E. F. Schumacher: Small Is Beautiful (1973)

Das Buch ist bald 50 Jahre alt und ist heute aktueller denn je. Richtungsweisende Gedanken.

1. The Problem of Production

To talk about the future

  • „To talk about the future is useful only if it leads to action now.“ (S. 9)

3. The Role of Economics

In der Ökonomie ist nichts heilig

  • „To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price. Not surprisingly, therefore, if economic thinking pervades the whole of society, even simple non-economic values like beauty, health, or cleanliness can survive only if they prove to be ‚economic‘.“ (S. 31)

Ökonomie gilt in erster Linie für Produktionsbetriebe, wird aber auf alles Mögliche umgelegt – was sinnlos ist.

  • „In fact […] it can be said that economics, as currently constituted, fully only applies to manufactures, but is being applied without discrimination to all goods and services, because an appreciation of the essential, qualitative differences between the four categories is entirely lacking.“ (S. 35)

4. Buddhist Economics

In der Alten BWL steht das Produkt im Vordergrund, in der Neuen BWL steht der Mensch im Vordergrund. (vgl. S. 41)

  • „An entirely new system of thought is needed, a system based on attraction to people, and not primarily attention to goods — (the goods will look after themselves!). It could be summed up in the phrase, ‚production by the masses, rather than mass production‘.“ (S. 57)

Simplicity and non-violence

  • „The keynote of Buddhist economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence.“ (S. 41)
  • „Simplicity and non-violence are obviously closely related.“ (S. 43)
  • Buddhist teaching: „Cease to do evil; try to do good.“ (S. 43)

5. A Question of Size

Freiheit und Struktur!

  • „In the affairs of men, there appears to be a need for at least two things simultaneously, which, on the face of it, seem to be incompatible and to exclude one another. We always need both freedom and order.” (S. 49)
  • Damit tun sich auch Lifestyle Entrepreneure schwer!
  • Wenn alles frei und möglich sein soll, dann wird es un-managebar.
  • => Deswegen sind Lifestyle Businesses so schwer!
  • => Deswegen braucht es eine Solo-BWL, die der Freiheit Struktur geben kann.
  • „Everything in this world has to have a structure, otherwise it is chaos.“ (S. 51)

6. The Greatest Resource — Education


  • „When people ask for education they normally mean something more than mere training, something more than mere knowledge of facts, and something more than mere diversion. Maybe they cannot themselves formulate what they are looking for; but I think what they are really looking for is ideas that would make the world, and their own lives, intelligible to them. When a thing is intelligible you have a sense of participation; when a thing is unintelligible you have a sense of estrangement. […] If the mind cannot bring to the world a set – or, shall we say, a tool-box – of powerful ideas, the world must appear to it as a chaos […].“ (S. 64f)

How to do vs. what to do

  • „We know how to do many things, but do we know what to do? Ortega y Gasset put it succinctly: ‚We cannot live on the human level without ideas. Upon them depends what we do. Living is nothing more or less than doing one thing instead of another.‘ What, then, is education? It is the transmission of ideas which enable man to choose between one thing and another.“ (S. 66)

19th century ideas

  • „Those that bring forth new ideas are seldom ruled by them. But their ideas obtain power over men’s lives in the third and fourth generations when they have become a part of that great mass of ideas, including language […]. These nineteenth-century ideas are firmly lodged in the minds of practically everybody in the western world today, whether educated or uneducated.“ (S. 70)
  • Vgl. die Alte BWL, die auch aus dem 19./20. Jahrhundert stammt und dessen Ideen heute, in der 3. oder 4. Generation große Macht haben.

Spezialisierung ist nicht das Problem

  • „What is at fault is not specialization, but the lack of depth with which the subjects are usually presented, and the absence of metaphysical awareness. […] Economics is taught without awareness of the view of human nature that underlies present-day economic theory. In fact, many economists are themselves unaware of the fact that such a view is implicit in their teaching and that nearly all their theories would have to change if their view changed.“ (S. 73)

Metaphysik ist im Zentrum — auch in der BWL!

  • „All subjects, no matter how specialised, are connected with a centre […]; the centre consists of metaphysics and ethics, of ideas that — whether we like it or not — transcend the world of facts.“ (S. 73)

Overcoming opposites: divergent problems

  • „The true problem of living — in politics, economics, education, marriage, etc. — are always problems of overcoming or reconciling opposites. They are divergent problems and have no solution in the ordinary sense of the word. They demand of man not merely the employment of his reasoning powers but the commitment of his whole personality. Naturally, spurious solutions, by way of a clever formula, are always being put forward; but they never work for long, because they invariably neglect one of the two opposites and thus lose the very quality of human life. In economics, the solution offered may provide for freedom but not for planning, and vice versa.“ (S. 77)
  • „To have to grapple with divergent problems tends to be exhausting, worrying, and wearisome. Hence people try to avoid it and to run away from it. A busy executive who has been dealing with divergent problems all day long will read a detective story or solve a crossword puzzle on his journey home. He has been using his brain all day; why does he go on using it? The answer is that the detective story and the crossword puzzle present convergent problems, and that is the relaxation. They require a bit of brainwork, even difficult brainwork, but they do not call for his straining and stretching to a higher level which is the specific challenge of a divergent problem, a problem in which irreconcilable opposites have to be reconciled. It is only the latter that are the real stuff of life.“ (S. 78)

What is the Leitbild?

  • „The resulting confusion is indescribable. What is the Leitbild, as the Germans say, the guiding image, in accordance with which young people could try to form and educate themselves? There is none, or rather there is such a muddle and mess of images that no sensible guidance issues from them.“ (S. 78)
  • Es mangelt an klaren Leitbildern. Es braucht Leitbilder!

7. The Proper Use of Land

Ends vs. means-to-ends

  • „There are always some things which we do for their own sakes, and there are other things which we do for some other purpose. One of the most important tasks for any society is to distinguish between ends and means-to-ends, and to have some sort of cohesive view and agreement about this.“ (S. 83)
  • Gilt auch für Lifestyle Entrepreneure und ihre Lifestyle Businesses

17. Socialism

  • „As mentioned before, the whole crux of economic life – and indeed a life in general – is that it constantly requires the living reconciliation of opposites which, in strict logic, are irreconcilable.“ (S. 217)
  • „Again, it is not a question of mitigating the opposites of these two needs by some half-hearted compromise that satisfies neither of them, but to recognise them both.“ (S. 218)
  • „There is no ‚final solution‘ to this kind of problem. There is only a living solution achieved day by day on a basis of a clear recognition that both opposites are valid.“ (S. 218)
  • Vgl. Wir leben in Spannungsfeldern.