Curing a disease by intensifying its causes

“War is a judgement that overtakes societies when they have been living upon ideas that conflict too violently with the laws governing the universe … Never think that wars are irrational catastrophes: they happen when wrong ways of thinking and living bring about intolerable situations.”
— Dorothy L Sayers.[1]

That quote is from E. F. Schumacher’s book Small is Beautiful [2] where he meditated upon the causes of the bind that humanity finds itself in and indeed is responsible for. He posited that it was lack of wisdom that impels people to ‘cure a disease by intensifying its causes.’ Here’s what he wrote: 

“The neglect, indeed the rejection, of wisdom has gone so far that most of our intellectuals have not even the faintest idea what the term could mean. As a result, they always tend to try and cure a disease by intensifying its causes. The disease having been caused by allowing cleverness to displace wisdom, no amount of clever research is likely to produce a cure. But what is wisdom? Where can it be found? Here we come to the crux of the matter: it can be read about in numerous publications but it can be found only inside oneself. To be able to find it, one has to first liberate oneself from such masters as greed and envy. The still following liberation — even if only momentary — produces the insights of wisdom which are obtainable in no other way.”

The politicians in India, like the intellectuals that Schumacher
writes about, are ruled by greed and envy. There is little possibility
of ever removing the greed that they harbor. Only by replacing these
people can we eliminate the disease.


[1] Quote from the book “Creed or Chaos” (1947) by Dorothy L Sayers.

[2] The wiki notes

“First published in 1973, Small Is Beautiful brought Schumacher’s critiques of Western economics to a wider audience during the 1973 energy crisis and emergence of globalization. The Times Literary Supplement ranked Small Is Beautiful among the 100 most influential books published since World War II.”

Author: Atanu Dey


%d bloggers like this: