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Beyond Schumacher Abstracts

Beyond Schumacher Abstracts - Beyond Schumacher...

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Beyond Schumacher: Presentation Abstracts An Introduction to Ecological Economics and a Reintroduction to Schumacher Brian Czech, Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy Ecological economics is an alternative to conventional or “neoclassical” economics and is distinguished by a solid foundation of biological and physical sciences, most notably ecology and thermodynamics. Ecological economics addresses three general topics: scale (size of economy relative to ecosystem), distribution of wealth, and allocation of resources. Criteria for successful economic policy include sustainable (ideally optimal) scale, equitable distribution, and efficient allocation. In neoclassical economics, efficient allocation is overly emphasized because limits to growth are rarely acknowledged and, therefore, poverty reduction is relegated to a metaphor, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” With the imminence of unprecedented, global supply shocks such as Peak Oil, ecological economics will come to the forefront of economic philosophy, if not political economy. E. F. Schumacher recognized limits to growth, the social injustice of concentrated wealth, and various hidden inefficiencies of mass production and commerce. It would not be a stretch to classify Small is Beautiful as a gentle but provocative manifesto of ecological economics, and a resurgence of Schumacherian studies may be in the offing. Gandhian framework of sustainable development Kala Saravanamuthu Schumacher draws on the Gandhian outlook on development as a source of inspiration and motivation in articulating his famous "Small is beautiful: economics as if people mattered" thesis. In a nutshell, the Gandhian legacy may be summarised as follows: 1. Gandhi's strategy of satyagraha (or the assertive search for truth) aims to change the capitalist relationship between profit, society and the natural environment. 2. Reform involves emancipating society by freeing the individual and the capitalist structure (or swaraj ): the relationship between individual and an exploitative structure mirrors the Hegelian master-slave dilemma. The central role of a free individual in the sustainability ethos is a reason why Gandhi did not subscribe to the communist method of centralised control. His choice small-scale technological development is not an end in itself, but it reflects a choice that was appropriate for a struggling agrarian economy because it enables citizens to step off the economic treadmill of exploitative capitalist relations. Gandhi changes the capitalist relationship by securing individual swaraj before engaging in politics of satyagrahic reform of societal structures.
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