A little over a century ago, on August 16, 1911, the great visionary economist E. F. Schumacher was born in the German city of Bonn. An icon of the early Green movement, few people seem to know that Schumacher’s vision was inspired by the great papal encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI or that Schumacher himself was a convert to Catholicism.
Disgusted with the Nazis, Schumacher moved to England before the beginning of the second world war and remained there for the remainder of his life. Best known for his international bestseller, Small is Beautiful, published in 1973, he is, without doubt, one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. The enormous impact of Small is Beautiful, which became the bible of a new generation of environment-conscious politicians, economists and campaigners, makes it one of the most important books of its time. Jimmy Carter, following his election to the presidency in 1976, invited Schumacher to the White House for a photo-shoot. Pictures of Carter and Schumacher, arm in arm, were splashed across the newspapers, indicating, so the president would have us believe, that he was in tune with the latest thinking on “economics as if people mattered”, which was the sub-title of Schumacher’s book. [Read more...]