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Responsible Economics

E.F. Schumacher and His Legacy for the 21st Century

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Hendrik Opdebeeck

The centenary of E.F. Schumacher’s birth (1911-1977) offered an urgent opportunity to revisit his work and life. Against the background of the crisis at the beginning of this century, reconsidering Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful or frugality paradigm makes clear that advances in responsible economics continue to be a priority. This book contains the proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference of the European SPES Forum on ‘Responsibility in Economics and Business: The Legacy of E.F. Schumacher’, which was organised in September 2011 by the Centre for Ethics of the University of Antwerp in collaboration with the Business Ethics Center of Budapest. The aims of this conference were to celebrate the 100th anniversary of E.F. Schumacher’s birth and to engage with Schumacher’s vision to help address the present need for responsibility in economics and business. The answers to our current economic crisis presented in this book prove that the legacy of an economist and philosopher like Schumacher are not confined to a utopian economic paradigm. Utopian economic paradigms are concerned with a better economic situation in the future. Schumacher reconsidered today, however, makes it clear that society needs responsible economics invested in the sustainability of the globe, right now.

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Barbara Wood-Schumacher Preface

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If a prediction comes true, one says it is a success but if a prophesy is fulfilled it is considered as a failure. This is because prophets are there to warn us to change our ways in order to avert disaster. Many people have said that my father’s voice was prophetic. However, what he warned us of has come about. Does this mean he was a failure? You would not expect me to answer yes to this question. And I don’t because as long as some people are still listening his voice is still being heard and there is hope. There is no doubt that many still hear his voice in Small is Beautiful. Unfortunately few look to A Guide for the Perplexed. The role of the prophet is first to read the signs of the times, to look at what is going on and see where it is leading. My father was not born with that ability. He had to learn how to read the signs of the times and how to interpret them correctly. This meant learn- ing to see reality in all its fullness. Small is Beautiful and A Guide for the Perplexed belong together because in dif ferent ways they present us with that reality in its fullness: material and spiritual. What I want to do in this preface is to look at a few key times in his life which gave him a new perspective on reality and made it possible for him to develop...

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