Supporting Intelligent Idealism

“MANAS is a journal of independent inquiry, concerned with the study of the principles that move world society on its present course, and with the search for contrasting principles, which may be capable of supporting intelligent idealism under the conditions of the twentieth century.”

— from the MANAS publication statement

Renovations to the archival level of the Schumacher Center’s office/library are a month away from completion. The 1,600 square feet of additional space will provide a climate-controlled environment for the books and papers in our care and free the light-filled upstairs for multiple kinds of gatherings.

In preparation for the move, we are evaluating everything in the collection, eliminating duplicates, and rediscovering favorites. Among those is a complete set of the MANAS Journal.

When we moved to the Berkshires in 1980, Bob Swann’s “subscription” to MANAS, an eight-page weekly journal, followed us. Subscription is in quotes because I don’t ever remember a subscription renewal request. Bob was just on Henry Geiger’s list. Geiger, a conscientious objector in World War II, was the extraordinary writer, editor, and publisher of MANAS from 1948 through 1988, the year before his death at the age of 80.

MANAS was the highlight of the week for me. I would walk to the mailbox at the foot of the drive and start reading on the way up. It was like having a private clipping service that spanned the ages of great thinkers and activists. The same issue would have bits of Plato, Kropotkin, and Simone Weil, combined with news of Wes Jackson’s work to recreate a perennial agriculture or John Todd’s work at the New Alchemy Institute to employ plants to filter water. MANAS never failed to reorient me to the finest idealism, an idealism that was, after all, at the heart of our work at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. Though I had never met in person the author of those many articles, the cessation of publication of MANAS still meant the loss of a trusted friend. MANAS was a singularly steady and wise voice in a rapidly accelerating and uncertain age.

Geiger was already publishing at the time of the McCarthy hearings in the Senate in the early 1950s. Though not a political journal, the ideas discussed in MANAS may well have been called subversive, for all great ideas have the potential to overthrow the status quo. In such a political climate, Geiger kept his mailing list very private, on a single set of metal label plates.

But MANAS readers came to know each other. Martha Shaw, a long-time friend of the Schumacher Center and its programs, was a subscriber. Martha so loved her weekly MANAS that she crafted a purse just the right size to hold an issue without folding. On her daily morning bike ride to the neighborhood diner for coffee and a roll, she always brought along her purse with the latest MANAS inside and several photocopies of her favorite MANAS essays for giving away. She understood well the spirit of MANAS, which was to encourage the free exchange of ideas. Henry Geiger’s personal collection of books that informed the MANAS Journal is housed at the Schumacher Center’s Library.

Henry Geiger

MANAS was not a business affair for Henry Geiger but an affair of the heart. The saving and sharing of MANAS with new readers for a new century has also been an affair of the heart. Thanks to the help of friends of MANAS, the Schumacher Center was able to digitalize all issues of the journal and place them online—a “record of ‘intelligent idealism’ in the past [that] can be relied upon for guidance, [so that] the courage of good men [and women] is not dampened by evil prospects, but rather increased.”

Explore the range of articles by searching for a favorite author or subject. Or you can visit the Schumacher Center’s Library and read through the printed newsletters, as we did pre-internet.

Our thanks to the many donors to the Library renovations, including the Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick Trust, which generously contributed $60,000. Additional support is still needed to meet construction costs. Please donate today.

The Schumacher Center’s Library was built to secure a legacy. The Schumacher Center was founded in 1980. Our deep roots in the past provide a strong foundation for the future. The additional space will help support another 39 years of programming! Watch the renovation progress here.

Susan Witt, Executive Director

The 39th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, featuring speakers Greg Watson and Sallie Calhoun, took place on Sunday, October 27th at Saint James Place in Great Barrington. The house was full, the speakers exceptional, the audience engaged. Stay tuned for videos and pamphlets.

Greg Watson, photo by Christina Lane
Sallie Calhoun, Photo by Christina Lane
Photo by Christina Lane
Matt Stinchcomb, Sallie Calhoun, and Greg Watson; Photo by Schumacher Staff