Day 34: Kenneth Boulding

We earlier wrote about Elise Boulding (Day 9). Her husband, Kenneth (1910-1993), was also very active in Quaker circles and the Peace movements of the 1960’s and 70’s. A native of England, he was granted US citizenship in 1948. Much of his career was in university academics as an economist and social scientist. For Boulding, economics and sociology were not social social sciences but were aspects of a single social science devoted to the study of human persons and their relationships. He spearheaded an evolutionary approach to economics. He emphasized the interconnectedness of everything, and that to understand the results of our behavior – economic or otherwise – we needed to develop a scientific understanding of the ecodynamics of the general system and the global society.

Kenneth Boulding

Boulding was also active in peace-related activities. He helped organize the first teach-in relating to the Vietnam War at the University of Michigan in 1965; he was pelted with snowballs by UM students who disagreed with him when he spoke on the steps of the graduate library; and he conducted a silent vigil at the AFSC headquarters to protest what he considered a distancing from Quakers. He also wrote “There is a Spirit”, a series of sonnets based on the last statement of James Naylor (also written about on Day 6 of this series).

A prolific writer, Boulding left many pearls of wisdom. Consider this one:

“The consumer is the supreme mover of economic order…for whom all goods are made and towards whom all economic activity is directed.”

For today, consider the small things you can do today to bring your consumerism more aligned with your politics and values.


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