He liked Gandhi and he quoted popes with approval. Having come late in life to Roman Catholicism, he became aware of the social teaching of the Catholic Church and approved of it. In Schumacher's view, people's well being is the bench mark of economic advancement. Gross National Product is worthless if it does not benefit humans. He quotes Gandhi's statement that "Every machine that helps every individual has a place" the implication being that robotics that replace or demean people have no place in Schumacher's view of the world and that there should be no place for machines that concentrate power into few hands and reduce ordinary people to mere machine minders.
Work,in Schumacher's view, should be spiritually and emotionally life-enhancing, and there is no place for harsh capitalist situations in which workers are treated as expendable tools. He cites Pope Pius XI's observation that work was decreed by providence for the good of human souls and should never be a tool by which humans are corrupted and degraded. Schumacher goes on to say that while he has not the opportunity to develop a full philosophy of labour, there needs to be a proper philosophy of work, for work and the family are the foundations of human society. This is a view of labour that sets work in the overall context of human well being and dignity.
For Schumacher systems in which the few dominate the many are immoral and socially destructive. So large scale capitalist enterprise along with socialist nationalisation are both dehumanising, though there may have to be some cases in which large scale systems are necessary. However, small scale businesses are preferable. The costs of setting up in business should be low [though it is impossible to see how many engineering firms could be established at low cost.] Similarly many Britons want our railways re-nationalized after the less than successful privatisation a few years ago.
However, for followers of Schumacher Distributism, a system favoured by the British writers Chesterton and Belloc, is preferable. This is large scale, small capitalism, in which free individuals sell their services, a system in which there are many capitalists rather than few. It is self-employment on a massive scale. This sets him up against the socialists, who have often thought that the social ideal is that everyone becomes a state employee, the ultimate in wage slavery. In Distributism there are no wage slaves. In this view freedom and justice go hand in hand and are compatible, rather than in Socialism, where individual freedom is regarded as an impediment to the state's creation of a just society, and in capitalism, where economic freedom is liberation from at least some moral restraints upon the behaviour of employers.
For Schumacher's followers co-operatives are the ideal form of collective enterprise, for in them all workers, be they managers or shop floor workers, are equal owners of the business and the bloated wages for Chief Executives, which are causing so much resentment in the UK at the moment, would be a thing of the past.
Key to Schumacher's thought is the concept of wisdom. For him mere cleverness is not enough, for cleverness alone does not see the overall view. Wisdom is knowing the good and being committed to it, and without scientific, technical or any other form of cleverness is valueless, for it takes you in the wrong direction.
One of his key concepts was Intermediate Technology. This is between high tech, which is inaccessible to the many, and low tech, which cannot cure poverty. Between the two is Intermediate Technology, which uses local materials and local skills in the hands of empowered local people to enable people to solve their own problems. It is proving a great success in the developing world.
In conclusion I, along with other members of the broad Green movement, see Schumacher as one of our heroes and regard him as a light guiding the world to a better future.