This I Believe 1870098668

This unique collection of essays captures Schumacher’s enthusiasm and energy, which we need to share in order to build t

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Table of contents :
Acknowledgements 6
Foreword by Satish Kumar 7
Introduction by Diana Schumacher 10
Setting the Scene
! The Party is Over 21
i End of An Era 2,5
Econom ics
3 Buddhist Economics 35
4 The New Economics 44
5 The Critical Question of Size , . 55
Work & Leisure
6 Insane Work Cannot Produce a Sane Society ' 67
7 Public Funds for Voluntary Work ' 74 .
8 Conscious Culture of Poverty 77
9 Industry & Morals ^ 87 :
io Technology &c Political Change - 97
i i Western Europe’s Energy Crisis i °9
D evelopm ent ;
iz Healthy Development v 1 1 9
13 Industrialisation through Intermediate Technology 130
14 Man need not Starve 143
C ities and the L a n d
15 No Future for Megapolis 16 1
16 The Use of the Land 172
17 How to Abolish Land Speculation 182
1 . S p iritu a lity and N o n -V io len ce
1 1 he Roots of Violence 189
I9 Asia Undermined 194
10 Message from the Universe 205
1 1 This I Believe. . . 215
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«3 a n d o t h e r e s s a y s

E.F. S c h u m a c h e r


A Resurgence Book first published in 19 9 7 by Green Books Ltd Foxhole, Dartington Totnes, Devon T Q 9 6 e b , u k Reprinted with corrections 1998 Distributed in the USA by Chelsea Green Publishing Company White River Junction, Vermont © Verena Schumacher 19 9 7 Typeset in Sabon at Green Books Printed by J.W. Arrowsmith Ltd Bristol A catalogue record for this book is available from The British Library ISBN

1 870098 66 8

The ideas and values o f E.F. Schumacher live on in the Schumacher Societies in the UK and USA, which promote good economic practice, ecological and spiritual values, and human-scale development. For further details contact: The Schumacher Society, Foxhole, Dartington Totnes, Devon T Q 9 6EB, UK or

The E.F. Schumacher Society, 14 0 Jug End Lane Great Barrington, M A 0 12 3 0 , USA

Contents Acknowledgements Foreword by Satish Kumar Introduction by Diana Schumacher

6 7 10

Setting the Scene ! The Party is Over i End of An Era

21 2,5

Econom ics 3 Buddhist Economics 4 The New Economics 5 The Critical Question of Size , .

35 44 55

Work & L eisu re 6 Insane Work Cannot Produce a Sane Society 7 Public Funds for Voluntary Work 8 Conscious Culture of Poverty

' 67 '

74 . 77

In du stry 9 Industry & Morals ^ io Technology &c Political Change i i Western Europe’s Energy Crisis

D evelo p m en t ; iz Healthy Development v 13 Industrialisation through Intermediate Technology 14 Man need not Starve

87 : 97 i °9

119 13 0 143

C ities a n d the L a n d 15 No Future for Megapolis 16 The Use of the Land 17 How to Abolish Land Speculation

16 1 17 2 18 2

1 . S p irit u a lit y a n d N o n -V io le n c e 1 1 he Roots of Violence I9 Asia Undermined 10 Message from the Universe 1 1 This I Believe. . .

189 194 205 2 15




We would like to thank Mrs Verena Schumacher for kindly allow­ ing this collection of articles by her late husband to be published. The thirty-five articles by E.F. Schumacher that were published in Resurgence are as follows; those not included in this volume are shown in square brackets. Industrialisation through Intermediate Technology Vol x No 2, July-Aug 1 966;Industrial Society Vol 1 No 3, Sept-Oct 19 6 6 ; [The Economics of Intermediate Technology Vol 1 No 7, May-June 19 6 6 ]; Man need not Starve Vol 1 No 10, Nov-Dec 1967; Buddhist Econom ics Vol 1 No 11, Jan-Feb 196; The N ew Econom ics Vol 2 No 3, Sept-Oct 19 6 8 ; Industry & Morals Vol 1 No 5, Jan-Feb 19 6 9 ; The Use o f the Land Vol 2 No 7, May-June 1969; Healthy Development Vol 2 No 8/9, July-Oct 19 6 9 ; [The Economics of Permanence Vol 3 No 1, May-June 1970]; [M odem Industry in the Light of the Gospel Vol 3 No 6, Mar-Apr 1971]; [Christian Responsibility in the pre­ sent Econom ic and Inflationary Crisis Vol 3 No 7, May-June 1971]; [Num bers or Activities Vol 4 No 5, Nov-Dec 1973]; Simple and NonViolent Vol 4 No 6, Jan-Feb 1974] [Education for Leisure and Wholesome Work Vol 5 No 1, Mar-Apr 1974]; Insane Work Cannot Produce a Sane Society Vol 5 No 2, May-June 1974; Western Europe’s Energy Crisis Vol 5 No 3, July-Aug 1974; H o w to Abolish Land Speculation Vol 5 No Sept-Oct 1974; Message from the Universe Vol 5 No 5, Nov-Dec 1974; N o Future for Megapolis Vol 5 No 6, Jan-Feb 1975; Conscious Culture o f Poverty Vol 6 No 1, Mar-Apr 1975; [O n Inflation Vol 6 No 2, May-June 1975]; The Critical Question o f Size Vol 6 No 3, July-Aug 1975; The Party is Over Vol 6 No 4, Sept-Oct 1975; [W hat K ind o f India Vol 6 No 5, Nov-Dec 1975]; This I Believe . .. Vol 7 No 1, Mar-Apr 1976; [The Turn o f the Tree Vol 7 No 2, MayJune 1976]; Asia Undermined Vol 7 No 3, July-Aug 1976; Technology & Political Change Vol 7 No 4, Sept-Oct 1976; E n d o f A n Era Volume 7 No 5, Nov-Dec 1976; The Roots o f Violence Vol 7 No 6, Jan-Feb 1977; [Science with Soul Vol 8 No 1, Mar-Apr 1977]; [City Patterns Vol 8 No 2, May-June I 977 k [Independence & Econom ic Developm ent Vol 8 No 3, July-Aug 1977]; Public Funds for Voluntary Work Vol 8 No 4, Sept-Oct 1977.

Foreword by Satish Kumar

I met E. F. Schumacher in 19 68 after reading his essay on Buddhist Economics. Nothing before and nothing since have I read by a Western economist which moved me so much. Here was a voice of wisdom and reason united. The moment I read his essay, I phoned him. “ Come to my office at the National Coal Board and we will have lunch together.” He took me to an Italian restaurant and we lunched and talked for two hours. It was instantly a meeting of minds, and the beginning o f a relationship which was to last beyond his death. When I took over the editorship o f Resurgence in 19 7 3 , again I went to see Schumacher at his home in Caterham, Surrey. Although he had written occasional articles for Resurgence whilst John Papworth was Editor, I wanted to persuade him to write for every issue. When we had finished our business discussions, he gave me a guided tour of his garden and home. H e w as very pleased with his motorised wheelbarrow as an example o f appropriate technology. He said, “ When you get old like me, you need some power-assist­ ed tools, but technology should not replace human input— rather the role of technology is to aid human hands.” He had just planted forty trees in his garden, and was very proud o f them. “ Silviculture and forest farming are the only w ay to safeguard our future and the health of the planet,” he said. When we returned to the house he showed me his hand-operated flourmill, which had two millstones for grinding flour for domestic use. “This is my pride and joy,” he announced. “ I grind wheat which I buy directly from the organic farm o f Sam M ayall and bake bread for my family for the week. Bread made from freshly ground flour is vastly superior to other breads. So those who want the most nutritious bread must grind their own flour. M any people eat bread which has little more nutritional value than a paper serviette.” He believed that the decisions he made which affected everyday life were as important as his advice on policy matters to the National

vSfi T H I S I B E L I E V E


Coal Board, where he was head of the Statistics Department. As Schumacher talked, I felt that I was in the presence of a great man. Someone who could see the truth beyond received opinions. "Any fool can make things complicated, but it requires a genius to make things simple.” He expressed his exasperation with our high technology society which makes life unnecessarily complicated. He was sent by the British government to advise the govern­ ment of Burma. Recalling his time there he said, “ Within a few weeks of my arrival in Rangoon and after visiting a few villages and towns, I realised that the Burmese needed little advice from a Western economist like me. In fact we Western economists could learn a thing or two from the Burmese. They have a perfectly good economic system which has supported a highly developed religion and culture and produced not only enough rice for their own people but also a surplus for the markets of India.” “ When I published my findings in Burma under the title of Buddhist Economics, a number o f my economist colleagues said, ‘M r Schumacher, what does econom ics have to do with Buddhism?’ ” M y answer was simply that economics without Buddhism is like sex without love. “ Economics without spirituality can give you temporary and physical gratification, but it cannot provide an internal fulfilment. Spiritual economics brings service, compassion and relationships into equal play w ith profit and efficiency. We need both and we need them simultaneously.” Schumacher was one of the first Western economists who dared to put those two words— Buddhist and economics— together. This was an act of courage. When his fellow economists called him a crank, Schumacher took it w ith a sense o f humour. He said, “ What is wrong with being a crank? The crank is the part of the machine which creates revolution and it is very sm all. I am a small revolutionary! It is a com plim ent.” It was in Burma that he got the idea o f intermediate technology. “ The Buddha taught the value of the M iddle Path. For instance, in agriculture many Third World countries still use sickle technology to harvest their crops. This could be called stage one. Whereas in the West we have the automated and highly sophisticated combine harvester, which has nearly eliminated the human element in farming altogether. This could be called stage ten. So I thought: what has happened to all the stages in between? T h is is m y theory of the


vSfi F O R E W O R D £a>

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disappearing middle. As a consequence, I launched the Intermediate Technology Development Group to research and rein­ troduce some of those middle technologies which are human friendly, environment friendly and which render considerable help to farmers around the world without the depletion of resources and loss of employment that high technology involves.” At that time he had just published his first book, Small is Beautiful; he gave me a copy, eagerly explaining why he attached so much value to the question o f smallness. “ Industrial and technological advancement is obsessed with the economics of scale. As a result, huge bureaucracies, giant companies and enormous factories have come to be seen as the symbols of success. But the reality is that things are done according to the rules, and human relationships have become secondary. As giant technologies are anti-human, so are giant organisations. In big schools, pupils are reduced to numbers; in big hospitals, patients are reduced to num­ bers; in big factories, workers are reduced to numbers. Economics should serve the values of humanity and even the spiritual growth of human beings. In my view that cannot happen if our organisa­ tions are beyond a certain size. That is why I called my book Small is Beautiful” I had not heard this kind of philosophy in the West— and from an economist who had been through Oxford, The Times, and a nationalised industry. From November 19 73 to August 19 7 7 he contributed twentythree articles to Resurgence. When I phoned to discuss them, he listened carefully and was prepared to alter or shorten his pieces to fit the magazine. He was one of the easiest authors to work with, but he preferred a clean, clear layout for his articles. Once our adven­ turous Resurgence designer put a faint illustration as a background to the whole page. He didn’t like that and said so. “ The purpose of design is to make reading easier, not more difficult,” he said. It is a great pleasure to see a selection of his Resurgence articles now being put together in a book. Even though these articles were written at different times and appear to be disparate, there is a strong common theme throughout. This theme shows the total integration of the spiritual and material, inner and outer, ideal and real, visionary and practical. There is no dualism in the thoughts of E.F. Schumacher.

Hartland, 10th March 1997

Introduction by Diana Schumacher

Fritz Schumacher, the econom ist-philosopher w as born in Bonn in 1 9 1 1 , lived the greater part o f his life in England and died on a visit to C aux, Switzerland in September 19 7 7 . Although from a distin­ guished intellectual background, and having him self experienced a meteoric academic career in Germany, England and America before the age of 2 3, Schumacher alw ays believed that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory, and also that “ the slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the higher things is m ore desirable than the most certain knowledge that m ay be obtained o f lesser things” . He complained that throughout his ow n school and university careers he had been given “ maps o f life and kn ow ledge” on which “ there was hardly a trace o f many o f the things I m ost cared about and that seemed to me of the greatest possible im portance to the conduct of my life” . He saw the need to provide his colleagues and audiences with philosophical maps related to actual reality. In the process, his life was one of constant challenges and questioning, including most of the basic assumptions on which Western economic and academic theory had been based. What are the ‘law s’ that govern the ‘science’ of economics? What is the true value of money? W hat is the relation­ ship between time and money? W hat is the real w orth o f work? And o f development? Part of Schumacher’s personal sorrow — but analytical strength and objectivity—lay in the fact that he remained an ‘an outsider’ for most of his life. Having mainly studied overseas between the two wars, he never fully integrated with his fellow students. His appointment as assistant professor o f banking at the University of Columbia at the tender age of 23 only set him further apart. His early commercial assignments ranged from Wall Street to the City of London, to an independent and lucrative barter import-export enterprise run from Germany during the pre-w ar depression. In 19 3 7 , owing to Hitler’s frenzied ascendancy and his own feeling of the intellectual and political betrayal o f Germany and its



heritage by his nationalistic compatriots, he decided to abandon all social, family and business ties and to bring his young wife to London. He was certain that until Germany could be purged of the Nazis’ evil presence there would be no peace in Europe; but that ultimately the reconstruction of Europe might be led from England. He hoped that he would then be in the vanguard of social and economic reform. During the war, they faced the hostility of being regarded as German aliens. The family had to give up their home, and after being briefly interned, Schumacher worked as a farm labourer in Northamptonshire, before being hidden away doing government research at the Oxford Institute of Statistics. Immediately after the war he was appointed economic adviser to the Allied Control Commission, and was sent back to Germany where many o f his relatives and friends regarded the now naturalised English family as traitors who had deserted the sinking ship. Although the family were again back in England from 19 50 onwards (he was now Economic Advisor and Director of Statistics to the newly nation­ alised National Coal Board), Schumacher’s quest for patterns of sustainability took him all over the world. He had experienced poverty, social injustice and alienation first-hand, and felt that with his unique and practical background, he had something useful to contribute. As he once remarked, “ I am a fellow without a fatherland”—a sad acknowledgement for one who had taken patriotism and an extremely privileged social and academic heritage so much for granted. At one stage or another, during his life in exile, Fritz questioned all traditional structures, whether intellectual, national, economic or religious. Until 19 5 1 he remained a dedicated atheist, lecturing that religion and morality were mere products of history; they did not stand up to scientific examination and could be altered if inappro­ priate. He was an idealist with a restless mind whose earliest values had been very modern based on the speed, measurement, efficien­ cy and logic of the Western world which he inhabited. It was only much later that he understood that such criteria were too inflexible, and totally incompatible with the more subtle ‘unconscious’ rhythms of the natural world. Highly cultured and courteous by upbringing, and adaptable by rigorous necessity, Schumacher remained an intellectually lone




figure, but this continued to reinforce his objectivity. Different individuals or groups understood different aspects of his work, as it fitted into their own scheme of thinking. Few saw his vision as a whole. M ost of his more radical social ideas for agricultural or economic reform, and his ‘world improvement schemes’ were either derided or at best discussed by those with influence, but were rarely developed in the ways he advocated. His energetic and enquiring search for truth meant that his mind had of necessity to divest itself of cultural clutter and inher­ ited academic baggage which might stand in the way. However this increased his ability to adapt from the high flying academic, to international businessman, fiscal researcher, financial adviser, camp internee, farm labourer, government policy researcher, translator journalist and civil servant, as necessity demanded. He never failed to use each of his changes in fortune to learn as much as possible from the situation he was in, and to pursue his inner quest. As he commented in Guide for the Perplexed, “ The art of living is always to make a good thing out of a bad thing. This then leads to seeing the world in a new fight.” He was never bitter and never gave way to despair. His life was a true expression of Gandhian non-violence (ahimsa); of finding a balance—-or later, in Buddhist terms, of finding ‘the middle way’ . During and immediately after the Second World War, Schumacher was invited to write for The Observer, The Times, The Econom ist and other journals under pseudonyms, the editors fearing that the German name would offend. Sometimes his ideas were appropriated by others, such as his contribution to the Marshall Plan of 19 4 7 or to the Beveridge Report on Full Employment of 1944. Although he never received official recogni­ tion for his intellectual contributions to such prestigious schemes until almost the last decade of his life, this did not disquiet him. The most important aspect of all intellectual and research experi­ ence, in his view, was to get the necessary ideas implemented by whoever was able to effect them. Schumacher always read prolifically. He was influenced by many different philosophers and thinkers—from Shakespeare to Shaw; from M arx to Einstein; from R.H . Tawney to Chairman M ao; from Adam Smith to J.M . Keynes; from Gurdjieff to Gandhi. Even as a commuter from suburban Caterham where he lived, to





the National Coal Board headquarters in London’s Victoria (where he worked from 19 5 0 to 19 70), he used all the train travelling time to study comparative religions. This period proved a most fruitful turning point in his inner life. He first studied notably those religions from the East, attended lectures and began to practice meditation. Gradually and reluctantly he came to relinquish the atheism of his youth and to admit to the possibility of a higher order of being. In both his active life and his inner life he essentially followed the Gandhian search for truth. This explains why, like Gandhi, his changing economic and metaphysical views (which sometimes seemed contradictory) chronologically mirrored his own spiritual struggles and developments. His speeches, articles and projects likewise reflected these changes from M arxism through Buddhism and eventually to Christianity. In 19 5 5 , whilst working at the N ational Coal Board, Schumacher accepted a three-month assignment as Economic Development Adviser to the Government o f the Union o f Burma, where he immediately attached himself to a Buddhist monastery. He also discovered that the Burmese needed no economic develop­ ment along Western lines. His report was not well received, but the experience proved yet another turning point in his spiritual and intellectual development. Burma brought together many o f the sep­ arate strands in his life particularly relating to economic develop­ ment in the third world (see chapter three on Buddhist Economics). > It also opened the door to his later studies o f Western religions, and eventually through Thomas Aquinas and the Early Church. Fathers to Christianity. To the astonishment o f Schumacher’s ; Marxist and Buddhist friends alike, he was finally received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1 9 7 1 , six years before he died. It was a formal renouncement of his previously cherished views o f the supremacy of the intellect and reason over the Christian virtues o f compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love, the acknowledge­ ment of a Divine Creator, and the integrity o f all creation. There was, after all, a transcendent Vertical perspective’ to life. After years of searching and inner struggles he had realised a w ay of bringing his lifelong paths of study and social concerns to a point of convergence and had reached his own spiritual homecoming. In tandem with his job at the Coal Board, Schumacher also undertook an intensive programme o f international travel, initially




g substance to his proposals to save the collapsing European coal industry, and to encourage independence from the Western w orld s industrial reliance on cheap oil im ports from the Middle East. H is aim w as also to promote sustainable development strate­ gies in the First and Third World alike, including the



Am erica, Jap an and Russia (although he never lived to see the end o f the Cold War). Fuel and food he saw as the two basic necessi­ ties for survival and sustainability. A ll communities should strive to be self-sufficient in these as far as possible— otherwise they become economically and politically vulnerable. Unfortunately he w as years ahead o f his time, and few took much notice. Putting his theories into practice, his was one o f the first UK houses have solar panels installed on its roof. He also personally became involved in sustainable agriculture, an enthusiasm w hich he claimed had its seeds in his w ork as a farm labourer. H e spent much time on his organic garden, w as a prom inent m em ber o f the UK Soil Association, supported M en o f the Trees, and w as an unflagging advocate of tree-planting and forest farm ing schemes wherever he went. He lost no opportunity to w arn against soil impoverishment, the erosion and ecological degradation fo llow ing forest-felling schemes, or of economic dependence o f agricultural systems based on monocultures, and oil-based chemical fertilisers. In 19 70 , with a small group o f committed colleagues including George McRobie from the N ational C oal Board, Schumacher founded the Intermediate Technology Developm ent Group, a London-based charity dealing with technology transfer. The aim was to give practical ‘tool aid’, skills and education to poor rural communities in developing countries. W ith Indian colleagues, he also helped to set up in Lucknow the Appropriate Technology Development Association, w orking very much along the same lines. As can be seen, this w as ‘Buddhist econom ics’ in practice. He had understood that Western aid to poor communities simply serves to increase their cultural and economic dependence, and to increase the gulf between rich and poor, young and old, even within their own societies. On the other hand, by respecting communities’ own indigenous and cultural traditions, providing them with skills and upgraded tools, they will be enabled to achieve long term sustainability and security. This ‘middle w ay’ has gained increasing recognition over the past twenty-five years, particularly among the


poor countries themselves. Both charities continue to flourish and develop today, and indeed the Intermediate Technology Development Group now has interlinked offices in six countries, serving many different regions. Despite growing acclaim for Schumacher’s projects, broadcasts, writings and public lectures during the 1960s, the real break­ through and recognition only came with the publication in 19 73 of his first book Small is Beautiful: Economics as i f People Mattered. This was written in layman’s terms, since it was mainly based on previous lectures and articles, but it somehow caught the spirit of the times. Small is Beautiful was not just about appropriate size. It articulated what millions of ‘little people’ world-wide subcon­ sciously believed: that unlike any previous culture or civilisation, twentieth century western society, whether agricultural or industrial, was living artificially on the Earth’s capital rather than on its income. Its lifeblood was the ever- increasing use o f non-renewable resources primarily by the rich countries. Life could not continue sustainably on the increasing curve of production and consumption without material or moral restraint. Schumacher’s simple yet provocative style of communication inspired many people to ques­ tion the future and values of the marketeering, consumer society, and to make radical changes in their own lifestyles. It was, however, his personal commitment and dedication which kindled enthusiasm and the courage to change. This message o f empowerment had unusual resonance world-wide, with people from President Carter of the USA, who summoned him to the White House in 19 7 7 , to countless thousands of dispossessed people in the Third World. The latter he encouraged to adhere to their traditional values, but also to find their own ‘middle w ay’ of sustainable development. He exhorted all to rely on people power and their own mental and physical inventiveness, rather than basing their futures on capital and energy-intensive technologies. The message still flies in the face of most prevailing economic policies today. Schumacher’s dictum was: “ Occupy yourself with the things which can be changed” . Any good practical action, however small, is always significant. Society must learn again to separate needs from wants; the quality of life from the quantity o f consumption; wisdom from knowledge; production by the masses from mass production. He, along with Barbara Ward, was among the first

**< rryr





econom ists to challenge the unqualified desirability of the growth c o n ce p t. O ve rn igh t he w a s h ailed as the guru o f materialistic d isse n t. H e has sin ce been acclaim e d as the true prophet of sus­ tain ab le developm ent— that little understood clarion cry of the 19 9 0 s. F o r Schum acher the concept o f sustainability automatically places the spiritual and m aterial w ell-being o f the people involved at the fo refron t o f all policy and decision-m aking. A G uide fo r the Perplexed, outlining his deepest spiritual beliefs fo llo w ed in 1 9 7 7 ; other w o rk s w ere published posthumously. But Sm all is B eautiful rem ains the b o o k b y w h ich Schumacher is gen erally remembered. The strength o f his arguments still lie in his ab ility to address problem s at the system s level, and to communi­ cate solutions sim ply and practically. H is m essage w as an inclusive one, as can be seen from the different chapters in this book. Do not break dow n problems into isolated com ponents but “ look at the w o rld and see it w hole” ; This I Believe covers m any o f the convergent themes of Schumacher’s life. The first tw o sections outline his scepticism of Western economic gigahticism, and the need to find a new eco­ nomics related to human scale and sustainability. Chapters 6, 7 and 8 reinforce his views o f the dignity and creativity of human w ork as the basis o f a sane and productive society; o f a new role for accountable voluntary agencies w o rk in g in an active symbiosis with government agencies and the effectiveness and desirability of locally-based, bottom-up developm ent m odels. Societies should aim to produce goods w ith ‘eternal’, rather than ‘ephemeral’ value to avoid a ‘culture o f poverty’ . This is a direct challenge, of course, to our throw -aw ay society, w ith its built-in obsolescence. His views on sustainable and non-polluting energy supplies as a basis o f industrial, agricultural and environm ental sustainability prevail throughout; as does the need to find new organisational structures compatible with the dignity o f w o rk , ow nership, and the role of technology. The section on developm ent gives practical proposals as to how to alleviate poverty, fam ine and the associated problems. Based on his ow n experience and projects, imaginative ideas for both urban and agricultural regeneration and community health are all to be found here. Finally, in the concluding chapters, Schumacher shares some o f the deeper ecological and spiritual insights which have inspired his w ork , and which help us to




understand where our thinking has gone astray, and how we can get back on the right path. The metaphysics of our materialism is now directly challenging the environment: “The problem posed by environmental deterioration is not primarily a technical problem; if it were, it would not have arisen in its acutest form in the technologically most advanced societies. It does not stem from scientific or technical incompe­ tence, or from insufficient scientific education, or from a lack of information, or from any shortage of trained manpower, or lack of money for research. It stems from the life-style of the modern world, which in turn arises from its most basic beliefs— its metaphysics, if you like.” It is only a complete metanoia in all departments of life, rather than engaging in an ‘over-extending battle with symptoms’ which will educate us to change sufficiently fundamentally, to avoid universal breakdown. Twenty years after Schumacher’s death, the wisdom, warnings and predictions contained in these controversial writings, are seen to be more relevant than ever. Some of his views, such as those on total accounting and accountability, taking not only monetary but environmental and non-renewable resource costs into consideration in policy-making, are now at last creeping on to the political agenda. Also some of the international development organisations are beginning to look for more low-cost, or micro-credit schemes and ways in which to address poverty at a local level. Nevertheless the trend towards ecological globalisation, the vast growth of mega cities, mass unemployment, unsustainable agricultural and industri­ al patterns, and increasing environmental degradation and social violence demonstrate that his ‘maps’ are still not being understood, or interpreted correctly by those in a position to change policies. There is now an even more urgent need to revisit some of these fun­ damental prerequisites for sustainability— namely the transcendence of moral values; the equality and dignity of all people in the eyes of God; the integrity of human work as the resource base of any econ­ omy; the value of local communities; and the need for decentralised decision-making and self-sufficiency wherever practicable. There is always a great danger to freeze a human icon, such as Gandhi or Schumacher, in the situation o f their time, and not to






allo w fo r the fact that their ow n ideas w ou ld be constantly chang­ ing and m oving on w ith changed circum stances. They would be finding new solutions to new phenom ena as they arose, and would be practising the art o f ‘living in the present moment’, and encouraging others to do likew ise. The revolutions in inform ation technology, virtu al reality and genetic engineering, w ere undoubtedly issues w hich have arisen during the last tw en ty years, and which would have occupied Schum acher’s attention in sofar as they affect our overall hum an condition. A lthough he repeatedly warned of the inherent dangers o f nuclear powers and the probability of a Chernobyl-style accident occurring, g lo b al w arm ing had not been scientifically acknowledged as environm entally threatening at the tim e o f his death. However^ m ost o f the problem s which Schumacher addresses here, are u n fortunately still with us, and m any o f these have since been exacerbated. It is now up to a new generation to arm itself w ith the neces­ sary knowledge and m oral courage to find its ow n solutions to contemporary crises and to build peace at all levels. It is important to form partnerships w ith those in dividuals w h o w ill share the challenge o f change and w ho are read y to m ake use o f the same ‘maps’ . As Schumacher said in G o o d Work , “ I certainly never feel discouraged. I c a n ’t m yself raise the winds which might blow us, or this ship into a better world. But I can at least put up the sail, so that w hen the w ind comes I can catch it.” We are now, as then, all in the sam e b oat! I am sure that readers will find in this book a treasury o f useful insights and tools for change, and as such it m ay be seen as a fitting sequel to Small is

Beautiful. Godstone, June 1997

r V

SETTING t h e s c e n e


Chapter I ££>

The Party


To JUDGE BY T H E FLO O D of public utterances on the state of the nation, we are in the later phases of a bad economic crisis which has a number of disagreeable features, inflation being the worst. We are told that we must cut the rate of inflation by half, so as to be more nearly in line with our main competitors and to put our­ selves in a good position to benefit from the upswing in the world economy confidently predicted for early next year; that we shall then be able to balance our international accounts, even start repaying our monstrous debts, and, once the North Sea oil really starts flowing in bulk, get back onto the happy road of economic growth. All of which makes me burst out in verse: When G N P begins to grow once more • We shall be even happier than before.} This kind of optimism is enough to depress even the staunchest heart. Where shall we be when we are back on this ‘happy road?’ Surely we shall be in a more dangerous and insupportable position than we were a few years ago. The three-fold crisis— the crisis of resources, the ecological crisis, and the social crisis—will still be with us, in an accentuated form. Everything will be even more brittle and vulnerable. The present situation, I am certain, has nothing in common with any previous ‘depression’ or ‘recession’— except of course some of the symptoms like unemployment. It is hot part of a cycle, is not a ‘correction’ or a ‘shake-out’ or anything of this sort: It is the end of an era. As Barbara Ward put it very simply a year or so ago: “The party is over.” What sort of a party was it? It was a party mainly for a small minority of countries and for a small (though growing) minority within these countries, and most of the people who provided the goods and services to keep the party going were more or less left out. We allowed ourselves to be entertained by three illusions:



F ir s t , th e re w a s the illu sio n o f an inexhaustible supply of cheap fu e ls a n d r a w m aterials. S e c o n d , there w a s the illu sion o f an alm ost equally inex­ h a u s tib le su p p ly o f w o rk e rs w illin g to do boring, repetitive, s o u l-d e stro y in g w o rk fo r ve ry m odest rew ards. T h ir d , there w a s the illu sion th at Science and Technology w o u ld so o n , ve ry soon indeed, m ak e everybod y so rich that no p ro b le m s rem ained excep t w h a t on earth to do with all our le isu re an d w ealth . T h e se illu sio n ary entertainers, w h o m ade the party what it was, a ll three o f them , have left, h ave com pletely vanished: they had c a st a spell over us, had taken us on a trip. E v e ry day now it seems m o re incredible that w e w ere ever taken in b y them and believed w h a t they told us. We are w a k in g up— and see a great deal of debris around us— but the spell is still there in a subtle kind of w a y : m ost o f w h at w e say and do is still based on the implicit assum ption that the three entertainers w ill soon return and the p arty w ill be resumed. In fact, w e all know that the three entertainers w ill not return; that the party is over. But since it w o u ld be too strenuous and per­ haps too upsetting to think o f and evolve som ething new, a new life-style fo r instance, w e prefer to indulge in that great and re-assuring psychological exercise w h ich has ap tly been called ‘the refusal o f consciousness’ . This deplorable condition is b y no m eans confined to Britain. I have just seen the verbatim report o f a ve ry high-level discussion meeting held in G erm any a fe w m onths ago— not only Chancellor Schmidt but also the president o f the G erm an Central Bank were am ong the p articip an ts, alo n g w ith in tern ation ally famous economists, diplom ats, and adm inistrators— and there was not even the faintest sign o f any other w ish than to return, as quickly as possible, to the trends o f the 19 5 0 s and 19 6 0 s, as if the present crises w ere the result o f som e kind o f international traffic accident and in no w ay the inevitable outcom e o f these very trends. A similar ‘refusal o f consciousness’ can be observed in other fields, such as the natural sciences. Here, too, ‘the party is over’. It w as a very peculiar party, in fact an orgy o f nihilism, a celebration o f the allegedly scientific findings that there are no values, no


purposes, no meanings; that the human race is nothing but a cosmic accident (which may well have occurred also in other parts of the Universe); and that mindless ‘matter’ or ‘energy’ is the ultimate real­ ity. While the party was still in full swing, perhaps the most revered exhibit was the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or the Law of Entropy, which asserts that everything always ‘runs down’ (unless it is feeding parasitically on something else) and that the whole Universe must inevitably end in death and dissolution. Theodore Roszak takes issue with the scientists on this point and asks: “Why have they done such a zany thing; Perhaps it is because entropy is nihilistic; it points towards universal death and disso­ lution, and so supports the assumption of an alien, humanly meaningless universe, a universe which is impassively, imperson­ ally there for detached study and manipulation. . . To proceed analytically from the whole to the parts, to reduce qualities to quantities, to exclude final causes, to assume the radical objectiv­ ity of nature: these are not so many hypotheses up for proof. All this, taken together, is science—o r at least science as we have known it in the West since the days of Galileo.’’ , : Everywhere now there are indications that science has reached the end of this particular era. The evidence is coming in from all sides: that physics and chemistry cannot account for more than a kind of ‘substratum’ of phenomena and must be seen ds being in the service o f higher forces when it comes to matters like life, intelli­ gence, and consciousness. This evidence, of course, has never been lacking to natural philosophers and countless others who would never think of themselves as possessing more than ordinary com­ mon sense; but it is now coming from the scientists themselves: as they are looking more closely at nature they are finding it impossi­ ble to fit nature into their materialistic framework of thought. The result is a rapidly increasing flow of publications of which The Secret Life o f Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird may be taken as a fair representative. They report on innumerable experiments which cannot be explained by orthodox science. They also, incidentally, are full of horrifying stories of persecution suffered by people of genius whose scientific findings were too unorthodox to be acceptable. (The subjects where the greatest amount of intoler­ ance is to be found seem to be Medicine and Agriculture.) ■



What is so peculiar and, it seems, unacceptable about these experiments is that they attain substantial results nonviolently, that is to say, with only the minutest inputs of energy or other sub­ stances— in total contrast to the technologies derived from ortho­ dox science which tend to be extraordinarily violent and require very high inputs, particularly of energy. The literature now available contains so many indications of new possibilities of healing, for instance, or of growing things in agriculture and horticulture that one should have thought the sci­ entists in these fields would be at the height o f intellectual ferment and excitement and would be most impatient to undertake work along these novel lines. However nothing o f the sort is happening, except with a few intrepid pioneers. The scientific establishment practices the art of ‘refusal of consciousness’ with perfection. All the same, there is reason for optimism. The pressures are mounting, and the defences built up by the refusal of consciousness are likely to give way before long. Once we understand the mean­ ing of our economic crisis we shall know w hat needs to be done, and once we understand the meaning o f our scientific crisis we shall be able to find ways of doing it. It is, of course, necessary that we should bother our heads about inflation and all the other ephemeral problems that bother us. But we shall not ensure our survival by doing so. Survival will depend on our ability to overcome the ‘refusal of consciousness’ which defends totally outdated philosophies o f ‘economic progress’ and ‘scientific truth’ as if they were (to quote Bertrand Russell) “ if not quite beyond dispute. . . yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand.” It will be recalled that Russell came to the conclusion that “ only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation hence­ forth be safely built.” Those who realise that in economics as well as in science we have come to the end of an era, have no cause for ‘unyielding despair’ . As the old dispensation dies away, the new one is already prepared. But it will take a lot of honest w ork to realise the possi­ bilities which are now opening up.

Vol 6 No 4, Sept-Oct 1975

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End of an Era I era h a s c o m e TO a n e n d . There is the end o f a certain phase in the thinking of Western humanity. We have discovered ourselves now to be in a very, very deep spiritual crisis. An era which has been dominated by Cartesian thinking and which has lasted for some 250 or 300 years, has seen unbelievable developments in sci­ ence and technology. This era is now drawing to a close. Having worked out the consequences of this type of thinking, we find it makes us spiritually bankrupt. This thinking can be called ‘prefer­ ring science to wisdom’ . To illustrate it, here are two quotations. One comes from Aristotle via Thomas Aquinas. The other is from Huygens, following Descartes. The first one, which is the tradi­ tional wisdom of mankind, says, ‘‘The slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things.” The second quotation, this time from the 17 th Century, says, “ W hat gravity is; what heat, cold, the attraction o f the magnet, light, colours are; what elements go to make up air, water, fire or other bodies; what the purpose of respiration in animals is; how metal, stones and plants develop; of all these things little or nothing is yet known. There is, however, nothing in the w orld, the knowledge of which would be more desirable and more useful.” The total contrast is clear. Until the 17 th Century they said that even the slightest, vaguest knowledge o f the highest things was infinitely more desirable than the most precise knowledge of mate­ rial things. Suddenly, there is a change and it is stated that there is nothing more desirable or useful in the w orld than the knowledge of material things. There is no longer a distinction between ‘high­ er’ and ‘lower’ things but only the thought of usefulness, desirabil­ ity derived from usefulness. And so there has follow ed an era of violent dogmatism, a dogmatism w hich excludes from w hat may be considered real or scientifically acceptable everything except that which can be weighed and dealt w ith by that very small, useful





Q i,

in stru m en t w e call reason. T h is ch an ge in the w a y o f thin kin g has to be laid at the door of so -calle d ‘ scientific d evelopm ent’ . T h e senses fo r enjoyment count n o lo n g e r as an instrum ent fo r gain in g kn ow ledge. The feelings, a ffe ctio n , lo ve, d o n ’t count an y m ore. C h aracte r and will—these a re b oth out. A n d so everythin g in reality, every subject, whether it is p olitics, econom ics, o r an y p articu lar science becomes an isolat­ ed an d separate system , because the o n ly thin g that henceforth is acceptab le is w h at D escartes called “ clear, certain and distinct id ea s” and there is nothing really clear, certain and distinct unless y o u can put it into m athem atical term s. T h e o lo g y is out; meta­ physics is out; art is som etim es alrigh t; an d ethics is just anybody’s opinion; because w hat cannot be m easu red, w h a t cannot be turned into m athem atical term s, can certain ly n o t be described as “ cleai; certain and distinct ideas” . This is the C a rte sian Universe which we have inherited, inside w hich w e w ere b ro u gh t up; this is still what fills m ost o f our being, because that is the w a y w e have been edu­ cated, a dumb Universe, or, to quote S h ak esp eare, “ a tale told by an idiot, full o f sound and fury, sign ifyin g n o th in g” . Bertrand Russell, w ith his great brain, cam e to the co n clu sio n that this was a dumb universe and that only an attitude o f unyielding despair w as intellectually honest. A nd b ooks are still being published w hich tell us that this is so, an d th a t a n y b o d y w h o denies it, anyone w ho sees any m eaning in an yth in g is ju st not abreast of modern knowledge. M ystery, o f course, is out altogether. It is alm ost a term of abuse and so we have lost this rem arkable ability, this parad oxical ability, namely, the science o f mystery, the kn ow led ge o f things that we can­ not understand. Those w h o are theologians k n o w the negative the­ ology, which is a very high science and w h ich is built upon knowing that we don’t know ; it is asserted that once w e k n o w we don’t know, then w e really can learn som ething ab out these highest things. A great Christian saint said, “ M y night allow s the light to enter.” This is not just a m atter o f religion— it’s a m atter that per­ meates our whole life— namely, the extent to w hich w e can acquire the knowledge o f non-knowledge, the tolerance o f non-knowledge, the certainty o f certain things that cannot be kn ow n ; and so we develop certain w ays o f dealing w ith the unknow n. This is a thought which is intolerable today. A nd so w e pretend to ourselves

E N D O F A N E R A £2>


that we know m ost things ab ou t the future, and that is a certain way of maxim ising our m istakes! This is the era that is n o w com ing to an end. It has also been described as the ‘reign o f q u an tity’ . I learned a lesson during the war when I w as a farm lab ou rer up in N ortham ptonshire and one of my jobs every m orning before b reak fast w as to go up a hill to a field nearby and count the cattle. So I trotted there, h alf asleep, and counted thirty-two and then I w en t d o w n to the farm , touched my cap to the bailiff and said , “ Y es, sir, th irty-tw o ” , and he said, “ G o and have your b reak fast.” O ne day, w hen I arrived there, there w as an old farmer standing at the gate and he said, “ Young m an, w hat do you do here every m o rn in g?” I said, “ N othing m uch, I just count the cattle.” H e sh o o k his old head and said, “ If you count them every day, they w o n ’t flo u rish .” So I w ent back, murm uring to myself, “ Those cou ntry yokels! H o w stupid can you get!” I mean, I am a professional statistician— he didn’t kn ow that. One day I came up there and I counted; I counted again and again, and there were only thirty-one. I w anted m y breakfast so I went dow n and said to the b ailiff, “ There are only thirty-one.” H e w as very angry and said, “ H ave yo u r breakfast— w e ’ll go up there after breakfast.” We did and searched the place and, under one o f the bushes, was a dead beast. I said to m yself, “ W ait a minute— w hy have I been here every m orning counting them? T h at hasn’t stopped that beast dying, has it? M ayb e that old farm er had a point here which I m issed.” Perhaps he didn’t put it very cleverly, “If you count them every day, they w o n ’t flou rish !” W hat he m ay have meant w as that if yo u train you r m ind on the quantity of them, you w on’t stop them dying. W hat does the quantity matter? What could have happened if I hadn ’t counted? A beast might have strayed away, but som ebody w o u ld have brought it back. N o , I ought to have looked fo r the qualitative factor, looked a t every beast to see whether she w as alright, w hether she had a sheen on her coat, and so on. I ought to have been able to go back to the bailiff and say, “ Oh, they seem alright except that one looks a bit mangy.” Then w e w ould have gone up and done something sensi­ ble. Quantity had got the better o f me and had filled m y mind instead of what really m attered, w hich is the quality o f things. My attention w as later draw n to a piece o f w riting by Sir Jam es Frazer, the author o f The G olden Bough , w ho w ith his fantastic


^ 2 T H I S I B E L IE V E

d ilig e n c e h a d a ls o d u g up all so rts o f traditional stories which he c o m p ile d in a little v o lu m e c a lle d T h e Sin o f Statistics. He reports s u r p r is in g ly fr o m a v a r ie ty o f o ld trad itio n s from right around the g lo b e th is eve r-p re sen t attitu d e a g a in s t counting, against the quan­ tita tiv e a p p ro a c h . T h o se w h o k n o w th eir Bible will know that it w a s K in g D a v id w h o first in tro d u ce d a census and you will recol­ le c t th a t Je h o v a h w a s u tte rly fu rio u s an d gave him the choice b e tw e e n th ree g h a stly p u n ish m en ts. T h e o ld Je w s were quite capa­ b le o f a rg u in g b a ck , “ I h a v e d o n e n o w ro n g ; w h at’s the matter?” D a v id , how ever, d id n ’t arg u e . H e ju s t ch o se one o f the three pun­ ish m en ts because it w o u ld be o v e r the qu ickest. H e took the point; it w a s w ro n g to do this co u n tin g . I f this w ere only in the Old T estam en t, y o u m ight s a y it is on e o f the peculiarities of the old Je w s , but it com es fro m the R e d In d ian s, the Eskim os, from evetyw h ere— the sin o f statistics. Sir Ja m e s F ra z e r w rote about it with the arrogan ce o f the 19 th century, ju st as i f he w ere saying, Isnt that fu n n y ?” and the sam e k in d o f attitu d e prevails still. But after m y little experience w ith the dead b east, I d id n ’t think it was funny an y m ore. I thought that I m ust tak e this very, very seriously. The purely quantitative ap p ro ach m isses o u t o n everything that really m atters and the age that is n o w d ra w in g to a close has embraced this because, o f course, in the m ate rial w o rld this has a certain pow er. There is nothing w ro n g w ith it, p ro vid ed it is counter-bal­ anced b y an understanding o f w h a t re a lly m atters, and that is som ething quite different. In short, all this trad itio n al w isd o m w a s rejected in order to have w h at prom ised to be an easy an d co m fo rtab le time. And, of course, w e got the exact op p osite, a to ta lly m eaningless time. And h o w opposite it is one can learn m ost e asily if one moves over into the m ost advanced society that w e h ave today, w hich is the United States, w here the standard o f livin g is still ve ry much higher than that o f Britain and the people are also v e ry m uch m ore unhappy. If it is true that this era is n o w com in g to an end, we might ask, “ W ho has been instrum ental in b ringing this era to an end?” and the answ er is disconcerting. It is not the theologians, not the Churches, not the thinkers, not the philosophers, not the aca­ demics, by and large. N o , at this level, the on ly people that I can identify w h o have really struggled, are the ones w h o have gone to the extrem e end o f the C artesian developm ent— the physicists. The



physicists have been asking the right question, ‘W hat does it all mean?’ and they have been writing for the past thirty years now really the most challenging philosophical books that have appeared in the West. That is one group. Perhaps this is the w ay human development takes place. We have to go to an extreme before understanding that we are on the w rong path. The other group by whom the end of this era is being prepared are, in fact, the ‘hippies’ , the sort of counter-culture, very often long-haired people—they are the people w ho are insisting on sim­ ple truths—such a simple truth as ‘ M ake love, not w ar’ . There is an interesting book which I do not agree w ith in its entirety, called The Greening o f America by Charles Reich, which tells how sud­ denly, through the concrete, new green little plants are appearing, most of them weeds, but at least they have got through the con­ crete. These are the signs of a new e r a .. Also, of course, from quite another angle, there are people to whom we have every reason to be extremely grateful, like the OPEC countries, who have called the bluff of an economic system that assumes that the non-renewable m aterials like fossil fuels can be used at a rate that doubles every ten.years. There remains, of course, alw ays the question of what we can do about it, when we have got this sort of general diagnosis. A lot of people want to rush into action, but it is still necessary to insist that the first act of doing is a real effort to understand, to sort these things out in one’s own little mind. T find this very disconcerting.! encountered quite recently a fellow in the United States, w ho had done good work bringing things back to the human scale and then he published a journal and half o f one number w as full of some absolutely fantastic ideas o f establishing living quarters out in space, each satellite for 10 ,0 0 0 people, w ith a technology that just takes your breath aw ay, and some fragm entary people, so-called scientists, say all this is possible, if only w e w ant to do it. Again this is a total aberration, a total cessation o f the understanding which is gradually increasing o f w hat the things are that really matter. One of the most pertinent sentences in the Gospels is at the begin­ ning of the Fourth Gospel, where it says, “ In the beginning was the Word” , but then one must say, “ R ead on, read on” . It didn’t stop there. The Word had to become incarnate, come down, become flesh and dwell among us. And that has a lot to do with the doing that is




n o w necessary. Too often w e com m unicate at the level of the word an d w e don ’t change the w orld if w e leave it there; unless the word, o u r m essage, our understanding, becomes incarnate, becomes flesh and dw ells am ong us, nothing happens. This is a very deep insight o f C hristianity— that unless the w ord comes into the material w o rld and becomes flesh, nothing happens. H ow then can we incarnate our good intentions, our insights, our new philosophy w hich is gradually grow ing in ourselves? The moment it becomes incarnate, no matter how modestly, it w ill become a much healthier plant inside us. And here I think everybody w ill make their own selection. I have chosen three kinds o f actions for myself, as I encountered them on m y ow n road— I am not suggesting that these are the only things that matter. Firstly, we all need to realise that w e need a different attitude to nature and we must practise a different attitude to nature in our gardening, our horticultural and agricultural activities. This is a very deep matter, not just a utilitarian matter. W hat has grownup, particularly over the past 30 years, is no longer a friendly co-operation with nature, but a battle against nature, a battle in which, if by chance we win it, we w ill find ourselves on the losing side. The much-praised modern agriculture has no long-term future, and there are material facts to support such a view. It has been worked out repeatedly now in the United States but also in Britain by Gerald Leach. This modern system o f fo od production is so dependent on fossil fuels, prim arily natural gas and oil, that if we thought we could feed the whole o f hum ankind, some 4,000 million people, with this system o f green revolution agriculture, we would find that all known resources w ould be absorbed by agriculture alone within less than 30 years. N o w this knowledge is gradually dribbling into the heads o f our masters. I w as interested to see that, at an International Agricultural Conference, the head o f the Royal Agricultural College, Sir Em rys Jones, told the young people there, aged about twenty or twenty-two, “ N ow , you watch it. By the time o f your fifiteth birthday, you m ay have to farm without the help of oil and this means without the help o f artificial fertilizer. And it’s no good,” he said, “ sitting back and saying it is a wonderful system. The process o f improving things by intensification, which has worked hitherto will not w ork in the future. By the time you are fifty, you will need a different farm ing system altogether.” I am not



aware that he told them what this different system w ould be, so he may have left them a little disconcerted. But the different system exists; it has, however, been dismissed hitherto as the ‘ muck and mystery’ approach to agriculture, w hich I never took as an insult, because after ail, muck and m ystery is a pretty good definition of life in general. But here is an alternative system o f agriculture which can be permanent. Secondly, we have system atically to get rid o f the idea, “ the big­ ger, the better” , and to understand that there is a certain measure in things that is right; beyond that or below that it is w rong. The beauty of smallness may be defined as that o f the hum an scale. The beauty of it is (and each one of us ought to experim ent w ith his hands) that at the right scale, you can introduce the T L C factor. Now TLC is the best fertilizer ever discovered and you can’t buy it. It means Tender Loving C are. It is quite am azing w hat that can do and it is equally amazing w hat a mess you get into w hen it is organ­ ised out of the system. Take the N ation al H ealth Service. W hen it began, there was great idealism that w e, as a community, w ould look after one another and leave money out of it, and the new National Health Service inherited, as it w ere, from previous time, a great deal of T LC . But now, after 3 0 years, the thing has become more and more organised, m ore and more system atic, more and more quantified, measured and m echanised, and T L C has gone out of it. It’s gone! There are certainly still hum an beings w ho w ant to practise TLC, but they must practise it against the system and so the system becomes quite unbelievably expensive. A nd also, it misses the point—it is not a N atio n al H ealth Service; it’s a sort o f anti­ disease Fire Fighting Service. It has nothing at all to do w ith health any more. And this permeates the w hole w elfare system o f the western world now. We are faced w ith the phenom enon that the richest city in the w orld, N e w Y o rk , is on the point o f bankruptcy, and it is because the w elfare system has becom e so inordinately expensive. Huge modern bureaucracies never achieve anything.' They just amble along; the problem s don’t become smaller, they become bigger and bigger. If w e think that w e can solve things by monster size, we are just m istaken. O ur problem s today will be solved when we realise that w e have to structure our organisations so that T LC, this most w onderful thing, w hich is also as satisfying to the giver as it is to the recipient, can again come into action. It



is absolutely necessary and indeed inevitable, if we want to survive, to bring in many more activities back into the home, where homes still exist, and it is encouraging to see that there are now in various countries all sorts of movements to produce the technology which makes it possible to bring these things back into the home. So the third kind of action is to produce a new technology, When I say, “ The Word must become flesh” , I refer to this kind of endeavour to bring our technology back on to a path that has the threefold virtue of health, beauty and permanence instead of the violence and giantism in which we now indulge.

From a talk giventhe I 7


Chapter 3

Buddhist Economics ‘R ig h t L i v e l i h o o d ’ is o n e o f t h e r e q u ir e m e n t s of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It is clear, therefore, that there must be such a thing as Buddhist Economics. Buddhist countries, at the same time, have often stated that they wish to remain faithful to their heritage. So Burma: “ The New Burma sees no conflict between religious values and economic progress. Spiritual health and material well-being are not enemies: they are natural allies.” 1 Or: “ We can blend successfully the reli­ gious and spiritual values o f our heritage with the benefits of mod­ ern technology.” 1 Or: “ We Burmans have a sacred duty to conform both our dreams and our acts to our faith. This we shall ever do.” 3 All the same, such countries invariably assume that they can model their economic development plans in accordance with mod­ ern economics, and they call upon modern economists from so-called advanced countries to advise them, to formulate the poli­ cies to be pursued, and to construct the grand design for develop­ ment, the Five-Year Plan or w hatever it may be called. No one seems to think that a Buddhist w ay of life would call for Buddhist economics, just as the modern materialist w ay of life has brought

forth modern economics. Economists themselves, like most specialists, normally suffer from a kind of metaphysical blindness, assuming that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths, without any presupposi­ tions. Some go as far as to claim that economic laws are as free from ‘metaphysics’ or ‘values’ as the law of gravitation. We need not, however, get involved in arguments of methodology. Instead, let us take some fundamentals and see w hat they look like when viewed by a modern economist and a Buddhist economist. There is universal agreement that the fundamental source of wealth is human labour. N ow , the modern economist has been brought up to consider ‘labour’ or w ork as little more than a nec­ essary evil. From the point o f view o f the employer, it is in any case

*aa this i believe


sim ply an item o f cost, to be reduced to a minimum if it cannot be elim inated altogether, say by autom ation. From the point of view o f the w o rk m a n , it is a ‘d isu tility’; to w o rk is to make a sacrifice of o n e’s leisure and co m fo rt, and w ages are a kind of compensation fo r the sacrifice. H ence the ideal from the point of view of the e m p lo yer is to have outpu t w ith o u t em ployees, and the ideal from the p oin t o f v ie w o f the em ployee is to have income without em ploym ent. T h e consequences o f these attitudes both in theory and in prac­ tice are, o f course, extrem ely far-reaching. If the ideal with regard to w o rk is to get rid o f it, every m ethod that ‘reduces the work lo a d ’ is a good thing. The m ost potent m ethod, short of automa­ tio n , is the so-called ‘division o f la b o u r’, and the classical example is the pin factory eulogised in A d am Sm ith’s Wealth of Nations. H ere it is not a m atter o f o rd in ary specialization, which mankind has practised from time im m em orial, but o f dividing up every com­ plete process o f production into m inute parts, so that the final product can be produced at great speed w ithou t anyone having had to contribute m ore than a totally insignificant and, in most cases, unskilled movement o f his lim bs. The Buddhist point o f v ie w takes the function o f work to be at least threefold: to give a m an a chance to utilize and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcom e his ego-centredness by joining w ith other people in a com m on task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed fo r a becom ing existence. Again, the conse­ quences that flow from this v ie w are endless. To organize work in such a m anner that it becom es m eaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-racking fo r the w o rk er w o u ld be little short of criminal; it w ould indicate a greater concern w ith goods than with people, an evil lack o f com passion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the m ost prim itive side o f this w o rld ly existence. Equally, to strive fo r leisure as an alternative to w o rk w ould be considered a complete m isunderstanding o f one o f the basic truths of human existence, namely, that w o rk and leisure are complementary parts o f the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy o f w o rk and the bliss o f leisure. From the Buddhist point o f view , there are therefore two types o f mechanization w hich m ust be clearly distinguished: one that enhances a m an’s skill and pow er and one that turns the work of



man over to a mechanical slave, leaving man in a position of hav­ ing to serve the slave. How to tell the one from the other? “The craftsman himself,” says Ananda Coomaraswamy, a man equally competent to talk about the Modern West as the Ancient East, “ the craftsman himself can always, if allowed to, draw the delicate dis­ tinction between the machine and the tool. The carpet loom is a tool, a contrivance for holding warp threads at a stretch for the pile to be woven round them by the craftsmen’s fingers; but the power loom is a machine, and its significance as a destroyer of culture lies in the fact that it does the essentially human part of the work.” 4 It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilization not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man’s work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products. The Indian philosopher and economist J. C. Kumarappa sums the matter up as follows: “If the nature of the w ork is properly appreciated and applied, it will stand in the same relation to the higher faculties as food is to the physical body. It nourishes and enlivens the higher man and urges him to produce the best he is capable of. It directs his freewill along the proper course and disciplines the animal in him into progressive channels. It furnishes an excellent back­ ground for man to display his scale of values and develop his personality.” 5 If a man has no chance o f obtaining w ork he is in a desperate position, not simply because he lacks an income but because he lacks this nourishing and enlivening factor of disciplined work which nothing can replace. A modern economist may engage in highly sophisticated calculations on whether full employment ‘pays’ or whether it might be more ‘economic’ to run an economy at less than full employment so as to ensure a greater mobility of labour, a better stability o f wages, and so forth. His fundamental criterion of success is simply the total quantity of goods produced during a given period o f time. “ If the marginal urgency of goods is low,” says Professor Galbraith in The Affluent Society, “ then so is the urgency o f employing the last man or the last million men in



the labour force.” And again: “ If. . . we can afford some unem­ ployment in the interest of stability— a proposition, incidentally, of impeccably conservative antecedents— then we can afford to give those who are unemployed the goods that enable them to sustain their accustomed standard o f living.” 6 From a Buddhist point of view, this is standing the truth on its head by considering goods as more important than people and con­ sumption as more important than creative activity. It means shift­ ing the emphasis from the worker to the product of work, that is, from the human to the sub-human, a surrender to the forces of evil.

The very start of Buddhist economic planning would be a planning for full employment, and the primary purpose o f this would in fact j be employment for everyone who needs an ‘outside’ job: it would i not be the maximization of employment nor the maximization of production. Women, on the whole, do not need an ‘outside’ job, and the large-scale employment of women in offices or factories would be considered a sign of serious economic failure. In particu­ lar to let mothers of young children w ork in factories while the children run wild would be as uneconomic in the eyes of a Buddhist economist as the employment o f a skilled worker as a sol­ dier in the eyes of a modern economist. While the materialist is mainly interested in goods, the Buddhist is mainly interested in liberation. But Buddhism is ‘The Middle ! Way’ and therefore in no way antagonistic to physical well-being. It is not wealth that stands in the w ay o f liberation but the attach­ ment to wealth, not the enjoyment o f pleasurable things but the craving for them. The keynote of Buddhist economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist w ay o f life is the utter rationality of its pattern—amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results. For the modern economist this is very difficult to understand. He is used to measuring the ‘standard of living’ by the amount of annual consumption, assuming all the time that a man who consumes more is ‘better off’ than a man who consumes less. A Buddhist economist would consider this approach excessively irrational: since con­ sumption is merely a means to human well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of con­ sumption. Thus, if the purpose o f clothing is a certain amount of

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temperature com fort and an attractive appearance, the task is to attain this purpose w ith the sm allest possible effort, that is, with the smallest annual destruction o f cloth and with the help of designs that involve the sm allest possible input of toil. The less toil there is, the more time and strength is left for artistic creativity. It would be highly uneconom ic, fo r instance, to go in for complicat­ ed tailoring, like the m odern West, when a much more beautiful effect can be achieved by the skilful draping o f uncut material. It would be the height o f fo lly to m ake material so that it should wear out quickly and the height o f barbarity to make anything ugly, shabby or mean. W hat has just been said about clothing applies equally to all other hum an requirements. The ownership and the consumption o f goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the system atic study o f how to attain given ends with the minimum means. Modern economics, on the other hand, considers consumption to be the sole end and purpose o f all economic activity, taking the factors of production— land, lab o u r and capital— as the means. The former, in short, tries to m axim ize hum an satisfactions by the optimal pattern o f consum ption, w hile the latter tries to maximize consumption by the optim al pattern o f productive effort. It is easy to see that the effort needed to sustain a w a y o f life which seeks to attain the optim al pattern o f consum ption is likely to be much smaller than the effort needed to sustain a drive for maxim um con­ sumption. We need not be surprised, therefore, that the pressure and strain o f living is very m uch less in, say, Burm a than it is in the United States, in spite o f the fact that the am ount o f labour-saving machinery used in the form er country is only a minute fraction of the amount used in the latter. Simplicity and non-violence are ob viously closely related. The optimal pattern o f consum ption, producing a high degree of human satisfaction by m eans o f a relatively low rate o f consump­ tion, allows people to live w ithou t great pressure and strain and to fulfil the prim ary injunction o f Buddhist teaching: “ Cease to do evil; try to do g o o d .” A s physical resources are everywhere limit­ ed, people satisfying their needs by means o f a modest use of resources are obviously less likely to be at each other’s throats than people depending upon a high rate o f use. Equally, people who live in highly self-sufficient local com m unities are less likely to get


involved in large-scale violence than people whose existence depends on w orld-w ide systems o f trade. From the point o f view o f Buddhist economics, therefore, pro­ duction from local resources for local needs is the most rational w a y o f economic life, while dependence on imports from afar and the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant peoples is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale. Ju st as the modern economist would adm it that a high rate o f consumption o f transport services between a m an’s home and his place o f w ork signifies a misfortune and not a high standard o f life, so the Buddhist economist would hold that to satisfy human wants from far-aw ay sources rather than from sources nearby signifies failure rather than success. The form er might take statistics showing an increase in the number of ton/miles per head o f the population carried by a country’s trans­ port system as proof o f economic progress, while to the latter—the Buddhist economist— the same statistics w ould indicate a highly undesirable deterioration in the pattern o f consumption. Another striking difference between modern economics and Buddhist economics arises over the use o f natural resources. Bertrand de Juvenal, the eminent French political philosopher, has characterized ‘Western man’ in words which m ay be taken as a fair description o f the modern economist: “ He 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 w orse, how much living matter he destroys. He does not seem to realise at all that human life is a dependent part o f an ecosystem o f m any different forms of life. As the world is ruled from towns where men are cut off from any form o f life other than human, the feeling o f belonging to an ecosystem is not revived. This results in a harsh and improv­ ident treatment o f things upon which w e ultimately depend, such as water and trees.” 7 The teaching o f the Buddha, on the other hand, enjoins a rev­ erent and non-violent attitude not only to all sentient beings but also, with great emphasis, to trees. Every follow er o f the Buddha ought to plant a tree every few years and look after it until it is safely established, and the Buddhist economist can demonstrate



without difficulty that the universal observance of this rule would result in a high rate of genuine economic development independent of any foreign aid. Much of the economic decay of South-East Asia (as of many other parts of the world) is undoubtedly due to a heed­ less and shameful neglect of trees. Modern economics does not distinguish between renewable and non-renewable materials, as its very method is to equalize and quantify everything by means of a money price. Thus, taking var­ ious alternative fuels, like coal, oil, wood or water power: the only difference between them recognized by modern economics is rela­ tive cost per equivalent unit. The cheapest is automatically the one to be preferred, as to do otherwise would be irrational and ‘uneco­ nomic’. From a Buddhist point of view, of course, this will not do; the essential difference between non-renewable fuels like coal and oil on the one hand and renewable fuels like wood and water-power on the other cannot be simply overlooked. Non-renewable goods must be used only if they are indispensable, and then only with the greatest care and the most meticulous con­ cern for conservation. To use them heedlessly or extravagantly is an act of violence, and while complete non-violence may not be attainable on this earth, there is none the less an ineluctable duty on man to aim at the ideal of non-violence in all he does. Just as a modern European economist would not consider it a great economic achievement if all European art treasures were sold to America at attractive prices, so the Buddhist economist would insist that a population basing its economic life on non-renewable fuels is living parasitically, on capital instead of income. Such a way of life could have no permanence and could therefore be jus­ tified only as a purely temporary expedient. As the world’s resources of non-renewable fuels— coal, oil and natural gas—are exceedingly unevenly distributed over the globe and undoubtedly limited in quantity, it is clear that their exploitation at an ever increasing rate is an act of violence against nature which must almost inevitably lead to violence between men. This fact alone might give food for thought even to those peo­ ple in Buddhist countries who care nothing for the religious and spiritual values of their heritage and ardently desire to embrace the materialism of modern economics at the fastest possible speed. Before they dismiss Buddhist economics as nothing better than a



nostalgic dream, they might wish to consider whether the path of economic development outlined by modern economics is likely t0 lead them to places where they really want to be. Towards the end of his courageous book The Challenge o f Man’s Future, Professor Harrison Brown of the California Institute of Technology gives the following appraisal: “ Thus we see that, just as industrial society is fundamentally unstable and subject to reversion to agrarian existence, so with­ in it the conditions which offer individual freedom are unstable in their ability to avoid the conditions which impose rigid orga­ nization and totalitarian control. Indeed, when we examine all of the foreseeable difficulties which threaten the survival of industrial civilization, it is difficult to see how the achievement of stability and the maintenance of individual liberty can be made compatible.” 8 Even if this were dismissed as a long-term view—and in the long term, as Keynes said, we are all dead— there is the immedi­ ate question of whether ‘modernization’ , as currently practised without regard to religious and spiritual values, is actually pro­ ducing agreeable results. As far as the masses are concerned, the results appear to be disastrous— a collapse o f the rural economy, a rising tide of unemployment in town and country, and the growth of a city proletariat without nourishment for either body or soul. It is in the light of both immediate experience and long-term prospects that the study of Buddhist economics could be recom­ mended even to those who believe that economic growth is more important than any spiritual or religious values. For it is not a question of choosing between ‘modern growth’ and ‘traditional stagnation’. It is a question o f finding the right path of develop­ ment, the Middle Way between materialist heedlessness and tradi­ tionalist immobility, in short, of finding ‘Right Livelihood’ . That this can be done is not in doubt. But it requires much more than blind imitation of the materialist w ay o f life of the so-called advanced countries.9 It requires above all, the conscious and sys­ tematic development of a Middle Way in technology, as I have called it,10*11 a technology more productive and powerful than the decayed technology of the ancient East, but at the same time

B U D D H I S T E C O N O M I C S £2*


non-violent and im m e n se ly c h e a p e r an d sim p ler th an the labour-saving technology o f the m odern W est. i. Pyidawtha, The New Burma. “ Econom ic and Social Board, Government of the Union of Burma 19 5 4 p. 10.) 2. Ibid., p.8. 3. Ibid., p. 128. 4. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Art and Swadeshi. Ganesh and Co., Madras, p. 30. 5. J. C. Kum arappa. Economy o f Permanence. Sarva-SevaSangh-Publication, Rajghat, Kashi, 4th ed., 19 5 8 , p. 1 1 7 . 6 . J. K. Galbraith. The Affluent Society. Penguin, 19 6 2 , pp. 272 -27 3. 7. Richard B. Gregg. A Philosophy o f Indian Economic Development. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 19 5 8 , pp. 14 0 - 4 1. 8. Harrison Brown.

The Challenge o f Man*s Future. The Viking Press, N ew York, 19 5 4 , p. 255. 9. E. F. Schumacher. ‘R ural Industries’ in India at Midpassage. Overseas Development Institute, London, 19 6 4 . 10 . E. F. Schumacher. ‘Industrialisation through Intermediate Technology’ in Minerals and

Industries Vol. 1 , no. 4. Calcutta, 19 6 4 . n . V ijay Chebbi and George McRobie. Dynamics o f District Development. SIET Institute, Hyderabad 1964.

Vol 1 No is Beautiful.

i i , Jan-Feb

19 6 8 .This article becam

1 W AS BR O U G H T UP O N an interpretation o f history which suggested that everything started w ith a few fam ilies and then the families got together in tribes; a bit later a lot o f tribes joined together into nation states; the nation states becam e bigger and bigger and form ed great regional com binations, ‘United States of this’, ‘United States o f th at’ , and finally w e could look forw ard to a single World G overnm ent. E v er since I heard this plausible story I have been observing w h at is actu ally happening, and I have seen a proliferation of coun­ tries. T he United N ation s started tw enty years ago with about 50 o r 60 m em bers, now there are 1 2 0 and the number is still growing. In m y youth, this w as called ‘B alkan ization ’ and was thought to be a very bad thing. But w hat I have been witnessing, over the last 50 years in any case, is a very high degree o f Balkanization all over the place, that is to say, large units breaking up into smaller units. Well, it m akes you think. N o t that everything that happens is nec­ essarily right; but I am sure w e should at least notice that it is hap­ pening. Secondly I w as brought up on a theory w hich claimed that in order to be prosperous a country had to be very big, the bigger the better. Loo k at w hat Churchill called ‘the pumpernickel principal­ ities o f G erm any’, and then look at the Bism arkian Reich: is it not /\Im h o i i p

rrp a o f



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quite true that today there are business organisations that are prob­ ably bigger than anything know n before in history; but the number of small units is not declining even in countries like the United States and many of these sm all units arc extrem ely prosperous, and provide society with m ost o f the really fruitful new developments. So the situation is no doubt a puzzling one for anyone w ho has been brought up the w ay I and m ost o f m y age group have been. We are told, even today, that gigantic organisations are inescapably necessary, but w here they have in fact been created, what happens? Take G eneral M o to rs: the great achievem ent o f Mr. Sloan of General M otors w as to structurize this gigantic firm in such a manner that it becam e in fact, a federation o f firms, none of them gigantic. And in m y ow n shop, the N ation al C oal Board, which is the biggest ‘ firm ’ in Europe, w e are doing som ething very similar. Strenuous efforts are being m ade to structurize it in such a way that, while rem aining one big organisation, it operates and feels like a federation o f w hat w e call ‘ quasi-firm s’ . Instead o f a monolith, it becomes a w ell coordinated assem bly o f lively, semi-autonomous units, each w ith its ow n drive and sense o f achievement. While m any pure theoreticians (w ho one suspects may not be very closely in touch w ith reality) are engaging in the idolatry of large size, in the actual w orld there is a tremendous push and surge to profit from the convenience, hum anity and man­ ageability o f small size. So m uch about w hat anyone can easily observe for himself. Let us now approach our subject from another angle and ask what is needed . A s in so m any other respects, if one looks a bit more deeply one alw ays finds that at least tw o things are needed for human life w hich appear, on the face o f it, to be contradictory. We need freedom and order: the freedom o f lots and lots o f small units and the orderliness o f large-scale, possibly global, organisa­ tion. When it com es to action, w e obviously need small-scale organisation, because action is a highly personal affair, and one cannot be in touch w ith m ore than a limited number o f persons at any one time. But w hen it com es to ideology or to ethics, to the world of ideas, w c have to operate in terms o f a world-wide unity. Or to put it differently, it is true that all men are brothers, but it is also true that w hen w c w ant to act, in our active personal rela­ tions, we can in fact be in touch only w ith very few of them. And



of footlooseness only if it achieves a highly articulated internal structure, so that in fact it becomes a loose federation of relative­ ly small states, each with its own capital city capable of offering all the culture and facilities which only a city can offer, including government. A city without government is obviously second-rate. But how can small countries be ‘viable’ ? Imagine that in 1864 Bismark had annexed the whole of Denmark instead of only a small part of it, and that nothing had happened since. The Danes would be an ethnic minority in Germany, perhaps struggling to maintain their language by becoming bilingual, the official language of course being German. Only by thoroughly Germanizing themselves could they avoid becoming second-class citizens. There would be an irresistible drift of the most ambitious and enterprising Danes, thoroughly Germanized, to the mainland in the South, and what then would be the status of Copenhagen? That of a remote provincial city. Or imagine Belgium as part of France. What would be the status of Brussels? Again, that of an unimportant provincial city. I don’t have to enlarge on it. Imagine now that Denmark a part of Germany, and Belgium a part of France, suddenly turned what is now charmingly called ‘nats’, wanting independence. There would be endless, heated arguments that these ‘non-countries’ could not be economically viable, that their desire for indepen­ dence was, to quote a famous political commentator, ‘adolescent emotionalism, political naivety, phoney economics, and sheer bare-faced opportunism’ .

How can one talk about the economics of small independent countries? How can one discuss a problem that is a non-problem? There is no such thing as the viability of states or of nations, there is only a problem of viability of people: people, actual persons like you and me, they are viable when they can stand on their own feet and earn their keep. You do not make non-viable people viable by putting large numbers of them into one huge community, and you do not make viable people non-viable by splitting a large commu­ nity into a number of smaller, more intimate, more coherent and more manageable groups. All this is perfectly obvious and there is absolutely nothing to argue about. Some people ask: “ What hap­ pens when a country, composed of one rich province and several poor ones falls apart because the rich province secedes?” Most


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p r o b a b ly the an sw e r is: “ N oth in g very much happens.” The rich w i co n tin u e to be rich and the p o o r w ill continue to be poor. “But if, b e fo re secession, the rich province had subsidized the poor, what h ap p en s th e n ?” W ell then, o f course, the subsidy might stop. But the rich rarely subsidize the poor; m ore often they exploit them. T h e y m ay not do so directly so m uch as through the terms of trade. T h e y m ay obscure the situation a little by a certain redistribution o f ta x revenue or sm all scale charity, but the last thing they want to do is secede from the poor. T h e norm al case is quite different, nam ely that the poor provinces w ish to separate from the rich, and that the rich want to hold on because they kn ow that exploitation o f the poor within one’s ow n frontiers is infinitely easier than exploitation of the poor beyond them. N o w if a poor province w ishes to secede at the risk o f losing some mythical subsidies, w h at attitude should one take? N o t that w e have to decide this, but w h at should we think about it? Is it not a wish to be applauded and respected? Do we w ant people to stand on their ow n feet, as free and self-reliant men? So again this is a ‘non-problem ’ . I w ou ld assert therefore that there is no problem o f viability, as all experience shows. If a coun­ try wishes to export all over the w orld , and im port from all over the w orld, it has never been held that it had to annex the whole w orld in order to do so. W hat about the absolute necessity o f having a large internal market? This again is an optical illusion if the meaning of ‘large’ is conceived in terms o f political boundaries. Needless to say, a pros­ perous m arket is better than a poor one, but whether that market is outside the political boundaries or inside, m akes on the whole very little difference. I am not aw are, fo r instance that Germany, in order to export a large num ber o f V olksw agens to the United States, a very prosperous m arket, could only do so after annexing the United States. But it does m ake a lot o f difference if a poor community or province finds itself politically tied to or ruled by a rich community or province. W hy? Because, in a mobile, footloose society the law o f disequilibrium is infinitely stronger than the so-called law o f equilibrium. N othing succeeds like success, anc nothing stagnates like stagnation. The successful province drain} the life out of the unsuccessful, and w ithout protection against the strong, the w eak have no chance, either they remain weak or the)

needed, a system based on attention to people, and not primarily attention to goods— (the goods w ill look after themselves!). It could be summed up in the phrase, ‘production by the masse* rather than mass production’ . W hat w as impossible however in the Nineteenth Century, is possible now. And what was in fact—if not necessarily at least understandable in the Nineteenth Century is unbelievably urgent now. That is, the conscious utilization of our enormous technological and scientific potential for the fight against misery and human degradation; that is a fight in intimate contact with actual people, with individuals, families, small groups, rather than states and other anonymous abstractions. And this presup­ poses a political and organisational structure that can provide this intimacy. What is the meaning of democracy, freedom, human dignity, standard of living, self-realization, fulfilment? Is it a matter of goods, or of people? Of course it is a matter o f people. But people can be themselves only in small comprehensible groups. Therefore we must learn to think in terms of an articulated structure that can cope with a multiplicity of small-scale units. If economic thinking cannot grasp this it is useless. If it cannot get beyond its vast abstractions, the national income, the rate o f growth, capital/output ratio, input-output analysis, labour mobility, capital accumula­ tion, if it cannot get beyond all this and make contact with the human realities of poverty, frustration, alienation, despair, break­ down, crime, escapism, stress, congestion, ugliness and spiritual death, then let us scrap economics and start afresh. Are there not indeed enough ‘signs of the times’ to indicate that a new start is needed?

Vol z N o 3, Sept-Oct 196$

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The Critical Question o f Size

t e l l u s that the p ro p o rtio n o f ‘ g ain fu lly em ployed’ persons in the service industries is risin g w h ile that o f industrial workers is falling. T h is is a d evelop m en t w ith far-reaching conse­ quences. The production o f go o d s can be, and indeed has been, handed over to m achines, and this has led to the so-called grow th in productivity w hich in turn has m ade p ossib le the gro w th o f incomes. Where do the services stan d w ith re g ard to the grow th o f productivity? Can the tendering o f services be handed over to machines? ‘ The answ er is an ab solu te N o . If the hum an facto r is taken out of the service, the service disap p ears and its place m ay or may not be taken by a lab our-saving device. P eople’s need to ren­ der service to their fellow s can not be satisfied if m achines take their place. The human element disappears. Of course, it cannot disappear altogether, and w here actual peo­ ple continue to render actual services— teachers, nurses and count­ less others— increases in pro ductivity can n ot be generally obtained, because they m ainly depend on m achines, not on people. To the extent that advances in w ages are m ade dependent on advances in productivity the service industries tend to fall behind. But the peo­ ple in service industries, not surprisingly, insist on keeping in step with the others. A s a result, the service industries costs rise very much faster than those o f other industries, and the pressure on them to ‘rationalise’ increases. B u t h o w call you rationalise ser­ vices? Only by reducing the hum an elem ent, by substituting machines, or by reducing the service. T h e drive fo r higher produc­ tivity and lower costs in the service industries therefore almost inevitably results in a further elim ination o f the hum an factor. If my description is correct, it fo llo w s that our need to render service to our fellows is becom ing m ore and m ore difficult to satis­ fy. The difficulty is com pounded as the size o f service organisations increases and as, in the pursuit o f efficiency, they become more cen­ tralised and more ‘scientifically’ organised.

Sta t istic ia n s





h is h a s m a n y re a so n s, w h ich h ave been m ore or less systemat­ ic a lly id en tified b y so cio lo g ists, system s an alysis, and others. But y o u d o n o t h ave to be an e xp e rt in s o c io lo g y o r systems analysis to b e a b le to see th at the h um an factor, as a person-to-person rela­ tio n s h ip , depends on a certain d egree o f intim acy, which no-one c a n ach iev e w ith large num bers o f p eo p le. H o w many people do w e get to k n o w as people in the co u rse o f a lifetim e? If we made a list o f them w e should find the n u m ber su rp risin gly small—perhaps a fe w hundred, certainly n ot a fe w th o u san d . If I w ork inside a g ro u p o f people, I need to k n o w n ot o n ly h o w I get on with each o f them ; I also need to k n o w h o w each o f them gets on with, and relates to, everyone else. T he n u m ber o f person-to-person relation­ ships w ithin a group rises m uch faster than the number of group m em bers as the group increases in size. A m o n g three people, there are three bilateral relationships; am o n g tw elve, there are sixty-six; am ong a hundred, there are 4,950-—m ore than anyone call keep in his head at the same time. In fact an y large gro u p or people will inevitably break dow n into sm all gro u p s, w hether such a break­ dow n is provided fo r in the organ isation ch art o r not. Structures w ill emerge, and such structures are n o rm ally hierarchical, that is to say. there are a num ber o f ‘levels’ betw een the top and the bot­ tom . Everyb ody has a boss; the little bosses h ave bigger bosses and so on, if not ‘ad infinitum ’, in general th rou gh quite a few layers of authority: the bigger the organisation, the m ore such layers there are likely to be. Such structures cannot function w ithou t m any rules and regula­ tions which everybody, even the top boss, has to abide by. It follows that nobody, not even the top boss, can act freely, though at each level there m ay o f course be a certain am ount o f discretion. One o f our fundam ental needs is to be able to act in accordance with our m oral im pulses. In a big o rgan isatio n ou r freedom to do so is inevitably severely restricted. O u r p rim ary duty is to stay within the rules and regulations, w h ich , although contrived by human beings, are not them selves hum an beings. N o matter how carefully draw n up, they lack the flexib ility o f the ‘human touch’. The bigger the organisation, the less is it possible for any mem­ ber o f it to act freely as a m oral being; the m ore frequent are the occasions when someone w ill say: “ I am sorry. I kn ow what I am doing is not quite right, but these are m y instructions” or “ these




are the regulations I am p aid to im plem ent” or “ I m yself agree with you; perhaps you could take the m atter to a higher level, or to your member o f parliam ent.” As a result, big o rgan isation s often behave very badly, very immorally, very stupidly and inhum anely, not because the people inside them are any o f these things but sim ply because the organi­ sation carries the load o f bigness. T h e people inside them are then criticised by people outside, and such criticism is o f course justified and necessary, but it bears the w ro n g address. It is not the people of the organisation but its size that is at fault. It is like blam ing a car’s exhaust gases on the driver; even an angel could not drive a car without fouling the air. This is a situation o f un iversal fru stration : the people inside the organisation are m orally frustrated because they lack freedom o f action, and the people outside are frustrated because, rare excep­ tions apart, their legitim ate m oral com plaints find no positive response and all too often m erely produce evasive, m eaningless, blandly arrogant, or d ow nright offensive replies. Many books have been w ritten ab o u t m oral individuals in immoral society. A s society is com posed o f in dividu als, h o w could a society be more im m oral than its m em bers? It becom es im m oral if its structure is such that m oral in dividu als can not act in acco r­ dance with their m oral im pulses. A n d one m ethod o f achieving this dreadful result is by letting organ isation s becom e too large. (I am not asserting that there are no evil in dividu als capab le o f doing evil things no matter w h at m ay be the size o f organ isation s or, general­ ly, the structure o f society. It is w hen ordin ary, decent, harm less people do evil things that society gets into the deepest troubles.) There are three things h ealth y people m ost need to do— to be creatively productive, to ren der service, an d to act in accordance with their m oral im pulses. In all three respects m odern society frus­ trates most o f the people m ost o f the tim e. Fru stration m akes peo­ ple unhappy and often unhealthy. It can m ake them violent or completely listless. It m akes them feel in significant and pow erless. As a sensitive British w o rk e r pu t it: The factory I w o rk in is p a rt o f one o f those com bines w hich seem to have an am bition to becom e the great provider, both in and out o f w o rk , fo r their em ployees. R ecreation al facilities


ab ound; but the number o f people using them is small in per. centage. Perhaps others, like me, resent the gradual envelop, m ent o f recreation by the umbrella of factory life. Not only recreation either. The firm has a mania to appear responsible. Fingers o f charity stretch ever further into communal life. The com pany bends over backw ards to make amends for the lethar­ gy that the factory has produced in the worker. The effect is treated while the cause is ignored. N o wonder the worker i$ unappreciative.” “ The alienating conditions o f modern w ork,” says C. Wright M ills, “ now include the salaried employees as well as the wage­ w orkers. There are few, if any, features o f w age-w ork... that do not characterise at least some white-collar w ork .” And David Jenkins in his recent book on Jo b Power comments: “ White-collar and service w ork environments have been steadily degraded, with the growth of importance o f these sectors and the refinement of management tech­ niques, developed primarily for use in manufacturing, applied to other types o f work. . . As a result o f the refinements of dehumanis­ ing management techniques, white-collar workers have been rapidly catching up with blue-collar workers in terms of alienation.” Alienation, frustration, boredom, brutalisation, resentment, lack o f appreciation. . . the greatest single failure of the modern scheme o f things is w hat it has made o f w ork. Anyone who can say, honestly and convincingly, “ I enjoy m y w o rk ” , has become an object o f astonishment and envy. W ork, as the sociologists say, has become purely instrumental; unlike sport, it is not being undertak­ en for the jo y o f it, since for most people the joy his gone out of it; it is undertaken as a hateful necessity because people have to make a living. Those w ho can get a living w ithout doing work are being envied even more intensely than those w ho enjoy, actually enjoy, their work. This is where modern society has snookered itself. Its masters call upon the people to w ork harder, to do a fair day’s w ork for a fair day’s pay; but for most o f them ‘a fair day’s work’ has become a contradiction in terms. The people’s power derives from their power to work, to work creatively, to render service, to act in accordance with their moral impulses. Joyless, meaningless, ‘alienated’ w ork has no power. Let me again quote a British w orker:



“It is probably wrong to expect factories to be other than they are. After all, they are built to house machines, not people. Inside a factory it soon becomes obvious that steel brought to life by electricity takes precedence over flesh and blood. The onus is on the machines to such an extent that they appear to assume human attributes o f those w ho w ork them. Machines have become as much like people as people have become like machines. . . They pulsate w ith life, while human beings become robots. Too many people are imprisoned in organisa­ tions which, on account o f their superhuman size, make people insignificant and powerless.” If this is so— to the extent that this is so— people’s power is frus­ trated and paralysed. Neither the further development of this type of mechanisation nor the streamlining and perfection of this type of organisation can restore people’s pow er and lead us out of our predicament. Decent survival now depends on redesigning technol­ ogy and redesigning organisations. It strikes me as astonishing how little systematic study has been given to the all-pervading question o f size. Aristotle knew about its importance, and so did K arl M a rx w ho insisted that w ith changes in quantity you get, at certain thresholds, changes in quality. Aristotle said: “ To the size of states there is a limit, as there is to other things, plants, animals, implements; for none o f these retain their natural power when they are too large or too small, but they either wholly lose their nature or are spoiled.” Organisations, like these ‘other things’ , m ay w ell grow to such a size that they wholly lose their nature or are altogether spoiled. An organisation may have been set up to render various services to all sorts of helpless, needy people; it grow s and grow s, and suddenly you find that it does not serve the people any more but simply push­ es them around. There m ay be com plaints that the organisation has become ‘too bureaucratic’ and there m ay be denunciations of the bureaucrats. There m ay be demands that the ‘incompetent bosses’ of the organisation be replaced by better people. But few people seem to realise that bureaucracy is a necessary and unavoidable con­ comitant of excessive size; that bureaucrats cannot help being bureaucratic; and that the apparent incompetence of the bosses has almost nothing to do w ith their personal competence.



A large organisation, to be able to function at all, requires an elaborate administrative structure. Administration is a most diffi. cult and exacting job which call be done only by exceptionally industrious people. The administrators of a large organisation cannot deal concretely with real-life problems and situations: they have to deal with them abstractly. They cannot enjoy themselves by devising, as it were, the perfect shoe for a real foot: their task is to devise composite shoes to fit all possible feet. The variety of real life is inexhaustible, and they cannot make a special rule for every individual case. Their task is to anticipate all possible cases and to frame a minimum number o f rules—a small minimum indeed!— to fit them all. We all know that life, all too often, is stranger than fiction: the dilemma o f the administrators, therefore, is severe: either they make innumerable rules, the enforcement of which then requires whole armies o f minor officials, or they limit themselves to a few rules which then produce innumerable hard cases and absurdities calling for special treatment; every special treatment, however, constitutes a precedent which is, in effect, a

I I f I I I I I I I I I I


new rule. The organisation as a whole, at the same time, is faced with a I further dilemma: either it draws its best brains into the administra- I tion whereupon they may be missed at operational level; or it uses I its best talents at operational level, whereupon there may be serious I frustration down below, owing to incompetent administration. If there is any truth in this (very rough) analysis, the conclusion I is obvious: let us organise units o f such a size that their adminis- I trative requirements become minimal. In other words, let us have I them on a human scale, so that the need for rules and regulations I is minimised and all difficult cases can be resolved, as it were, on I the spot, face to face, without creating precedents—for where there I is no rule there cannot be a precedent. The problem of administration is thus reduced to a problem of |l size. Small units are self-administrating in the sense that they do not require full-time administrators of exceptional ability; almost anybody can see to it that things are kept in reasonable order and everything that needs to be done is done by the right person at the right time. I should add that, as Aristotle observed, things must be neither too big nor too small. I have no doubt that for every organisation*


as for other things, there is a ‘critical size’ w hich must be attained before the organisation can have an y effectiveness at all. But this is hardly a thought that needs to be sp ecially em phasised, since every­ body understands it instinctively. W h at does need to be emphasised is that ‘critical size* is lik e ly to be v e ry m uch sm aller than most people in our mass society are inclined to believe. Excessive size not o n ly p ro d u ces the dilem m a o f adm inistration, it also makes m any problem s v irtu a lly in soluble. To illustrate w hat I mean, imagine an island o f 2 ,0 0 0 in habitants— I have in mind an island of this size w h ich

a little w h ile ago dem anded total

sovereignty and independence. C rim e on such an island is a rarity; maybe there is one single full-tim e p olicem an , m ayb e there is none. Assume, however, that som e crim es do occur, that som e people are sent to jail, and that they return fro m ja il at the rate o f one person a year. There is no difficu lty in re-integrating this one ex-prisoner into the island’s society. Som e-one, som ew here w ill find this person a room to live in and som e kind o f w o rk . N o problem . The British Isles contain n ot 2 ,0 0 0 but 50 m illion inhabitants, and the number o f people returning fro m p rison every ye ar is about 25,000. Arithmetic teaches us that 2,000 : 1 = 50 m illion : 2 5 ,0 0 0 . But it is not true. M a r x w a s m ore realistic than is dream t o f in arithmetic when he said that a change in qu an tity produces a change in quality. The problem o f re-integrating 2 5 ,0 0 0 ex-prisoners into a society 2 5,0 0 0 tim es as large as th at o f a little island is quite a different problem , not o n ly q u an titatively but also qualitatively, a problem the solution o f w h ich escapes the devoted efforts o f Home Office, Probation Service, an d countless other organisations. Is it a matter o f p ro po rtio n ately to o little effo rt and m oney being devoted to this task o f rein tegration and rehab ilitation ? C ould w e solve the problem by h avin g b igger p riso n ers’ aid organisations, more people, and m ore m oney? M a y b e w e can ; m aybe w e cannot. I personally think w e can not. B ut the poin t is that the sm all island does not have this problem . T h e engine, as it w ere, is sm all enough to consume its ow n sm oke. O r w e m igh t say: P eo p le ’s p o w er prevents the problem from becom ing a problem . N o t merely does it prevent crime from b ecom ing a pro b lem , it also prevents the consequences o f crime from becom ing a problem .



This, surely, is a matter of breathtaking importance. People’s power doesn't solve problems: it avoids them. Of course, some work is needed to avoid problems; but this is the kind of work which people want to do. They want to do it because, to become real, they need to do it. They need to follow their moral impulses; they need to render service to their fellows, and they need to becre­ atively productive. So, when we need something, we do not expect to be paid for it. On the contrary, there are countless people who say: “ This is what I want to do; I don’t expect payment for it, I don’t even want my expenses back: it is what I want to do.”

T h e question is: H o w can p eo p le’s p o w e r be ‘liberated’? By goin g for the sm all, the h um an, scale. I do not wish to be dogmat­ ic on this because I do not k n o w h o w to define what, in any par­ ticular instance, is the ‘hum an scale’ . W h e n m any people are doing exactly the sam e thing— as fo r instance in a large orchestra with tw en ty first violinists and tw en ty second violinists, etc.— the prop­ er scale, expressed in num bers o f people, w ill undoubtedly be dif­ ferent from that o f a team in w h ich everyb od y is doing something different from everyb od y else. So there is no easy, generalised answer. It is, as they say, ‘H o rses fo r courses’ . But it is horses for courses; it is not the bigger the better, w h ich is the all too common assum ption o f the m odern w orld . W hether in a governm ental o r voluntary, non-governmental organ isation , the hum an touch and the m obilisation of people’s p o w e r rem ain w ish fu l thinking unless the organisation is of the right size, both geo grap h ically and num erically. ‘Right size’ is a dif­ ficult concept: the touchstone is the reaction o f people—can they still give o r receive in dividu al attention? M y ow n guess is that we should accustom ourselves to thin kin g in term s o f very much small­ er units than w e m ay be inclined to , conditioned as we are by a soci­ ety addicted to ‘rationalisation by giantism ’ . On a small scale people’s pow er can be m obilised but w hen the scale becomes too large, people’s p ow er becom es frustrated and ineffective. What, pre­ cisely, is the right scale, I can not say. We should experiment to find out. I could im agine an arrangem ent w hereby in this country, say, 2.0-2.5 units w ould be constituted, w ith an average o f something like 2.-2.. 5 m illion people each. A ll but a sm all percentage of the taxes raised in these units w ou ld be returned to them, to use as they saw fit. T hey w ould be the m asters o f their ow n fate, as if they were



separate countries, and that there w a s no cen tral ‘ g o v e rn m e n t’ to bail them out if they m ade a m ess o f thin gs. T h e e n g ag e m e n t o f p e o ­ ple’s power, may then becom e a ph en o m en o n a ll o v e r B rita in . I h a v e seen this happening in som e p arts o f the w o r ld , fo r in stan ce in China, but also in com m unities u n d er e n tire ly d iffe re n t sy ste m s. The discovery and m obilisation o f p e o p le ’s p o w e r m a y b e n o th in g less than the condition o f su rvival fo r the h ith e rto a fflu e n t so cie tie s of the West.

V ol 6 N o 3 , Ju ly - A u g 1 9 7 $


< S Chapter 6 : Jb

Insane Work Cannot Produce A Sane Society

*0— fc. com posing his vtsnm o f bell. mtprt mM have mdrdad the m indless, repetitive boredom o f workmg oma factory memUy hme. It destroys m itiatne and rots beams, yet miUam of bstak workers are com m itted to d for most o f the* hoes.*

Tm u x u &ah j tmwg b that the abort statement m The Tmes. Ikr enemies* similar one* made before a. team ed mo amtruL m et were no bot dentals or atqpmhed agreonenfv. no rcacnow at •L The «roop and terrible words—rn tom of hei—■ n ieti, rrpcotire boredom—destroying initiator and romng bn i ■dhoai at British workers, committed far mam at tknr lues— crractrd no reprimand that they were ■utsutrmears or dwr-oatements. that they were VTapu— blr or brveencal eu g o — mar subversive propaganda: no, people read them, ughed and ■added. I suppose, and mmed oil Sot even the ecologists. the comers aounsttv the doomwatchen md iim cn are totcrested in this matter. If tnm w r had asserted that arum manmade arrangemints had damned the moans* ml ratted the braim of millions of birds, or seals, or wild ansnak a thegame reserves at Africa, such an assertion would have bees ocher refuted or taken as a serious challenge. It someone had owned that not the minds or souls or brains of iwlhom of Brush ■ when were being 'rotted* but their bodies, there would have hn co— derabic interest; after alt there arc safety regudnocs. mpmnraarv. claims toe damages, and so forth. So management» manareof its duty to avoid accidents or physical condemns which mprnr workers’ health. But workers' brains, mmds and souk are a A semiofficial report, published by Her Matcsn s Scaoonerv alee, bears (he rule 'Pollution: Nuisance or Nemesis h cnotams



no reference to man-made arrangements which destroy the initia. tive and rot the brains of millions of workers. Nor, indeed, would any reader even expect such references. He expects and finds learned discussions of ‘Some harmful pollutants’— d d t and pcb metals, phosphates and nitrates, sulphur dioxide, etc.—and warn­ ings of the modern perils— cancers, birth defects and mutations, that is all. He may fully share the authors’ concluding hope, when they say: “ We hope that society w ill be educated and informed... so that pollution may be brought under control and mankind’s population and consumption of resources be steered towards a per­ manent and sustainable equilibrium. Unless this is done (they con­ tinue) sooner or later—-and some believe there is little time left— the downfall of civilisation w ill not be a matter of science fic­ tion. It will be the experience o f our children and grandchildren.” But it would hardly occur to him— the average reader—that the destruction o f initiative and the rotting of brains of millions of workers could be classed as the worst pollution of all, the greatest peril, and the most important danger for something to be done about to avoid the ‘downfall of civilisation’ . If it is thought that it may be a bit far-fetched to deal with the rotting of brains under the heading o f pollution, it will perhaps not be considered unreasonable to look for a treatment of this subject under the heading of ‘N atural Resources: Sinews for Survival’ which is the title o f a companion volume, also published by Her M ajesty’s Stationery Office. The most important of all resources is obviously the initiative, imagination and brain power of man him­ self. We all kn ow this and are ready, to devote very substantial funds to what we call education. So, if the problem is survival, one might fairly expect to find some discussion relating to the preser­ vation and, if possible, the development o f the most precious of all natural resources, human brains. H ow ever, such expectations are not fulfilled. ‘Sinews for Survival- deals w ith all the natural fac­ tors—-minerals, energy, water, w ildlife and so forth— but not at all with such im m aterial resources as initiative, intelligence and brainpower. Similarly, I might refer to the international report on The Limits to Growth prepared for The Club o f R om e’s project on the predicament o f mankind. This report has caused a world-wide stir because it purports to demonstrate, with the help of a computerized



world-model, that growth along the established lines cannot now continue for long without leading to inescapable breakdown. The authors therefore plead for policies which would lead to “ a desir­ able, sustainable state of global equilibrium” .;They believe that “ much more information is needed to manage the transition to global equilibrium. . . The most glaring deficiencies in present knowledge occur in the pollution sector of the m odel.. . How long does it take for a given pollutant to travel from its point of release to its point of entrance into the human body?” (p.180). There is, here again, no reference to pollutants entering the human mind or soul. But the report does say this: “ The final, most elusive and most im portant inform ation w e need deals with human values. As soon as society recognises that it cannot maximize everything for everyone, it must begin to make choices. Should there be more people or more wealth, more wilderness or more automobiles, more food for- the poor or more services for the rich?” (p .18 1). We might say: w hat a collection of choices! Even in connection with ‘hum an values’ a choice affecting the rotting of human minds or brains finds no mention. And this is yet another example of the lack o f interest in the vital question of human work

and what the work does to the worker. Considering the centrality o f w o rk in human life, one might have expected that every textbook on economics, sociology, politics and related subjects w ould present a theory of w ork as one of the indispensable foundation stones for all further expositions. After; all, it is w ork w hich occupies m ost o f the energies of the human race, and what people actually do is normally more important, for understanding them, than w h at they say, or w hat they spend their money on, or w h at they o w n , o r h o w they vote. A person’s work is unquestionably one o f the m ost form ative influences on his character and personality. However, the truth o f the m atter is that w e look in vain for such presentations o f theories o f w o rk in these textbooks. The question of w hat the w o rk does to the w ork er is hardly ever asked, not to m ention the question o f w hether the real task might not be to adapt the w o rk to the needs o f the w orker rather that demanding o f the w o rk e r to ad ap t him self to the needs of the work which m eans, o f co u rse, prim arily: to the needs of the machine.



It is not as if there were any lack o f studies and reports on p ro d u ctivity, on w o rk ers’ m orale, w o rk ers’ participation in m anagem ent, and so forth. But they do not seem to germinate any fundam entally new thinking: they do not raise questions about the validity or sanity o f a system which destroys men’s initiative and rots their brains. They all— although in varying degree—start from the implicit assumption that the kind or quality of work to be done in society is simply what it is: somebody has to do it; if it is souldestroying w ork, that is regrettable but unalterable. If people do not like doing it, we pay them more and more until enough people like the money more than they dislike the w ork. But, of course, this economic solution o f the problem— paying what the law of supply and demand prescribes— is no solution from our point of view; some people, as St. Augustine observed, even take pleasure in deformities, and many are prepared— or they are forced—to ruin themselves for money. We are concerned with the fact that our system o f production, in many o f its parts, is such that it destroys men’s initiative and rots their brains, and inflicts this damage not on a few people by w ay o f exception, but on millions of them by w ay o f everyday routine. Why men or women tolerate it and accept it against pecuniary compensation is quite a different question. We m ay remind ourselves of the teaching o f the Church in this connection. “ N o m an,” said Pope Leo XIII (R.N.32-3), “ may with im punity outrage that human dignity which God Himself treats with great reverence, nor stand in the w ay o f that higher life which is the preparation for the eternal life o f heaven. Nay, more: no man has in this matter pow er over himself. To consent to any treatment which is calculated to defeat the end and purpose of his being is beyond his right; he cannot give up his soul to servitude, for it is not m an’s ow n rights which are here in question, but the rights of God, the m ost sacred and inviolable o f rights. ” Let us ask then: H o w does w ork relate to the end and purpose o f m an’s being? It has been universally recognised, in all authentic teachings o f m ankind, that every being born into this world has to w ork not merely to keep him self alive but to strive towards per­ fection. “ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” To keep him self alive, he needs various goods and services, which w ill not be forthcom ing without labour. To perfect himself, he needs purposeful activity in accordance with the



injunction, “ W hichever gift each o f yo u m ay have received, use it in service to one another, like g o o d stew ards dispensing the grace of God in its varied fo rm s.” ( i Peter, 4 :10 ) . From this, we m ay derive the three purposes o f hum an w o rk as follows: First: to provide society w ith the good s and services w hich are necessary or useful to it, Second: to enable every one o f us to use and thereby perfect our gifts like good stew ards; and Third: to do so in service to , and in co-operation w ith , others, so as to liberate ourselves fro m o u r in -born egocentricity. This three-fold function m akes w o rk so central to hum an life that it is truly im possible to conceive o f life at the hum an level without work, which the C hurch declares, “ even after original sin, was decreed by Providence fo r the go o d o f m an ’s b od y and so u l” . The kind and quality o f w o rk to be done is im plicitly taken as given; somebody has to do it w hether w e like it o r not. The time has come to question this im plicit assum ption and to attack this immobilism. M indless w o rk is as in tolerable in a society that w ish ­ es to be sane and civilised as filthy air o r stinking w ater, nay, it is even more intolerable. W hy can ’t w e set n ew tasks to our scientists and engineers, our chemists and technologists, m an y o f w h o m are becoming increasingly doubtful ab ou t the human relevance o f their own work? Has the affluent society nothing to spare fo r anything really new? Is ‘bigger, faster, rich er’ still the o n ly line o f develop­ ment we can conceive, w hen w e k n o w th at it entails the perversion of human work so that, as one o f the Popes pu t it, “ fro m the fa c­ tory dead matter goes out im p roved , w h ereas m en there are co r­ rupted and degraded” ? . . .and th at it also entails environm ental degradation and the speedy e xh au stio n o f the earth ’s non-renew ­ able resources. C ould w e n o t devote at least a fraction o f our research and developm ent (R & D ) e ffo rts to create w h a t m ight be called a technology w ith a hum an face? This ‘human face’ w o u ld reflect, to start w ith ,, in a certain w ay, the size of the hum an being: in other w o rd s, w e should explore whether at least some organisations and som e m achines could not be made small enough to suit the hum an scale. C ountless people long for a chance to becom e their o w n m asters, independent and



self-reliant— which they cannot become unless it is possible to be efficient on a small scale. Where is the small scale equipment, where are the mini-plants to give a chance to the small man who can and wants to stand on his own feet? People say: it can’t be done: small scale is uneconomic. How do they know? While the idea that ‘ bigger is better’ may have been a 19 th century truth, now, owing to the advance of knowledge and technical ability, it has become— not all along the line, but over wide fields of application— a twentieth century myth. I have in mind, as an exam ple, a production unit developed by the Intermediate Technology Development Group which costs around £50 0 0 . The sm allest unit previously available cost £2.50,000, fifty times as much, and had a capacity about 50 times as great. The makers o f this large-scale unit were completely con­ vinced that any smaller unit would be hopelessly uneconomic. But they were wrong. Think o f it: instead o f one unit requiring for its efficient operation a vast and complicated organisation, we can now have fifty units; each o f them ‘on the human scale’, each of them large enough for a few enterprising people to make an honest living, but none o f them so large as to make anyone inordinately rich. Think o f the simplification o f transport if there can be many small units instead o f one large one, each o f them drawing on local raw materials and w orking for nearby local markets. Think o f the social and individual human consequences o f such a change o f scale. Admittedly, this kind o f w ork w as initially undertaken solely with a view to helping the developing countries where on account o f poverty markets are small, unemployment is high, capital is scarce, and transport is generally difficult and expensive. But it became quickly apparent that the results o f this w ork were of equal interest to m any communities in the over-developed countries, because everywhere there are innum erable people who are exclud­ ed from the productive process in a validly human sense because organisations, capital requirements and machines have become so big that only people already very rich and pow erful can get hold o f them and all the others can m erely be w hat might be called ‘technological gap-fillers’ . A technology with a human face w ould not only favour smallness as against the current giantism ; it w ould also favour simplicity as



against complexity. It is, o f course, much more difficult to make things relatively simple again than to make them ever more com­ plicated. I am not talking about the simple life as such— although there is much to be said in its favour: I am talking about processes of production, distribution and exchange, as well as about the design of products. Complexity, in itself often the result of excessive size and the excessive elimination of the human factor, demands a degree of specialisation and division o f labour which all-too-often kills the human content of w ork and makes people too specialised to be able to attain wisdom. It must therefore be seen as an evil, and it is the task of human intelligence-—o f R 8c D in the industrial con­ text—to minimise this evil, not to let it proliferate. All this, I believe, hangs together. All is related to the human scale, all related to the humanisation of human w ork, all conducive to the re-integration of the human being into the productive pro­ cess, so that he or she can feel alive, creative, happy in short, a real person—even while they are working for their living. If one thing stares us in the face, it is that insane w ork cannot produce a sane society. There is no reason to believe that today, with so much knowledge, so brilliant a science, and such astound­ ing technological skills at our disposal, we should be incapable of extending the joy of creative productive w ork to those millions of people who are at present deprived o f it. A sane society cannot emerge if, is Paul Goodm an called it, millions of youngsters are ‘growing up absurd’ ; or if millions o f men and women are con­ demned, most of their lives, to do w ork which destroys their ini­ tiative and rots their brains; or, indeed, if all— or most of— useful, productive, creative w ork is handed over to machines controlled by giant corporations, while people— real living people— are told to find their fulfilment in leisure activities.

Vol 5 N o 2, May-June 1974

Chapter 7

Public Funds for Voluntary Work


o rld


a n d o t h e r s t a t is t ic s

p u rp o rt to show that there arc

m a n y hun dreds o f m illion s o f p eop le in the w o rld today who have an an n u al incom e o f less than $ 1 0 0 . T h e m ost important question raised b y such in fo rm atio n is this: “ H o w do they manage to stay alive ?” I d o n ’t think I k n o w a n y b o d y in E u ro p e w h o could survive on $ 2 o r less a w eek ; yet, if the statistics are to be believed, many hun­ dreds o f m illions o f people are a c tu ally d oin g so. They must pos­ sess a kn ow ledge o r cap ab ility altogeth er unknow n to us. This kn ow led ge o r capab ility, no d o u b t, exp resses itself in their ‘life-style’ o r ‘pattern o f livin g’ w h ich , h o w ever unsatisfactory it m ay ap pear from a rich m an ’s poin t o f view , has an uncanny and incredible survival pow er. I f it did n ot have this power, all these people w ou ld be dead; but, as has often been rem arked, poor peo­ ple d o n ’t die o f poverty. T h ey have a su rvival ability which bet­ ter-off people n orm ally lack . I f ‘developm ent’ w eakens o r destroys this survival ability, it is a killer disease: incom es m ay rise fro m , say, $ 1 0 0 per person per year to $ 1 5 0 o r even $ 2 0 0 ; yet m isery deepens and turns into despair. The appropriateness o f the ‘pattern o f liv in g ’ is o f immensely greater im portance than the am ou n t o f in com e disclosed by statis­ tics. These things are d ifficu lt to grasp ; but if those w ho are pursu­ ing developm ent fail to take acco u n t o f them , they are likely to do m ore harm than good . A crudely m aterialistic p h ilo so p h y induces policy makers to think o f goods before they think o f people. T h ey look at a group o f people and say: “ These people lack con su m er goods. So let us m ake arrangem ents fo r the production o f such goods on an ade­ quate scale.” W hat is w ron g w ith this ap p ro ach ? Obviously, the output o f consum er goods is intended to benefit the people. But will it? Instead o f saying: “ These people lack consum er goods”, one



might say: “ These people lack the ability to make consumer goods. So let us try and help them to acquire the relevant ability or abili­ ties.” This approach would try to build on what is already there, instead of pushing existing patterns out of the w ay and attempting to substitute quite different ones. It w ould be based on the motto: “Let’s study what they are doing and see if w e can help them to do it better.” It is not possible to help the poor to help themselves, except by first learning from the poor— learning the secrets of their arts of survival. To assume the attitude of a learner requires a degree of genuine humility and respect w hich is not easily attained by people who have been conditioned to think of poor peasants as backward and inferior to educated townsmen. Humility and respect— these are high human qualities which, generally speaking, do not tend to flourish in large, bureaucratic institutions, particularly when these are backed by State power. Powerful civil servants tend to be more conscious of their power than of their status of servants or their duty of civility. In short, they tend to be poor learners. This is where the Voluntary Agencies are of immense value. They tend to have virtually no pow er; they can offer no security of tenure to their staffs. Hence they tend to attract people imbued with a genuine desire to serve their fellow men and not to lord it over them. The government machine is generally very efficient in raising money and relatively inefficient in spending it. Voluntary Agencies, on the other hand, have m any people genuinely anxious to serve, which means that they are very efficient in spending money; but they have great trouble in raising it. This seems to be an ideal situation fo r some kind of active symbiosis: let the governm ent raise the money and let the Voluntary Agencies spend it. Whose money is it anyhow ? It is m oney earned by the public at large; some of it is needed fo r ‘ developm ent’ ; it needs to be ‘raised’ and ‘spent’ . The only question is: “ W ho is most competent in spending it?” I hold that the answ er is perfectly obvious. Any astute governm ent, w hether aid-giving or aid-receiving, would therefore m ost assiduously study the possibilities of



achieving this symbiosis. Needless to say, when public funds are t0 be disbursed by private Voluntary Agencies, there has to be

accountability. Now, the art of accountability has been perfected and is being practised with a high degree o f skill— by whom? By large-scale business, e.g. multi-national corporations. You may say that many multi-national corporations often do not, in fact, behave very well. It is not their system of control but their policy that is at fault in such cases. What can be learned from them is how to exercise accountability without unduly impairing the freedom of action of the lower formations, i.e. the ‘people in the field’. This is an art— or a technique— that has been mastered by the large-scale businesses, and it can be learned. If there is prop­ er accountability; the way is open for the supply o f public funds to private Voluntary Agencies; and this would make real development work infinitely more effective and more ‘made to measure’ than it ever has been in the past. The new Government in India is said to be o f ‘Gandhian’ com­ plexion. An essential element of Gandhianism is the insistence that development must come mainly ‘from below’ , from the villages, and not ‘from above’, from the Central or State Government. I think this is right. But what does it mean in practice? Is govern­ ment to sit back and wait for initiatives from the villages? Maybe the villages that most need development are so run down that no real initiatives can be expected to come from them. The initiatives themselves have to be initiated. This can be done only by private Voluntary Agencies which operate without power. As long as these Agencies have to spend their best intelligence and effort on raising money— and can never raise enough—their effectiveness is simply inadequate. So the answer seems to me to be obvious: private effort supported by public funds.

Vol 8 No 4, Sept-Oct 1977

*S2 Chapter 8

Conscious Culture of Poverty Schon in der Kindheit h o rf ich es mit Beben: Nur wer im Wohlstand lebt, lebt angenehm. Berthold Brecht1 Only THE RICH can have a good life— this is the daunting message that has been drummed into the ears of all humankind during the last half-century or so. It is the implicit doctrine of ‘development’; the growth of income serves as the very criterion of progress. Everyone, it is held, has not only the right but the duty to become rich, and this applies to societies even more than individuals. The most succinct and most relevant indicator of a country’s status in the world is thought to be average income per head, while the prime object of admiration is not the level already attained but the current rate of growth. It follows logically— or so it seems—that the greatest obstacle to progress is a growth of population: it frustrates, diminishes, off­ sets what the growth of Gross National Product (GNP) would oth­ erwise achieve. What is the point of, let us say, doubling GNP over a period if population is also allowed to double during the same time? It would mean running fast merely to stand still: average income per head would remain stationary, and there would be no advance at all towards the cherished goal of universal affluence. In the light of this received doctrine, the well-nigh unanimous prediction of the demographers— that world population, barring unforeseen catastrophes, will double during the next thirty years —is taken as an intolerable threat. What other prospect is this than one of limitless frustration? Some mathematical enthusiasts are still content to project the economic ‘growth curves’ of the last thirty years for another thirty or even fifty years, to ‘prove’ that all humankind can become immensely rich within a generation or two. Our only danger, they suggest, is to succumb, at this glorious hour in the history of



progress, to a ‘ failure o f nerve’. They presuppose the c*wenc*r limitless resources in a finite w orld ; an equally limitless apiary ri living nature to cope with pollution; and the omnipotence of ence and social engineering. The sooner we stop living in the cloud-cuckoo-land of such U. ciful projections and presuppositions the better it will be, and th« applies to the people o f the rich countries just as much as to rho* of the poor. It would apply even i f all population growth stopped

entirely forthwith . The modern assumption that ‘only the rich can have a good life’ springs from a crudely m aterialistic philosophy which contradicts the universal tradition o f hum ankind. The material needs of human beings are limited and in fact quite modest, even though our material wants may know no bounds. We do not live by bread alone, and no increase in our wants can give us ‘the good lire. To make my meaning clear, let me state right away that there arc degrees o f poverty which m ay be totally inimical to any kind of culture in the ordinarily accepted sense. They are essentially differ­ ent from ‘poverty’ and deserve a separate name; the term that offers itself is ‘ misery\ We may say that poverty prevails when peo­ ple have enough to keep body and soul together but little to spare, whereas in misery they cannot keep body and soul together, and even the soul suffers deprivation. Some thirteen years ago, when I began seriously to grope for answers to these perplexing questions, 1 wrote this in Roots o f Economic Growth ,z

“ All peoples— with exceptions that merely prove the rule—have always known how to help themselves, they have always Jis-

covered a pattern o f living which fitted their peculiar njturd surroundings. Societies and cultures have collapsed when they deserted their own pattern and fell into decadence, but even then, unless devastated by war, the people normally continued to provide for themselves, with something to spare for higher things. Why not now, in so many parts of the world? I m not speaking of ordinary poverty, but o f actual and acute \mw\ not of the poor, who according to the universal tradition ot mankind are in a special way blessed, but of the miserable and degraded ones who, by the same tradition, should not exist at all and should be helped by all. Poverty may have been the ruk

existed trom time immemorial; but miserable and destitute vil­ lagers in their thousands and urban pavement dwellers in their hundreds of thousands— not in wartim e or as an aftermath of war, but in the midst o f peace and as a seemingly permanent feature—that is a monstrous and scandalous thing which is altogether abnormal in the history of mankind. We cannot be satisfied with the snap answer that this is due to population pressure. Since every mouth that comes into the world is also endowed with a pair o f hands, population pressure could serve as an explanation only if it meant an absolute shortage of land—and although that situation may arise in the future, it decidedly has not arrived today (a few islands excepted). It can­ not be argued that population increase as such must produce increasing poverty because the additional pairs of hands could not be endowed w ith the capital they needed to help them­ selves. Millions o f people have started without capital and have shown that a pair o f hands can provide not only the income but also the durable goods, i.e. capital, for civilised existence. So the question stands and demands an answer. W hat has gone wrong? Why cannot these people help themselves?” The answer; I suggest, lies in the abandonment of their indige­ nous ‘culture o f poverty’ , w hich means not only that they lost true culture but also that their poverty, in too m any cases, has turned into misery. A culture of poverty as w e have know n in innumerable variants



intention: he/she may see his/her product as something to be u*e


number is growing faster than the human population. There is lit­ tle public transport; less than 8% of Angelenos travel to and from work by public transport.” (Time, 2nd Sept. ‘ 66 ) Taken by itself, the American car industry is, of course, highly efficient; but how could this efficiency ever offset the monstrous inefficiency of need­ ing nearly 4 million cars for 7 m illion people? As a professor from California once put it to me: “ This does not indicate a high stan­ dard of living, but the terrible cost of transportation.” Another American author, M r. Lew is Herber, says this: “The modern city has reached its limits. Megapolitan life is breaking down psychologically, economically, and biologically. Millions of people have acknow ledged this breakdown by ‘voting with their feet’ , they have picked up their belongings and left (for suburbia). . . The reconciliation of man with the natural world is no longer merely desirable; it has become a necessity. . .” What Mr. H erber is saying is that the heedless pursuit of efficiency has produced a pattern of living which is highly ineffi­ cient in human terms: it robs people o f their real freedom, and they vote against it with their feet. They also vote against it in other ways. H ow could anyone overlook the fact that crime, in Britain no less than in America, is growing at a much faster rate than Gross National Product? Crime is becoming a big economic phenomenon, with an annual turnover approaching that o f the largest industries. President Johnson, a year or so ago, proposed a “ N ational Strategy against Crime” and stated in a message to Congress: “We know (the cost o f crime) in dollars, some $27,000 million (nearly £ 10,00 0 million) annually. We know the still more widespread cost it exacts from millions in fear; fear that can turn us into a nation o f captives. . . fear that can make us afraid to walk the city streets by night or public parks by day. These are costs a truly free people cannot tolerate.” In Britain, the number o f indictable offences known to the police has trebled, from 4 00,000 to 1,2 0 0 ,0 0 0 in less than 12 years. Year after year, the highest rates of increase are in the age groups from 14 to 2 1 . W ho are the criminals? N ot, in general, peo­ ple lost in poverty and unemployment; but people in some kind of




re v o lt; o r p e o p le fo r w h o m the strain s o f life have become intoler­ ab le. T h e re are o th e r re a c tio n s to stra in , other forms of escapism: drug ad d ictio n , fo r in stan ce , o r m en tal breakdow n. According to estim ates p ro d u ce d b y the c h a irm a n o f the N ational Association fo r M e n ta l H e a lth in B rita in , “ o n e in e ve ry nine g irls ag e d s ix n o w w ill enter a mental hospi­ tal at som e tim e in h er life , an d one am ong every fourteen six-ye ar-o ld b o y s .” I sh all n ot w e a ry y o u w ith a co m p le te listing of all forms of b re a k d o w n an d e scap ism — a ll o f them rap id ly increasing. The g en erally accessib le fac ts su g g e st th at T aw n e y m ay not have been fa r w ro n g w h en he asserted th a t to p u rsu e efficiency as a primary ob ject w ill p ro d u ce such in efficien cies as to destroy efficiency itself, o r w h en he w a rn e d us th at un less econom ic life satisfied cri­ teria w h ich w ere n ot p u re ly eco n o m ic, it w o u ld be “ paralysed by recurrent re v o lts” .. E con om ic g ro w th is: n o an tid o te to these om inous manifesta­ tions. If p ursued as a p rim a ry aim , i f id olized as the most essen­ tial task o f society, it b ears b itter fru it an d tends to defeat itself. Set it up as the suprem e n a tio n a l ob jective, and you will in e vitab ly p ro m o te greed , im p atien ce, ruthlessness and envy, d estroyin g those fu n d am e n tal virtu e s w ith o u t which no society can fu n ction satisfac to rily. Econ om ic gro w th , in itself, is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It all depends o n w h a t is g ro w in g and w hat is being dis­ placed or destroyed, N e v e r has it been m ore necessary than in our time to apply distinctions and use discrim ination. Unlimited science and unlim ited engineering are pu ttin g ever m ore powerful forces at the disposal o f som ebody. W h o are these somebodys? What are they doing w ith these forces? W h at m otivates them? Are they good men or evil m en, or perhaps in differen t m en prim arily concerned w ith pursuing their o w n careers? If they are given the simple and crude objective o f “ faster econom ic g ro w th ” , can they distinguish between healthy and un h ealthy g ro w th ? D o they care for their fello w men? D o they care fo r G od -given N atu re or do they think o f it as a quarry fo r exploitation ? D o they kn o w the truth of what St. Thom as A quinas said 7 0 0 years ago and w ould no doubt repeat today, that the smallest m osquito is m ore w onderful and mysterious



than anything made by man? An attempt to answer these questions leads one to facts which are far from reassuring. The spirit o f violence and impatience has invaded wide ranges o f scientific w o rk , producing a flood of inno­ vations of an increasingly dangerous character. The pressures of rivalry, competition and am bition are such that only the minimum of time is allowed fo r an exam in ation o f consequences. The God-given environment is subjected to unlimited degradation until the legislator steps in, norm ally at a very late stage, to stop the grossest abuses. This ruthless application o f partial knowledge, stimulated by impatient demands fo r faster grow th , quicker returns, and greater speed, now constitutes such a direct threat to hum an health and happiness that even quite ordin ary people, w ithout knowledge o f the scientific details, are lookin g into the future w ith a deep, often sub-conscious dread. The idolaters o f grow th, o f course, treat this dread with ridicule, contem pt, and hatred; but that does not help; on the contrary, it m erely drives it deeper. Why are teenagers and juveniles show ing the highest grow th rates in crime and other sym ptom s o f revolt, escapism , or break­ down? Is it because they h ave the longest future to dread? C an w e take it lightly that so m any o f them n o w refer to their participation in adult life as “ joining the rat ra c e ” ? T here could hardly be a greater sign o f hum an failu re than this. When people set out to build the T o w e r o f B abel to reach the very sky, the Lord allow ed them to fa ll into confusion. We live, indeed, in confusing tim es. T h e R e lig io n o f Econom ics has con­ quered almost the entire w o rld , yet in its h ou r o f trium ph increas­ ing numbers o f people— an d the yo u n g in particular— revolt against it by refusing to accept its d isciplines. We preach the virtues of hard work and restraint, w h ile pain tin g utopian pictures o f unlimited consumption w ith o u t either w o rk o r restraint. We com ­ plain when an appeal fo r g reater e ffo rt m eets w ith the ungracious reply: “ I couldn’t care le ss” , w h ile p ro m o tin g dream s about automation to do aw a y w ith m an u al w o rk and ab out the com put­ er to relieve men from the burden o f using their brains. W hen a minority will be “ able to feed, m ain tain an d su p p ly the m ajority, it makes no sense to keep in the p ro d u ctio n stream those w h o have no desire to be in it” , said a recen t R e ith lecturer. M a n y there are



who have no desire to be in it, because the work they have to do is of no interest to them, provides them with neither challenge nor satisfaction, and has no other merit in their eyes than that it leads to a pay packet at the end o f the week. If our intellectual leaders treat work as nothing but a necessary evil, soon to be abolished as far as the majority is concerned, the urge to minimise it right away is hardly a surprising reaction. A recent book on ‘Religious Faith and Twentieth Century Man’ demonstrates our confusions in an almost comical fashion. It opens with the normal flourishes: “ Twentieth Century man no longer has the same sense of his own inadequacy and helplessness as his fore­ bears had. . . he feels himself, as never before, the master of his fate, and is intent, by his own efforts. . . on creating a better world” . It then proceeds to a lament about increasing uncertainty of how to create order out of the modern chaos. “We now live,” says the author, “ in an age of huge impersonal groupings... more and more reducing people to things. . . Everywhere man is faced with hugeness, in which he is a mere impersonal unit and which he cannot control.5’ The former statement is the myth maintained by intellectuals out of touch with ordinary people; the latter describes accurately what the majority of Twentieth Century men experience in their daily lives. And as Tawney pointed out forty years ago: “ Since even quite common men have souls, no increase in materi­ al wealth will compensate them for arrangements which insult their self-respect and impair their freedom.” It is the task o f scientists to discover the laws of nature; of inventors to invent; o f industrialists to set up and organise useful production; and o f government to govern. But none of these activ­ ities, no matter how specialised, can be wholesome unless carried on by people who take full responsibility for their actions, being imbued with a fully developed sense o f the sacredness of all exis­ tence—a knowledge that they have not made the world and have not made themselves. N o one can be a specialist without also being a man, and man has responsibilities which are wider than those arising from his specialised pursuits It is absurd to claim absolute rights for anything contingent, be it science, power, or economic growth, and the inevitable result of absurdity is confusion. No way out of confusion exists, except by the patient and generous rebuild­ ing of a true order of priorities, a true scale of values.



To do this, I believe, is the task o f Christians, wherever life may have placed them. They are not against economic growth any more than they would be against science or government. But they are against the Zeitgeist which tends to make idols of these contingent things. They are critical, not o f this subject or that, but of the spir­ it that informs the specialists w orking in their chosen fields. If that spirit is impatient, violent, ungenerous, or narrow, the fruits will be poisoned, no matter w hat the initial appearances might suggest. Do you wish me to give specific examples? I shall give three. A spirit of violence of the most ruthless kind has invaded man’s agri­ cultural activities. It has been courageously and brilliantly exposed intwo publications by wom en, M iss Rachel Carson and M rs. Ruth Harrison in their books Silent Spring and Animal Machines. The arguments that followed the publication o f these books have been highly instructive. They seldom rose above the level of technical discussion or sentimentality. “ D on’t worry, where there are bene­ fits, there is always a price to be paid. After all, what do these lay-people know about such highly technical matters anyhow?— Who can prove that animals suffer when kept in darkened boxes all their lives and fed a deficiency diet to make their flesh, whiter?—Insecticides and pesticides are essential to modern agri­ culture and, a few accidents or abuses apart, can never do any harm—If the balance o f nature is upset, if wildlife suffers, if insects or germs develop new resistant strains: scientific progress will know how to cope with any eventually.” It is truly a case of the bland leading the blind. Yet one does not have to be an expert to see a spirit of violence at w o rk w hich puts man in a w rongful relationship with G od’s creation. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that modern factory farm ing has about it an air of baseness bordering on criminality. A n d this at a time w hen increasing numbers of people are m aking alm ost desperate efforts to find relief from city strain by an escape into the countryside. They are feeling, as Lewis H erber put it, “ a grow in g need to restore the normal, balanced, and m anageable rhythms o f human life” — that is, an environment in w hich the violence o f mechanical gigantism is replaced by the gentle patience o f natural, biological processes. The spirit of impatience and violence ruled the earlier phases of the industrial revolution in an appalling fashion and is still endemic in modern industry. This is inevitably so, and it w ould be futile to



complain about it. Every Christian in industry knows it and suffers from it. But he can nevertheless w ork for its mitigation. The prob%

lem of how to humanise w ork, how to restore the human group structure to industrial organisation, is certainly a difficult one. Some tendencies in modern technology, such as decentralised power, are helpful, others are inimical. One can try and favour the former and resist the latter. Computers, which all too easily could promote gigantism, can also be used to decentralise operations into human-scale group activities. An intensive study of these possibili­ ties, I believe, should be a prim ary concern of Christian men. But it is quite clear that the urgent and necessary work along these lines will not be done if the exclusive concern of industry is held to be efficiency. On a still wider canvas, we notice a heedless spirit of violence with regard to the natural resources needed for industrial produc­ tion. Fuel resources furnish the outstanding example. We do not make them but take them out of Nature’s larder. What we have taken, is gone; and if we take ruthlessly, going only for what is cheapest to take, we spoil even more than we take. We do not have the patience to be conservationists. As George Kennan once put it, we behave as if we had no past and no future. The obligation on the Christian in this economic age is to keep his eyes open and recognise the evils which result from an inverted order of priorities. He is not against science, power, or wealth, as I have said already. But he knows that these are means, and not ends, and are of value only if they serve man—that strange, undefinable being about whom we know so much and yet so little. One thing we do know about him on the highest authority, namely, that it shall profit him nothing to gain the whole world if, in the process, he loses his soul.

Vol 2 No j , Jan-Feb 1969

C h apter i o

Technology & Political Change FEWpeople deny that technological change has political conse­ quences; yet equally few people seem to realise that the present ‘system’, in the widest sense is the product of technology and can­ not be significantly changed unless technology is changed. The question may be asked: W hat is it that has produced mod­ emtechnology? Various answers can be given. We may go back to the Renaissance, or even further, to the arising of Nominalism, and point to certain changes in Western man’s attitude to religion, sci­ ence, Nature, and society, which then apparently released the intel­ lectual energies for modern technological development. M arx and Engels gave a more direct explanation: the rising power of the bourgeoisie, that is, ‘the class o f modern capitalist, owners of the means of social production, and employers of wage labour’ . “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the m otley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’, and has left no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’ . . . It compels all nations, on pain o f extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production. The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enorm ous cities . . . has agglomerated population, centralised means o f production, and has concen­ trated property in a few hands.” If the bourgeoisie did all this, w hat enabled it to do so? The answer cannot be in doubt: the creation of modern technologies. Once a process o f technological development has been set in motion it proceeds largely by its ow n momentum irrespective of the intentions of its originators. It demands an appropriate system, for inappropriate systems spell inefficiency and failure. Whoever created modern technology, fo r w hatever purpose, this technology




or, to use the Marxian term, these modes of production, now demand a system that suits them, that is appropriate to them. As our modern society is unquestionably in crisis, there must be something that does not fit: (a) If overall performance is poor despite brilliant technology, maybe the ‘system’ does not fit. (b) Or maybe the technology itself does not fit present-dayreal­ ities, including human nature. W hich o f the tw o is it? T h is is a very crucial question. The assum ption most generally m et is that the technology is all right— or can be put right at a m om ent’s notice— but that the ‘system’ is so faulty, it cannot cope: “ M odern bourgeois society with its relations o f production, o f exchange and o f property, a society that has con­ jured up such gigantic means o f production and o f exchange, is like the sorcerer w ho is no longer able to control the powers of the nether w orld whom he has called up by his spells .. . The conditions o f bourgeois society are too n arrow to com prise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by the enforced destruction o f a mass of productive forces; on the other; by the conquest o f new markets and by the more thorough exploitation o f the old ones. That is to say, by paving the w ay for more extensive and m ore destructive crises, and by diminishing the means by w hich crises are prevented.” (Marx and Engels: M anifesto o f the Com m unist Party, 1848). The culprit is the Capitalist System, the Profit System , the Market System, 01; alternatively, nationalisation, bureaucracy, democracy, planning or the incompetence o f the bosses. In short: w e have a splendid train but a bad track or a rotten driver or a lot o f stupid, unruly passen­ gers. M aybe all this is quite true, except that w e do not have such a splendid train at all. M ayb e w hat is m ost w rong is that which has been and continues to be the strongest form ative force—the tech­ nology itself. If our technology has been created mainly by the capitalist system, is it not probable that it bears the marks of its origin, a technology for the few at the expense o f the masses, a technology of exploitation, a technology that is class-orientated, undemocratic, j inhuman, and also unecological and non-conservationist? I never cease to be astonished at the docility with which people— * even those who call themselves Socialists or M arxists__accept



technology, uncritically, as if technology were a part of Natural Law. As an example o f this ‘docility* we may take the Prime Minister of Iran who is reported to have said in a recent interview (To the Point International, January 1 1 , 1976): “There are many aspects o f the West that we particularly wish to avoid in the industrialisation of Iran. We seek the West’s technology only; not its ideology. What we wish to avoid is an ideological transplant.” The implicit assumption is that you can have a technological transplant without getting at the same time an ideological trans­ plant; that technology is ideologically neutral; that you can acquire the hardware without the software that lies behind it, has made the hardware possible, and keeps it moving. Is this not a bit like say­ ing: I want to import eggs for hatching, but I don’t want chicks from them but mice or kangaroos’ ! I do not wish to overstate the case; there is nothing absolutely clear-cut in this world and, no doubt, many different tunes can be played on the same piano, but whatever is played it will be piano music. I agree with the general meaning of Marx’s rhetorical ques­ tion: “Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views, and conceptions— in a word, man’s consciousness— changes (he does not say: is totally determined) with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?” It is a great error to overlook or to underestimate the effects of the ‘modes of production’ upon people’s lives, not just their ‘standard of living’ : • how they produce; what they produce; • where they work; where they live; whom they meet • how they relax or ‘recreate’ themselves; what they eat, breathe, and see; • and therefore what they think, their freedom or their depen­ dence. Adam Smith was under no illusion about the effects of the ‘mode of production* on the worker: “ The understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a




few simple operations. . . has no occasion to exert his understanding. . , H e naturally loses, therefore, the habit o f such exertion and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become . . . but in every improved and civilised society this is the state into w hich the labouring poor, that is, the great body o f the people, m ust necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.” M a rx , w ho quotes A dam Sm ith, adds the comment that “some crippling o f body and mind is inseparable even from division of labour in society as a w hole. Since, however, manufacture carries this . . . much further and also, by its peculiar division, attacks the individual at the very roots o f his life, it is the first to afford the m aterials for, and give start to industrial pathology.” And he quotes his contem porary, D . U rquhart, w ho says: “ The subdivision o f labour is the assassination o f a people.” People still say: it is not the technology: it is the ‘system’. Maybe a particular ‘system ’ gave birth to this technology: but now it stares us in the face that the system w e have is the product, the inevitable product, o f the technology. A s I com pare the societies which appear to have different ‘system s’, the evidence seems to be over­ whelm ing that w here they em ploy the sam e technology they act very much the same and become m ore alike every day. Mindless w ork in office or factory is equally mindless under any system. I suggest therefore that those w h o w an t to promote a better society, achieve a better system , m ust not confine their activities to attempts to change the ‘superstructure’— law s, rules, agreements, taxes, w elfare, education, health services, etc. The expenditure incurred in trying to buy a better society can be like pouring money into a bottomless pit. I f there is no change in the base—which is technology— there is unlikely to be any real change in the super­ structure. People say to me: before you can m ake headway with your ‘Intermediate Technology’ you m ust first change the system, do aw ay with capitalism and the profit m otive, dissolve the multina­ tionals, abolish all bureaucracies, and reform education. All I can reply is: I know o f no better w a y o f changing the ‘system’ than by putting into the w orld a new type o f technology— technologies by which small people can m ake themselves productive and relatively independent.



During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries technology just grew like Topsy. Increasingly, how ever, it became the outgrowth of Science. Today, its p rim ary derivation is from Science; in fact, it appears that Science is to d ay m ain ly valued for its technological fruits. Starting, then, w ith Science, the question m ay be raised: what determines the course o f Science5? T here is alw ays more that could bestudied than can be studied: so there is need for choice, and how is it made? By the interests o f scientists? Yes, unquestionably. By the interests o f big business and governm ent ? Surely yes. By the interests o f ‘the people5? O n the w hole, no! The people have fairly sim ple requirements to meet for which hardly any additional science is needed. (It could be that an entire­ ly different kind of science w ould really benefit the people; but that is another matter. ) Moving on from Science to Technology, there is again far more that could be done than can be done. The choice is endless. Who deddes or what decides? Scientific findings can be used for, ‘incar­ nated in’, countless different ‘shapes5 o f technology, but new tech­ nologies are developed only w hen people o f pow er and wealth back the development. In other w ords, the new technologies will be in the image of the system that brings them forth, and they will reinforce the system. If the system is ruled by giant enterprises— whether privately or publicly ow ned— the new technologies will tend to be ‘gigantic5 in one w a y or another^ designed for ‘massive breakthroughs5, at m assive cost, dem anding extreme specialisa­ tion, promising a m assive im pact— no matter how violent— ‘we shall know how to cope w ith the consequences5. The slogan is: ‘a breakthrough a day keeps the crisis at b ay5. We hear of ‘white hot technological revolu tion 5, the N u cle a r A ge, the Age of Automation, the Space Age, fantastic feats o f engineering, super­ sonic triumphs, all that; but m any o f the most basic needs of great masses of people, such as housing, cannot be taken care of. The most telling example, o f course, is the most advanced society of the modern world, the United States. Average income per head is over twice that of Britain or Western Europe, and yet there is more degrading poverty the States than you can ever see in Europe;



5.6 % o f the w orld p o p u latio n using som ething like 35% of the w o rld ’s output o f ra w m aterials— and not a happy place: great w ealth in some places but utter m isery, degradation hopelessness, strife, criminality, escapism , sickness o f body and mind almost everywhere; it is hard to get a w a y fro m it. H o w is it possible—in a country that has m ore resou rces, m ore science and technology than anybody ever had in hum an h isto ry? People are questioning every­ thing, every part o f the superstructure— big business, big govern­ ment, big academia; and very grad u ally, hesitantly, at long last they are beginning to question the basis o f it all— technology. Technology Assessm ent G ro u p s have sprung up in various places; they ‘assess’ technological developm ents mainly in the light of three questions: • What does it do in term s o f resource usage? • What does it do to the Environm ent? • What is its socio-political relevance ? Concorde did not fare w ell under their scrutiny. They concluded that it was wasteful o f scarce resources, environmentally burden­ some and even dangerous and socio-politically irrelevant. It may none the less be described as a m arvellous achievement of AngloFrench engineering. Let us follow through a fe w o f the structural effects of modem technology. Its effect on the nature o f w o rk has already been referred to. It is, 1 believe, the greatest destructive force in modem society. What could be m ore destructive than the destruction of people’s understanding? M atters have not improved since Adam Smith’s time; on the contrary, the relentless elimination of creative work for the great m ajority o f the population has proceeded apace. What has been the effect o f m odern technology upon the pattern o f human settlement? T h is is a ve ry interesting subject which has received hardly any attention. P rofessor Kingsley Davis, worldfamous authority on urban isation , says: “ The world as a whole is not fully urbanised, but it soon w ill b e .” H e, like the UN and the World Bank, produces indices o f urbanisation showing the per­ centage of the population o f different countries living in urban areas (above a certain size). T h e interesting point is that these indices entirely miss the interesting point. N o t the degree but the pattern of urbanisation is the cru x o f the matter. Human life, to be





fully human, needs the city; but it also needs food and other raw materials gained from the country. Everybody needs ready access toboth countryside and city. It fo llow s that the aim must be a pat­ ternof urbanisation so that every rural area has a nearby city, near enough so that people can visit it and be back the same day. N o other pattern makes human sense. Actual developments during the last 10 0 years or so, however, have been in the exactly opposite direction: the rural areas have been increasingly deprived o f access to w orthw hile cities. There has been a monstrous and highly pathological polarisation o f the pattern of settlements. The French planners fight against France becoming ‘Paris surrounded by a desert’; in the United States they have coined the term ‘m egalopolis’ to describe the vast conurba­ tions which have arisen w hile the life has been seeping out o f small and medium-sized country tow ns. There is ‘Bosw ash’ , extending fromBoston to Washington DC; there is ‘Chicpitts’, a conurbation stretching from Chicago to Pittsburgh: and there is ‘Sansan’, from San Francisco to San Diego. Even in the United Kingdom , often referred to as a tightly packed little island, the pattern o f settle­ ment is extraordinarily lop-sided, w ith more than h alf the area grossly under-populated and large parts o f the other half m adly congested. Do you remember this socialist demand, form ulated more than 100 years ago?— Combination of agriculture w ith manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between tow n and country by a more equable distribution o f the population over the coun­ try. (Communist Manifesto , 18 4 8 ). And what has happened during those more than 10 0 years? O f course the exact opposite. And w hat is expected to happen during the next twenty-five years to the end o f the century? Again the exact opposite, with a vengeance. N o t urbanisation but, to use a word as dreadful as the phenomenon it denotes, megalopolitanisahow, a movement that produces as we know only too well utterly insoluble political, social, m oral, psychological and economic Problems. A paper issued by the World Bank speaks of: “ the despondency Grounding the task of am eliorating urban conditions in the



developing countries (which) arises primarily from the speedof urban growth and shortage of resources, human as well as finan­ cial. .. Urban administration is woefully lacking in capacity todeal with the problems... Yet within less than twenty years thepresent populations and areas of urban centres will account for less thana third of the total.” The paper asks whether there is a possibility“of accelerating the development of small and medium-size towns or creating new urban growth centres” . But it loses little timeindis­ missing this possibility: “Most small urban centres. . . lack the basic infrastructure of transport and services... Management and professional staff are unwilling to move from the major cities.” This tells the whole story: “Management and staff are unwillingto move from the major city!” The proposition, evidently, is totrans­ plant into a small place the technology which has been developed in such a way that it fits only a very large place. The peopleinthe small place cannot cope with it; management and staff havetobe imported from the ‘major cities’; no one wants to come becausethe proposition does not make economic sense. The technology is inappropriate and that means the whole project is uneconomic. With a name like mine I find it easy to understand that tobea good shoemaker it is not enough to know a lot about making shoes; you also have to know about feet. The shoe made for thebig fellow does not fit the foot of the little fellow. The small foot needs a different shoe, not an inferior one but one of the right size. Modern technology, generally speaking, makes good shoes onlyfor big fellows. It is geared to mass production; it is highly sophisti­ cated and enormously capital-costly. Of course it does not fit any­ where but in or near the biggest cities or megalopolitan areas. The simple answer to this problem does not seem to have occurred to many people. It is: let us mobilise at least a small part of our intellectual and other resources to create a technology that does fit the smaller places. Incredible amounts of money are being spent in trying tocope with the relentless growth of megalopolitan areas and intryingto infuse new life into ‘development areas’. But if you say: “spenda little bit of money on the creation of technologies that fit thegiven conditions of development areas” people accuse you of wantingto take themback into the Middle Ages. One thing, however, can be asserted with confidence: unless

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suitable appropriate technologies fo r efficient production outside the main conurbations are created, the destructive tendencies of ‘megalopolitanisation’ w ill continue to operate with all that this implies socially, p o litically , m o ra lly , environm entally, and resource-wise. Having traced the effect o f m odern technology upon the nature of work and the pattern o f hum an settlement, let us now consider a third example, a highly p olitical one, its effect on human free­ dom. It is undoubtedly a tricky subject. W hat is freedom? Instead of going into long philosophical disquisitions, let us ask the more or less rebellious young w h at they are looking for. Their negations are such as these: I don’t want to join the rat race. Not be enslaved by m achines, bureaucracies, boredom, ugli­ ness. I don’t want to become a m oron, robot, commuter. I don’t want to become a fragm ent o f a person. Their affirmations? ■ I want to do my ow n thing. I want to live (relatively) simply. I want to deal with people, not m asks. People matter. Nature m atters. Beauty matters. Wholeness matters. I want to be able to care. All this I call a longing fo r freedom . Why has so much freedom been lost? Some people say: “Nothing has been lost, but people are asking for more than before.” Whichever w ay it is, there is a gap between supply and demand of this most precious thing— freedom. H as technology anything to do with this? The size and com plexity o f organisations certainly has a great deal to do w ith it. Why is the trend o f the last 1 0 0 years tow ards bigger and big­ ger units? Nobody except a few m onom aniac tycoons likes them. Why do we have to have them? The invariable answer is: because of technological progress. And w h y don’t our engineers produce technological progress in another direction: towards smallness


«SG THIS I BELIEVE • towards simplicity • towards capital-cheapness • towards technological non-violence? If we ask the engineers, the answer is: “ Because nobody has

ever asked us for it.” And if you ask: “ Can it be done?”, the answer is: “ Of course it can be done if there is a demand for it.” Not very long ago I visited a famous institution developingtex­ tile machinery. The impression is overwhelming. The latest and best machines, it seemed to me, can do everything I could possibly imagine; in fact, more than I could imagine before I saw them. “ You can now do everything,” I said to the professor who was taking me around, “ w hy don’t you stop, call it a day?” My friendly guide did indeed stop in his tracks: “My good­ ness!” be said “ what do you mean? You can’t stop progress. I have all these clever people around me who can still think of improve­ ments. You don’t expect me to suppress good ideas? What’s wrong with progress?” % “ Only that the price per machine, which is already around the £100,000 mark, will rise to £ 15 0 ,0 0 0 .” “ But what’s wrong with that?” he demanded. “The machine will be 50% dearer but at least 60% better.” “ Maybe,” I replied, “ but also that much more exclusive tothe rich and powerful. Have you ever reflected on the political effect of what you are doing?” Of course, he had never given it a thought. But he was much disturbed; he saw the point at once. “ I can’t stop,” he pleaded. “ Of course you can’t stop. But you can do something all the same: you can strive to create a counterweight a counterforce, namely, efficient small-scale technology for the little people. What are you in fact doing for the little people?” “Nothing.” I talked to him about what I call the ‘Law of the Disappearing Middle’ . In technological development, when it is drifting along, outside conscious control, all ambition and creative talent goes to the frontier, the only place considered prestigious and exciting. Development proceeds fro m Stage 1 to Stage 2, and when it moves on to Stage 3 , Stage 2 drop s out; w hen it moves on to Stage 4, Stage 3 drops out and so on.





It is not difficult to observe the process. The ‘better’ is the enemy of the good and makes the good disappear even if most peo­ ple cannot afford the better for reasons of Money, Market, Management or whatever it might be. Those who cannot afford to keep pace drop out and are left w ith nothing but Stage 1 technol­ ogy. If, as a farmer, you cannot afford a tractor and a combine har­ vester, where can you get efficient animal-drawn equipment for these jobs—the kind o f equipment I m yself used thirty-five years ago? Hardly anywhere. So you cannot stay in farming. The hoe and the sickle remain readily available; the latest and the best—for those who can afford it— is also readily available. But the middle, the intermediate technology, disappears. Where it does not disap­ pear altogether it suffers from total neglect— no improvements, no benefits from any new knowledge, antiquated, unattractive, etc. The result of all this is a loss o f freedom. The power of the rich and powerful becomes ever more all-embracing and systematic. The free and independent ‘middle class’ capable o f challenging the monopolistic power o f the rich disappears in step with the ‘disap­ pearing middle’ o f technology. (There remains a middle class of managerial and professional servants o f the rich organisations; they cannot challenge anything.) Production and incomes become concentrated in fewer and few er hands or organisations or bureau­ cracies—a tendency w hich redistributive taxation plus everincreasing welfare payments frantically try to counteract— and the rest of mankind have to haw k themselves around to find a ‘slot’ provided by the rich, into w hich they might fit. The First Commandment is: Thou shalt adapt thyself. To what? To the avail­ able ‘slots’. And if there are not enough o f them available, you are left unemployed. N ever previously having done your own thing, it is unlikely that you w ill have the ability to do it now, and in any case the technology that could help you to do your own thing effi­ ciently cannot be found. What is the answ er’ ? The ‘ L a w o f the Disappearing M iddle’ in technology has to be counteracted by conscious work , namely by the development o f ‘interm ediate technologies’ striving for • smallness • simplicity • capital-cheapness



• non-violence The fourth criterion, being somewhat different in kind fromthe first three, may require some further elucidation. To cite an extreme example, consider the political implications of the most violent technology ever developed, nuclear energy—‘peaceful’ nuclear energy. Consider the security measures required when plu­ tonium and other radioactive material becomes ubiquitous as it will if present plans for nuclear expansion are implemented. These terrible substances must never leak into the environment; must never get out of control in any w ay; and must never fall into the wrong hands—of blackmailers, terrorists, political desperados or suicidal maniacs. There will be a continuous flow of traffic criss­ crossing the country, taking these materials through their various stages of processing and use— and nothing must ever go seriously wrong. The connection between technology and freedom is obvi­ ous and it is not difficult to see that the price of freedom, or at least an important part of it, is the avoidance o f violent technologies.

Vol 7 No 4, Sept-0ct 1976

the dependence of the modern world on fossil fuels. A s these fuels are non-renewable and consti­ tute a once-for-all endowm ent o f the earth, their availability in terms of quantity, and therefore also o f time, is limited, and it must give rise to increasingly serious concern that the modern economy seems to be inexorably geared to a continuous, exponential growth in its requirement for them. In 1 9 7 1 — the latest year for which global statistics have been assembled— total w orld energy con­ sumption amounted to 7,2.60 m illion tons o f coal equivalent, near­ ly 300 million tons more than in 19 7 0 , and o f this total oil and natural gas accounted fo r 64 percent, solid fuel for 34 percent, and primary electricity (i.e. hydroelectricity and nuclear energy) for two percent. Thus fossil fuels, w hich strictly speaking are non-reproducible ‘capital’ , supplied 98 percent of all requirements, while reproducible ‘income fuels’ supplied only tw o percent. It can be argued that this understates the contribution o f the latter; by the application of different conversion factors, ‘ income fuels’ could be shown to contribute six percent o f the total. But this does not alter the basic situation o f virtually total dependence on ‘capital’ . The geographical distribution o f fossil fuel reserves as well as that of fuel demand, exacerbates the situation. From the point of view of demand versus resources, the w orld m ay be divided into four groups of countries— G rou p 1 w ith high consumption rates and large indigenous resources; G roup 2 w ith high consumption rates and small resources; G rou p 3 w ith low consumption rates and large resources; G roup 4 w ith low consum ption rates and small resources. The outstanding representatives o f Group 2. are Western Europe and Jap an , w hile the United States of America is


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o f Group 3 are increasingly becoming aware of their immense bar­ gaining power—which they have solidified by setting up OPEC, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and they are also becoming aware of the enormous difficulties encountered in developing an alternative livelihood for their populations, to be available when their oil reserves run out. Having discovered that the demand for their oil is virtually inelastic even at steeply rising prices, they can obtain more money by releasing less oil, and many of them already find themselves with a greater foreign exchange income than they can spend on imports. What are they to do with their cash surpluses? They are gradually coming to the conclusion that the best long-term investment for them may be to leave the oil in the ground and release it only at the rate determined by their for­ eign exchange needs. These developments, so far gradual but none the less implacable, are placing the countries o f Group 2 in a posi­ tion of immediate danger. N o one can predict how soon severe supply curtailments will set in, but this is no reason for pretending that all is well for ‘the foreseeable future’. N or can anyone say with certainty what the ‘ultimate reserves’ of fossil fuels might be. Calculations about ulti­ mate reserves, which normally include even the hydrocarbons con­ tained in shales and tar sands, only serve to divert attention from the immediate dangers. AH new developments— as we have seen with nuclear energy—have a ‘lead time’ extending over decades rather than years before they can be brought to a quantitatively relevant scale. In this connection scale is decisive, and it should never be forgotten that the annual incrementTn the world’s fossil fuel requirements is a magnitude counted in many hundreds of mil­ lions of tons of coal equivalent. Even if there is no question of a total and permanent stop in the flow o f oil supplies from the OPEC countries, a temporary interruption due to political factors, or a significant permanent reduction could play havoc with the economies of Group 2 countries and cause a degree of paralysis and disorder from which it might be extremely difficult to recover. In view of these basic facts, here only very broadly sketched, there is now a growing realisation in Western Europe, Japan, and other countries of Group 2 o f the need to search for new ‘energy policies’. In principle, such policies w ould fall into two classes— those designed to enlarge alternative sources o f supply and those



designed to reduce demand. Let us first look at the demand side. Needless to say, steeply rising oil prices w ill, to some extent, cur­ tail demand, but, as already mentioned, fuel demand is highly inelastic, because fuel is primarily a means o f production for which

there is no substitute and no possibility o f recycling, so that going without fuel means going without production . The most expensive fuel, one might say, is the fuel one cannot get when one needs it. There are, of course, m any possibilities o f improving the technical efficiency of fuel and energy utilisation, which during the era of cheap fossil fuel supplies have been som ewhat neglected. But it would be fanciful to attribute to these possibilities a decisive quan­ titative significance: their realisation requires very large capital investments—as for instance in the utilisation o f waste heat from existing power stations— and w hat is more, a great deal o f time. There is no realistic possibility for improvements in fuel efficiency to do more than slightly reduce the rate o f increase in total fuel and energy demand. To try and do so is, o f course, helpful; but it can­ not be expected to make more than a m arginal contribution. The

question needs to be asked: What accounts for the extraordinarily high level of fuel and energy consumption in the so-called advanced countries, while traditional societies seem to be able to get along with very small fuel inputs indeed? The answer normal­ ly given simply refers to the higher level o f income of the former. But this answer is too superficial. Take, for instance, the produc­ tion and consumption o f foodstuffs. In ‘advanced’ societies the production process requires fuel and energy inputs which are a high multiple of those required by traditional societies, although food consumption levels are not very much higher in the former than in (some of) the latter. A study o f these situations provides some valuable pointers. Sim ilar pointers can be obtained from his­ torical analysis. During the last twenty-five years, for instance, the fuel requirements o f agriculture in the advanced countries, includ­ ing the fuel requirements o f agricultural inputs as well as those of food processing have increased by a far higher factor than the increase in agricultural output. Why is it that agriculture— per unit o f output— has become so enormously more ‘fuel dependent’ ? The answ er can be found only in the emergence of:

1 1 2.


• new patterns of production; • new patterns of consumption; and • new patterns in the geographical distribution of populations. American studies have shown the enormous dependence of American agriculture on fossil fuels. “ Harvested crops capture solar energy and store it as food or some other useful product. Yet the energy captured is small compared to the energy we burn to capture it. Agriculture, has become a major consumer of our stores o f energy, using more petroleum than any other single industry. If the world is facing a future with rising energy prices the highly mechanised technology currently used in US agriculture may be inappropriate.” 1 Professor Barry Commoner has given some telling figures: “ In 19 4 9, an average o f about 11,0 0 0 tons of fertilizer nitrogen were used per. . . unit o f crop production, while in 1968 about 57,000 tons of nitrogen were used for the same crop yield. This means that the efficiency with which nitrogen contributes to the growth of the crop declined fivefold.” 2 During the same period, the U S population increased by 34 per­ cent; total US agricultural production rose by 45 percent; the annual use o f fertilizer nitrogen increased by 648 percent, and the har­ vested area declined by 16 percent.3 During a similar period, between 19 4 6 and 1 9 7 1 , the proportion o f the American working population engaged in agriculture fell from 14 percent to 4.4 percent. It is in these changes in the pattern o f production, not in any inefficiency o f fuel utilisation in mechanical equipment or chemical factories, that an explanation o f agriculture’s enormous dependence on fossil fuels must be sought. The patterns o f consumption have been changing in a similar way. In the advanced countries, very little food reaches the con­ sumer in its natural state. Virtually all foodstuffs are elaborately processed, packaged, and transported over long distances. With the growth of specialised mass production, consumption has become widely separated from production— and all this requires prodi­ gious amounts of cheap mechanical and process energy. While agriculture serves as a particularly telling example, because human food consumption is biologically limited and does



not grow significantly w ith grow ing affluence, the same tendencies can be observed in industry and, in fact, in all other parts of the modern economy. They are being further promoted by changing patterns in the geographical distribution o f populations, of which urbanisation is the most im portant. Everywhere, most glaringly in the developing countries, fossil fuel consumption rates per capita are highest in the big cities, and this applies to all sectors— domes­ tic, industrial, transport, public utilities, etc. Although specific sta­ tistical information is hard to com e by, it can hardly be doubted that within each country there is a highly positive correlation between per capita fuel consum ption and ‘density’ . It follows from these con siderations, and from the factual evidence, that a significant reduction in the dependence of a modern society on fuel supplies can be achieved only by means of the evolution of a new life-style— w ith new patterns of produc­ tion, new patterns o f consum ption, and new patterns as regards the geographical distribution o f the population. Inasmuch as the present-day life-style has been shaped largely by modern technology, it would seem unlikely that a different life-style could emerge without the conscious and deliberate creation o f new ‘styles of technology’. Before considering this matter w e have, however, to have a look at the supply side: W hat are the possibilities o f developing alterna­ tive sources of fuel supply to fill the gap if oil should become scarce? When this question is raised, people are inclined to point tothe allegedly unlimited possibilities o f nuclear energy. As long as no method exists for the safe disposal o f radioactivity; any

large-scale development o f fission energy would be nothing short of suicidal. Such a large-scale development, it must also be empha­ sised, would be possible only on the basis o f breeder-reactors. However^ “ the expected switch to fast breeder reactors will aggra­ vate the situation even further, fo r they produce large quantities of radioactive substances w ith very long half lives.” 4 It has also been observed that “ one o f the m ost disturbing features of nucle­ ar generators in current use is that exhausted reactor cores cannot be dismantled, but must be sealed and buried. . . People are seri­ ously worried about risks o f exposure to radiation, either through accidents of unimaginable dimensions or through the cumulative effect of small doses, directly experienced or indirectly transmitted.” 5



A n d “ breeder reactors are in h eren tly m ore difficult to control b ecau se the process takes p lace m uch faster” * than in any of the reacto rs n o w in use. In v ie w o f these appalling dangers, there is n o w a good deal o f ta lk a b o u t the lim itless possibilities of fusion energy. “ G eneration b y n u cle ar fu sio n produces no radioactive w astes. . . The difficu lty is th at the process only works continu­ o u sly at enorm ously high tem peratures (up to 200 million °C)V W h at the m assive p ro d u ction o f sun temperatures on earth would do to the living environm ent is com pletely unknown; but, in any case, the practical feasib ility o f such a process applied on a quan­ titatively relevant scale has in n o w a y been established, so that no realistic policies can be based on the expectation of its successful im plem entation w ithin the foreseeab le future. The discussion th e refo re tu rn s to the possibility of the large-scale utilisation o f so lar energy and its derivatives, and also o f tidal pow er and geothermic heat. These sources of ‘income energy’ are, o f course, very large, in exhaustib le (with some reservations regarding geotherm ic heat), and extrem ely widely spread over the globe. The difficulty is that, being w idespread they are inherently diffuse and cannot easily be concentrated or centralised into large and continuous supplies, such as the m odern world is used to with fossil fuels. The question o f solar energy immediately raises the

question o f ‘life-style’ as alluded to above. Highly diffuse energy w ould fit only a highly decentralised m ode o f living. We are there­ fore brought back to the p ro po sitio n that the modern world’s dependence on fossil fuels cou ld be significantly reduced only by means o f the developm ent o f n ew ‘styles o f technology’. It is at this point that w e m ight w ith advantage turn our attention to the position o f the T h ird W orld, m ost o f which belongs to Group 4— countries w ith lo w energy consum ption rates and small indigenous fuel resources. T he developm ent policies of the last twenty years have been virtu ally exclu sively based on the assump­ tion that ‘developm ent’ can be m ost speedily achieved by transfer­ ring the high technology o f the rich countries to the Third World. Where this transfer has been effected, the result has been a con­ centration o f developm ent upon big cities; a massive migration of rural populations into these cities w hich consequently have become infested with enorm ous slum s; m ass unemployment; stag­ nation o f life in the rural areas; and sharply in c r e a s in g energy



requirements. The view is now gaining ground that what the Third World needs more urgently than anything else is an ‘appropriate technology', although there is as yet little understanding as to what constitutes ‘appropriateness'. What emerges ever more clearly from the work of the Intermediate Technology Development Group, is that one of the primary criteria of ‘appropriateness’ is ‘small-scale’ . M ost people of the Third World still live in villages and small towns, and they cannot possibly be absorbed into cities. Local markets are generally small, both on account of decenI tralised living and on account of poverty, which means that large-scale mass-production industry cannot economically be fitted into the rural areas. Small markets demand small-scale production units, and these can be viable only on the basis of an efficient small-scale technology. Practical w ork on the development of such technologies has already established their feasibility, provided that the best resources of modern science and technical knowledge are I deployed to this end. In view of the gravity of the energy problem with which the advanced societies of Group z are faced, any work undertaken in this direction cannot but turn out to be of the greatest possible I relevance also to their own problems of survival. People have to have food before they can do anything else; the most urgent need, therefore— whether from the point of view of fighting hunger in the Third W orld today, or of developing new life-styles in the advanced countries to meet possible oil scarcities tomorrow—is a reconsideration o f agricultural methods and policies. At least agriculture should be relatively independent o f fossil fuels, which means independence o f large-scale mechanisa­ tion and intensive chemicalisation. A t least agriculture should be so organised that it can, in case o f crisis, absorb large amounts of labour, thereby giving large numbers o f people the chance of Ip I making a living. There is no branch o f production more suitable I | for the intelligent utilisation o f solar energy and other ‘income ^ I fuels' and also for the system atic practice of ‘recycling’ . N or do / I

we ^ave t0 1° ° ^ ^or entirely ‘ new m odels’ if we want to develop agriculture. M any successful farmers around the world, in rich countries as w ell as in poor, are today obtaining excellent yields w ithout mammoth mechanisation and without using any products o f the chemical and pharmaceutical

/ I atruly self-supporting

j I I I 1 I

ii 6


industries. Their methods are properly attuned to the cycle of nature which, as we all know, requires no other fuel input but that of solar energy. It may seem surprising that a consideration of energy policy has taken us ‘back to the soil’ and thus ‘ back to nature’. But this is quite inevitable if we wish to move from the surface of the prob­ lem to its root. The mortal weakness o f the modern world lies in its alienation from the unalterable facts o f nature, one manifesta­ tion of this alienation being its heedless reliance on fossil fuels. What has been said above is not meant to suggest that putting agri­ culture on a basis o f permanence would, by itself, provide a solu­ tion of the energy problem. It does mean to suggest however, that no solution can be found in terms o f energy technology and eco­ nomics— or energy power politics— alone and that the challenge presented by the energy problem is one of developing a new life-style— a development which logically and inevitably must begin with a change o f our relation to the soil, of which we are a product and which alone sustains our lives.

References i. CBNS Notes, (Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri) Volume 6 ,1, 5 (1973). 2. B. Commoner The Closing Circle (Alfred A Knopf, New York 19 7 1), pp 149-150. 3. ibid. 4. Pollution: Nuisance or Nemesis? (London, HMSO 1972), p 36. 5. Sinews for Survival (London, HMSO 1972), pp 37-38. 6. ibid, p 36.7. ibid, p 36.

Vol 5 N o 3, July-Aug 1974


Chapter i z Ql>

Healthy Development By WAY OF INTRODUCTION, a short report from East Africa: The Dutch manager of the textile plant received me with the greatest courtesy and not at all with the suspicion and irritated resentment I had half expected. “ Another official visitor,” he might well have thought, “ to steal my time and ask more or less irrele­ vant questions.” And, o f course, I w as going to ask plenty of ques­ tions. “This plant, as you w ill see, is highly automated” , he said. “Before you go on,” I interrupted, “ could you just explain one thing to me. As I was coming in I noticed some hundred or so young African men at the factory gates, and armed guards keeping them out. Is this a riot or something?” The Dutchman laughed: “ Oh no! They are always there. They hope that I might sack someone and that they could step into his job.” “So you have quite a bit o f unemployment in this town?” “Yes, terrible.” “Thank you; excuse the interruption. Please carry on.” “This plant, as you w ill see,” said the Dutchman, “ is one of the most modem in East A frica, highly automated. We employ about 500 people, but this is much too much. We hope to get the number down quite considerably as our automated equipment becomes fully operative.” “So there is not much hope fo r the chaps outside?” “No, I am afraid, there isn’t.” “Tell me, what w ould be the total capital value o f a plant like this?” “About £ 1 1 m illion.” “For 500 jobs,” I calculated aloud, “ this means about £3,000 per workplace. That’s a lot o f m oney for a poor country, the sort of capital intensity’ w e have in Western Europe or the United States.”

THIS I BELIEVE 02/ “ Yes indeed,” said my Dutch friend, “ my plant is as modem as you would find anywhere in the w orld .” He must have noticed my astonishment. “ You see,” he continued, “ w e have to be competitive. The qual­ ity demanded today is very high. I cannot afford to send out faulty material. It is terribly difficult to train these people here to work faultlessly, they have no tradition o f industrial discipline. Machines make no mistakes, human beings do. To get a high quality product we must eliminate the human factor.” “ I quite understand,” I said, “ but tell me this: why has this fac­ tory been placed in this small town? Surely, you would be better off, marketwise and in every other respect, in the capital city?” “ Indeed we would. We did not w ant to come here. This was a planning decision of the Government.” “ What was their reasoning?” “Very simple” , he said. “ There is a lot o f unemployment in this region. So we had to come here.” “ I see. And your aim is to eliminate the human factor?” “ Yes” , said the Dutchman. “ I can see there is a conflict here. But I have to make this investment pay. W hat can I do?” The problem is two-fold: how to obtain faster development and how to obtain healthy development. On a superficial view, the two parts of the problem are in conflict; on a deeper view, they are com­ plementary, except in the very short term. Evidence of unhealthy development exists all over the world, including some of the richest countries. It leads to a degradation of people and a ruination of the environment. Development is healthy only if it leads to an upgrading o f people on the widest possible scale and an upgrading o f their environment also on the widest possible scale. What is the main cause o f ‘development’ going wrong? It is the neglect of the geographical (locational) factor. While all develop­ ment work is difficult it is much easier in the big city—normally the capital city—than in the secondary tow ns; in the bigger towns, than in the little towns; and it is most difficult in the rural areas. The free play of economic forces invariably favours the urban as against the rural areas, the big tow ns as against the small. It tends to produce the triple disease o f mass migration into cities, mass unemployment, and the danger o f famine.



M ushrooming cities, surrou nded by ever-growing misery-belts, infested by a largely unem ployed proletariat without nourishment for body or soul can be found all o ver the world. For a rich minor­ ity, they offer the high life o f e xtrav agan t luxury, albeit under the shadow of personal in security o w in g to the prevalence of crime and the sym ptom s o f p olitical instability. For the destitute majori­ ty they offer nothing but d egrad ation . The rural areas, m ean w h ile, tend to sink into ever deeper decay. Every gifted person tries to m igrate into the city, to escape from rural misery, and this irresistible ‘ brain drain’ makes the problems of the rural hinterland ever m ore intractable. At the end of this kind o f ‘developm ent’ lies social chaos, the degradation of man and of his environment. Most developing cou ntries are overw helm ingly agricultural and must obviously give p rim ary em phasis and attention to the devel­ opment and upgrading o f their agriculture. As agriculture cannot be practised in tow n s, it is the ru ral areas that must receive the main emphasis and attention. What kind o f em phasis and attention? It is o f little use to go to semi-literate peasants engaged in prim itive subsistence farming and expea them to adopt and successfully to practise modern farming methods. Poverty is a viciou s circle; it feeds upon itself. The vicious circle of rural poverty can be b roken only by introducing non-agricultural activities into the ru ral areas. These activities may be summed up in tw o w o rd s: industry and culture. Agriculture alone, at the level o f poverty, consisting as it does of scraping the ground and living w ith cattle, cannot develop the mind. Agricultural popu lation s need the stimulus o f non-agricultural activities, or they w ill stay at the subsistence level and increas­ ingly tend to desert the land in the hope o f finding a ‘ better life' in the cities. Without culture, agricu ltu ral practices cannot be upgraded and industry cannot be established. C ultu re is prim ary; it leads by itself to industrial developm ent w hich, in turn, helps to stimulate cul­ ture. If this is accepted, the strategy o f development becomes clear, first and foremost, bring culture into the villages; at the same time, ring industry, (By ‘ villages’ 1 m ean communities with at least a CWhundred, but preferably a few thousand inhabitants. Widely


scattered hamlets cannot be helped at this stage.) To put this in another w ay: Everything needs a certain ‘struc­ ture*. Culture needs a consciously evolved structure just as industry needs a consciously evolved structure. In both cases, the ‘structure’ must be qualitative and at the same time geographical, if it is to be a healthy one. An ideal cultural structure w ould look like this: a number of cultural ‘units’ make up the country, each of them containing at least one million and at the most, say, three million inhabitants. Each cultural ‘unit’ is a pyramid, as follows: primary schools at the village level; a number o f villages headed by a market town with a secondary school, a number o f market towns headed by a region­ al centre with an institution o f higher learning. An ideal industrial structure would be essentially similar: small-scale industries in the villages; medium-scale industries in the market towns; large-scale industries in the regional centres; and perhaps a few exceptional and unique industrial activities in the capital city (although this is by no means essential, since the capi­ tal city provides in any case certain non-industrial services to the country, which are themselves ‘exceptional and unique’). I am not suggesting that such ideal structures are attainable in every case; but they do provide guidelines. It is also obvious that ‘industry’ is more closely tied to location factors than culture, so that the industrial structure w ill have to tolerate more ‘deviations from the ideal’ than the cultural structure. It must be emphasized that there are no master-key solutions to the problem o f healthy development. Gigantic schemes, whether in agriculture, industry, com m unications, or even in education, may seem attractive in theory but are invariably disastrous in practice. The key to success is not mass production but production by the masses. Any purely economic assessment o f a proposed new activity is bound to be misleading, unless the political, sociological, and geographical requirements and prevailing conditions are clearly stated and accepted as terms o f reference. The economic calculus by itself always tends to favour the large project as against the small; the urban project as against the rural, the capital-intensive project as against the labour-intensive, because the task of manag­ ing machines is alw ays easier than that o f managing people. But this simply means that the economic calculus is applicable only

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tinea without difficulty, w h e re fu rth e r te ch n o lo gical developm ents in the established d irection are certain to p ro duce ‘ negative returns’— motor traffic in cities is m e rely the m ost o b vio u s case in point. Only slightly less o b v io u s , a lb e it m ore co n tro v ersia l, is the critical situation that m ay d e v e lo p d u rin g the n ext tw en ty years or so on account o f the steep an d a cce le ratin g rise in w o rld energy demands. ‘D eveloping co u n trie s’ w h ic h are co m m ittin g them selves in their forward th in kin g to the w h o le sa le a d o p tio n o f p resen t-day Western technology m ight d o w e ll to u n d ertake a stu d y o f their long-term energy needs an d c o n sid e r the lik e lih o o d o r oth erw ise o f these needs being met. Industrialisation as co n ceived b y the m a jo rity o f developm ent ‘experts’ is in any case like a lo n g , d a rk tun nel; they believe that a marvellous light w ill be fo u n d a t the end, n o m atter h o w lon g it takes to reach it. B ut if en ergy supplies should becom e a lim iting factor, one might get stuck in the m iddle o f the tunnel w h ere it is very dark indeed. However that m ay be, the case fo r ‘interm ediate te ch n o lo gy’ rests on the solid basis that there is n o other m eans o f fighting the twin evils o f mass un em ploym ent an d m ass m igration in the ‘devel­ oping’ countries. It a lso is the o n ly w a y b y w h ich these countries can achieve genuine e con o m ic independence and recover the kind of social cohesion w h ich the d u al eco n o m y is in the process o f destroying. It should n o t be assu m ed th at the developm ent o f ‘intermediate technology’ is a ta sk o f exce p tio n al difficulty. O n the technical side, there exists a lre a d y a w e a lth o f useable m aterial; but it is extremely w id ely scattered an d needs to be b rought together. In India, for instance, the K h a d i C o m m issio n and a m ultitude o f other organisations h ave been w o rk in g on this very subject, although perhaps in a so m e w h at h alf-h earted w ay. T h e prim ary lack, it would seem, has been o f d o w n -to -earth business sense. T his is not surprising, because in m ost cases the im m ediate need seemed to be to protect and keep alive the activities o f helpless people w ho, without protection, w o u ld have becom e utterly destitute. T he spir­ it of protection is rarely one co n d u cive to enterprising business management. But the ‘interm ediate te ch n o lo g y’ is not in this sense protec.









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essential viability: it is concerned with creating a new viability. The question has been raised w hether this ‘intermediate technology’ is to be attained by upgrading the traditional technology or by down­ grading W estern technology. Either o f these approaches may be feasible in som e cases; but it is m ore likely that a new approach w ould be m ore prom ising: a new design derived from a sound knowledge o f basic principles and conceived as a business venture. The kind o f talent needed fo r this approach is available in many countries; the price o f em ploying it w ould be merely a small frac­ tion o f the m oney n o w poured out on giant schemes which, even if successful, cannot lead to a real mitigation o f the misery caused by mass unem ploym ent and m ass m igration into cities. Finally, a w o rd m ight be said about raw material supplies. The ‘intermediate technology’ is o f course far less sensitive to the qual­ ity o f raw m aterials than a m ore sophisticated technology. As men­ tioned already, it w ill have to rely m ainly on local materials, and these w ill be just the same as those on which all pre-industrial gen­ erations have had to rely. It is a rem arkable fact how much of the traditional knowledge o f local materials has been lost during the last tw o or three generations. People w ill have to learn again that it is possible to have a highly productive agriculture by means of ‘green manure’ and other organic methods and that chemical fer­ tilisers m ay not be the real answ er at all. They will have to remem­ ber how their forefathers built w ithout modern cement and yet extremely durably; h ow much they relied on trees, not merely for the supply o f food and m aterials but also for the improvement of soil and climate. W ith the help o f modern knowledge they should now be able to do even better in these respects than their fore­ fathers did. Tree planting, indeed, deserves to be singled out hx special emphasis in this context, because the world is full of cases where the neglect o f trees is one o f the chief causes of misery and helplessness, while the recovery o f a realistic sense of man's depen­ dence on trees would be a most fruitful move in the right direction. No high technology or foreign aid is needed for planting and look­ ing after trees; every able-bodied person can make his contribution and benefit from it; a wide range o f useful materials can be obtained from trees— some species being very fast growers in tropical and semi-tropical climates— and these materials lend themselves exceptionally well for utilisation by ‘ intermediate technology*. Yet



there are few ‘developing’ countries where trees do not suffer from heedless neglect. (To mention only one significant example, the half-term report on India’s third five-year plan shows that it is pre­ cisely the planned activity in forestry which is most seriously behind schedule.) In most places there is no excuse for any alleged shortages of building m aterials. The planning experts should study how much has been built without modem cement through­ out the ages. The idea of ‘intermediate technology’, since it was formulated two years ago, has attracted a good deal of attention in many ‘developing’ countries. H ighly important w ork has been done at the SET Institute at H yd erab ad , and the Indian Planning Commission held a seminar on ‘Intermediate Technologies’ at that Institute in January, 19 6 4 . One o f the papers submitted came from Professor D. R. Gadgil, the doyen o f Indian economists, and some passages from it m ay form a fitting conclusion to this paper: “Everything (he says) thus points to the desirability, nay, urgen­ cy, of initiating w idespread industrial development in all regions of the country w hich w ill prevent accentuation of dualistic fea­ tures within the econom y and make for concerted and uniform economic p ro gress.. . The scientists and the technicians must be made fully aware o f w hat is expected out of the adoption of ‘intermediate technology5. T heir efforts must be directed towards the selection and development of those techniques which can serve the given aim s. . . The process of evolving and adopting interm ediate technology is a dynamic process which should be the centre o f interest o f the plan of industrialisation of the country. It should claim the attention, in an important way, of the ablest scientists and technicians in the country, and planning in relation to it should be undertaken through inte­ grated planning o f w h o le aspects and fields of industrial development.55 Foreign aid w ill be fruitfu l, instead o f destructive, only if it recognises these param ount needs and makes Western intellectual resources available to serve them . In closing, it might be mentioned that the United K ingdom is w ell placed to give assistance of the right kind. Its ‘R u ral Industries B ureau5, for instance, established some forty years ago, m ay have only a m inor role to play within


th e B ritis h e c o n o m y , b u t it h a s a fu nd o f accumulated experience (an d litera tu re ) w h ic h c o u ld b e in valu ab le for the ‘ developing’ c o u n trie s. S im ila r o r g a n isa tio n s e x ist in m any other countries. W h a t is im m e d ia te ly n eed ed is a con certed effort of design.

Vol 1 N o 2, ]uly-Aug 1966

*12 C h a p te r 1 4



pro blem

N eed N ot Starve

has hit the headlines again, and rightly

so. World population last year has risen by another seventy mil­ lion, while world food pro d u ction has rem ained stationary. The headlines talk about ‘T he W orld H unger G ap — Shock R eport’, and the report in question, entitled The State o f Food and Agriculture,

1966, comes from the F o o d and A griculture O rganisation o f the United Nations. Its central m essage is that food availability per head of the w orld’s p op u lation has fallen by tw o percent during last year. But this is not the c ru x o f the story. Food production in the developing countries has dropped by four to five percent per head, and it is they w h o are really short. The fact that North American production has risen b y about four percent and Western European production by one percent does little to im prove the sit­ uation, except statistically. Looking behind the surface o f things, w e find a dramatic change in the w orld fo od situation: the N orth Am erican grain sur­ pluses are running out. T he large shipments o f Am erican grain to the developing countries did not com e out o f current production but out of stocks accum ulated since the beginning o f the 19 50 s. These stocks have n ow fallen to their low est level in fourteen years; at fifteen million tons, they are said to be not enough for adequate protection against a dom estic crop failure. Time reports in its issue of 1 2th August, 19 6 6 , that “ the su p p ly o f soybeans, the dull yel­ low seed that goes into everything from vegetable oil to paint and constitutes the w orld’s cheapest source o f protein, equals just four months’ consumption. Five years ago, Governm ent warehouses were jammed with butter and cheese; n ow they have none. Washington has had to go into the m arket to buy dried milk for its program of free school lunches fo r 50 million children in 52 foreign countries.” In August 1 9 6 6 , the U S State D epartm ent told American embassies that aid shipments o f w h eat w ould have to be cut by 25



percent, and Mr. Orville Freeman, the US Secretary for Agriculture, declared that “ unless the hungry nations learn to feed themselves, there will be world famine in less than twenty years” . He also said that “ more human lives hang in the balance than have been lost in all the wars of history” . If anything, he may have understated the seriousness o f the situation by talking about the world as a whole. Food supplies do not and cannot ‘average out’. The danger of famine in the developing countries is much nearer than “less than twenty years” : it is here already. It is unlikely that there will be famine in North Am erica, the Argentine, Australia, or the Soviet Union, or indeed in m any smaller countries like Romania or Burma. N o, the problem is much more concentrated than that and therefore much more urgent than world averages suggest. The world food problem, o f course, is closely allied to the world population problem; but here again it is not the rise in the total that is really significant. There are many countries, large and small, where further large increases in population will do no harm at all and may even be beneficial. What is really significant is that of the seventy million increase last year some fifty million accrued to the population o f particular developing countries which are unable to cope. Neither people nor food will ‘average out’. Let us look at the proposition that ‘food does not average out’. People say that it does not m ake sense to have restrictions on food production in Am erica or Europe when there are starving millions in India. A ll right, if it does not make sense, can we get a more sen­ sible world? By letting the N orth American plains produce foodfor India? This sounds simple enough, but how is India going to pay for it? If she cannot pay, the food has to go as aid. How, then, is the North Am erican farm er to m ake a living? He would have tobe paid by the Am erican taxp ayer through the American Government. Is this a feasible long-term proposition? I think not. In a short-term emergency, anything is possible and anything will do. But as a per* manent w ay o f life it seems to me to go against the most basic laws of human nature that the population in one part of the world should be m aintained free o f charge by the population in another part o f the w orld. It is m an’s first task and duty to feed himself* either directly from his ow n soil or indirectly by way of trade. Aid makes sense only if it is conducive to development, not if it merely supports a basically unsupportable situation. What should

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ever come o f such an arra n g e m e n t? D o yo u think that perm anent­ ly, as a matter o f w o rld p la n n in g , the In dian s o r the Egyptians or whoever it might be c o u ld be pen sio n ed o ff, as it w ere, to live on the work and e ffo rt o f the p e o p le o f a n o th e r nation? N o man can be free and m aintain a n y k in d o f se lf-resp e ct if he cannot even feed himself, directly o r in directly. T h is , I th in k , is an unalterable law o f human nature, and w e m u st d ism iss fro m o u r m inds an y notion o f a world with fo od aid a s a p e rm a n e n t featu re. It is interesting to lo o k a t th e sta tistics on w o rld fo od m ove­ ments with these thoughts in m in d . T h e m ost relevant food items are grains because they are e a sily tran sp o rtab le in bulk. Before the war, inter-continental grain sh ip m en ts am o u n te d to ab o u t tw enty-four million tons a year, a n d a ll o f th is w e n t to W estern Europe which had the means to p a y fo r it. In 19 6 4 / 5 , inter-continental grain ship­ ments amounted to s ix ty m illio n to n s, a trem endous increase. Europe took m uch the sam e a s b e fo re , so m e tw e n ty-fo u r m illion tons. New purchasers w e re th e S o v ie t U n io n an d C h in a, taking a similar amount an d b ein g a b le to p a y fo r it. B u t a fu rther am ount of over twenty m illio n to n s w e n t to A s ia an d A fric a as aid. N o w this aid food w ill p ro g re s siv e ly d im in ish an d p ro b a b ly fade out altogether. It had com e o u t o f s to c k s, a n d it seem ed go o d business to turn these stocks, i f n o t in to c a sh , a t le ast in to aid . A s the stocks disappear^ so fo o d a id w ill d isa p p e a r a n d o n ly trad e w ill survive. This is the new situ a tio n w h ic h th e d e v e lo p in g w o rld w ill have to face. A certain in ter-con tinental d iv isio n o f la b o u r as betw een agri­ culture and industry w ill n o d o u b t co n tin u e , an d the rich countries which cannot feed th em selves fr o m th e ir o w n soil w ill continue to be able to send in d u strial g o o d s o v e rse a s so th at overseas farm ers will produce fo o d fo r th em . B u t w ill the p o o r countries, the so-called developing c o u n trie s,


ab le


o b tain significant

amounts of food in e x c h a n g e fo r in d u stria l exp o rts? I should think that to produce fo o d fo r in te rn a l co n su m p tio n w ill alm ost invari­ ably be easier fo r a d e v e lo p in g c o u n try th an to produce industrial products com petitively fo r e x p o r t, to p a y fo r fo o d im ports. There may be exceptions— there a lw a y s are — b ut as a general proposition this is an obvious tru th . F o r m a n y y e a rs to com e, it w ill be utopi­ an to think that arran g e m e n ts c o u ld be m ade so that developing countries could b ecom e la rg e e x p o rte rs o f in dustrial goods to, say,



the United States, so as to be able to pay for large food imports from N o rth A m erica, or that they would make such exports to Europe, w hile Europe exported to America, so that American food could flow to the developing w orld. In short, Mr. Orville Freeman is undoubtedly right w hen he says that the hungry nations must learn to feed them selves. I f they do not do so there may not be w orld hunger but they w ill starve, and this will not come to pass in twenty years but alm ost right away. O f course, this could have unpleasant effects on the countries— mainly Western Europe and Jap an — w hich have fo r long been feeding themselves by trade. The “ terms o f trad e” m ight change against them, so that they have to give more m anufactured goods fo r their food imports: but there is no reason to fear that these countries will starve, because they are rich enough to pay. T h ey have, m oreover the possibility to improve further upon their ow n agricultural performance, possibly to the point o f self-sufficiency in food. If this general line o f argument is accepted, we can move on to the crucial question: Can the hungry nations feed themselves? Is it possible? H ave they got enough land? Can they develop enough productivity? A nd here w e come to a vital question: What do we mean when w e say “ productivity” ? I know I am talking to a high­ ly experienced audience and I apologise if the points I am going to make m ay seem too simple. It is often the most simple things that are most confused. When w e talk o f productivity in connection with the w orld food problem , the problem o f hunger in developing countries, w e are prim arily talking about productivity per acre and not about productivity per man. Unless we keep this distinction constantly in mind w e shall get everything mixed up. A given pop­ ulation with a given am ount o f land w ill have enough to eat if the output per acre is sufficient to feed them, irrespective of whether a quarter, or half, or 90 percent o f the population are actually work­ ing on the land. If the output per acre is insufficient they will starve, even if the productivity per man is so high that only ten percent of the population are needed for w ork on the land. Let us see, therefore, which countries have the highest agricul­ tural productivity in terms o f output per acre. To measure the over­ all productivity o f land is a difficult business, and the best statistics available are probably those produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United N ations. O f the twelve countries shown



| with the highest productivity, per acre classified as agricultural I land, in 1956-60, six were in Europe—the Netherlands, Belgium, [ Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Norway and Italy; three I were in the Far East—Nationalist China (Taiwan), Japan, and I Republic of Korea; two were in South East Asia—Malaya and I Ceylon; and one in the N ear East—the United Arab Republic I [Egypt]* While statistics of this kind must not be taken too literalI ly, they give valuable indications. It is interesting to note that the I productivity per acre in the United Kingdom is shown as only I one-half that of Germany, a third that of Belgium, and a quarter I that of the United Arab Republic, and that that of the United States I is shown as only about one-half that of the United Kingdom. I Now let us look at the other end of the scale, the dozen counI tries with the lowest overall productivity per acre. There are two I of what used to be called the white dominions—Australia and I South Africa; six countries in Latin America—Venezuela, Mexico, I Argentine, Uruguay, Brazil, and Honduras; and four countries in I Africa—Tunisia, Algeria, M orocco, and Ethiopia. The productivity I gap between the “ highest” and the “ low est” is as much as one I to forty. The ranking order of countries when it comes to productivity I per man, i.e., per man engaged in agriculture, is of course entirely I different. Whilst Australia has the lowest productivity per acre, its I productivity per man is among the highest, and Korea, with its very I high productivity per acre, is among the countries with the lowest I productivity per man. There is no correlation between these two I ranking orders, neither positive nor negative, for productivity per I man correlates with the general wealth of the country, whereas I productivity per acre correlates (if only to some extent) with the I country’s density of population. ,I All this goes to emphasise the importance of distinguishing t I these two measures of productivity— per acre and per man. As , I there is absolutely no positive correlation between them, you can I imagine what confusion results w hen people fail to keep them I I apart. I One fact, at least, stands out: in a poor country a high output ,

developing countries. The Food and Agriculture Organisation has calculated that these countries should use 19 million tons by 19^ I and 3 5 million tons by 1980— about thirteen years from now. I | consider the attainment of such targets an absolute impossibility. But even if they could be attained, can millions, hundreds of mil* j lions of cultivators be taught to use them in a manner that doesnot i hopelessly poison the soil? And if they can be taught, can theynot equally, and probably more easily, be taught to adopt methods of good husbandry capable of achieving the same or even better results without artificial fertilisers? Experience shows that excel­ lent farming with superlative yields per acre is possible and infact being practised by individual farmers all over the world, without recourse to these costly products of industry. Where the methods are good, the yields are high, and where the methods are pooi; slovenly and therefore wasteful, even artificial fertilisers do not produce good results. I wish the time would come when people would pay as much attention to a simple matter like farm accoun­ tancy in developing countries as they now devote to utopian dreams of educating a largely illiterate population in the intelligent use of dangerous materials like fertilisers, pesticides and so forth. However that may be, one thing stands out: the hungry nations cannot get enough of these devices. They do not have the moneyto buy them and there is not enough aid available to let themhaw them free. It is no use telling them what they could do if theywere already rich. A classic example of this kind of thinking can be found in the same issue of Time from which I have already quoted. I quote again: “ If the short-range solution to hunger overseas is more United States food, the long-range answer must be the export of tech* nology along with capital and brains to see that it is appliw wisely. The rest of the world needs to catch up with the mech­ anisation and efficiency of U.S. farms. Half the world’s tractors operate in North America. California rice growers have gone$0 far as to plant, fertilise and spray their crops entirely froiB planes. A single U.S. farm worker now feeds 37 people.” One wonders to whom this advice is directed. To Japan, ot Italy, or Egypt, or Spain, where rice yields per acre are substantially higher than they are in the United States? Or to India, P a k ista n i



others, where the rice grower’s income is so pitiful that he could not afford a bicycle, let alone a plane? But let me continue to quote: “Vital as research is, victory over hunger also demands that backward countries scale new heights of social, political and economic organisation. As the U.S. example shows, it takes vast amounts of capital— $30 ,50 0 per U.S. farm worker vs. $19,600 for an industrial worker . . . With carrot and stick, the U.S. now offers the underdeveloped world a chance—perhaps its last—to borrow U.S. techniques and reach for the same nourishing reward.” You might think it a bit unfair of me to quote such absurdities. Unfortunately, they are not untypical of what many people, even in high places, are thinking, saying, and doing. Just think of it: thirty thousand dollars per farm worker in India or Nigeria—so that he will then be able to feed 37 people, who will thereupon, no doubt, migrate into the big towns where they will find workplaces costing twenty thousand dollars each. This is their ‘last chance’. In India alone some 200 million such workplaces will be needed, and at an average of twenty-five thousand dollars a piece, this will cost thetrifling sum of five thousand milliard dollars— roughly 10,000 times as much as the yearly aid India is currently receiving from the United States. Marie Antoinette acquired an unenviable reputation for asking, on a certain occasion: “ Why do these people shout for bread? Why don’t they eat cake?” In comparison with these mod­ empundits, she must rank as an eminently sensible woman. No doubt the poor must be given help, but within the harsh framework set by their poverty. No doubt the poor need techno­ logical aid, but at a level that is appropriate to their actual condi­ tions. The fundamental cause of hunger and misery in the developing countries, and particularly in South East Asia, is not their backwardness but the condition of decay into which they have fallen. Not being an historian, I shall not attempt to analyse the historical causes. To-day, the decay is there for all to see. We speak of decay when people are doing badly that which they used to do well. Decay is not overcome by enticing them to do some­ thing entirely different, which they will do even more badly. It is not a matter of rejecting anything that is good, and even the most



modern, most highly industrialised, and most sophisticated farm­ ing methods may have their occasional applicability in developing countries (assuming these methods are really sound in themselves). But there is a time scale which must not be overlooked. If we are thinking of the next thirty years, the period during which, according to authoritative estimates, w orld food production must treble if widespread hunger is to be avoided, it is certain that these ultra-modern methods w ill be m erely a fringe phenomenon in the developing countries and that the question o f Hunger will con­ tinue to be decided by hundreds o f millions of humble peasants working their land along traditional lines. It is their decay that has to be overcome: it is their methods that have to be in some way upgraded and rationalised: it is they w ho have to be given a chance of using their labour pow er more fully and to better purpose, both in agricultural and in non-agricultural pursuits. The only way to fight hunger in the hungry countries is to involve the entire rural population in a kind o f agricultural renaissance, in a process of true growth in which education and economic development go hand in hand. Assume for a moment some sort o f w orld government had at its disposal some twenty-five milliard dollars a year of aid funds, that is, perhaps three times the amount o f aid currendy being made available. A t $2 5 ,0 0 0 a w orkplace, this aid could purchase a mil­ lion new workplaces a year, whether in agriculture or industry. But at $2 50 per workplace, one hundred m illion workplaces could be newly created or substantially upgraded, and then we would start talking sense. For this is the relevant order o f magnitude: a hun­ dred million, not one m illion. In discussing the problem of world hunger we must talk o f things capable o f affecting hundreds of mil­ lions of peasants, otherwise w e are w asting our time. If, therefore, the capital endowm ent per workplace is screwed up to the level of modern technology, even the biggest conceivable aid programmes w ill not really touch the masses of peasants, the custodians of the soil on whose efforts everything depends. It fol­ lows that the real question is this: H ow can workplaces be upgrad­ ed, or newly created, with a capital expenditure of, say, $150 per workplace? The twenty-five thousand dollar technology of the rich countries is readily available for anyone w ho is already rich; it is totally out

*se M A N N E E D N O T S T A R V E


of reach and therefore to ta lly irre le v an t fo r the p o o r peasants o f this world. A tw o hundred an d fifty d o lla r technology w ould mean something to them — in the co n te x t o f aid— and it could reach a sufficient nu m ber o f them to m atter. Such a technology, which 1 have nam ed ‘ In te rm e d ia te T e c h n o lo g y ’ , w ould be immensely m ore p ro d u ctiv e an d m o re v ia b le than the decayed traditional technology o f th o se co u n trie s. It w o u ld , m oreover, have the right educational im p act, w h ich is essen tial, fo r unless educa­ tion and economic developm ent g o together there can be no genuine development at all. The appropriate Interm ediate T echnologies alread y exist all over the world, even in the m o st h igh ly developed countries, but they exist in an obscure and scattered w ay, so that the people w ho need them cannot find them . T h e w h o le process o f aid tends to bypass them, it tends to o ffe r the p o o r— w ith carro t and stick, as Time put it—the tools o f the rich, w h ich m eans that the p oor get nothing at all and those alrea d y rich— w h o also exist in the poor countries—grow even richer. O fficials, o f course, tend to favou r the glamorous technology, w h ich is p hotogenic and som ething to boast about and raises no a w k w a rd questions o f h o w to obtain the active participation of m illions o f people. B ut the price o f this preference is a heavy one: a lack o f real developm ent and the prospect o f world hunger. Think of it— that in this y e a r 19 6 6 the F o o d and Agriculture Organisation of the U nited N a tio n s tells us that the fo od availab il­ ity per head in the developing cou ntries is no greater tod ay than it was in the 19 30 s, that fo o d o u tp u t has b arely kept pace w ith the growth of population. B ut in the pro cess the num ber o f destitute people has vastly increased, w h ile a w e alth y m in ority has profited. Can this be called developm ent? Is this the outcom e o f aid? Is it conceivable that hum an nature in the developing countries is so inadequate that this m eagre result w o u ld not have been obtained even in the absence o f aid? Is it p o ssib le that the aid giving has been largely futile? I do n o t k n o w . M u c h o f the aid effort has cer­ tainly been m isconceived, w h ich is n o t surprisin g, considering how difficult it is fo r the rich to u n d erstan d the conditions o f the poor. It is a tragic story, because there has been no lack o f goodw ill and genuine concern. However that m ay be, even if w e cannot solve the psychological



problems, w e can inject some new thinking into the debate on ’ World Hunger and Econom ic Development by insisting that the technologies offered to the poor must be appropriate to the actual conditions of poverty, if they are to be of help. They must be Intermediate Technologies. To promote these ideas— and to do something towards their implementation— a private, non-profit organisation has recently been set up in London under the name of Intermediate Technology Development G roup Lim ited at 9 K ing Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2.. One o f the m ain purposes of the Group is to keep in intimate contact w ith industry, consulting engineers, and, of course, all aid-giving agencies. The response from industry has been magnificent and that from the developing countries, over­ whelming. In all matters the Group tries to develop the ‘basic approach’ . Its slogans are ‘Tools for Progress’ and ‘Education for Self-Help’ . N ow , w hat is the basic approach in agriculture? In many developing countries, the most basic agricultural prob­ lem is water. In the aid field, m ost o f the thinking about water has been in terms o f enorm ous dams and irrigation projects, costing millions of pounds. But the w ater is most needed exactly where it falls as rain, at the peasant’s doorstep. If the peasant has to trek many miles to reach water, his position remains one of unalterable misery. The real task is to catch the w ater where it falls, in rain­ water catchment tanks so designed that water will remain cool and protected and w ill neither seep aw ay nor evaporate under the hot sun. A suitable technique has been devised by Mr. Michael Ionides by brilliantly com bining the m ost ancient technique of water con­ servation practised in the Sudan, w ith modern knowledge and materials. The result is a m ethod w hich exactly fits the conditions of poor villagers w ho lack purchasing power but have a fairly ample supply o f local labour. E very village should now be able to obtain a protected w ater supply, m ainly by applying their own labour power. The proper m ethod has thus been developed, but to make it really available to the p o o r and needy, who are counted in hun­ dreds o f m illions, tw o further steps, in my opinion, have to be taken. The method needs to be reduced, as it were, to a do-it-your­ self kit, containing all required materials and the necessary instructions in a form w hich sim ple villagers can understand, and


0 2/


so proportioned that it easily fits on to a Land Rover. And there must be a big educational effort throughout the needy countries, using the existing prim ary school systems for the purpose. This would really be ‘ basic education’ , that is, an education designed to fit the pupil to live successfully in the actual conditions of his own country. It is only when these additional tw o steps are taken— two steps beyond the developm ent o f the method itself—that a real contribution to the problem s o f W orld Hunger and World Development will be made. Let me give another exam ple, very simple and down-to-earth. In many semi-arid regions the m ain occupation is cattle raising. The productivity— both per acre and per man— can be enormous­ ly increased by controlled grazing, which however normally requires extensive fencing. W hat is the cost o f fencing in Africa? People open a drawer full o f quotations from the developed coun­ tries, and the answer is “ £ i o o a m ile” . At this cost, it is obvious, extensive fencing is utterly beyond the reach o f poor villagers. This problem still awaits its M ichael Ionides. I hope the Intermediate Technology Development G rou p w ill tackle it. We need a really low-cost method o f fencing, with a m axim um use o f local labour and a minimum use o f in-bought m aterials, and that method ‘reduced* to a do-it-yourself kit to fit on to a Land Rover. And then everybody who needs it must som ehow be told about it and have a chance of acquiring the kn ow -how . Countless other exam ples could be given. H igh on the priority list must be the problem o f crop storage. It is a matter of pretty well established fact that the poorest countries suffer the greatest losses—often thirty to fo rty percent o f the harvest— because of lack of proper storage. Yet I d ou b t that there is an insufficiency of knowledge and experience on h o w to store safely. Only, the exist­ ing knowledge does not reach those w h o need it m ost; it has not been ‘reduced’ to a d o -it-y o u rse lf kit and has not been introduced into the primary school cu rricu lu m — if y o u w ill allow me this slightly symbolical w a y o f exp re ssin g m yself. T h e same basic approach has to be ap p lie d to e ve ry fo rm o f building, bridging, transport, and processin g an d o th er p ro d u ction in rural areas, with the invariable o b je ctive o f m in im isin g the need for inbought materials and thus en ab lin g the p o o r peasan ts to utilise their one major asset, their o w n la b o u r p o w er, b ut on a m uch higher level



of productivity and viability than is common at present. I believe that the problem of World Hunger can be solved along 1 these lines and along these lines only. At the risk of repeating j myself I emphasise that the poor peasants are the custodians of the J soil in the hungry countries and that it is the poor peasants andno j one else who will, or will not, double and treble the productivity of j their acres, as is required if famine is to be avoided. Food is pro- 1 duced in rural areas, not in the big cities. Food surpluses fromthe J rural areas are needed to feed the ever-growing cities. The central j economic task of mankind, at this juncture, is to build up an effi- | cient and satisfactory way of life in the rural areas, to achieve an 1 agro-industrial structure which conquers unemployment, stops rural decay, and arrests the seemingly irresistible drift of destitute | people from the countryside into the big cities, already overcrowd- 1 ed and rapidly becoming unmanageable. The world food problem is not primarily a scientific problem. It 1 is a problem of mass mobilisation, of mass education towards‘the j next step’ of making available the appropriate technologies to hun- j dreds of millions o f peasants. Needless to say, in many countries it is also a political problem—-but this aspect goes beyond my present


terms of reference. It should be abundantly clear from what I have said that Factory Farming can have no relevance whatever to the questionof avoiding famine in the hungry countries. What happens in the Factory Farm is not primary production, but secondary produc­ tion: a process of conversion, like turning coal into electricity. No one, surely, makes the mistake of the dear old lady who after see­ ing a film about the tough life of coal miners exclaimed: “I shall never again burn coal, but immediately switch over to electricity!* When coal is burned to make electricity, about seventy percent of the calories contained in the coal are lost. When feeding stuffs are turned into poultry or veal in Factory Farms some eighty to eighty-five percent of the calories contained in the feeding stuffs are lost. This conversion, therefore, can have nothing to do with feeding the hungry. It is also easy to see that the main raison d'etre of Factory Farming is to save human labour. Whether it ultimately achieves even this, may be doubtful; I am not qualified to judge it. What is certain is that the impulsion towards labour-saving does not

vSfi M A N N E E D N O T S T A R V E £2/

i5 7

i reasonably exist in the h u n g ry co u n trie s w h ic h su ffe r fro m a surr plus of labour and a sh o rtag e o f c a p ita l. A final point ab out F a c to r y F a rm in g in the d evelo p in g countries P erhaps the g re a te st p ro b le m o f these countries is problem o f alien ation , o f b ein g fa c e d w ith so m uch that is strange and incom prehensible a n d in c o m p a tib le w ith trad itio n that the ordinary people b ecom e b e w ild e re d a n d tim id , w h ile the educated lose contact w ith the o r d in a r y p e o p le . A n d w h a t m ore terrible method of alien ation c o u ld be d e v ise d th a n a typ e o f farm in g that alienated even the a n im a ls fr o m th e ir n a tu ra l life an d in duced man to treat them in a m a n n e r u tte rly irre c o n c ila b le w ith the sim ­ plest teachings o f religio n ? js worth making.

I S | |

For a man to put h im se lf in to a w r o n g fu l re la tio n sh ip w ith an i­ mals and particularly th o se lo n g d o m e stic a te d b y h im , h as a lw a y s been considered a h o rrib le a n d in fin ite ly d a n g e ro u s th in g to do. There have been no h o ly m en in o u r h is to r y o r in a n y b o d y else’s j history who were cruel to a n im a ls , a n d in n u m e ra b le a re the stories and legends which lin k sa n c tity w ith a lo v in g k in d n e ss to w a rd s

\ lower creation. In P ro verb s w e re a d th a t th e ju s t m a n ta k e s c a re o f [. his beast, but the h eart o f the w ic k e d is m e rcile ss, a n d St. T h o m a s [ Aquinas wrote: “ It is evid e n t th a t i f a m a n p ra c tise s a co m p a ssio n | ate affection for an im als, he is a ll th e m o re d isp o se d to feel co m -


passion for his fe llo w m e n .” A n d I m ig h t a ls o q u o te P o p e P iu s x n

i who said: “ The an im al w o r ld , a s a ll c r e a tio n , is a m a n ife s ta tio n o f God's power, his w isd o m , a n d h is g o o d n e s s , a n d as su ch d e serves man’s respect and c o n sid e ra tio n . A n y re c k le ss d e sire to k ill o f f a n i­ mals, all unnecessary h a rsh n e ss a n d c a llo u s c r u e lty t o w a r d th em is to be condemned. Su ch c o n d u c t, m oreover^ is b a n e fu l to a h e a lth y human sentiment an d o n ly te n d s to b ru ta lis e i t .” Have the sayings o f the s a in ts a n d s a g e s a n y th in g to d o w ith the practical problem o f fe e d in g th e h u n g r y ? Y e s . M a n d o e s n o t live b y bread alone and if he th in k s h e c a n d is r e g a r d th is tru th a n d ca n allow the ‘human se n tim e n t’ to b e c o m e b r u ta lis e d , h e d o e s n o t lo se his technical intelligence b u t h is p o w e r o f s o u n d ju d g e m e n t, w ith the result that even the b re a d fa ils h im — in o n e w a y o r an oth er. Another way o f p u ttin g th e s a m e t h in g is th is : M a n ’s g re a te s t sin ­ gle task today is to d e v e lo p in h im s e lf th e p o w e r o f n o n -v io le n c e . Everything he does v io le n tly , f o r in s ta n c e in a g r ic u ltu r e , c o u ld a ls o hedone relatively n o n -v io le n tly , th a t is , g e n tly , o rg a n ic a lly , p a tie n tly

x 58


adapted to the rhythms of life. The true task of all further research and development is surely to devise non-violent methods of reaching the results which man requires for his existence on earth. The vio­ lent methods alw ays seem to produce bigger results more quickly; in fact, they lead to the accumulation of insoluble problems, particularly w ith the World Food Problem. But there is a way, a non-violent way. It is based on a true compassion for hundreds of millions o f humble peasants throughout the world and an effort of the im agination to recognise the boundaries of their poverty. It leads to policies that truly help them to help themselves. This is the w a y w e must seek. It is humane, democratic and, I can assure you, j surprisingly cheap.

Vol i No io, Nov-Dec 1967]


Chapter 1 5


Futurefor Megapolis

Modern urbanisation, as we all know, is a very recent thing. Although the first cities arose some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, the kindof metropolis or megalopolis which we now accept as ‘nor­ mal’ is a good deal less than a hundred years old. Kingsley Davis, one of the best known students of the subject, said a few years ago: “ Clearly the world as a whole is not fully urbanised, but it soon will be.” One may wonder on what he bases this prediction. I suspect it is based on little more than past and current trends. As a statistician, I am never happy with the extrap­ olationof trends, unless I can get some understanding of what lies behind the trends themselves, what has made them possible and what keeps them going. Kingsley Davis holds that “ urbanised societies, in which a majority of the people live crowded together intowns and cities, represent a new and fundamental step in man’s social evolution” . I do not know whether he means to offer this thought as an explanation of the past hundred years, during which this“newand fundamental step” was taken in so many parts of the world, or as a justification for his assumption that full urbanisation of the world as a whole will soon be implemented. The idea of a newand fundamental step in human social evolution seems to sug­ gest something which, once accomplished, will stay for good. But here lies the very question: Why did it happen? What are the forces that have made it happen? What is the material basis of this happening, and is this material basis permanent or perhaps imper­ manent? The idea of evolution may be a useful way of describing thepast, but rarely serves to explain it, and when it conies to the future its predictive value is more than doubtful. To obtain another view of this astonishing phenomenon—a majority of the people crowding together in towns and cities—we mightremind ourselves of the well-known fact that seventy percent °f thecitizens of the United States, and comparable proportions in mher industrial countries, live in cities occupying little over one



percent o f the total land space. This gives some idea of the degree of concentration. “ The large and dense agglomerations comprising the urban population,” says Kingsley Davis, . .exceed in size the communities o f any other large animal; they suggest the behaviour of communal insects rather than of mammals.” For mammals to behave like communal insects may be described as a new and fundamental step in their social evolution, but it is not immediately apparent that it is a step in the right direction. Towns and cities consist o f a huge variety of more or less per­ manent structures, and that is w hy it cannot be a waste of time for those responsible for these structures to give some thought to the kind o f questions I have raised. W hat is the relevant ‘time horizon’? Buildings made o f stone or concrete are not erected with the idea of early destruction. If they are to stand up at all, their basic struc­ ture must be sound, and if they are able to stand up for ten years, there is no reason to believe that they cannot equally well stand up for a hundred years and even a lot more, given a reasonable amount o f care and maintenance. If I were an architect, this thought, I suspect, w ould w orry me, even to the point of paraly­ sis, which is no doubt a sufficient reason for my not having become an architect. Doctors and surgeons, to give an obvious example, are in an easier position. Their worst mistakes are quickly buried. But the mistakes o f architects remain in the fullest evidence fo r countless generations! All I wish to point out, or rather to recall to mind, is that the relevant ‘time horizon’ for anyone concerned with permanent structures is form idably long. These structures do not merely have to ‘fit’ today; they have to continue to be ‘fitting’ for a very long time. Some civilisations have drawn the conclusion that they could not take it upon themselves to enter, as it were, a commitment for an indefinite, and possibly very long period; so they used only such building materials as were subject to a ‘normal’ rate of decay; wood, bamboo sticks, or even paper. Other civilisations, like medieval Europe, drew the conclusion that buildings, being ‘of the nature of eternity’ , could and should not be subjected to the eco­ nomic calculus, like other human artifacts: only the best would be good enough; only something w orthy of being dedicated to the glory o f God would be w orthy o f the dignity of human beings. And if this aspiration could not be fulfilled in all cases, it was certainly




fulfilled with regard to the g r e a t m a jo r it y o f p ro m in e n t b u ild in g s. QUr civilisation d is p o s e s o f b u ild in g m a t e r ia ls o f a t r u ly \ nwe-inspiring durability. S o m e o f th e b o m b sh e lte rs b u ilt fo r w h a t I vca$ happily thought o f as a s tr ic tly t e m p o r a r y e m e rg e n c y d u rin g 5 the last war, are o f such in d e s tr u c tib ility th a t th e c o s t o f d e m o lish j jng them is som ething n o o n e c a n fa c e : s o w e le a v e th e m s ta n d in g inall their hideous glory. To return to ou r sta rtin g p o in t: u r b a n is a tio n in th e m o d e rn I sense is a very recent p h e n o m e n o n , le ss th a n a h u n d re d y e a r s o ld . I I I I

If it had been possible b e fo re , w h y d id it n o t h a p p e n ? I f it h a d been impossible before, w h a t w a s it th a t m a d e it p o s sib le ? T h e s e , I su g gest, are the two q u estio n s, to w h ic h w e m u s t tu rn o u r a tte n tio n . I think there is plenty o f h is to r ic a l e v id e n c e th a t im p o r ta n t citie s,


Rome, for instance, h ave te n d e d to g r o w a n d g r o w , u n til th e y could grow no further. W h a t w a s it th a t s to p p e d th e ir g r o w th ? T h e answer is simple: they co u ld n o t be p ro v is io n e d a n y m o r e . T h e y lived on their surroundings, a n d a s th e y b e c a m e b ig g e r th e y h a d to be provisioned from ever m o re e x te n d e d s u r ro u n d in g s ; a n d a s d istances had to extend, tra n sp o rt c o u ld n o lo n g e r c o p e . T h e b o ttle neck was transport, an d the b o ttle n e c k o f tr a n s p o r t w a s en e rg y. Human and animal p o w e r c a n n o t m a n a g e lo n g d ista n c e s, e x c e p t for imperishable good s, a n d e ve n w h e n it d o e s m a n a g e th e m it becomes, at a certain p o in t in to le ra b ly e x p e n s iv e . During the nineteenth cen tu ry, W e ste rn s o c ie ty b ro k e th ro u g h this barrier by learning to e x p lo it n a tu re ’s s to re h o u se o f fo s s il fu e ls , first coal, then oil. C o a l led to ra il tr a n s p o r t, b e c a u se it is ra th e r crude and heavy and th e re fo re b est u se d in lo c o m o tiv e s p u llin g a large number of coaches o r tru c k s ; w h ile o il led to m o to r tra n s p o r t because it is subtle, e asily d iv isib le , o f h ig h c a lo r ific v a lu e p e r u n it of volume as well as p er u n it o f w e ig h t, a n d th e re fo re id e a lly suited for fast, small-scale, d e ce n tra lise d tr a n s p o r t fr o m a n y p o in t to any other point, pro vid ed o n ly th e re is so m e k in d o f a ro a d . T h e exploitation of fossil fuels w a s th e p r im a r y fa c to r, w h ile the flo w ering of technical in genuity w a s a s e c o n d a r y fa c to r, b ecau se , in a certain sense, the m aterial, in th is m a te ria l w o r ld , is the in d isp en sable basis of the intellectual. The development o f la rg e -sca le u r b a n is a tio n , as w e h a v e w itnessed it over the last h u n d red y e a r s , re q u ire d the in te rv en tio n o f a further factor: H o w co u ld p e o p le le a v e the lan d an d c r o w d

I I I I I I I [ I I I I I I I I I I




together m towns and cities, and still get fed? The limiting factor on urbanisation is the productivity of agriculture, and the meaning of ‘productivity’ in this context is output-per-person rather than output-per-acre. Towns and cities exist on the agricultural surplus of the countryside; pure subsistence farming cannot sustain even the smallest degree of urbanisation. How, then, has it been possi­ ble to sustain the high degree of urbanisation which has occurred during the last hundred years? By an immense improvement of the productivity-per-person in modern agriculture. Fewer and fewer people were required to till the soil, with the result that more and more people could leave the soil and go into cities. Every answer tends to lead to a further question, and our next question must be this: How has this stupendous and historically unparalleled increase of productivity per-person in agriculture been achieved? The most important single factor has been the introduc­ tion of new technologies based on fossil fuels. Modern agricultur­ al technology, as practised in the United States, in Western Europe, in the areas affected by the ‘green revolution , and in many other parts of the world, is essentially oil-based. Its tremendous success in raising productivity-per-person was achieved by the introduction of an intensely oil-based technology, intensive mechanisation and, even more importantly, intensive chemicalisation. In terms of physics and chemistry, modern society eats a variety of foodstuffs but in terms of economics, it eats oil. If the modem type of urbanisation has not been possible before, roughly speaking, the middle of the nineteenth century, what was it that made it possible? The answer is threefold: the exploitation of nature’s storehouse of fossil fuels, the development of a highly efficient transport system, initially coal-based but now primarily oil-based, the development of agricultural technologies which art virtually dependent on oil. Until a few years ago, we took oil for granted. In the autumn 0 1967, for instance, the then Minister of Power presented a Whit Paper to Parliament, entitled ‘Fuel Policy*. Its central message wa this: “ Subject to overriding considerations of adequacy and secur ty of supplies, the Government’s basic objective can be summarise as cheap energy. . . What is important is that we should take ft advantage of the cheapness and technical merit of nuclear pow North Sea gas, and oil.” The Minister had no real doubts about \

vSfi N O F U T U R E F O R M E G A P O L I S


adequacy and security o f o il su p p lie s a n d th e re fo re m ap p e d o u t the further contraction o f the B ritish c o a l in d u stry , the speed o f w h ich , however, would have to be c o n tro lle d so as to a v o id undue hard sh ip to coal miners and their c o m m u n itie s. In a s a g a c io u s p a ra g ra p h he dealt with future oil costs. “ It is d iffic u lt to p re d ict the co u rse o f oil prices. There are a n u m b er o f re a s o n s fo r e x p e ctin g them n ot to increase. The industry is c o n tin u a lly se a rc h in g fo r w a y s o f cutting costs, as for instance b y the u se o f v e r y la rg e cru d e o il tan k ers to reduce freight charges and in crease fle x ib ility an d security o f supply, and the surplus o f crude o il seem s lik e ly to p e rsist fo r m an y years despite the expansion in w o r ld d e m an d . H e re an d elsew here oil will be up against in c re a s in g ly s tro n g c o m p e titio n fro m n atu ral gas and nuclear pow er. O n the e vid en ce a v a ila b le , it seem s likely that oil will remain co m p etitive w ith c o a l, a n d th at pressure to force up crude oil prices w ill be h eld in ch e ck b y the d an g er o f loss of markets.” These sanguine argum ents did n o t g o u n ch allen ged , but n o one ^U j was willing to listen to the ch alle n ge rs, b ecau se the enticing dream j of‘cheap fuel for ever’ kep t e v e ry b o d y h ap p y. W e n o w have a ve ry [ rude awakening. The fo llo w in g o ffic ia l figu res m ak es the poin t: in ■ I 1970, our average m onthly cru d e o il im p o rts am ou n ted to 8 .3 m illion tons; at an average valu e p er to n o f £ 4 .8 0 , these m on th ly imports cost the country £ 4 0 m illio n . In M a rc h 1 9 7 4 , o u r crude oil I imports were rather high at 9 .6 m illio n to n s; the ave rag e valu e per I ton was £28.9, and the to tal b ill cam e to £2.78 m illion ; com pared I with four years ago, an in creased b u rd en on o u r balan ce o f p a y ­ ments of nearly £ 2 4 0 m illion a m on th . Pressure to force up crude o il p rice s, w e h ad been to ld , w o u ld jW | beheld in check by the dan g er o f lo ss o f m ark ets. D o y o u thin k the fpiP I oil exporting countries are w o rrie d a b o u t a loss o f m ark ets w hen ;# the export of one ton o f crude o il p ro d u ce s fo r them an am ount o f I money which, only fo u r years a g o , re q u ire d the e x p o rt o f six tons? y [ On the contrary, they w o u ld rejo ice in the loss o f m arkets, if only I they could see it happening. T h e y h ave been p lead in g fo r years that I the oil importing countries sh ou ld redu ce th eir requirem ents. From / 1 their point of view, a loss o f m ark ets is the v e ry thing they have been r I longing for ever since they realised , som e ten years ago, that their 1 I own proved oil reserves w ere b y n o m eans infinite and w ould be ■ f exhausted in a matter o f tw en ty o r th irty years if they ^maintained


1 66




their markets’ . In ever more insistent tones they have pleaded: “ Please mitigate your requirements; if we sell all we have got with­ in twenty or thirty years, what is to become of us? We cannot build up an alternative livelihood for our peoples within two or three decades.” On the sixth o f October 19 7 3 , the outbreak of yet another Arab-Israeli w ar provided the historical opportunity for the Arabian oil exporting countries to establish a radically new situa­ tion as regards crude oil prices. Within a few months, these prices quadrupled, and their fundamental aim, which is to conserve their proven oil reserves to last longer than a mere twenty or thirty years, can now be attained via the so-called price mechanism. We hear nothing more about using oil as a political weapon; what we shall be hearing more and more insistently from now on is this: “ O f course, you can buy all the oil you want, but how are you going to pay for it?” And the truth of the matter is that we cannot pay for the amount o f imported oil which our economies have got

j * 1 ^ I . 1 . 1^ | ^

used to. Whether the crunch w ill come within three months or three I J years is hard to predict. But, I suggest, nothing of any real impor- 1 1 tance hinges on precision in these matters, certainly not for L builders, architects, town planners and such like, whose ‘time hori- 1 2 zon’ is counted in decades, if not centuries. That the days of the j | cheap-fuel economy are counted, in fact that they are over, there | cannot be any reasonable doubt. The sooner we realise and accept |> this, the better w ill be our chance o f adjusting to the new situation 1 without having to go through a period of unimaginable troubles. .] The effects of a hundred years of cheapness-and-plenty as j regards fossil fuels have been extraordinarily far-reaching. The 1 effects o f the coming period o f dearness-and-scarcity as regards j fossil fuels, not necessarily in all parts of the world, but inescapably j in Western Europe, Japan, and many o f the so-called developing 1 countries, will be equally far-reaching. The cheapness and plenty o f fossil fuels also led to the j large-scale production of highly fuel-intensive building materials, 1 such as cement and steel; to building methods characterised by the 1 substitution of fuel-intensive mechanisation for human labour; and 1 to the erection of buildings such as high-rise flats, hotels, and office f blocks, which in themselves are, as it were, engines dependent for J


r% v 1 1 1 I

*S£2 NO F U T U R E F O R M E G A P O L IS



jjjeir functioning on a continuous high rate o f fuel consumption. If cheapness-and-plenty, as regards fuel, has produced these effects, what is going to be the effect o f dearness-and-scarcity? This is the crucial question. It is a question o f such overwhelming m ag­ l ofv ' nitude that we have to give ourselves a very big push to be prepared ■ tolook it in the face. It is m uch easier to shut one’s eyes and go on dreaming; to divert attention to such questions as: “ H o w do you ■ propose to persuade people to change their life-style?” or: “ Are you surethat people want change?” , and to engage in endless debates on H possible alterations o f the ‘political system ’, etc. I am not suggesting that these and similar questions are com pletely irrelevant, but they are of a secondary nature: in future the tune w ill be called by fuel supplies, and not prim arily by our likes and dislikes. Even if the ■ great majority of people had a strong preference fo r crow ding Ho# I together in huge cities, the fact rem ains that high-density living pat­ terns can be sustained only by high-density fuels. If the availability ,uues%J of the latter is called into question the possibility o f the form er is called into question. In other w ord s, far from accepting K ingsley Davis’ prediction that the w hole w orld w ill soon be ‘fully urbanised’ I wehave now to consider the possibility that some o f the m ost highly [inly mm[ urbanised parts o f the w orld, such as Western Europe and Ja p a n , s e 'titW | mayhave to find ways o f achieving som e degree o f de-urbanisation: 1days oft because, if high-density fuels becom e very expensive and hard to obtain, high-density living becomes increasingly unsupportable. The modern system o f agriculture is ob viou sly extrem ely vu l­ nerable to adverse changes on the oil front. We can see this alread y to-day as we witness the virtu al collapse o f the ‘ Green R evolu tion ’ in a number of developing countries. It has been calculated h ow much oil would be required if the w h o le w o rld , som e 4 ,0 0 0 m illion people, forgetting any further increases in w o rld population, w ere / to be fed by means o f m odern ag ricu ltu ral technology. The answ er & is that on such assum ptions all p ro ve d oil reserves, as currently known, would be exhausted b y agricu ltu re alone w ithin less than thirty years. It would seem to fo llo w that the m odern system o f agriculture has no long-term fu tu re, and that there is a som ew hat urgent need for the developm ent o f altern ative system s, systems much less oil-intensive. The an sw e r one n o rm ally obtains to such a I proposition is that these altern atives, even if they w ere possible, would be relatively much m ore lab our-intensive than the m odern



systems. In other w ords, the proportion o f people working the land 1 would have to rise, which means that the proportion of people liv- I ing and w orking in cities w ould have to fall. It is precisely this possibility, or rather this possible necessity, 1 that ought to engage our most serious attention. If more people are J going to be needed in agriculture, it w ill be necessary to upgrade j and redevelop the life o f rural communities. This is a very tall J order. For more than a century, all the emphasis has been on j city-life, and the brain-drain at the expense of the rural areas has j been devastatingly severe. To reverse the century-old trend will not J be easy, but neither w ill it be impossible. There are many signs J among the young that a push o f necessity in this direction might I even be welcomed. Turning now to transport, w e find a rather similar picture.1 Cheap and fast transport has made modern urbanisation possible. J M obility is thought o f as a very great value, and this value-judge-| ment has been sustained by the availability of cheap and plentiful j oil. If the forw ard estimates o f so-called transport requirements J which underlie, for instance, the Channel Tunnel project are to be j taken seriously, w e shall need to devote at least two or three times] as much oil to transport in twenty years time as we do now. These] estimates stem from an historical situation which is now gone and! unlikely ever to return. The new situation demands that we should] ask ourselves: ‘W hy do w e seem to need so much transport?’ What is it in our patterns o f production, our patterns of consumption, our] distribution o f population, in short, w hat is it in our life-style that] entails such enormous and ever-increasing transport requirements?] After all, the goods w e shift about do not become better by being* shifted about. W hy is it that they appear to become more valuable?! Production patterns that give prim ary emphasis to mechanist tion and automation tend to get burdened w ith very high overheat} costs, and it then appears to be ‘ econom ical’ to let the product invade faraw ay m arkets, even if the net return on such sales yields less than average revenue: it still helps to ‘spread overheads’. Very large mass-production units obviously entail a very large commiti ment to massive long-distance transport. Economists claim that this enlarges consumers’ choice; but they generally do not mention that it reduces the chance o f consum ers o f choosing locations thaj are free from intolerable traffic noise and contaminated air.



In future, transport planning needs to concern itself with much more than transport: its principal aim w ill be the reduction of transport requirements, which have grow n beyond all reasonable hounds. In other words, it w ill become increasingly desirable to bring production and consumption much more closely together. The present pattern with cars being produced in Tokyo in order to heused in Coventry, does not seem to be the m ost rational human ingenuity can devise, and it w ould assuredly not be improved if the transport of cars from Tokyo to C oventry w ere made faster or even cheaper by some fantastic technological breakthrough. Not only the pattern o f production, but also the pattern o f con­ sumption will have to change. A lready there are reports o f signifi­ cant numbers of high-rise hotels in M editerranean holiday resorts being unable to open for the sum m er season. W hat is to become of innumerable blocks of high-rise flats, once the rem orseless increase inenergy costs has worked its w a y through the system , heaven only knows. Solar energy and w ind pow er can do little to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. However, I do not w ish to dw ell on the future o f buildings already erected. What about buildings to be erected in the future? The change in the fuel situation from cheapness-and-plenty to deamess-and-scarcity calls fo r new types o f calculation and new criteria of efficiency. Needless to say, everything calculable in term s of money will have to continue being calculated in m oney, but most of these money calculations w ill have to be supplem ented and checked against calculations m ade in term s o f fuel units, such as calories. We may not be able to a ffo rd things w h ich are expensive interms of calories, even if they ap p e ar to be relatively cheap in terms of money. Here again, I can n o t go in to detail. A t present, there is still a great deal o f talk ab o u t ‘ altern ative sources o f ener­ gy*, and most people im agine th at, alth o u g h fu el m ay becom e very muchmore expensive, there is en ou gh o f it som ew h ere in the w o rld for it never to become scarce. W h at th ey fa il to realise is that there is not only a money cost o f fuel b u t a lso a fuel cost o f fuel. The Bureau of Mines in the U nited States has recen tly begun a study to determine how many calories it tak es to p ro d u ce vario u s types o f feels: what matters is not the gro ss en ergy p ro d u ctio n , but the net energy gain. Professor O dum o f the U n iv e rsity o f F lo rid a says “ the feggest lesson to be learned fro m n et-en ergy th in k in g is that all the



new technologies being developed to attain energy independence 1 are draining present energy supplies and are therefore hastening 1 the day when fossil fuels run out. For example, enriching uranium I for light-water reactors consumes, in the form of coal, 60% of the j energy released from the nuclear fuel.” Whether any nuclear ener* 1 gy producer is, in fact, a net energy producer at all, is still very much an open question. The life-style o f the modern world is characterised by a very high 1 rate o f w hat w e might call economic metabolism, that is to say, an J enormous throughput o f resources to obtain a standard of living j which still is, for most people, deplorably low. In a strange and paradoxical w ay, w e have to run faster and faster merely to stand j still. Although the economic metabolic rate of the average American ] is something like fifty times as high as that of the average Indian, j and that of the average Western European about thirty times as ^ high, the rich societies o f the world are pursuing the struggle for fur- j ther metabolic growth with even greater single-mindedness than the j poor. Yet such further growth as is being achieved does not seemto j lighten the burden o f existence but, on the contrary, to increase it. J If fuel and material shortages should make further growth impossi­ ble or even enforce the reduction of certain activities, people fear j that nothing but misery can be in store for them. A ll this stems from a confusion of thought which takes the metabolic rate for the equivalent o f the standard of living. Is out standard o f living really determined by the rate at which we man-j age to consume, that is to say: to destroy and use up, valuable 1 goods and services? We know families who consume very much] and live very badly: both husband and wife have to go out to work;] they return from w ork exhausted and disgruntled and have no strength left in them for anything but watching television; the chib] dren feel neglected and present their parents with endless problems which are as insoluble as they are costly to cope with; expensive] holidays fail to undo the damage done during the rest of the yead etcetera. Yet we also know families who consume relatively very] little and live rather well. H ow do they do it? The rate of ____^ l m __ >__. n metabolism, economimllv sn^iUnn


*7 *

delightfully low rate o f economic metabolism. The cyclist’s rate o f physiological metabolism is som ewhat higher than that of the motorist; but that can save him, or society, a lot of doctor’s bills! Re-cycling, on the other hand, desirable as it often may be, fails to go to the root of the matter. W hy tolerate a high rate of waste and then try to cope with the problem by re-cycling? Would it not be more intelligent first o f all to try and reduce the rate of waste? The recycling problem may then itself become much more manageable. We might do well to distinguish between permanent goods on the one hand and ephemeral goods on the other. A life-style which puts primary emphasis on the consum ption o f ephemeral goods and services requires an economic system w ith a high rate o f metabolism and therefore creates innumerable problems o f pollu­ tion, tends to ruin the environment, and inevitably runs up against severe resource bottlenecks. N ow , o f course, a certain flow o f ephemeral goods, to be destroyed in the act o f consumption, is indispensable for human life; but it might be wise to keep this flow at a modest level and to put the m ain emphasis on the creation o f permanent goods, that is to say, lasting improvements o f the envi­ ronment, excellent tools and equipm ent, health o f soil, plants, ani­ mals and people, w ork opportunities w hich can be genuinely enjoyed, and even beautiful buildings, villages, and tow ns, togeth­ er with beautiful things to be put into buildings, villages, and towns. Such a life-style w ould not require an economic system w ith an unsupportably high rate o f m etabolism , yet there w ou ld be no smell of misery and degradation ab out it. I believe that great pressures upon hum an nature w ill be exerted by the logic of facts w hich w ill m ake ou r present lifestyle increas­ ingly difficult to sustain. We can m eet these pressures w ith calm forethought and give them a creative response. If w e do that, w h y should we despair o f the future o f o u r civilisation even if w e have to lower our rate o f econom ic m etabolism ? W hy should w e refuse to believe that, endowed w ith so m uch m ore scientific knowledge andtechnical ability than any previous generation, w e should be able to build a much more satisfactory life than w e have ever known?

V ol 5 N o 6, Jan -F eb 19 7 5

Chapter 1 6 Ql>

The Use o f the Land

T he subject of th e proper use of land at first sight looks some­ w hat technical, but the more I think about it the more I realise it is not; it is a highly philosophical subject and we are really deceiving ourselves if w e think that it requires a special inventiveness of a tech­ nical kind to cope with the problem s o f land use.

There are always some things which we do for their own sakes, and then there are other things which we do for some other pur­ pose. One of the most important tasks for any society is to distin­ guish between ends and means and to have some sort of cohesive view and some sort o f an agreement about this. What are the things we do for their own sake, and what are the things which we do for a purpose other than themselves? Now, anything that we do for its own sake does not lend itself to calculation. For instance, most of us try to keep ourselves rea­ sonably clean. You cannot calculate the value of this; certainly you cannot apply an economic calculus. In fact, to wash is totally un-economic. N obody has ever made any profit out of washing himself. There are many activities, when you come to think of it, which are totally uneconomic because they are carried on for their own sakes. So the first point I am making is that ends, as distinct from means are not matters o f economic calculation. They are not economic but, if you like, meta-economic. Just as we can have physics and meta-physics, so we can have economics and meta-economics. What are the big meta-economic factors? I think one is brought back to the four elements that the ancients used to talk about—air, water; earth and fire. These are meta-economic factors. We have not made them, but we depend on them: on each of those four basic elements. They are worth looking after, not as means to an end but as ends in themselves. We do not ask today whether it is economic to take some care to have clean air. No, we say this is a good thing in itself. We can argue that if we neglect it we might

TH E USE O F T H E L A N D £»>

I 73

«ffcr, but this *s not an econom ic argum ent. We w ant clean air as value in itself. The same about w ater; the same as I am trying to j j my contemporaries, about the basic energy resources, the ele­ ment fire. And today we are talking about land, the element earth. 1should say that land presents a problem o f meta-economics; but

let us realise we do not have a consensus o f opinion on this point inpresent-day society. People believe today that clean air and clean w ater are worthy objectives but is land to be considered as an end in itself worth » bothering about? I am afraid w e are still a long w ay from that. O f course, it can still come; you on ly have to think back about io o years when many people w ere quite incapable o f thinking of the fifth element as an end in itself, w hich is o f course the human being-man himself. We had theories, w hich are still leading a ghostly and unpleasant existence, that m an w as just an economic phenomenon. His income, fo r instance, should be settled by m ar­ ket forces. Whether he had the chance to w ork or not should be settled by whether or not the w hole econom y w as easier to manage at this level or that level o f em ploym ent. A ll this used to be con­ sidered merely sound, scientific sense. But I am glad to say we have tosome extent got aw ay from this; in present-day economics man isgenerally taken not as a means to an end but as an end in itself. You know what happens w hen people start m ixing up means and ends. The fellow who goes on earning m oney and forgets that money is only a means to an end comes in for ridicule and con­ tempt as a miser; an unsavoury sort o f character. All the same, you find all through present day societies all sorts o f extraordinary attempts to reduce w hat w e all recognise as final values to an economic calculus. People ask, “ Does education really p ay o ff? ” , as if a monetary return were the purpose o f education; as if education were not a value in itself. Some people ask w hether crime pays, and that is a legitimate question. But if they ask, “ D oes goodness pay? Is it worthwhile? Is it good business to behave decently?” , we immedi­ ately realise, although perhaps w e cannot find the argument against it, that this is an illegitimate, a degraded question. So I am saying that if one mistakes w hat is an end in itself, and treats it as ameans, then there is a degradation o f life. And conversely, if one takes what is really a means to be an end and elevates it to the




statu s o f an en d , then there is degradation of oneself. Like the e x a m p le o f the miser. S o n o w w e co m e to ou r question: C an we say, do we believe, th at a h ealth y an d beautiful countryside is an end in itself? The m o m en t w e say yes to th at, w e do not have to discuss any more w h e th e r it is e co n o m ic o r uneconom ic, just as we do not have to discuss w h e th e r to keep reasonably clean is economic or uneco­ n o m ic. W e sa y cleanliness is an end in itself and any self-respecting p eop le w o u ld agree. T h a t is w h y I say the problem of land use is not p rim arily an eco n om ic o r technical question. T h e p ro b lem is co n fu sed, how ever, by the fact that one can buy an d sell land as if it w ere sim ply a m an-m ade thing. Luckily we ca n n o t b u y an d sell the air, and this helps people to understand th at clean air is an end in itself. But because one can buy and sell land th ey tend to think that land is just the same as a pair of nylon stock in gs, o r a glass o f beet; or any other secondary product — som eth ing yo u b u y and sell. If this w ere true, we would have noth­ ing to discuss, because if there is nothing more to it than that, then the eco n om ic calculus m ust indeed be given full control. W e w aste our time if w e think this is a matter for scientific pro of. N o one can prove that it is right to love anybody, or to care fo r anything, or to have respect for anything. N o one can prove that it is right to care fo r the future. If som ebody says to me “Thou shalt not exploit th y fellow m an ,” I can always answer “Why n o t?” ; “ T h o u shalt not kill” — “ W h y n o t?” There is no conclusion to it in logic. W e see intuitively— call it w hat you like— that there are values that do not have to be argued, with regard to not exploiting or killing our fellow men. In the same way, do we or do w e not accept that land, the use, maintenance, health and future of land is one o f these values? If I have a car, I can quite legitimately argue that the best way



Equally, what about the creatures on the land, the higher ani­ mals? Are they the sam e as a car, a m ere utility? O r are they also to be looked upon as values in them selves? N ow , again, this is a perfectly straightforward question. M o d ern zoologists and biolo­ gists can tell us the m ost entrancing stories about these anim als, which make it clear to anyone w h o can not see it directly, that every animal is a mystery far beyond o u r com prehension. They show us with all the armoury o f science, fo r instance, that am ong the high­ er animals most o f the inner organs are very similar. But outw ard­ ly there are breathtaking differences— antlers, horns and m any other magnificent signs that go fa r beyond any utilitarian calculus. Where utility is the decisive thing, the zoologist tells us, all organs are much the same. But w here som ething else com es into it, w hat­ ever that might be— the sym bolism , the hint tow ards something higher than humdrum life— there w e encounter a vast display o f ingenuity and beauty. W ell, are w e going to accept this and say here are values in themselves, o r are w e going to say an anim al is just the same as a car? I know some people think that a car is m uch m ore beautiful than a bull. But there is no use arguing about it; either yo u see something or you don’t! Perhaps it is m ore a m atter o f faith than of anything else; it certainly is not a m atter o f logic. In the past, o f course, things w ere different. We w ere told to value the things w hich w e certainly had not m ade ourselves, because God made them and had found them “ very g o o d ” . B ut today we live in an irreligious, not to say anti-religious society, and an argument involving G o d cuts no ice at all. We are therefore reduced to a different type o f argum ent, nam ely, the threat, “ L o o k here, if you do not behave yo u rself, yo u w ill regret it.” If w e do not preserve the land and the anim als on it there w ill be some kind o f vengeance. But these are slo w processes and people say, “ O h w ell, lean outlast it, w hy should I b other ab o u t posterity, w hat has pos­ terity done for m e?” So here w e are. It is im possible to argue the case. Why should England’s green and pleasant land rem ain green and pleasant? If I can have a com fortab le little corner for m yself that is good enough for me. W h y should w e bother about the m ag­ nificence and beauty o f anim als, if it only costs money? W hy should we get together here and w o rr y that w ith certain practices, wild life will be exterm inated, w ill disappear? W hy shouldn’t it



develop standards against extreme forms of factory farming. There are even some com pulsory powers to dispossess in cases of very bad practice. All the same, it seems to me that what is really need­ ed is a much m ore decentralised approach, a much more localised approach, and I think in the present state of affairs one cannot leave control entirely to officials. There should be something akin to the Com m ittees w e had during w ar time, where the users of land are judged by their peers. N ow , w hat about incentives, m y third point? What about mak­ ing it pay? If health, beauty and permanence are the primary goals, the key ideas, does it pay? Some o f the land will be used for non-farming purposes, but for most o f it the only use is farming. It is no use getting away from this fact by talking about the multiple . use o f land and saying that if farming does not pay the farmer can j make a bit o f m oney by taking in tourists. Either a tourist is over- j charged and farm ing is subsidised out o f that overcharge, or the j farmer’s w ife is exploited and gets no proper reward for the services she renders to tourism , and farming is thereby subsidised by j the farm er’s wife. This, surely, is no answer to our problem. Of course there should be multiple use o f land, and there always is j multiple use o f land because nothing can be done without some j land; you cannot even build an apartment block or a factory. But the multiple use o f land is not the answer to the problem of making farming pay. M ost o f the land w ill either be derelict or, if we do not want J that, it will have to be usefully em ployed in terms of farming. So J we cannot get aw ay from the fact that farming must pay, and the j right kind o f farm ing and the proper management of land must J pay. It has been said “ W hy not p ay the people who own the land 1 a fee to keep it tidy and also to keep it available for us townies to J spend a weekend?” Well, w h y not? We can, o f course, decide that 1 anyone who has so m any acres and keeps them to a certain stan- I dard o f tidiness and beauty, shall get a m onetary reward. But in the 1 end, let us not deceive ourselves, w e are merely finding a slightly 1 more involved justification fo r paying farm ing subsidies. And so 1 the basic question remains, whether a m ainly town-based civilisa- j tion is prepared to recognise the land as a value in itself. If subsi- 1 dies are acceptable, as they are still today, I’m grateful to say, then j I think they should be open subsidies, and they should be justified 1



in these terms— as a common concern not only of the people work­ ing on the land, but o f tow n and country people alike. Everything is possible if society wants it. There are no technical difficulties, there is not a lack o f knowledge. N o economist needs to be consulted on “ whether the country can afford” to look after its land. We know too much about ecology today to have any excuse for the many abuses that are now going on in the manage­ ment of the land, in the management of animals, in food storage, food processing, food distribution, and in needless urbanisation. But as a society we have, at this point of time, no faith, no firm basis of belief in any meta-economic values, and when there is no such belief economics takes over. This is quite inevitable. How could it be otherwise? Nature, it has been said, abhors a vacuum, and when the available space is not filled by some higher motivation, then it will be filled by something lowei; by the small, mean, calcu­ lating attitude to life which is rationalised in the economic calculus. I have no doubt that a callous attitude to the land and to the animals thereon is connected with, and symptomatic of, a great many other attitudes, such as those producing heedless urbanisation, needless industrialisation, and a kind o f fanaticism which insists on playing about with novelties— technical, chemical, biological and so forth—long before their long-term consequences are even remotely understood. In the simple question of how we treat the land, I am sure, our entire w ay o f life is involved, and before our policies with regard to the land will really be changed, there will have to be a great deal o f philosophical, not to say religious, change. That is why I do not w ish to suggest that all that is needed is a clever economist to produce some brilliant formula on how to get a proper treatment o f land w ithout anyone noticing the cost. Noticeable costs there w ill be, and it needs nothing less than a general return to a recognition o f meta-economic values for society to be prepared to bear them.

Vol 2 No 7, May-June 1969

Chapter 1 7

How to Abolish Land Speculation N o ONE CAN EXIST without some land base. With growing popu­ lation, growing mobility, growing production, growing trade, land values tend to move up and up on a one-way street (quite apart from inflation). Anyone who manages to ‘corner’ land only has to wait to grow rich. Karl M arx, Henry George, and countless others have pointed to the absurdity and injustice o f land speculation; but the free enterprise system has never done anything effective to stop it. Calls for land nationalisation have gone unanswered because few people could see it as a valid alternative to private ownership. To start with, how could the State ever find the money to buy out the existing owners? And even if the money could be found, there is reason to fear that State ownership o f land w ould automatically and inevitably mean some type o f bureaucratic administration—a daunting prospect indeed. In order to abolish land speculation, it is not necessary to abol­ ish decentralised ownership. The direct relationship between a per­ son and a piece o f land is something so elem entary and satisfying that one would hesitate a long time before abolishing it. To adopt State ownership o f land just fo r the purpose o f abolishing land speculation would be like jum ping from the frying pan into the fire. All that needs doing to stop land speculation is to establish the rule that no landowner m ay ever receive fo r any piece o f land more than its ‘registered value’. Every piece o f land in the United K in gd om has a certain value or price as o f now — say, as o f Septem ber 1s t, 19 7 4 . kf the owner sold it now, he or she would have som e idea o f w hat it would fetch, perhaps after taking professional advice. Ifh e/sh e died, the value of the land would be assessed as part o f his/her estate. Let us say the value o f every piece o f land in the U nited K in gd o m were to be

42 H O W T O A B O L IS H L A N D S P E C U L A T IO N


ascertained: this w ould no dou bt be a big job but by no means an impossible one. Values w ould reflect the current zoning arrange­ ments (as of September 1st, 19 7 4 ) and m any other price-determining factors. The ascertained value w o u ld be registered with the Local Authority and be called the ‘registered value’ . To take care of future inflation, the G overnm ent w o u ld publish an index showing what the pound sterling w as w o rth com pared w ith its worth on September 1st, 19 7 4 , and w h en ever a transaction were to take place, the ‘registered valu e’ w o u ld be adjusted according to the index. So the ‘registered valu e ’ , adjusted fo r inflation, would always remain the sam e in real term s. A nyone w ho wanted to sell land at any future date w o u ld k n o w that he or she could never obtain more for it than this inflation-adjusted ‘registered value’ . This would be the basic principle-—very simple and, I suggest, unquestionably'just— if land speculation is to be abolished. But what would happen if som eone w ished to sell land which, through re-zoning or som e other change, had become much more valuable? Whenever land com es up fo r sale w hich has risen in value owing to the operation o f social forces (such as re-zoning or ‘planning permission’ ) the L o c a l A u thority should have the right of first refusal, that is to say, to b uy such land at a competitive price, the sort of price a private purchaser w ou ld be w illing to pay for it. If it made use of its right to purchase, it w ould pay the seller the ‘registered value’ and pay an y surplus into a special fund which might be called the L o cal A u tho rity L an d Fund. If it did not choose to make use of its right to purchase, a private purchaser would have the opportunity o f b uyin g the land in question, and he/she would do exactly the same-—p ay the seller the ‘ registered value’ and remit the surplus to the L o c a l A u tho rity L an d Fund. And what w ould becom e o f the ‘ registered value’ then? If a * higher price had in fact been p aid in the m anner described, whether I by a Local Authority or b y an y other purchaser, this would then I become the new ‘ registered v alu e ’ . In other w ord s, the ‘ registered I value’ would never be less th an w h a t (after the date of the initial 1 assessment—September 1 s t , 19 7 4 ) a new purchaser had actually M; paid for his land. I It may of course happen that a piece o f land is for sale and no I one is willing to pay fo r it as m uch as the ‘ registered value’ . A 1 transaction between w illin g seller an d w illin g buyer may then take



place at a low er price, which then becomes the ‘registered value’. In short, the current owner and any subsequent buyer arc deprived o f the chance o f making any windfall profits through land ownership; all such profits go automatically into the public hand, the Local Authority Land Fund. In those exceptional cases where a particular piece o f land declines in value, the seller may indeed fail to recover the ‘registered value’, but that is the risk he takes in buy­ ing land or, if you like, the price he pays fo r the immense privilege o f private land ownership. Needless to say, any scheme, even one o f the greatest simplici­ ty, like the one here proposed, raises some complicated questions. W hat about buildings and other structures on the land? What if I have acquired a piece o f land and have built a road or a house or some other building that has cost me a great deal o f money? Can I recover m y expenditure on ‘improvements’ when I want to sell my land? These ‘improvements’ w ill not be reflected by the ‘registered value’ o f the land. This is not an insuperable difficulty. Although there does not exist—and cannot be— a precise science o f valuation, it is possible to come to reasonable solutions o f the problem. Valuers can dis­ tinguish between ‘site (or land) value’ and the value o f buildings and other structures. Another objection to these proposals is this: I f people have land they do not need and cannot m ake vast profits on selling it, they w ill simply keep it, refusing to sell; and so, a great amount of land which society needs w ill be hoarded and withheld from proper use. This is nor a valid objection. Powers o f com pulsory purchase exist, and although they should never be used except as a power of last resort, their existence is accepted by society and they suffice to deal with and-social behaviour I commend this scheme fo r further thought. I claim that it would produce a genuine m iddle-w ay solution to the problem of land ownership and a total solution to the problem o f land specu­ lation. The new dispensation w ould become active only as and when the landowner wishes to get rid o f his land— in other words, when he wishes to cease being a landowner. M ost landowners in any case are fanners, and nothing could be further from their real interests and predilections than land speculation. The elimination o f land speculation w ould greatly increase the

185 ability of local authorities to obtain land for public needs at fair prices, and this proposal would siphon into the public hand all windfall gains from the growing scarcity of land. I hardly think there is need to explain what the monies accumulating in the Local Authority Land Fund might be earmarked for. Private affluence and public squalor is one o f the besetting sins of the modern world. Yet, if monies are channelled into public hands, the problem of how to achieve democratic control over their expenditure still remains. I am not claiming that a scheme to eliminate land specu­ lation will solve this problem. But if we do set our minds on elim­ inating land speculation, critics of this proposal may fairly be asked: “ Alright, if you don’t like this scheme, will you kindly pro­ pose something better?”

Vol 5 No 4, Sept-Oct 1974



Chapter 1 8 Ql>

The Roots of Violence

Non-violence, rr seems, is only for saints; and while it is assured­ ly the task of all men and women to strive for sainthood, there are but few of us who get near enough to this goal to be able to be firm innonviolence—when it comes to the test. It seems, therefore, that wemust learn to live with Violence. We may have a chance to curb jit, but hardly a chance to make it wither away altogether. : The itch of violence is a part of human nature. It might be said that it is the task of civilisation to control, channel, or sublimate it. |Modem civilisation appears, indeed, to channel violence away | fromeveryday inter-human relations, but then, instead of subli[ mating it seems to multiply it a million-fold. The Bomb is the symj bol of modern civilisation. Unfortunately, it is not merely a symbol but an ever-present threat to all life on our planet, yet it is also a symbol of a civilisation that has bred readiness for violence with[ out any limit whatsoever. The reader may object to the use of the | word ‘readiness’. But if we, or our masters, were not ready to use The Bomb in certain circumstances, we should not go to the I painful expense of having it at all. Only if we were willing to say: [ “We shall not use The Bomb in any circumstances whatsoever” , I couldwe claim not to be ready to use it. But in that case, of course, I weshould have no Bomb. Far fromcurbing our readiness to engage in violence on the ultiI matescale, it would appear, therefore, that modern civilisation has I actually produced it. How could this be possible? H ow is it possiI ble for the same civilisation simultaneously and concurrently to [ produce a great curbing of violence at the level of inter-human I relations and the ultimate perfection of violence at the level of | international relations? The answer normally given to this question suggests that our I relative nonviolence at the personal level is simply due to the exisI tenceof the police and the Rule of Law, the only way to achieve the I sameat the international level would be to set up an international




police force and introduce an international Rule o f Law. There is, o f course, some truth in this answer, but I do not think it goes to the root o f the matter. Let us try to find the roots o f violence. Some people, of course, consider it sufficient to point to original sin. If there were not something profoundly unsatisfactory about human nature, history w ould not he such a record o f crim e, culm inating in the threat of total extermination as a ‘deterrent’. This unsatisfactoriness is no doubt a compound o f moral w eakness, norm ally called sin, and intellectual weakness, norm ally called ignorance. To put all the blame on Sin betrays considerable intellectual w eakness, and to put all the blame on Ignorance betrays a lack o f candour which can only be due to considerable m oral w eakness. H ow ever that may be, all this is rather too general fo r our purpose. As we are a compound o f mind and body, w e m ay not go far w rong by looking for the roots o f violence both in the body and in the mind. In fact, this is exactly w hat trad itional m oral philos­ ophy has alw ays done. In the West, w e had the teaching of the Seven Deadly Sins, which were made up o f three ‘w arm ’ sins and three ‘cold’ ones, while the seventh, acedia o r Sloth, is neither warm nor cold. As D orothy Sayers put it, “ in the w orld it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called D e s p a ir.. . It is the sin which believes in nothing, cares fo r nothing, seeks to kn ow nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates noth­ ing, finds purpose in nothing, lives fo r n othing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it w o u ld die fo r ” . N o deep roots of violence here. Among the three ‘warm* sins — luxuria w h ich w e call Lust; gula which we call G luttony; and ire w h ich w e call W rath— there are undoubtedly deep roots o f violence to be found in ire. The ‘warm* sins arise primarily from the body, from the ‘ h eart’ if you like, and ___ L _

_____ ______t . . > _________ »

_ _


i. ~ i

i ----------------------

Bnd if the social system does not fit reality, the environment responds by turning sick* It is because our social system not mere­ ly neglects but actively discourages the cardinal virtues of pru­ dence* justice* fortitude and tcntpcrantiay that wc are in trouble with the environment. Not surprisingly, therefore, many people clamour for a different social system— and they are assuredly allowing more insight than those who merely clamour for more sci­ entific and technical research to ‘solve’ the problems that face us. But it must be emphasised that just as the social system shapes the environment, so our basic philosophy shapes our social system. Unless this philosophy changes, the system cannot change in its essential nature— however much it may change in terms of the distribution of power and wealth, or in terms of structure or administrative method. The evil power of greed and envy needs to be fought by endurance as well as by attack, and to do so is the function of the cardinal virtue of fortitude. Easy-going optimism that ‘science will solve all problems’ or that we can somehow achieve a socialpolitical system so perfect that no one has to be good, is the most current form o f cowardice. Let us face it: it is easy indeed to ask for ‘new values’ without specifying what they are and how they are to be attained. The reali­ sation of value is impossible without the practice of virtue. Today, it takes fortitude even to suggest that there cannot be any change for the better without a change in the every day doing of each one of us. Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (Jas. 1:22.-24) The environment crisis is the glass, the mirror, showing us



It has become part of the conventional wisdom of today to suggcstthat there is a fundamental conflict between maintaining % healthy environment, on the one hand, and economic growth, on the other hand. As a result, people who are concerned over the deterioration of the environment are frequently denounced as ‘middle class elitists’, 'bourgeois exploiters’, or whatever other terms of political abuse can be extracted from the dictionary of modern controversy. Representatives of the Third World, at the same time, declare that they would gladly trade in a bit of addi­ tional pollution for an increase of their desperately low standard of living. “Human economic misery,” says Mrs. Gandhi, “is the greatest pollution of all.” There is a bit of truth in all these propositions. The kind of eco­ nomic growth which has become established all over the world, mainly under the influence of capitalistic enterprise, has indeed proved so damaging to the environment that one can justly say: further growth along these lines is likely to be incompatible with human survival. And if the primary motive of conservationists werefear of what might to their own high standard of living if the ThirdWorld started successfully to copy us, then one could indeed dismissthemas elitists and exploiters. Poachers are never convincing asgamekeepers. It is also true that the 'pollution’ of human misery is more offensive than the pollution of the physical environment. But it is not true that you cannot fight the former without increas­ ingthe latter. The point is that the economic system of the modern world, whenconsidered from the point of view of real human needs, is almost unbelievably wasteful. It devours the world—the very basis ofits own existence—while still leaving the great majority of peo­ pleinmiserable conditions. It is safe to say that the human race has never known an economic system in which the’ relationship betweenthe input of irreplaceable resources and output of human satisfaction was so unfavourable as it is now. It is this system itself—the life-style of the modern world—which is incompatible with the health of Spaceship Earth, and not simply the further growthand expansion of the system. To replace the idea of rapid economic growth by the idea of zero-growth, that is to say, organised stagnation, is to replace one emptiness by another. The environment cannot be saved by clinging



to a life-style w h ich reduces everything (as much as ever possible) to pure quantity, system atically neglecting qualitative discrimination, and then attem pting to stabilise the quantity. Such an attempt, foredoom ed to failure, could m erely increase the general confu­ sion, stim ulate greed and envy, and drive the victim s o f injustice to final desperation. L et us hope th at w iser counsel w ill prevail: that w e find our w ay b ack to the ancient C h ristian virtues; that w e let the teaching of them perm eate the w h o le o f our educational efforts; that w e learn to subject the logic o f p ro du ction and o f pro du ctivity to the high­ er logic o f real h um an needs and aspirations; that w e rediscover the p ro p er scale o f th ings, their pro per sim plicity, their proper place an d fu n ction in a w o rld w h ich extends infinitely beyond the pure­ ly m aterial; th at w e learn to ap p ly the principles o f non-violence n o t o n ly to the relationships betw een people but also to those betw een peop le and living nature. Vol 5 N o 5, N ov-D ec 19 7 4

Chapter i t

This 1 Believe

It is NO T AN EASY THING for me to speak about my beliefs, because I can so well remember the many years of my life when the kind of belief I hold now seemed to be a sign of intellectual underdevelop­ ment or senility. This attitude of mine could of course be interpret­ ed as youthful arrogance; but it did not feel arrogant. I don't suppose Newton felt arrogant when he claimed his new theories to be nearer to the truth than anything that had gone before. No, I don’t think it was arrogance that made me think that at long last we had discovered the only possible method for acquiring valid knowledge—the scientific method, and that therefore people who adhered to pre-scientific faiths or beliefs were simply behind the times, to be pitied rather than despised. 1 did not for a moment think that this marvellous modern dis­ covery, the scientific method, had already delivered the goods. But 1 was confident it would do so in time, provided only that intelli­ gent people will not go on wasting their time on religious mumbojumbo. Of course there were many gaps in our knowledge, but there was no excuse for pretending that you could fill these gaps by invoking the Almighty or consulting Revelation or engaging in any kind of metaphysical speculation. All this I firmly believed for many years. And now? Now I believe that seeing I saw not and hearing I heard not neither did I understand. What accounts for the change? 1 cannot claim that there was some dramatic conversion: nor have 1 reason to fear or suspect that my mental faculties suddenly or gradually deserted me. No, someone suggested to me that 1 could greatly improve my health and happiness by devoting fifteen min­ utes a day to certain relaxation and concentration exercises— which were explained to me. Fifteen minutes a day, just l per cent of the 14 hours! I his did not seem an excessive price for what was being promised or an excessive loss if all the promises were false. Why not try it?



F r o m th en o n everyth in g b egan to ch an ge. Texts w hich for so m a n y y e a rs h ad been quite m eaningless began to disclose their m e an in g — as if som eo n e h ad said “ open sesam e!” F o r instance, a te x t like this: B u t this shall be the co ven an t I shall m ake. . . I w ill p u t m y la w in their in w a rd p arts and w rite it in their h earts. . . A n d th ey shall teach no m ore every m an his n e igh b o u r.. . F o r th ey shall all k n o w m e, fro m the least o f them to the great­ est o f them . . . H o w co u ld I und erstand such w o rd s as lon g as I had no idea w h a te v e r o f in w a rd parts into w h ich ‘the la w ’ could be put or of h earts o n w h ic h it co u ld be w ritten ? M y w a y o f living had never a llo w e d m e to discover those in w ard parts let alone to notice what h ad been p u t into them . H ap p ily, the m odest practice o f allo w in g som e degree o f inner stillness to establish itself— if o n ly fo r fifteen m inutes a day, to start w ith — led to these unsuspected discoveries: like a G eiger counter, the in w a rd parts started to react and in fact to b u r n as soon as my m in d fo u n d itself in co n tact w ith the real thing— w h a t shall I call it?— w ith ‘T ru th ’, the Tru th referred to w h en w e are told: Y e shall k n o w the truth an d the truth shall m ake yo u free. I h ad n o t previo u sly k n o w n o f the existence o f such Truth. I had rath er sym pathised w ith Pontius Pilate w h en he shrugged his shoulders and asked: “ W h a t is tru th ?!” , after Jesus had said his task w a s to bear w itness to the T ruth. N o w I also rem em bered that Jesu s h ad prom ised to ‘ab id e’ in us, in our in w ard parts — the exis­ tence o f w h ich , fo r so m an y years, h ad rem ained totally unknown to me. T h is inner organ w ith its indw elling spirit o f Truth is really the m ost w on d erful thing. It tells m e w hether som ething is Truth— the truth that shall m ake us free— som etim es long before m y reason is able to understand h o w it c o u ld be such. I then m ay have to work hard until I can see the rationality o f such a Truth. Conversely, it often greets the m ost plausible and seem ingly m ost compelling argum ents w h ich m y reason produces w ith cold indifference, and,

again, I may have to w o r k h ard until I d isco ve r the flaw s in my reason's arguments. 1 now also understand w h a t w a s m eant w hen Jesus talked about the C om forter that w o u ld ab id e w ith us for ever, the .Spirit of Truth. Ye know him, he said , fo r he dw elleth with you and is in yo u . The Com forter is not a lw a y s v e ry co m fo rtab le: but it is never­ theless an enorm ous co m fo rt to be able to o b tain som e help in the awesome business o f pick in g o n e ’s w a y th rough life, o f deciding between the True and the False. O f co u rse, I d o n ’t m ean deciding between the correct and the in correct: this w e m ust do w ith our unaided reason as best w e can . I m ean distinguishing the True from the False with regard to the o n ly question w h ich w e cannot side-step, about w h ich w e ca n n o t be agnostic— the question o f what to do with our lives. What we w ish to do w ith o u r lives o b vio u sly depends first o f all on what we think w e are. A fte r all, ‘ naked apes’ , for instance, would naturally cond uct them selves differently from the w a y a chosen generation, a ro ya l priesth ood, an holy nation, would wish to co n d u ct them selves. W h a t are w e then— naked apes or a peculiar people to w h o m w a s given the power to becom e the sons o f G o d ? There are m om ents, indeed, w h e n the idea that w e are nothing but naked apes, the pro d u ct o f m indless evolution, appeals to me. To have no obligations, to be able just to drift along, following one’s instinctive prom ptings, just to take things easy and make oneself comfortable— if n ecessary even at the expense o f others: Why on earth not?— T h e trou ble is I can n ot get those ‘inward t. parts’ ever to say Yes to it. T h e ‘ C o m fo rte r’ , evidently, is not par| ticularly interested in co m fort. As regards the naked ape idea, there is nothing original, diffiI cult, or unnatural about it. A ll religions k n o w about it but tell us I that the human race stands infinitely high above the animals. I “Human birth, hard to o b ta in ,” say the Buddhists. A n d Jesus tells

Index A accountability 75-6 action freedom of 56-7, 58-9, 62-3,105-8 for the future 29-32 purpose of 172-5 and thought 191-2 administration 60-1 Affluent Society (Galbraith) 37-8, 89 agriculture and chemicals 112,148, 149-50 in developing countries 121, 127-8, 146-52,154-8 and energy consumption 30-1, 111-13, 164, 167-8 and food production 303 1,111-13 , 146-58 ‘good husbandry* 148-50 modern 30-1, 95, m 13, 148,149-5°* 164, 167-8 organic 31,115-16,140, 149,150 productivity in 146-8,164 subsidies 180-1 and urbanisation 163-4 aid 75-6,128,141-2, i 44“5> 152-3,154-5* *98 Animal Machines (Harrison) 95

Bird, Christopher 23 Birdwood, George 200 Black, Eugene 197-8, 201 Bomb 189, 190 Brecht, Bertold 77 Britain 91-2,103, 141-2, 176 Bronowski, Jacob 191 Brown, Harrison Scott 42 Buddhism 35-43 Bugbear o f Literacy

nt-13, t68, 169 Coomaraswamy, Ananda

37,196-7,199-100 crime 91-2 culture

Asian 199-100 in developing countries iii-z, 113-4 of poverty 77-83 structure of 111

(Coomaraswamy) 196-7,199-200 bureaucracy 31-2, 55-7, 59-61

D Davis, Kingsley 101-3,161, 162,167 de-urbanisation 167,168 Descartes, Rene 25,26 C developed countries Carson, Rachel 95 and developing countries Cartesian thought 25, 26, 28 128-9 Challenge o f Man’s Future (Brown) 42 technology in 134-7 developing countries chemical fertilisers 112, agriculture in 121,117148,149-50 8,146-52,154-8 China 203 Christianity 30, 87-9,196aid 75-6,128,141-2, 7, 208-14 144- 5, i 5*-3> 154-5,198 city buildings 162-3,166-7, cattle grazing 155 169 crop storage 155-6 size of 46-8,91,103-4, culture in 121-2,123-5 130 and developed countries social problems 50, 90128-9 2 ,114 -5 ,17 7 -8

and urbanisation 102-5, 113,120-1, 134, 161-71 Club of Rome 68-9 coal 109, 163, 164-5 Commoner, Barry 112 communications 47, 48,

food imports 143,144,

145- 6 food production 145-52, 153-8 industry in 125-7,137-9 migration 50,114,130,

Aquinas, Saint Thomas 25, 9 2


employees see workers cultural 121-12,123-4 employment see work andeconomics 122-3, energy 126-7 alternative sources 109, andtheenvironment no, 113-14, 120,121 115-16 industry in 125-7 consumption 30-31, 96, andpoverty 124,125-7 109-16, 163, productionin 122-3 164-6, 167-8, unhealthy 119-21,131-2 169-70 Dewey, DonaldJ. 198 and food production 30districtapproach see 31, m - 1 3 , 164 regionalism and resource use 30-31, dogmatism15-6 97, 163, 164-6, dual economy 50,131 167-8 and urbanisation 163, E 164-6, 167, East, die 169 -70 culture 199-200 Engels, Friedrich 97, 98 spirituality 194-204 environment andtheWest 195-6, and Christianity 208-14 203-4 degradation of 220, 121, economics 205-14 abstract 172-81 . and economics 213-14 Buddhist 35-43 and materialism 205-6, andconsumption 38-40, 208-9,211-12, 89-90,109 . 213-14 anddevelopment 122-3, ‘ephemeral v eternal’ 79126-7 8 3,171 emotionin 192-3 Europe andtheenvironment and Asia 195-6, 203-4 213-14 spirituality 194-5, 196-8, andlanduse 172-81 200-1 meta-economics 172-4, ‘superiority’ 196-8 181 metabolism170-1 F modem44-7,49, 51-4, factory farming 156-7 178-9,181-4, faith 177, 215-18 see also 213-14 Christianity andmorality 87-96, FAO (UN Food and 205-14 Agriculture andnature 22-4, 30-31, Organisation) 143, . 1 7 J 175-6, 1 77 objectivityin 193 146-7,150, 153 : andpopulationgrowth farming see agriculture federalism 44, 51-3 77-8,79 recovery 21-22 fertilisers 112, 148, 149-50 andresource use 21, 22, food 39-41 exports 143-4, 145 scaleof 44-7 production 30-1, m andspirituality 35-43, 13, 143-58 87-9, 177, 197- fossil fuels 30-1, 109-13, 9,201-3 163, 164-5, 166 survival 21-24 Four Cardinal Virtues 209andthe‘system’ 31-2 11,2 12 -13 seealso materialism France 103 i education122,123,124-5, Frazer^ Sir James 27-8 I 2.07-8 freedom of action 56-7, 58p Eichmann, Karl Adolf 192 9, 62-3,105-8

■III PlnnfiorliS

o A






.Frp«=>man . .Orvillff :,t a


t a



fuel see energy G Gadgil, D.R. 141 Galbraith, John Kenneth 37-8, 89 Gandhi, Indira 213 Gandhi, Mahatma 83 Gandhianism 76 gas 30, 109 giantism 31-2, 44, 55, 57, ' 105-6 Gide, Andre 210 Goodman, Paul 73 Greening o f America

(Reich) 29 Guenon, Rene 198-9, 203 H Harrison, Mrs Ruth 95 Herber, Lewis 91, 95, 177-8 human factor . in industry 53-4, 55-6, 57-8, 68-70,96 and intermediate tech­ nology 71-3 and mass production 823 ,12 7 ,1 2 8 human freedom 105-8 human settlement 102-5,: V 113 ,16 8 Huygens, Christiaan 25 hydroelectricity 109 •. I


India 13 4 ,13 8, 141, 200, 202-3 industry administration of 60-x ■ automation 35-8, 119, 120 in developing countries 125-7,137-9 and the human factor 53-4 , 55-6, 579, 68-70,96 and morality 87-96 scale of 59-61 service 55-6 structure of 56, 122 intermediate technology in developing countries 134-5, 136-4*, 153-6

and energy consumption 114-116 the human factor 53-4, 55-6, 57-8, 68nr\ ■ a(\ ■



and modem technology 4 2-3,10 6-8 and work 7 1-3 , 10 0 -1 Intermediate Technology Development Group 72., 1 1 5 , 1Z9, 154



10 3, 130 population growth 77,79, meta-economics 17 2 - 4 ,18 1 13 0 ,14 3 ,14 4 migration 5 0 ,114 , 120-1, poverty 74-5,77-83,137, 130 , 13 1- 3 ,1 3 4 , 205 178 production Mills, Charles Wright 58 and consumption 89-90, ‘misery’ 7 8 -9 ,13 7 m - 1 3 , 168, mobility 47-51 International Labour 169 Review 13 z modernisation 4 1-3 ,10 4 -5 , in developing countries 119 -20 , 1 2 1 , 134Ionides, Michael 15 4 122-3,132,-3 Italy 13 3 6,194-204, 205-6 food 3 0 -1,111-12 ,14 3 morality 87-96, 205-14 58 Myrdal, Karl Gunnar 129 and the human factor J 55, 82-3,127, Jenkins, David 58 mystery 26-7 128 Jo b Power (Jenkins) 58 mass 53-4, 82-3, 89-90, N Jones, Sir Emrys 30-1 122-3,126-7, National Health Service 3 1, Juvenal, Bertrand de 40 128-9 176 by the masses 53-4, 82K Natural Resources: Sinews for Survival 3,122-3, iz8-9 Khadi Commission 13 9 modes of 97-8,99-100 (HMSO) 68, 206-8 Kumarappa, J.C . 37 pattern of 1 1 1 - 1 2 ,1 1 3 , nature 168-9 attitude to 22-4, 30-1 L productivity see production threat to 17 5 - 6 ,17 7 . labour see work see also environment land nihilism 22-3 and farming 18 0 -1 Q quality of life see life-style non-violence 39-40, 4 1, and legislation 179-80 ‘quantity v quality* 27-8, 157-8, 189-90, management 179 59, 6 1,20 2 193, 214 registered value 182.-5 > nuclear energy 108, 109, speculation 18Z-5 R n o , 113 - 14 use o f 17 2 -8 1 Radhakrishnan, Sir Leach, Gerald 30 O Sarvepalli 199 Leo xm , Pope 70 radioactivity 113 -14 life-style 80-1, 17 0 -1, 205- objectivity 19 1-3 Odum, Howard 169-70 rationality 25-6,191-3 6, Z 13 -14 oil 3 0 ,10 9 , n o , 16 3 ,16 4 - reason 25-6,191-3 Limits to Growth 68-9 6 ,16 7 recycling 170-1 literacy 1Z 3 ,1Z 4 -5 optimism, false 2 1-2 ‘refusal of consciousness’ 22-4 Our Synthetic Environment M (Herber) 17778 regionalism 51-3,133-4 management registered value (land) 182-5 industrial 60-1 P Reich, Charles 29 land 179 resources M arx, Karl 59, 6 1,9 7 , 98, Pallis, Marco 203-4 and energy consumption 100 pattern consumption m - 1 2 , 30 -1,9 7,16 3, mass production 53-4, 82164-6,167-8 3 ,1 2 2 - 3 , I *6-7, 113 ,16 8 ,16 9 128-9 use of 39-41, 96,109-16 human settlement 102-5, materialism 74-5, 78, 79Roots o f Economic Growth 113 ,16 8 83, 89-90 (Schumacher) 78-9 production n i - 1 2 , 1 1 3 , and the environment 168-9 Roszak, Theodore 23 205-6, 208-9, Peru 50 rural decline 5 0 ,114 ,12 1, 2 1 1 - 1 2 , 2 13 -14 philosophy 23, 24, 25-6, 13 0 -1,17 8 and spirituality 27-8, 36, 28-9, 190-3, 199Russell, Bertrand 24, 26 200 3 7~% *97-% zoo , 201-3, politics and technology 97S 208-14 108 Sayers, Dorothy 190 mechanisation see automa­ Pollution: Nuisance or scale tion Nemesis (HMSO) appropriate 45-7, 60-2, megalopolis 47-8, 50, 9 1, 68-9, 206-8 7 1- 2 ,1 1 5

vSG IN D EX and bureaucracy 3 1-2 , 59-61 economics of 44-6 human 3 1, 53-4, 60, 623, 7 i ‘ 3 science modem 2 2 -4 ,10 1 and spirituality 25-32, 2-15

Secret Life of Plants (Tompkins and Bird) 23 self-help 12 4 -5 ,I 2 6» 12 7 , 202-3 service industry 55-6 Seven Deadly Sins 190-3 Sicily 133 Silent Spring (Carson) 95 sin 190-3 Sin of Statistics (Frazer) 27-8 ‘small is beautiful* 3 1-2 , 4 5,6 0 -1,6 2-3 Smith, Adam 36, 99-100 social problems 50, 90-2, 114 - 15 ,13 1,17 6 , 177-8 society see ‘system’ solar energy 1 1 4 , 1 1 5 - 1 6 spirituality Buddhism 35-43 Eastern 194-204 and economics 35-43, 87-9 , x 77 , 197 9 ,20 1-3 and materialism 27-8, 36, 37-9 , 197 -9 , 200, 201-3, 208-14 in the modern world 2532, 2 15-18 and science 25-32, 2 15 Western 19 4 -5 ,1 9^-8, 200-1 standard of living see life­ style structure cultural 122 industrial 5 6 ,12 2 and mobility 48-51 | survival 21-4, 74-5 [ Switzerland 133-4 ; ‘system’ 3 1-2 ,9 7 ,9 8 ,10 0 -1 T

\ Tawney, Richard Henry 90, 92, 94

[' technology ; appropriate 42-3, 72-3, 104-5,106-8,



1 1 4 - 1 6 , 13 4 - 5 ,

and energy consumption 16 3 , 16 4 - 6 ,16 7 , 169 -70 pattern o f 10 2-5 and rural decline 50, 1 1 4 , 1 2 1 , 13 0 - 1,

13 8 in developing countries

114-15, 134 -5,

13 6 -4 2 , 1 5 1 - 6 and freedom 10 5 -8 intermediate see interme­ diate technology m odern 4 7 , 48, 9 7 -10 8 ,

134, 137, i 5 2-3

and politics 9 7 -10 8 scale o f 7 1- 3 and the ‘system* 9 7, 98, 10 0 - 1 transfer 1 1 4 - 1 5 , 13 4 - 5 and urbanisation 10 2 - 5 , 1 1 3 , 1 3 4 , 16 3 -4 Technology Assessment Groups 10 2 The Times 67 Third World see developing countries tidal pow er 1 1 4 Time 90, 1 5 0 - 1 TLC (Tender Loving Care) 3 1 "2 Tompkins, Peter 23 transport 4 7 , 48, 49-50, 16 3 , 16 8 -9 , 17O "1 trees 4 0 -1, 14 0 - 1


and social problems 50, 9 0 - 2 ,1 1 4 - 1 5 , 17 7 -8 and technology 10 2-5, 1 13 ,13 4 ,16 3 - 4 and transport 4 7 ,1 6 3 , 168-9 and unemployment 50, 114 - 15 ,13 0 , 13 1-3 in the United States 478 ,9 0 - 1,10 3 , 1 6 1 - 2 ,1 7 7 - 8 Urquhart, David 10 0 V violence 38-40, 4 1 , 95-6, 10 8 , 189-93 Voluntary Agencies 75-6 voluntary w ork 74-6 W Ward, Barbara 2 1 water supply 154 -5

Wealth o f Nations 36 U ‘West’ see developed coun­ UN Food and Agriculture Organisation see FA O tries under-developed countries w ork see developing coun­ attitudes to 35-8 , 57-9, tries 93-4 unemployment 3 7 , 38 , 50, degrading 57-9, 67-73, 119 - 2 1,13 0 ,13 19 9-100 dissatisfaction 57-9, 9 3 3 , 134 United Kingdom see Britain 4 United States purpose o f 70 -1 agricultural policy 1 1 2 quality o f 57-9, 67-73, and food production 9 3 -4 , 96 , 99 ” 14 3 -4 10 0 and modern technology and technology 71-3* 10 1- 2 T o o -i social problems 50, 1 3 1 , voluntary 74-6 17 6 , 17 7 -8 workers attitude to work 36, 57urbanisation in 47-8, 901 , 10 3 , 1 6 1 - 2 , 9 , 93-4 17 7 -8 quality of work 57-9, ‘unknown’ 25-6 67 -73 » 93 -4 , 99 urbanisation 1 2 0 - 1 , 1 6 1 - 7 1 10 0 and agriculture 16 3 -4 World Bank 74, 103-4 de-urbanisation 16 7 , 16 8 in developing countries .v , 13 0 ^ 1;

resurgence n e ws

whi ch


t he

hea r t

to t he e a r t h

“ T he w o rds o f R esu rgence in spire m e to act on m y convictions. R esu rgence p ro vid es a n ew set o f teachers, ones w ho can speak to you an yw h ere yo u can read. ” — A n ita R o d d ic k “ R esu rgence is u n iqu e an d irreplaceable. I am honoured to be associated w ith this w o n d erfu l jo u rn al. ” — H azel H enderson B a c k in M a y 1 9 6 6 w h en R esurgence cost tw o shillings and six­ pence, it tack led issues th at w ere o n ly ju st filtering through into m ain stre am d eb ate. Aaticles w ere pu b lish ed on the endangered en v iro n m en t, re n ew ab le energy an d eco lo g ical econom ics, includ­ in g a ll the essays b y E.F. Schum acher that com p rise this book. T h irty -o n e years later; R esurgence con tin u es to publish articles th at a re o n the cu ttin g edge o f curren t th in k in g , prom oting cre­ ativity, e co lo g y, sp iritu ality and frugality. W hile the corporate w o rld a d v o cate s free trad e, R esurgence qu estion s the sanity of m on ey w ith o u t m orality. W hile o u r go vern m en ts pursue pow er at a ll c o s ts , R esu rgen ce arg u e s fo r p o litic s w it h p rin cip les. W hile te ch n o lo g y in vad es o u r lives in the nam e o f speed and efficiency,

R esurgence ad v o cate s science w ith soul. B ut R esurgence n o t o n ly o ffe rs a c ritiq u e o f the old paradigm , it g iv e s

w o r k in g

m o d e ls

fo r


e m e rg in g

n ew

p arad igm .

R esurgence is p ack e d fu ll o f p o sitive id eas a b o u t the theory and p ractice o f g o o d

liv in g : p e rm a c u ltu re , co m m u n ity -su p p o rte d

agriculture, local econom ics, ecological b u ild in g , sacred architecture, art in the en viron m en t, sm all sch o o ls, an d d e e p ecology. If you w ould like a sam ple c o p y o f a recent issu e , please contact: Je an e tte G ill R o ck se a F arm h o u se, St. M a b y n , Bodm in C o rn w a ll P L 3 0 3 B R Telephone 6c F a x 0 1 2 0 8 8 4 1 8 2 4