Small is beautiful?
Molly Conisbee - 18 March 2011
Hello, and welcome to my blog. I've been thinking a lot about E.F. Schumacher recently, with 2011 being the centenary of his birth. Schumacher certainly managed to squeeze a huge amount in to his 66 years (he died suddenly in 1977) - as well as being Chief Economist to the National Coal Board (remember that?!), he also wrote several books, including Small is Beautiful (listed by the TLS as one of the most influential post-War books to be published), A Guide for the Perplexed and This I believe - a collection of essays.
Schumacher, a protege of J.M.Keynes, was also a lead economics writer for The Times newspaper, and from 1970 until his death, the President of the Soil Association.
I have been pondering his role as an economics correspondent of late, particularly in the context of the recent economic meltdown, and wondering what he would have made of it all. The additional part of the Small is Beautiful title is: Economics as if people mattered - something we appear to have completely lost sight of in the consumer economy and its subsequent implosion. Just as the fruits of the boom years were disproportionately distributed to the wealthiest 10% percent, so the biggest impact of collapse will hit the poorest, hardest.
And also wondering why there are so few 'heirs to Schumacher' in contemporary, mainstream economics writing - can you imagine someone of his radical thinking being employed by the Times today? (The Times also employed proto-anarchist writer, biologist and economist Peter Kropotkin - another personal hero of mine and perhaps more on him another time.)
Molly is our director of campaigns and communications and has worked at the Soil Association since 2008. She joined team Soil from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, where she was director of communications and before that she did time with the new economics foundation, the Association of London Government and the Labour Party among others. When not campaigning and communicating, Molly enjoys cooking, reading and fine wine, and looking after her Jack Russell, Caz.
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