David Fleming’s posthumous books

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

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

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

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

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

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 demands to be read, re-read, and—ultimately—acted upon.

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

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 as 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

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

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

Richard Heinberg

I can’t say enough good things about these books. David Fleming’s keen interdisciplinary mind was at home in economics, history, and anthropology, so when he imagines the world beyond fossil fuels, the result is not just a schematic diagram but narrative with bone, sinew, flesh, and blood. This is how real human beings could and hopefully will respond to climate change and resource depletion.

Richard Heinberg, senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute

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

Tim Yeo MP2

Tim Yeo MP2

For me originality, passion, commitment, and sincerity are the words which describe David Fleming. All these qualities are present in his writing. His lifelong championing of Tradable Energy Quotas, one of the very few instruments which promote sustainable consumption in a progressive rather than regressive way thereby combining environmental gain with a simultaneous transfer of resources from richer to poorer people, propels him to an honoured place in the pantheon of green campaigners.

Tim Yeo, former UK Minister for the Environment and Chair of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee

Rupert Sheldrake

David Fleming gives a remarkable overview of our present situation and of possible future scenarios. His writing is clear, witty, insightful, and wise. Lean Logic is a delight to dip into, and every time I do so I feel refreshed. It is a work of genius.

Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of The Science Delusion

Lean Logic and Surviving the Future

Information on the books

Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival
and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future
and How to Survive It

Order the books

(UK) Surviving the Future / Lean Logic

(US) Surviving the Future / Lean Logic

(Worldwide) Surviving the Future / Lean Logic

(eBook) Surviving the Future

Published reviews, extracts etc

Breaking the System: A Review of Surviving the Future
Resilience.org, 28 July 2016
“This thought-provoking book is well worth a read … Fleming’s view of the future is refreshingly different … I am grateful for his evenhanded view of the pluralist and capitalist world that’s now passing away.”

‘Encounter’ – A definition, by David Fleming
Kosmos Journal, 9 August 2016
Lean Logic is neither a policy manifesto nor a dry technical guide. It’s an incredibly nourishing cultural and scientific treasure trove.”

Interview on David Fleming, music and hippos!
Chelsea Green Publishing, 21 August 2016
“Fleming’s vision is of a culture built around what we love, and entries such as “Carnival” explain beautifully how essential such pleasures are to a healthy society … His definition of wisdom is telling, I think: “Intelligence drenched in culture”.”

Flight Path – On reading David Fleming’s ‘Surviving the Future’
Dark Mountain Project, 29 August 2016
“The future is a fraught place for those of us who have realised over the last decade we are boarded on the Titanic and heading for a mighty reality check … I reach out to pick several large raspberries and realise that it was Fleming’s ideas about community resilience that had entirely forged my own … This book is compelling in ways you do not expect.”

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It
The Design Observer Group, 30 August 2016
“Half encyclopedia, half commonplace book, half a secular bible, half survival guide, half… yes, that’s a lot of halves, but I hope you get the picture. I have never encountered a book that is so hard to characterise yet so hard, despite its weight, to put down … Its pages span ethics, science, culture, art, and history. The book’s greatest strength, for this mesmerized reader, is the lightness with which it draws on knowledge from earlier periods of history, and from other cultures.”

David Fleming’s ‘Lean Logic’ and ‘Surviving the Future’, and why they’re important
LowImpact.org, 23 September 2016
“Not only do I endorse his vision for how society could be, I’d like to help make it happen … The lean economy is exactly what we need. I couldn’t be more certain of anything … lots of things that he’s saying, I’ve been saying for years – just not in such a succinct and persuasive way.”

A Review of David Fleming’s ‘Lean Logic’ (and Resilience)
Naked Capitalism, 2 October 2016
“I’m a sucker for beautiful books, and Lean Logic is a beautiful book. But I’m also a sucker for the particular kind of beauty — see especially Christopher Alexander’s books on pattern languages — that comes from breaking down a topic that is not amenable to narrative treatment into entries, and then cross-linking the entries…”

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future
Local Futures / Economics of Happiness, 11 November 2016
“Words to live by in these troubled times.”

Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy (part 2 of review here)
Permaculture magazine, Winter 2016
“A slim book graced with humour and gravitas … the most realistic, sober, frightening and yet strangely comforting disquisition into our current state of affairs. Eminently readable, Fleming’s tone and approach is neither shrill nor righteous, but avuncular, accessible and at times playful … Brilliant.”

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It
Permaculture magazine, Winter 2016
“Not a book that I would have thought of buying, but … a candidate for the half dozen or so physical books that I would consider likely to be extremely valuable in a post oil, post internet future scenario … The entries are marked by great clarity of thought [and] a good sense of humour, which keeps it all from becoming too heavy going … The dictionary has grown a small thicket of bookmarks reminding me what to follow up next.”

Waiting for the climacteric: or, the return of the greentard
Small Farm Future, 2 December 2016
“The first acquaintance is, sadly, dead, yet so ebullient that his thought is setting tongues a-wagging in environmental circles even now. I refer to the late David Fleming, whose book Lean Logic has recently been published thanks to the excellent editorship of Shaun Chamberlin, and is garnering all sorts of critical plaudits.”

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It
Royal Geographical Society, 5 December 2016
“In many ways one of the most enthralling books I’ve read in a very long time … It’s far from certain that you’ll be convinced by every word the late Fleming had to say, but you’ll envy his optimism and respect his obvious learning across so many topics. He defines ‘well-being’ as ‘accomplishment, laughter and the love of friends’. The cause is also helped by someone writing this mad-cap, passionate book that reminded me very much of those compendia of knowledge pulled together by Renaissance polymaths who didn’t care a jot about convention. Those were the days.”

David Fleming & Dark Optimism
Radio Ecoshock, 7 December 2016
“The thrilling part of David Fleming’s logic, well captured in this interview, is this plan does not require us to beg governments or protest against them. Fleming shows us how the future we want really is up to us. He’s an alternative economist, who has seen it all, so Fleming isn’t just offering a fake future. His vision could really work, and is already beginning to work in the first Transition Towns and community-building efforts in many parts of the world.”

Lean Logic
The Lean Enterprise Institute, 8 December 2016
“Please take my word that this huge resource is a gem, and deserves the type of rabid fans who cherish the books of someone like Christopher Alexander … Think of it as a mashup of The Timeless Way of Being, The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, The Whole Earth Catalog, and the writings of Taiichi Ohno … and yet to pick out pieces of this great fabric of thought truly does a disservice to Lean Logic. I highly recommend this book … It’s a vital resource.”

Lean Logic: Surviving the Future
Clean Slate magazine, Winter 2016
A tour de force, providing an astute analysis of how we got to where we are today, and a vision for how we might create a more resilient society.”

Lean Logic and Surviving the Future: A Review
Mud City Press, 22 December 2016
“These two books by one of the preeminent environmental authors of recent times contain many treasures … there is so much more to them than could possibly be hinted at in a review. Surviving the Future is an ideal first foray into Fleming’s work … laudable for the poetry with which it distils Lean Logic down to its essence, while the latter is as absorbing as it is massive.”

Books of the Year 2016
Times Higher Education, 22 December 2016
“This wonderfully idiosyncratic A-to-Z is anything but lean: at 500-plus pages Lean Logic is overflowing with Fleming’s lifelong philosophy of social and economic transformation. And it is wisdom waiting to be discovered.”

The 6 best sustainability books of 2016
GreenBiz, 31 December 2016
Surviving the Future: A nuanced comparison of the case for scale vs. the prediction that the future will be marked by a return to smaller, more localized solutions.”

Surviving the Aftermath of the Market Economy
Chris Martenson, PeakProsperity.com, 8 January 2017
“A fascinating book that lays out a compelling vision of a powerfully-different new economics for a post-growth world.”

Review: Surviving the Future
STIR magazine, Winter 2017
“Few books on economics and politics would foreground arguments for ‘a strong culture’, claim that ‘laughter creates insight and solidarity’ and advise that you should always ‘start with a party’. But David Fleming’s Surviving the Future, edited by Shaun Chamberlin, makes the case that political change will only come through a ‘rediscovery of community’ … Economics here is about relationships, not objects … calling to the potential of imagination, not instruction, and suggesting building a culture to ‘activate citizen’s intelligence’, not a legislative path towards ‘green authoritarianism’ … For Fleming, localisation lies ‘at the limits of practical possibility’, but he claims that ‘it has the decisive argument in its favour that there will be no alternative’.”

Lean Logic and Surviving the Future: Reviews by Mark Garavan
Feasta, 14 January 2017
“An effort to express ideas and ways of living on our shared planet outside the familiar framework of free-market economics … In Lean Logic we encounter directly a genuinely original thinker … stimulating and always provocative … quite profound and philosophically subversive to a deeply rooted humanist, anthropocentric culture such as ours … The sheer vitality and interrelatedness of Fleming’s thinking does not conform easily to simple categorisation … When the crash occurs we will need ideas, a horizon of hope and possibility, a viable social and economic blueprint. Fleming provides us with one such vision.”

Video from the launch events

Full book tour itinerary, updated with further footage from events, interviews etc.

Blog posts

Retrotopia: The Far Off Sound of Guns (see note at end)
John Michael Greer, 20 July 2016
“David Fleming’s astonishing book Lean Logic is 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.”

Reasons for Resolve
Vivid, 14 August 2016
“Highly recommended. I think this is one everybody in the – what do we call it now? – sustainability? resilience? regenerativity? – anyway, whatever this ‘movement’ is, people in it should be and I think will be buzzing about Fleming’s notions … I’m something of a cynic, and yet even I feel a fresh sort of excitement coming off of these ideas.”

‘Lean Logic’, by David Fleming
Early Retirement Extreme, 9 September 2016
“I wanted to give everyone a heads-up on this book since I’d never heard of the author before, but it’s quite astounding … It looks like something I’ll be coming back to for years. Even the short ‘how to cheat in an argument’ section at the beginning that sums up a ton of argument fallacies has given me pause to rethink the way I debate.”

The Extraordinary Works of the Late, Great David Fleming
Jonathon Porritt, 26 September 2016
“David Fleming was one of the most important people in my early green life – perhaps the most important … David’s work is so important, so timely, so idiosyncratically different, and so unlike anything else that you’re likely to be urged to read between now and Christmas!”

Accessible, humorous and inspiring… choose your own adventure!
Amazon.com review, 3 October 2016
“This book reminds me of hours spent in front of encyclopedia as a kid. Instead of reading about space shuttles, birch bark and howitzers this dictionary draws one into the present need for new thinking about our culture and our role in the world. Fleming’s writing style is humorous and generous. He connects ideas and lets you explore what’s next … I would highly recommend the companion book ‘Surviving the Future’ as well.”

Casino Collapse and Economic Collapse Need Not be the Same
Towards a Convivial Economy, 9 October 2016
“Beauty and truth by master of convivial economics David Fleming … Lean Logic is at my bedside. It’s hard to hold hope, as things are, but this dictionary is a place I can duck into now and again, to re-find it.”

Lean Logic
Jacob Rask, 13 October 2016
Lean Logic is a complete masterpiece. Kept me up in the night for a week.”

Celebrating the life of Dr. David Fleming
Rob Hopkins, 13 October 2016
“His work was such a formative influence on the Transition movement … If you haven’t bought the books yet, they’re both utterly brilliant.”

The Archdruid Report
Comment by reader “Andrew”, 20 October 2016
“If any readers of the Archdruid Report are contemplating buying Lean Logic, do so. It is expensive but gives you the feeling we all know from reading this blog – when an insight just opens a window in your mind and the world looks different than it did a moment before – about every second page.”

For Hallowe’en this year, I’m dressing as the economy
openDemocracy, 26 October 2016
“The key challenge of today, for Fleming, is to repair the atrophied social structures on which most human cultures have been built; to rediscover how to rely on each other rather than on money alone … Fleming’s compelling, grounded vision of a post-growth world is rare in its ability to inspire optimism in the creativity and intelligence of human beings to nurse our economy, ecology and culture back to health.”

The incredible tube in my throat
Art of Climbing Trees, 5 November 2016
“It really is a beautiful book; old skool qualidy … One of the foundations of Lean Logic is ‘the informal economy’. Looking through this lens made me think that already, the NHS doesn’t stop at the walls of the hospital. I was collected by my good friend Leonie, and fed, and made to feel safe in her home while the anaesthetic was still stewing my brain; she was an informal economy nurse you might say. Our NHS would be less than half of what it is without the love of our communities. Lean Logic in this way makes the future with less resources and complexity look possible, and to some extent desirable. I highly recommend it.”

Lean Logic: The Work of David Fleming
Permaculture Podcast, 20 November 2016
“Without hyperbole I see these two volumes as among the most important recent texts for any permaculture practitioner … a bridge between the early work of permaculture in designing the landscape and the space now of creating the resilient communities that are necessary to survival … I was blown away by how much information is available in either one of these volumes … What does it mean to live here in this space, surrounded by these people, and what can we do together, to create resilience; how can we celebrate? Within the depths of David Fleming’s work I’m finding answers, and adapting them to my own experiences.”

Surviving the Future
Legalise Freedom, 5 December 2016
A masterpiece more than thirty years in the making … Examines the consequences of an economy that destroys the very foundations – ecological, economic, and cultural – upon which it is built … Fleming acknowledges, with honesty, the challenges we face. But rather than inducing despair, Lean Logic and Surviving the Future inspire optimism … to rediscover the importance of resilience, community, and culture.”

RobertScribbler.com
Comment by reader “JPL”, 14 December 2016
“Thanks for your recent link to the podcast with Shaun Chamberlin that talked about David Fleming’s posthumously published book Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive it. I picked up a copy at the library last evening and all I can say is I’ve never read anything like it. It really is a dictionary/encyclopedia. I will be buying a copy of this. It’s incredible.”

Lean Logic
Anthony Manrique, 19 December 2016
Completely lost in the labyrinth of my new cathedral, Lean Logic. Sleeping in its nooks & crannies rather than my bed. Tired, optimistic, happy.”

Doves of Peaceful Prosperity for a Post-Growth World
Andrew Durling, 9 January 2017
“A magnum opusI can’t rate this book highly enough: it is the most comprehensive, thorough, deeply researched, yet easily readable book on sustainability I’ve ever come across, full of practical suggestions and proposals for creating, right now, the lean society that can survive the difficult times ahead. Like the doves I saw today in the dovecote I walked past, peaceful thoughts of a thriving future fly through the mind after reading such a visionary book as this!”

Peak Prosperity
Comment by reader “Christopher H”, 9 January 2017
“These books exceeded my expectations in just about every way possible. David Fleming’s work isn’t about giving up the good things in life that make us human, it’s about rediscovering them … I cannot overstate the breadth AND depth of knowledge that Dr. Fleming possessed and transmitted on these pages … If I had to pick only one book to save and pass along to future generations, this would be that book … I literally have not been able to put it down since picking it up.”

A magical book from an intellectual giant
Amazon.co.uk review, 17 January 2017
Possibly the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. This is a book written with such wit, compassion and humanity that you are completely drawn in. Many times I had to drag myself away to fact check some of its claims fearing I was under some sort of spell. After going through the book I find myself unable to disagree with any of it. It certainly puts Brexit and Trump into perspective. I will definitely be buying the larger dictionary version.”

A panoptic tutorial for human survival
Amazon.com review, 20 January 2017
“The breadth and depth of this work is as staggering as its importance. It’s a kind of panoptic tutorial of our past and future. I’m astounded to discover after just a couple hours of reading that much of the anger and turmoil in the world can be accounted for … Lean Logic makes a case for what many people are already experiencing and desire on both liberal and conservative sides of economic, cultural and religious thinking … opens up a space for thinking about the future in emotional and rational terms that I think everyone who cares about the future can support.”

Review of Lean Logic
Canadian Investment Network, 31 January 2017
“One gets the impression that a very well read and deep thinker is addressing each topic … I particularly enjoyed the caliber of writing and thinking skill on display in David’s writing … the concept of a “lean economy” is provocative and will, I predict, eventually enter into mainstream debate as an alternative view of how economies might operate either by choice or by necessity. This review is still quite superficial in its treatment of David’s ideas … I’ve read enough to know, however, that this is a book worth recommending (and I’m not alone).”

The sacred, the profane and the fatal flaw in politics
Vivid, 12 February 2017
Unconventional and captivating reading … written with such charm and levity … it feels as natural and free as a Saturday morning … the style and shape of this magnificent creation maps naturally onto the non-linear, novelty-seeking, story-loving landscape of our minds while its wisdoms take root in the heart … Fleming was not afraid to mix erudition and authority with playfulness and conviviality, and did not shy away from giving love, music, art, dance and laughter — carnival — the same high priority as the nitty gritty of economic and political systems. This serves as an uplifting reminder that politics and its communiqués … can be spirited, diverse, enabling and connecting … something we recapture from its lofty conceptual realms, disarm, bring down to earth, and revive — in the process remaking ourselves and our world.”

Bonus footage – the man himself, in 2009

(Further footage, including Fleming’s last interview, in November 2010, available here)

Schumacher College course on Fleming’s work:
6th-10th February 2017

Community, Place and Play: A Post-Market Economics

Community, Place and Play: A Post-Market Economics
with Shaun Chamberlin, Rob Hopkins, Mark Boyle and Stephan Harding