This odd little book has a point to make—the title says it all—but it is a point that was made 34 years ago in a book that sold millions of copies and became famous around the world. Exactly why it needs to be restated isn’t clear, and Joseph Pearce never bothers to explain it.
It becomes clear that what he is doing is filtering the Schumacher classic through the Catholic Church—which is why, for example, the subtitle changes Schumacher’s “people” to “families.” Which is why Chesterton figures prominently. And John XXIII and Pius XI. Pearce teaches at a small Catholic university in Florida, and most of his previous works have been about Catholic intellectuals (Chesterton, Belloc, Wilde, Tolkien, etc.), and here, he treats Schumacher as a Catholic intellectual.
True enough, Schumacher became a Catholic just before Small Is Beautiful came out in 1973 and remained devout until his death in 1977. And, true, his final work, A Guide for the Perplexed, is influenced by his Catholicism and is full of Great Truths and Adaequatio and Levels of Being and inner worlds. But his classic book has no discernible Catholic influence and is based on articles and lectures he wrote before his conversion. It’s odd to read Catholicism into it.
But I cavil. Small is indeed still beautiful, and Pearce...