Ernst Schumacher

A key excerpt from Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. For me personally, this excerpt really captures the major issue I have with the economics I’ve studied. In my opinion, the literature has wrongfully extended on the broken assumption that “standard of living” equates to “access to goods and services”.

“If greed were not the master of modern man–ably assisted by envy–how could it be that the frenzy of economism does not abate as higher “standards of living” are attained, and that it is precisely the richest societies which pursue their economic advantage with the greatest ruthlessness? How could we explain the almost universal refusal on the part of the rulers of the rich societies–where organized along private enterprise or collective enterprise lines–to work towards the humanisation of work? It is only necessary to assert that something would reduce the “standard of living” and every debate is instantly closed. That soul-destroying, meaningless, mechanical, monotonous, moronic work is an insult to human nature which must necessarily and inevitably produce either escapism or aggression, and that no amount of of “bread and circuses” can compensate for the damage done–these are facts which are neither denied nor acknowledged but are met with an unbreakable conspiracy of silence–because to deny them would be too obviously absurd and to acknowledge them would condemn the central preoccupation of modern society as a crime against humanity.”

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