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Guitarist playing, drummer dimmly behind.


He [human beings] tends to count nothing as an expenditure, other than human effort; he does not seem to mind how much mineral matter he wastes and, far worse, how much living matter he destroys. He does not seem to realise at all that human life is a dependent part of an ecosystem of many different forms of life. As the world is ruled from towns where men are cut off from any form of life other than human, the feeling of belonging to an ecosystem is not revived. This results in a harsh and improvident treatment of things upon which we ultimately depend, such as water and trees.

Richard B. Gregg (1958)


A chapter of Small is Beautiful is devoted to Buddhist Economics. And it is from there that this quote comes, its origins are convoluted (see below) but the words offer a succinct rendering of Schumacher’s prescient position. Four cooling towers steaming against a sunset. More thoughts on what we are leaving to future generations. Maybe the photograph rather unfairly emphasizes one aspect of human exuberance, for our excessive exploitation of mineral and other natural resources is in Schumacher eyes, and other’s, a result of the fact that “...greed and envy demand continuous and limitless economic growth of a material kind...”. Such profligacy is incompatible with the only world A corner of Loch Skeen with White Coomb rising behind it. A little on the world as it is apart from humans. we have. Gregg, by so commenting in 1958, offers another example of how Buddhist thinkers have helped western writers The Buddhist complex at Eskdalemuir in souther Scotland. An example from 250 years ago of subtle Buddhist influence. anticipate future problems. View across rock, scrub and water in mist with person at bottom of picture. We do not need examples of gross negligence to see the damage humans do. But isn’t it sad that despite all such warnings we still seem set on sailing into oblivion. Turbulent river waters. Why are we still doing so little? Do we need “flipping” points.

The quotation is from Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful (1973) page 49 of the Abacus edition (1974). Its a pleasant thought that the slightly emphasised use of the masculine pronoun was not merely a matter of traditional style? Schumacher’s quotation is not readily verified, Gregg’s book seems inaccessible in Europe at present. An interesting complication is that Gregg is writing about a French political philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel whose story, to understate it, was somewhat flowery, and who supported the left and anti Vietnam War movements as well as the Nazi occupation of France. The in-text Schumacher quote is from page 220 of his book and continues “...without proper regard for conservation and their type of growth cannot possibly fit into a finite environment.”

The photograph was taken in Leith Docks, Scotland, in 1974.

Above, hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 25th November 2023

Murphy on duty to this site