledge it. It challenges our basic way of life, it asks questions which we could not even dream of, it makes us look at ourselves as human beings and disregards the things we value most, money, power, "democracy".
Everyone today believes in growth and globalisation being good, but if you read this book you may just change your mind. It is a modernised and more relevant reiteration of Schumacher's basic thoughts and it puts the human being in perspective to the REAL world which we are constantly destroying.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So many great ideas 17 Jun 2009
I loved this book, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the environment, community and social justice
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3.0 out of 5 stars Small may still be beautiful if ... 2 Mar 2009
The American reviewers on Amazon.com have said most of what needs be said about this book. The book needs to acknowledge and advocate smaller greed for the bigger financial (including banking) institutions that impede the possibilities of Small becoming beautiful again. The insufficiencies of the book are largely not the fault of the authors, because there are bigger issues that prevent the realisation (in action) of local efficiencies. Only after subjugating the financially bloated beasts of the world, will Small be able to become much more beautiful ....
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15 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book does have some interesting chapters but it is overall quite weak. Pearce's hypothesis is that "...gross economic efficiency, pollution and inhumane working conditions ..." (the result of rampant consumerism and economic expansion) are a direct result of the demise of religion (and the directly related emergence of humanism) since the 19th century. Erroniously, Pearce strongly implies that those who embrace philosophical humanism (which he later freely interchanges with hedonism!) have - by definition - no morality. According to Pearce if you don't believe in God then you must follow the religion of consumerism. Following on from Schumacher's original work (I believe) he writes at length about the seven deadly sins (they're the root of the world's problems) and the Four Cardinal Virtues which we should all aspire to. As religion is so central to his hypothesis it is worth noting that although he begins by refering to the "major world religions" he concentrates solely (except for some fleeting references to Buddhism) on Christianity.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Finest Worksong" 13 July 2008
By "Rocky Raccoon" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"What we want, and what we need, have been confused, been confused."
--"Finest Worksong,"-R.E.M.

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."
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Can Be Better! 23 July 2007
By Tony Theil - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful is a classic, a prophetic voice for today's generation. His socio-economic arguments are profound and written with a crisp language animated by wit and humor. Much of Pearce's update, Small Is Still Beautiful, maintains the integrity of the original in clear, consise language that passionately attacks the greed of multi-national corporations, the incompetence of governments, and the hedonistic demands of consumers.

Pearce has incorporated much of Schumacher's work as the fabric, then adorned it with current facts, figures and events. His chapter (Small Beer: A Case Study) on English micro-breweries provides a good example of trends favoring a small sustainable industry. He could have also included the upsurge of American micro-breweries and small, family owned wineries.

Unfortunately, Pearce has applied the "small is beautiful" principle to the contents of his 313 page book. Excluded are today's movements which are gaining momentum in sustainability, fair trade, micro-credit, slow food, recycling and conservation. Bigger is better when it contributes to a humane response against a culture of greed and avarice.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small is Still Beautiful by Joseph Pearce Small is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered 5 July 2012
By Josh Goode - Published on Amazon.com
Joseph Pearce gives us a very helpful book that covers such topics as: philosophy of economics, critiques of capitalism, socialism and communism, the abuse of land and historical examples that both support the ideas he is proposing and affirm the criticisms he is making. The book, to its credit and as the title implies, leans very heavily on E.F. Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful." It has introduced me several new ideas and, I think Pearce would accept this, offers a very nice introduction to economic philosophy of distributism.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for our times... 10 Feb 2014
By Kathleen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
With the divide growing ever larger between the rich and middle class , this book helps to get a perspective on what is really important . Though not meant entirely for the United States, for me it began my American Dream Detox. I am slowly beginning to wean myself from the industrialized consumerist mentality prevalent in the culture and seek a more peaceful existence .
5.0 out of 5 stars Important 7 Mar 2014
By NanaJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Everything I've read by Joseph Pearce challenges, informs, educates and inspires. If I could, I would mail a copy to all our legislators.
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