Small Is Beautiful, Again

From Joseph Pearce’s introduction to the discussion of his book Small Is Still Beautiful:

What do we mean by economics? Or, perhaps, what do we not mean by it?

We do not mean ?economics? as it is defined in the Collins English Dictionary as being merely ?the social science concerned with the production and consumption of goods and services and the analysis of the commercial activities of a society?. True, this is the conventional definition, hence its appearance in the dictionary, but it is not its original meaning. The word ?economics? comes from the Greek, oikonomia, a combination of oikos (house) and nomos or nemo (manage). It is, therefore, in its root or radical meaning, the managing of a home. And this brings us to the family, and to the sub-title of my book: Economics as if Families Mattered. If we forget the family we forget to live economically. We begin to live hedonistically.

Allow me to elaborate.

Schumacher, along with that other great subsidiarist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, championed the idea of self-limitation. This necessary virtue for a healthy economy, a healthy culture and a healthy environment, is enshrined in the everyday realities of family life. Families teach us to be selfless and to sacrifice ourselves for others. It is these very virtues that are necessary for the practice of the economic and political virtues so sadly absent from our ailing and deteriorating world.