Historian and economist David Fleming undertook the writing of Lean Logic a grand vision that projected out the likely path of collapse for our currently unsustainable way of life, as well as the key success factors society will need to cultivate to come out the other side. Sadly, he died in 2010 with the 350,000-word manuscript still in draft form. Following his death, his writing partner Shaun Chamberlin distilled the book’s prime conclusions into the more accessible Surviving The Future: Culture, carnival, and capital in the aftermath of the market economy. Shaun, who has also been deeply involved with Rob Hopkins in the Transition Movement since its inception, stresses that localized communities that pursue developing as much independence from the central economy as possible will be the foundations for creating a sustainable, enjoyable future.
As Fleming wrote:
The great transformation has already happened. It was the revolution in politics, economics, and society that came with the market economy and which hit its stride in Britain in the late Eighteenth century. Most of human history has been bred, fed, and watered by another sort of economy, but the market has replaced as far as possible the social capital of reciprocal obligation, loyalties, authority structures, culture, and traditions with exchange, price, and the impersonal principles of economics.
The market’s achievements and answers sound authoritative and final, but what is truly most significant about them is how naïve they are. If the flow income fails, the powerfully bonding combination of money and self-interest will no longer be available in its present, all embracing scale, and perhaps not at all. It must inevitably fail as the market demands ever-increasing productivity and thus relies on the impossibility of perpetual growth. In the meantime, the reduction of society and culture to depend on some mathematical abstraction has infantilized the grown-up civilization and is well on the way to destroying it.
Civilizations self-destruct anyway. But it’s reasonable to ask whether they have done so before with such enthusiasm and obedience to such an acutely absurd superstition while claiming with such insistence that they were beyond being seduced by the irrational promises of religion. Every civilization has had its irrational, but reassuring myth. Previous civilizations have used their culture to sing about it and tell stories about it. Ours has used its mathematics to prove it. Yet, when that relatively short lived market society is gone, we will miss its essential simplicity, its price mechanisms, its stabilizing properties, its impersonal exchange, the comforts it delivers to many and the freedoms it underwrites. Its failure will be destructive. The end is in sight. During the early decades of the century, the market will lose its magic.
It is the aim of Lean Logic to suggest some principles for repairing or replacing the atrophied social structures on which most human cultures were built as the basis for a cohesive society that might survive the turbulent times to come.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Shaun Chamberlin (46m:57s).