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.
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.