Schumacher Still Speaks To Barbados Today!

Submitted by David A. Comissiong, President, Clement Payne Movement

Some thirty-nine years ago a message of critical importance was delivered to the people of Barbados by Dr. Ernst F. Schumacher, one of the world’s greatest  economists.

The occasion was the inaugural Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture […]staged by the Central Bank of Barbados on the 29th of November 1976. And at the time, the German born Dr. E. F. Schumacher – author of the ground-breaking economic work entitled “Small Is Beautiful” – was perhaps the world’s most highly acclaimed living economist.

Dr. Schumacher chose as his topic “Independence And Economic Development”, and proceeded to offer up to Barbadians an extremely wise and profound prescription for the future economic development of our nation.

Schumacher began by explaining to us that as a small island nation we possessed an economic asset of inestimable value: namely, a distinctive quality or personality of our own – our Barbadian or Bajan national culture!

Indeed, he explained that when a people or nation had the good fortune to possess a distinctive and unique culture, it meant that they had within their grasp an “inner wealth” that had the potential to imbue them with the characteristics of “self-confidence” and “self-thinking”, and with the basis for economic “self-reliance”.

Having directed our gaze towards the goal of “self-reliance”, Dr. Schumacher then proceeded to urge us to reject the orthodox approach to economic development! He explained that the conventional approach to economic development, with its built-in notion that “Economics is about the production and consumption of goods and services”, inevitably gives primacy to the wealthy elites who command the so-called factors of production – land, capital, managerial skill and labour – and consigns ordinary people to the role of being mere appendages whose only function is to serve the system and the great Commanders of the factors of production!

Rather than accepting orthodox or conventional Economics, Schumacher urged us to embrace a different kind of Economics – one that does not take “goods” or “money” as its starting point, but that instead, begins with and is built upon “people”.

The great economist admonished us as follows:- “…let’s start with people… So, no matter how poor we are we have something to start with: Ourselves, the people, our own ingenuity and labour power, and, of course, our needs… And when the point of departure of economic policy is not production and consumption of goods and services or money but us, ourselves – people – then everything changes and the primary concern of development policy becomes the development of the capabilities of the people.”

What Dr. Schumacher was urging upon us was a society in which people who have manifold unsatisfied needs – who, in other words, are poor and not affluent – will organize themselves for production: a society in which the people will be predisposed to get busy and produce for themselves, rather than depending on some “foreign investor” to come from “over in away” to set up an enterprise that will employ them.

Dr. Schumacher therefore issued a Call for a national leadership that would lead the people to the fullest possible development of their own capabilities, as opposed to a national leadership that would permit the people to be used as a means of production just as and when it suits the purpose of the wealthy local or foreign “Commanders” of the factors of production to use (or exploit) them.

Indeed, Schumacher posed the following fundamental questions about the Barbadian society of 1976:- Is there a development of the capabilities of the people to feed themselves, clothe themselves, house themselves and generally to do for self? Is there a development of the capabilities of the people to preserve and generate their own culture, and the inner wealth of self-confidence, self-thinking and self-reliance contained within such a national culture?

And, having pointed us in this wise direction of a national doing for self, Dr. Schumacher then makes two fundamental and critical policy prescriptions!

The first has to do [with] Education!

Without a comprehensive access, not merely to education, but to proper developmental education, self-reliance and independence will only be a dream! As Schumacher saw it, all people should – through the education system – be given the know-how that would equip them to perform at least some of the basic tasks in food and clothing production, house construction, and building maintenance, and that would set them on the road to an attitude of  and an aptitude for  self-reliance, self-thinking and self-doing. In addition, the education system should develop the people’s capability to  reproduce their national culture, and to work together cooperatively.

I would like to pause here to make the point that the education policies of the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government are the very antithesis of Dr. Schumacher’s education policy prescription! Far from exerting itself to provide comprehensive access to proper developmental education, the current Barbados Government has instituted a policy that has led to some 4,200 Barbadians actually dropping out of university education! This is a politically treasonous policy that should cause the Barbadian people to impose a severe punishment on the DLP whenever the next General Election is held!

The second policy prescription has to do with technology – appropriate technology.

In addition to proper developmental education, Barbados must possess appropriate technology. Appropriate for what you may ask. Well Schumacher answers this way:- “Appropriate…for the genuine needs of the people so that they can effectively provide for themselves…not everyone for himself…but in human-sized groups. Barbados would be populous enough for this: to have a high level of basic self-sufficiency with plenty of work opportunities for everybody, and without undue reliance on such chancy and vulnerable economic arrangements as monoculture export of raw materials or tourism.”

But, as Dr. Schumacher warns, “appropriate technology” will not simply fall into place, we have to bestir ourselves and go after it:- “Every community that wishes to escape from unemployment, frustration and economic servitude will need to get some institution, some Knowledge Centre, with the unique task of organizing and promoting the requisite knowledge of an appropriate technology.”

Fellow Barbadians, these are words and ideas of great wisdom that were-offered to us almost forty years ago by a great economist. They were relevant then, and they are even more relevant today! I urge you to take them to heart!

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36 Comments on “Schumacher Still Speaks To Barbados Today!”

  1. pieceuhderockyeahright September 15, 2015 at 4:40 AM #

    @ David Commissiong

    You will note that I have not misspelt your name today purposely.

    On this day September the 15th you have posted and then expounded on one of the most relevant topics that speaks to the place where our country is “Small is beautiful”

    The problem that I have had with bright fellows like you David lies in the fact that even in the face of your “privilege of birth” (Highgate Gardens), and your stunning natural brilliance, that wunna does choose to be the doormats of Owing and people of his ilk, when you “to whom much is given, so much more is expected”

    You think that a man like you, knowing what you know, and espousing what you jes say in such glowing terms, should, with your obvious currency with the Governments of Cuba and Venezuela, not be driving a bilateral programme of such momentum and with such deliverables that PHVCKERS LIKE FUMBLES and MIA should not be coming to your doorsteps asking you to turn around the cursed fortunes of our CVNTRY?

    You and fellows like you are Summa Cum Laude yet wunna digging dog shite and discoursing with PHVCKERS who cannot stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

    Schumacher died in 1977 one year before you left Harsun College to go off to your legal luminary studies. The fourth day of September the beginning of Michaelmas Term, you remember that? Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity?

    Here you are at a half century later, revisiting a truth which, if you had practiced more ardently than you have preached, and may still be inclined to “preach”, you would not be here exasperating with these successive incompetents and Dufusses, you would be leading the fray of “Buddhism Economics” a la Barbados Style.

    You have studied well, and long, and are arguably one of the most learned persons in this cuntry, it is jes that you have not put that exuberant vision into practice.

    I leave you with a quote from said book

    “Economic development is something much wider and deeper than economics, let alone econometrics. Its roots lie outside the economic sphere, in education, organisation, discipline and, beyond that, in political independence and a national consciousness of self-reliance.”

    ― Ernst F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered


  2. de Ingrunt Word September 15, 2015 at 10:46 AM #

    So, Mr Pieces if you ‘didn’t uses to cuss’ pun the blog so much I would ask you: ” at which school did you teach and administer den?”.

    Lovely retort to Mr. Commissiong.

    I always wondered why he was ‘discarded’ by the people and too by the party big-wigs.

    The lad and now mid-age man was seemingly dedicated, focused and keen on Bajan improvement. You are quite right in suggesting that he had what it took (takes) to be riding shoulder to shoulder with those who currently lead this country.

    Maybe we will still one day see the broader benefits of his ‘positive’ impact on our country.

    You spoke eruditely and eloquently and not at all prolix.

    (Like others I too am caught with the prolix word bug; just too sweet!)


  3. David September 15, 2015 at 11:04 AM #

    @Dee Word

    David (Cheese) has been haunted by his middle class upbringing. Many have refused to believe his socialist leaning is real. This is his biggie man. Not sure what he can do to distance himself from it.


  4. de Ingrunt Word September 15, 2015 at 11:30 AM #

    Ok David fair enough. I read your words “haunted by his middle class upbringing” as a euphemism for ‘haunted by his white skin’.

    As you know, there are a few of his school mates/contemporaries now sitting in the house who were as middle-class privileged as much as or more than he was, so his ‘boggie man’ I suspect is not so much his growing up as it is his ancestry.

    And yet, Toppin overcame his …

    But you are right he certainly does have a burden of some type from which so far he can’t distance himself at the popular level.


  5. David September 15, 2015 at 11:42 AM #

    @Dee Word

    David Commisiong identified with an ideology and narrative away from the establishment. This is what separates him from Toppin and others.


  6. Simple Simon September 16, 2015 at 1:18 AM #

    @de Ingrunt Word September 15, 2015 at 10:46 AM “I always wondered why he was ‘discarded’ by the people and too by the party big-wigs.

    Because David is an unrepentant socialist. And because the people and the party big-wigs are fools.



  7. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right September 16, 2015 at 7:37 AM #

    @ David the Blogmaster

    From time to time you will mention a Facebook page as well as the BU page

    Could you send de ole man a link so I can go and have read pun nights when I hiding from Death and the Donkey?

    I don’t know which one to fear the most!!

    I know however that the “death” of the senses of intellect that the second one brings is 10 times greater than that the first one will bring.


  8. David September 16, 2015 at 8:21 AM #

    Should BU surprised an excellent submission full of thought has not garnered feedback? It says a l doesn’t it.


  9. Hants September 16, 2015 at 9:51 AM #

    @ David,

    We need the BU maguffees like Bushie and Miller on this blog.

    This one is too theoretical for some of us lightweights.


  10. pieceuhderockyeahright September 16, 2015 at 3:16 PM #

    I am not sure that I agree with you on that point Blogmaster and Hants.

    When you have other blogs by people like Jeff Cumberbatch and Walter Blackman both of them come back to their readers out of respect and engage with their audience.

    “Even the very dog returneth to its vomit”

    One would hope that this is not indicative of his staying power, I’d a manifestation of his middle class upbringing or wusser still, that his socialist belief are not even skin deep..


  11. de Ingrunt Word September 16, 2015 at 4:12 PM #

    Pieces, you are astute enough to understand that this modern concept of blogging and the old traditional opinion piece editorial are where new world meets old. So some of the blogs posted here are very old world – simply editorials written with no feedback intended by the author (like Commisiong or Ms Brown).

    Don’t hold that against the author!

    Those who want to speak on the work will do so. Just as those authors who want a lively repartee on their work will engage.

    Frankly, I thought that your response to his piece was absolutely exquisite. You crystallized very succinctly why his expositions are sometimes not given the gravitas they otherwise should when you alluded to his sort of ‘fall to the way side’; if I may accuse a man who has accomplished much in his chosen career field as such.

    As an aside, I am amused by Hants suggestion that a blog requires Bushie’s weight to be relevant. But I presume a good dose of Bush Tea is as good an old Bajan remedy as one can get!

    I am tickled that a man as Bushie is so revered more for his serious mien when his signature item on BU is the most hilarious 10 point plan I have had life’s good fortune to read.

    Based on that, certainly Bushie should be acclaimed for his tongue in cheek comedic exposes of human life…he is certainly much in the vein of a Bill Maher or the recently retired Jon Stewart as a social commentator: take seriously but enjoy the levity more.


  12. Bush Tea September 16, 2015 at 4:37 PM #

    @ dee Word
    …you always got to rush in swinging like if you mek yuh self?
    What happen? Bushie tek way your woman or wuh?

    Hants said “We need the BU maguffees like Bushie and Miller on this blog”.

    Hants is a HC man…how do you know he don’t mean that Bushie should come and talk his usual shiite and let Miller enlighten the blog …while putting the bushman in his place and mashing up the whacker?

    … in any case, what the hell has that to do with the 10 point plan?
    …and where is your brilliant critique of the plan …besides your usual thoughtless repartee ?

    steupsss… man leff out bushie do !!!


  13. Hants September 16, 2015 at 7:08 PM #

    @De Ingrunt word who wrote, ” I am amused by Hants suggestion that a blog requires

    Bushie’s weight .

    There are several bloggers on BU whom I have come to respect and will read what they write in its entirety.

    Bushie, Miller and Pieceuhderock have different styles but all are worth reading.

    Given that blogging on BU is “free” surely I am free to say who I freely think will add weight to a blog.


  14. de Ingrunt Word September 16, 2015 at 8:37 PM #

    Mr Hants, and when did I say that you are not free to give your opinion. As the old bajan saying goes, you ‘very touchus’. I presume if you make a remark on the blog that anyone else is also free to extrapolate from said remark with their own comments. Yah think! Oh lawd.

    So let’s see if we can close this out smoothly. I am amused that any blog needs any of the maguffies to lend relevance to others’ comments or to the blog itself.

    That sir is an opinion different to yours but certainly it in no way attacks you, your opinion or denies you the right to make your views known. Gracious me!

    Now Mr Bushie, Sir. You can’t take a compliment as given above; whether back-handed or not it was a compliment.

    Notice I compared and equated your social commentary skills to those of two popular US talk-show hosts. And if I am talking of your commentary skills surely I can highlight any and all of your body of work in that genre, can I not…ipso facto, the ten point plan.

    And are you not one of the few bloggers here who uses smiley face emoticons and uproarious humour most in your posts?…thus my remark that serious commenter though you are that you also bring much levity to the expositions.

    Cheese on bread, you fellas need to get out more! Lighten up.

    And btw, I previously gave my critique of your plan or at least made some comments related to it. I see it as a wonderful tongue in cheek rejection of social management norms and in that regard it’s priceless. Thus your satirical humour percolates through its every sentence.


  15. dompey September 16, 2015 at 9:52 PM #

    De Ingrunt

    You find Bush Tea’s writing satirical, but I find it rather demented and more than disturbing to say the least.

    How could you in good faith equate what this man writes to anything close to satiric?

    His rant and rave is infused with adhominem, as well as interlaced with the character assasination epithets like that of a Donald Trump.


  16. Bush Tea September 16, 2015 at 11:59 PM #

    @ dee Word
    Skippa, why don’t you just accept your cussing like a man and stop minding Dompey nuh?

    Shiite man, Bushie gotta find somebody with sense to cuss..
    …tired wid the Jackass trinity of AC,Alvin and the wholly Donkey.

    ..Miller gone quiet…
    ..GP is on sabbatical…permanently it seems
    ..Jeff to decent
    ..Caswell just playing the ass
    ..Grenville gone real quiet after a little whack…
    ..Islandgal like she in love or some shiite
    ..and Donna playing hard to get…

    Um ain’t nuh sense cussing Simple Simon … she does just ignore yuh and continue with she monologue…

    That leaves YOU…..
    Your mission ….should you accept it… is to cuss back Bushie and and let the chips fall where they may…. 🙂

    @ Dompey
    ..any word yet on your insurance policy?
    …although..come to think about it … really does not matter…

    Imagine you got THREE sons and a wife …. and a stranger has to come into your home and drag you out from a fire… what did you get from that…?
    If you have an insurance policy than you may be worth more burnt, than alive…
    If you don’t …..wuh shiite fella … you may be up shit street yuh!!!
    …is this why you are reluctant to sleep…and always on BU talking shiite…?

    You would do well to watch your back …and keep away from the whacker…and from home…


  17. dompey September 17, 2015 at 5:08 AM #

    Bush Tea

    When I turn up de heat on yah backside as I does do from time to time I hope yah don’t tek refuge between de blogmaster legs as yah does do and imploring him to censor poor little Dompey because de whacker does need sharping.

    Man let mah gah long an get some more rest nah I got tah do Uncle Sam bidding en de mornin and yah got mah upon BU real early this mornin lilke I does skylark or someting.

    Yah can’t sleep or wah man? It look like yah got tah pumping yah inflatable doll or it messi got aa hole en it or someting becausing you bout hare callin GP name.

    Oh Lord Man, why yah tossing and turning like yah can’t sleep and bothering Dompey becausing yah inflatable doll en cooperating?


  18. Ping Pong September 18, 2015 at 6:20 AM #

    Ironically if the present Government would complement its present UWI fee policy with state paid access and expansion of the Polytechnic and related programs then Barbados would actually be moving towards Schumacher’s policy prescriptions.

    I am not convinced that “bland” degrees in Law, History, Mathematics etc (or any degree for that matter) really contribute to truly sustainable development. For those that will argue for the degree model, please explain how after many years of university expansion and a relatively large (about 20% ?) graduate population not only does it seem that Barbados is UNsustainable but the university as well!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. David September 18, 2015 at 6:34 AM #

    @Ping Pong

    Life is about ordering priorities located in some philosophy. What is ours? What are you hearing (sensing). Yes we have to take a pragmatic approach but many are concerned all decisions made by this government are driven by cost considerations. What will it take to sit down with the UWI hierarchy and others with vested interest and to decide on the best way forward.The UWI model is built on numbers and throughput. How do we manage the social cost the result of decreasing enrollment.


  20. Ping Pong September 18, 2015 at 7:15 AM #

    David your concerns are valid but it appears to me that past and present education policies were (and are) primarily concerned with giving people a certificate (of any or even no value) and keeping young people off the street even if ultimately that is where they end up. If educational policies are not referenced to economic policies (which include social and environmental concerns) then one ends up with what we now have. Is the irony of the observation that the party of “Barbados is more than an economy, it’s a society” as the promoter of the present social and economic policies lost on everyone?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hants September 23, 2015 at 9:56 AM #

    Barbados for sale.

    “BARBADOS’ largest drinks company could be on the verge of falling totally into foreign hands.

    SLU Beverages Ltd, the St Lucia-registered company – wants to take over the company which owns Banks Breweries, Pine Hill Dairy, Barbados Bottling Co. Ltd and Banks Distribution Ltd.


  22. David September 23, 2015 at 10:20 AM #


    The BU family predicted the outcome of selling out Barbados from the period of OSA. We have to suffer the result. The chickens are come home.

    The Bajan identity!!!!


  23. Artaxerxes September 23, 2015 at 10:36 AM #

    De word, pieceuhderockyeahright, Bush Tea, David, Prodigal, Hants………. to be honest, at this point and time I don’t care if the women go onto school premises dressed scantily or inappropriately or even if “SCHUMACHER STILL SPEAKS TO BARBADOS TODAY!”

    This change in attitude came this morning when I read, with tears in my eyes, that the St. Lucians are bidding to take over BHL and Pine Hill Dairy.

    It seems as though that Banks Beer, although it is not indigenous to Barbados, but made a name for itself as being the award winning “Beer of Barbados” and our beloved milk and juices, will no longer be a part of the “Barbadian hills and fields beyond recall.”

    Just like everything else these products will soon not “be our very own.”


  24. Hants September 23, 2015 at 10:46 AM #

    Barbados is in deep doo doo. Crime drugs corruption.


  25. David September 23, 2015 at 11:34 AM #

    @Hants and Artax

    All the things Barbadians use to boast would never happen here when we observed similar in the other islands is no more!


  26. David September 23, 2015 at 12:03 PM #

    The opportunity is available for locally brewed beers.


  27. Hants September 23, 2015 at 12:35 PM #

    @ David,

    I hope that Barbadians will again be able to boast about things invented or implemented by the up and coming generation.

    All I can say is that I am glad that I was born and grew up in Barbados and enjoyed the Best of Barbados but accept that “progress” and “regress” is inevitable.

    Fond memories of Pine Hill milk (vanilla and strawberry), Eclipse and Sodabix, Ju-c drinks (red and orange) Shirley biscuits, Banks beer and Tiger malts.
    Honourable mention must go to Bajan sugar, Syrup (tamarinds soaked in a jar of syrup) and cane juice ( we used to call it “mud” at Kolij)


  28. David September 23, 2015 at 1:43 PM #


    Thanks for the nostalgia but sentimentality has no place into what defines Barbadianna now.


  29. Hants September 23, 2015 at 2:16 PM #

    @David I am well aware of what defines Barbadiana now.

    Made in Trinidad, China and elsewhere.


  30. David September 23, 2015 at 2:18 PM #


    How about exposing your fronts.


  31. Hants September 23, 2015 at 2:18 PM #


    Are we going to discuss the speech by Arthur Holder or is the subject to controversial for BU?


  32. David September 23, 2015 at 2:20 PM #


    On BU we discuss everything don’t we?


  33. Hants September 23, 2015 at 2:39 PM #


    I am just being mischievous. lol


  34. Hants September 23, 2015 at 6:28 PM #

    @ David

    This will make some Bajans happy. I can only be nostalgic. Can’t complain though. I ate more than my fair share in my youth. lol

    “BARBADIAN FISHERMEN will soon be able to dive for sea eggs again, but they must be licensed and registered. – See more at:


  35. pieceuhderockyeahright September 24, 2015 at 2:03 AM #

    This is an excellent topic.

    But, and this is what many of Commissiong’s detractors have said of him before, “he is a one shot sensationalist, and will not return to his “vomit” to discuss.”

    Others say that David will not “deign” to discuss matters such as these with lesser persons “unless they have been born in Highgate Park or places “like or above” that category of privilege”

    I myself don’t know as to the veracity of either of these positions

    ALL that the ole man does know is that the visionary Commissiong HAS NOT COME BACK!!

    Maybe 34 “votes” are insufficient to galvanize him to action??

    “By their works ye shall know them


  36. Lucretia Millinor December 31, 2016 at 6:56 AM #

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