Small is Beautiful

Economics as if people mattered
There can be no doubt that the ideal of personal enrichment
has a very strong appeal to human nature.  Keynes, in the
essay from which I have quoted already, advised us that
the time was not yet for a "return to some of the most
sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue
- that avarice is a vice, that the extraction of usury is a
misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestible."
  Economic progress, he counseled, is obtainable only if
we employ those powerful human drives of selfishness,
which religion and traditional wisdom univerally call upon
us to resist.  The modern economy is propelled by a frenzy
of greed and indulges in an orgy of envy, and these are not
accidental features but the very causes of its expansionist
success.  The question is whether such causes can be effective
for long or whether they carry within themselves the
seeds of destruction.  If Keynes says that "foul is useful and
fair is not," he propounds a statement of fact which may
be true or false; or it may look true in the short run and
turn out to be false in the long run.  Which is it?
  I should think that there is now enough evidence to
demonstrate that the statement is false in a very direct,
practical sense.  If human vices such as greed and envy
are systematically cultivated, the inevitable result is nothing
less that a collapse of intelligence.  A man driven by
greed or envy loses the power of seeing things as they
really are, of seeing things in their roundness and wholeness,
and his very sucesses become failures.  If whole
societies become infected by these vices, they may indeed
achieve astonishing things but they become increasingly
incapable of solving the most elementary problems of
everyday existence.  The Gross National Product may rise
rapidly as measured by statisticians but not as experienced
by actual people, who find themselves oppressed by
increasing frustration, alienation, insecurity, and so forth.