Society’s ability to hold itself together over a long period, despite stresses which would otherwise break it apart.

The market economy is an effective system for sustaining social order: the distribution of goods, services and other assets is facilitated by buying and selling, supporting a network of exchange to which everyone has access. But if the flow of income fails, the powerfully-bonding combination of money and self-interest will no longer be available on its present all-embracing scale, and perhaps not at all. It will then be necessary to rely instead on the cohesive properties of a robust common culture, and the loyalties and reciprocities supported and sustained within it. Without this, there will be no basis for a cohesive society. And that, of course, is putting it mildly, because the time-interval between the demise of the market and the birth of a cohesive culture may be expected to be turbulent.

Reliance on the market economy has led to the asset of a common culture falling into neglect; sometimes we pick through the ruins like tourists marvelling at a lost settlement and guessing at what was once there. It would be helpful—though late in the day—to stop dismantling what remains of a culture in today’s political economy, and to start to re-grow cultural and artistic links as an essential basis for cohesion in a future which, from where we sit, will be barely recognisable.C140


Related entries:

Casuistry, Civility, Humour, Trust, Play, Public Sphere and Private Sphere, Resilience.

« Back to List of Entries
David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

Comment on this entry: