Magazine article Geographical

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It

Magazine article Geographical

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It

Article excerpt

LEAN LOGIC: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It by David Fleming; Chelsea Green Publishing; 35 [pounds sterling] (hardback)

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David Fleming was adamant that an economy dependent on the myth of eternal growth was doomed to collapse. No amount of tinkering will ultimately save it, so we will have to choose between suffering an almighty economic crash landing and taking the route of 'managed descent'. The latter is likely to be less bumpy, but tough times will still lie ahead. Unemployment will soar, government funds for health, education, welfare and much else besides will wither away, but there will be ways to cope. In order to sustain a cohesive society in straitened circumstances words like community, reciprocity and trust will have to come to the fore. Everything will have to be more local and civility will be key: we must all listen respectfully to each others arguments and pursue the best solutions even if they aren't efficient according to the old rules. Everything will be leaner, but we might just be okay.

As and when the wheels come off the global economic wagon it's to be hoped that Fleming's cheery forecast is accurate. Until then, his expansive musings on these and many other topics can be found in one of the strangest, but in many ways one of the most enthralling books I've read in a very long time. As might be expected, some of the longer entries in this dictionary of ideas focus on economic life. So, rather daringly, do some of the shorter ones. The concept of globalisation is dismissed in a couple of paragraphs as a 'brief anomaly' and a 'short-lived model of connectedness and incoherence.'

Fleming's vision of a tolerable future was unusually wide-ranging, however. It required us to discuss things in transparent, honest ways so a host of logical fallacies and rhetorical dead-ends are defined in withering ways: 'Balletic debate,' for instance, where the participants are 'so fluent they can dance past each other in a performance of great beauty and skill. …

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