Political Economy

Society in the broad sense. Despite many differences of emphasis, economics was once understood in this way, as including the whole range of society, politics and economy.

That understanding held in the period roughly between the publication of a coherent theory of value (based on labour) by Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746), Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow, and the launch in 1891 of the narrower interpretation of “positive economics” by John Neville Keynes (1852–1949). Before that period, economics had been discussed as a question of moral philosophy; after it, economics became separated into a much more technical question, opening up the gap between the economy and society, and providing the symbology and mathematics for economism.P45

As it is used in Lean Logic, “political economy” means more than the more usual “society”. It links it up with economics, politics, the environment, the past and the future—that is, the society and ecology which economics exists to serve.


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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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