The Fleming Policy Centre

The extraordinary task of inventing a future

Lean Logic and Surviving the Future

We exist to recruit the intelligence and purpose of the people in this task.

We do not need to agree on which particular straw it will be that breaks the camel’s back, but there is little to disagree with in the observation that the complex, centralised, energy-intensive, materials-intensive, money-intensive, taut, infrastructure-heavy, feedback-blind model of society and economy on which we rely is in trouble from many directions.

In this context, localisation stands, at best, at the limits of practical possibility, but it has the decisive argument in its favour that there will be no alternative.

Explore the menu on the left for all you might want to know about our vision for the future, the influential TEQs system designed by our late founder, our feature film – The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation? – released March 16th 2020, or to get up-to-speed with the latest news and developments.

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Peter Buffett4

I refer to Surviving the Future as my Bible, in that it brings me solace and helps me to understand the world and my place in it. I look through its passages and dog-eared pages and it explains to me why I’m thinking this way; why I feel this way. It’s loose, accessible and funny, and yet deeply true. It reminds me, through the language that is unique to David Fleming, why I’m really motivated, often, to get up in the morning. This work is so central to what I believe is necessary.

Peter Buffett, composer and author; co-president of the NoVo Foundation

Caroline Lucas2

Caroline Lucas2

David Fleming was an elder of the UK green movement and a key figure in the early Green Party. Drawing on the heritage of Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful, Fleming’s beautifully written and nourishing vision of a post-growth economics grounded in human-scale culture and community—rather than big finance—is both inspiring and ever more topical.

Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales

Roger Scruton

David Fleming predicts environmental catastrophe but also proposes a solution that stems from the real motives of people and not from some comprehensive political agenda. He writes lucidly and eloquently of the moral and spiritual qualities on which we might draw in our ‘descent’ to a Lean Economy. His highly poetic description of these qualities is neither gloomy nor self-deceived but tranquil and inspiring. All environmental activists should read him and learn to think in his cultivated and nuanced way.

Roger Scruton, writer and philosopher; author of over thirty books, including Green Philosophy

Rob Hopkins2

Rob Hopkins2

I would unreservedly go so far as to say that David Fleming was one of the most original, brilliant, urgently-needed, underrated, and ahead-of-his-time thinkers of the last 50 years. History will come to place him alongside Schumacher, Berry, Seymour, Cobbett, and those other brilliant souls who could not just imagine a more resilient world but who could paint a picture of it in such vivid colours. Step into the world of David Fleming; you'll be so glad you did.

Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Towns movement

19 October 2007- Vancouver, Canada - British poet Benjamin Zephaniah at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival 2007. Photo Credit: Pascal Saez/Sipa Press/0805261625

Benjamin Zephaniah

It's just what I need right now. I think the 'dictionary' approach is brilliant. It's a great way of not only allowing the reader to dip in and out, but it helps dyslexics like me not feel guilty for reading how much we like when we like, and not feeling it's always about going cover to cover!

Benjamin Zephaniah, poet, novelist, playwright and musician

Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth

We need David Fleming's Lean Logic. It is one of my books of the year. This wonderfully idiosyncratic A-to-Z is anything but lean: at 500-plus pages it is overflowing with Fleming's lifelong philosophy of social and economic transformation. And it is wisdom waiting to be discovered.

Kate Raworth, economist and author of Doughnut Economics

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Lean Logic is a powerful, complex and indispensable vision; the glorious achievement of a lifetime. I only wish I had discovered it earlier. In this day and age, where political imagination is in short supply ... this is a unique and enormously powerful view of the world in which we live, and the one we want to build. We have never seen anything like it. There is a warmth and inclusiveness in Fleming's prose that makes you want to continue the conversation forever.

Thomas Hylland Eriksen, author of numerous classics of anthropology

Mark Boyle

Why do some of the truly great books only emerge and exact their influence upon us after the death of their authors? Perhaps it takes a lifetime to accrue and refine the necessary wisdom. Or perhaps it simply takes the rest of us too long to catch up. Like Thoreau, Fleming's masterpiece brims not only with fresh insight into every nook and cranny of our culture and what it means to be human, but with such wit and humour that its challenging ideas and radical perspectives become a refreshing delight. If we’re to have a future worth surviving, these books demand to be read, re-read, and—ultimately—acted upon.

Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Manifesto and Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi

Andrew Simms

David Fleming was an iconoclast in a time when orthodox thinking reasserted suffocating control. When many major environmental voices had, in effect, decided to 'go with the flow', accept the mainstream economy, and do their best to make it greener, David Fleming went the other way. His analysis told him that nothing short of a paradigm shift could ensure our collective survival, and he said so, loudly, without fear of being marginalised. Thank goodness his analysis can now be shared more widely.

Andrew Simms, codirector, New Weather Institute; fellow, New Economics Foundation; author of Cancel the Apocalypse

Paul Kingsnorth

David Fleming’s eye was sharp, and his words had a way of getting right to the heart of the matter. Lean Logic is remarkable and scintillating; the product of a truly original mind.

Paul Kingsnorth, cofounder, the Dark Mountain Project; author of The Wake, Beast and Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist

Helena Norberg-Hodge

A splendid smorgasbord, Lean Logic provides rare insight into some of the key issues of our time! Fleming's underlying vision of a future founded in a reclaimed richness of community, culture, and conversation is both heartening and timely.

Helena Norberg-Hodge, author of Ancient Futures; director of The Economics of Happiness

Tim Jackson

Each time I encountered David Fleming, he left behind something whose value I was a little too slow to recognise. A sketch for Tradable Energy Quotas. A critique of the nuclear fuel cycle. And clearest in my memory: a slim working paper entitled The Lean Economy. It took me nearly a decade to respond properly to its call. In Surviving the Future, Fleming has left behind his greatest gift: a remarkable clarity of vision—a way of seeing the world not just for what it is, but for what it might be. Hopefully, this time I’m ready for it.

Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey; author of Prosperity without Growth

Jeremy Leggett2

Jeremy Leggett2

‘The end is nigh’ messages are a dime a dozen these days. Fleming’s work doesn’t shy away from that, but it’s his vision of what could come next—and the potential richness, carnival, and culture of it—that I think is so rare and precious in these books. Less what we stand to lose and more what we've lost already and stand to regain if we do things right.

Jeremy Leggett, founder, Solarcentury and SolarAid; author of The Winning of the Carbon War

Stephan Harding

David Fleming was a walking encyclopaedia of ecological knowledge and wisdom. His brilliance, good humour, and deep insight were legendary and unforgettable. His writing, too, was of the highest calibre—witty, entertaining, profound, informative, and transformative. These books of his give us the opportunity to savour the great treasure that was his mind. To read them is to gain a superb education in ecology from one of the greatest masters in the field.

Dr. Stephan Harding, resident ecologist, Schumacher College; author of Animate Earth

John Michael Greer

A monumental achievement, David Fleming’s Lean Logic is an encyclopedic guide to the crisis of industrial civilization. I challenge anyone to read so much as a page of it without finding at least one insight worth serious reflection. Individuals, families, and communities will find it invaluable as a guide to navigating the troubled waters of the future. It's one of the very few things in recent years I'd place on the same shelf as William Catton's Overshoot or EF Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful.

John Michael Greer, author of The Long Descent and After Progress