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Review of Lean Logic: How To Survive The Future

Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future and How To Survive It.

"Lean Logic does not conform.

It is a community of essays about inventive, cooperative self-reliance in the face of great uncertainty.

Lean Logic acknowledges, with honesty, the challenges ahead in finding our way out of an economy that has all but destroyed the very foundations upon which it depends - the climate, the complex ecological system and the community and culture which gives meaning to life.

But rather than inducing despair, Lean Logic is rare in its ability to inspire optimism in the creativity and intelligence of humans to nurse our ecology back to health, to rediscover the importance of place and play, of community and culture, and of reciprocity and resilience.

It is not a book to read from start to finish. Begin in the middle, with something, anything, that sparks your interest, and let the signposts pull you through a chaotic web of ideas, brimming with humour and originality, with elegance and contradiction.

Lean Logic is a dictionary of empowerment."

I have just received a quite extraordinary 736 page book called Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future and How To Survive It by the English ecologist David Fleming. The publisher describes it as a "community of essays". In my words it's 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 characacterise yet so hard, despite its weight, to put down.

The editors of Lean Logic, who have completed the project following Fleming's untimely death last year, say it's about "cooperative self-reliance in the face of great uncertainty". Well, yes. But today I have also read entries on nanotechnlogy, carnival, casuistry, multiculturalism, and the 'new domestication' - and I still have more than 1,000 entries to read. Waiting for me ahead are entries on road pricing, the vernacular, trust, resilience, the marshes of Iraq...

Lean Logic does not sugar-coat the challenges we face: an economy that destroys the very foundations upon which it depends; climate weirdness; ecological systems under stress; shocks to community and culture. Neither does the book suggest that there are easy solutions to these dilemmas. As Fleming has said, "large scale problems do not require large-scale solutions - they require small-scale solutions within a large-scale framework.

This is not a book to read from start to finish - although entry Number 1, on Abstraction, is engaging enough. Fleming defines abstraction as "Displacement of the particular - people, places, purpose - by general principle". Within a few lines Fleming introduces someone I never heard of, Alexander Herzen [1812-1870], as one of the first writers to "make the case for local detail, for pragmatic decision-making, for near-at-hand, for 'presence'. Fleming goes on to quote such other "scourges of abstraction" as Oliver Goldsmith, Montaigne, Joseph Conrad, and Matthew Arnold. And that's all on page one.

Among the incredibly useful passages I've already discovered are: a long text about 'resilience' and its multiple meanings; a clear account of Energy Decent Action Plans; an explanation of Harmonic Order; a comparative guide to barter through the ages; and a section on Lean Health.

Fleming was a co-founder of the UK Green Party, chair of the Soil Association, and active from its early days in the Transition Towns movement. He was one of the first people in the world to understand the implications for industrial civilzation of peak oil, and a good deal of the book is about energy in its many meanings. Fleming was the inventor - and advocate for more than a decade - of Tradeable Energy Quotas or TEQs. This energy rationing scheme is designed to share out fairly a nation's shrinking - as it must and will - energy/carbon budget, while allowing maximum freedom of choice over energy use.

But Lean Logic is neither a policy manifesto nor a dry technical guide. It's an incredibly nourishing cultural and scientific treasure trove. 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.

Lean Logic has been printed in a hardback first edition of just 500 copies, so get your order in quick here

Original article:

A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It
David Fleming’s Lean Logic will be published in his memory in July 2011.
The book will be printed in a hardback first edition of 500 copies, comprising
David’s final draft, comprehensive footnotes, bibliography and references and many
wonderful wood cuts and illustrations.
All proceeds from sales of Lean Logic will be used to promote David’s work and
Copies may be obtained for £30 or £25 each for two or more (plus £5 per copy for
postage and packing if required) by sending a cheque payable to Lucy Barlow to:
Lean Logic
Court Farm House
North Street
Oxon OX27 7QX
Or by making a bank transfer to:
Lucy F G Barlow (Lean Logic)
Smile Bank
Account Number: 12273579
Sort Code: 08 92 88
Please be kind enough to use your name as a payment reference and send an email
with postage instructions to
Do please spread the Lean Logic word by encouraging others to visit to order further copies.