The Convivial Economy (“Buddhist Economics”)

On the centenary of economist E.F. Schumacher’s birthdate, The Guardian posted a short audio interview with a few of Schumacher’s admirers about his work and his famous book Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered.

If you have broadband (I don’t, but I suffered the download time) it makes for an interesting listen.

The audio track can be downloaded from The GuardianBig Ideas” page, and there are quite a few similar themes raised there that I’ve also raised here in The Chrysalis, such as a) the ideal of society as a “Convivium” (the phrase used in the interviews is “the convivial economy”; b) how the mind of “deficient rationality” is identified by its increasing incapacity to master the circumstances it has largely created for itself (the ideology of “growth” beyond an intelligible, sustainable limit); c) how the pursuit of “rational self-interest” has undergone a dramatic (ironic) reversal to become the “irrational pursuit of self-destruction” (Nietzsche’s nihilism) or; d) consumerism now promoted as a kind of saving, redemptive, or patriotic and nationalistic duty — “zombie democracy”; or; e) how the new right conservatism instead promotes the notion of “The Big Society” or “The Great Society” (and, tellingly, as either Thatcher’s “There is No Alternative” in the UK, or Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” in the US).

Many of the same themes are raised in the audio interview. Pity that the Occupy movement doesn’t make Schumacher’s work more of a central issue, even though they are basically attempting to enact his vision of the convivial economy and society through practicing the politics of scale in the same way — as a kind of David taking on the corporate Goliath.

(But, maybe it will become so?)


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