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E. F. Schumacher (Ernst Friedrich Schumacher) Biography

(1911–77), (Ernst Friedrich Schumacher), Small Is Beautiful, A Guide for the Perplexed

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: William Sansom (William Norman Trevor Sansom) Biography to Dr Seuss [Theodor Giesel] Biography

German economist, journalist, and economic adviser, born in Bonn, educated at Oxford University. Schumacher became a guru of the so-called ‘New Age’ movement late in his life thanks largely to the impact of his best-selling Small Is Beautiful (1973). He worked and studied in Britain and the USA during much of the 1930s, and eventually returned to research at Oxford after being released from internment in Britain as an ‘enemy alien’ during the Second World War. After a visit to Burma in 1955 he developed a deep interest in the process of economic development in the Third World. In this field his emphasis on the importance of ‘intermediate technology’ has been influential in moving official thinking towards the contemplation of rather more ‘appropriate’ development strategies. In Burma he also came under the sway of Buddhism, to which he actually converted. This conversion provides a key to understanding his growing scepticism as to the utility of familiar Western capitalist values (such as acquisitiveness and consumerism) as a means to human happiness and fulfilment. From there it was but a short step to the idea that ‘intermediate technology’ might be the solution not only to the problems of the Third World, but also to those of all the world. A Guide for the Perplexed (1977) is a further collection of essays.

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