Travelling Light

Adaptation to the failure of the intermediate economy of big infrastructures and services which will follow the breakdown of the market. The scale and consequences of the loss of these essentials will be shocking. The long-term task will be to build lean, small-scale, elegant, sustainable-resilient replacements. The Lean Economy will travel light. And there will be a major gain, since local enterprise such as hospitals and farms, can—relative to their giant equivalents—afford a greater flexibility and attention to detail; they can expect better morale, closed-loop waste management, a sense of community, of being somewhere. The loss of the intermediate economy, though catastrophic at first, will release local enterprise from a commitment it can no longer afford, and open the way to the land-, labour- and materials-efficiency of lean thinking.

Travelling light, then, is about coping without the burden of giant infrastructures, which will fail, however much we might regret their passing. The heavily-burdened present will be separated from the travelling-light future by kaikaku—by voluntary and/or involuntary shock. The Lean Economy that emerges from it will have the advantage that, unlike its obese and tottering predecessor, it could have a future.

 

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was an economist, historian and writer, based in London. 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 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. A film about his perspective and legacy - The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation? - was released in 2019, directed by BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong. For more information, including on Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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