Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Still, Small Voice

Joseph Pearce, The Distributist Review

A third of a century ago, E. F. Schumacher rang out a timely warning to the modern world in his book, Small Is Beautiful. Since then, millions of copies have been sold in many different languages. Few books before or since have had such a profound influence on the way the world perceives itself. Schumacher, a highly respected economist and adviser to third world governments, broke ranks with the accepted wisdom of his peers to warn of impending calamity if rampant consumerism and economic expansionism were not checked by human and environmental considerations. Like a latter-day prophet, he asserted that humanity was lurching blindly in the wrong direction, that the pursuit of wealth could not ultimately lead to happiness or fulfillment, that the pillaging of finite resources and the pollution of the planet were threatening global ecological collapse, and that a renewal of moral and spiritual perception was essential if disaster was to be avoided.

Schumacher’s greatest achievement was the fusion of ancient wisdom and modern economics in a language that encapsulated contemporary doubts and fears about the industrialized world. His words resonated with echoes of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount or the teachings of Buddha but always in terms that emphasized their enduring relevance...Read it all

--->Missed Summer News: Brazilian farmers declare war on Monsanto. Monsanto's patented genetically modified seeds are cross-pollinating farms across the world... all the better for Monsanto to charge for practically all the food on earth soon enough, wherever the wind blows.

"... the danger of treating work as a special kind of "merchandise", or as an impersonal "force" needed for production always exists, especially when the whole way of looking at the question of economics is marked by the premises of materialistic economism...the Christian truth about work had to oppose the various trends of materialistic and economistic thought. For certain supporters of such ideas, work was understood and treated as a sort of "merchandise" that the worker-especially the industrial worker-sells to the employer, who at the same time is the possessor of the capital, that is to say, of all the working tools and means that make production possible...

[however] "deeply desired reforms cannot be achieved by an a priori elimination of private ownership of the means of production. For it must be noted that merely taking these means of production (capital) out of the hands of their private owners is not enough to ensure their satisfactory socialization. They cease to be the property of a certain social group, namely the private owners, and become the property of organized society, coming under the administration and direct control of another group of people, namely those who, though not owning them, from the fact of exercising power in society manage them on the level of the whole national or the local economy."---John Paul II, Laborem exercens

--->Federal court reinstates taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research, lawsuit still pending...

--->The Population Bomb: "...critics of modernity such as T.S. Eliot and Jacques Maritain insisted that the modern liberal regime was a deadly one. It promised earthly prosperity precisely by means of closing off the horizon beyond which lies not the good of this world only but the Good Itself, separate and universal... [HT: Joshua Snyder in S. Korea]

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