A brief anomaly arising from cheap transport and communications: the modular structure of self-reliant, diverse political economies breaks down into a scale-free network of production, consumption and exchange, working to common principles and standards. The outcome is an unstable social order, without the firewalls and diversity needed to prevent problems (and recoveries) sluicing throughout it without containment or limit.

This smoothed-out, deconstructed pathology is seen as a virtue, and as the defining goal of the competitive, commercial ideal. It has freed itself from the bounded cultures of an earlier time which, though not wholly independent, had maintained their own distinctive political and economic orders, adapted to particular places and changing conditions.

This short-lived model of connectedness and incoherence will not outlive the conditions of cheap and abundant energy on which it depends.


Related entries:

Localisation, Lean Economics, Population, Resilience.

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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!

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