Reading Reaction: Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher

Schumacher’s paper had a particular relevance in the light of the recent protests that have sprung up around the country, beginning as “Occupy Wall Street.” Humorously, his words are crippling to both the protesters and those that they are protesting against. If the Occupiers main theme was “Avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestable,” as Schumacher so eloquently says, then they would both agree with him and at the same time be pointing out some gaping problems in those at which they are so angry. Unfortunately, it seems that this not their point of protest.

Since the Occupiers seem both leaderless and pointless at moment, their actions come dangerously close to escapism, something that Schumacher sees as a side effect of the same vices that those on Wall Street possess. As he puts it, “The GNP refuses to rise any further, not because of scientific or technological failure, but because of creeping paralysis of non-cooperation [emphasis added], as expressed in various types of escapism on the part of, not only the oppressed and exploited, but even of highly privileged groups.” Ouch! He’s predicting this phenomenon years before it happens! Humorously, I feel that the Occupiers are probably members of the latter group. Only those that are highly privileged could afford to live for so long without working. It is a dubious luxury that only modern generations have afforded to experience.


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