Polemics & Exchanges

On Mackerel Snappers

In his review of Joseph Pearce’s Small Is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered (“Big Is Still Ahead,” Reviews, January), Kirkpatrick Sale writes, “True enough, Schumacher became a Catholic just before Small Is Beautiful came out in 1973 and remained devout until his death in 1977 . . . 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.”

This is an oversight on Mr. Sale’s part.  In Chapter Two (“Peace and Permanence”) of Small Is Beautiful, Schumacher writes, “The third requirement is perhaps the most important of all—that methods and equipment should be such as to leave ample room for human creativity.  Over the last hundred years no-one has spoken more insistently and warningly on this subject than have the Roman pontiffs.  What becomes of a man if the process of production ‘takes away from work any hint of humanity, making of it a merely mechanical activity’?  The worker himself is turned into a perversion of a free being.  ‘And so bodily labour (said Pius XI) which even after original sin was decreed by Providence for the good of man’s body and soul, is in many instances...

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