Tree 172 :: The Great David Fleming ::

4th November 2010
Hampstead Heath, London, UK

Dr.David Fleming was a genius I had the pleasure to meet. I suggested maybe he do this tree project instead of me. It was obvious he would do a better job of it, if he could be arsed to climb trees every day. I met him for two hours; within minutes he’d opened his head with an encyclopaedia of names, people I should read about or interview in trees. Ideas to change the world and a cup of tea in his quirky London flat over looking Hampstead Heath. So I’m trying to write a eulogy for him. He passed away unexpectedly on the 28th November 2010. People like David give me hope. A fine soul and brilliant. Brim full of the good stuff. I asked him who would be on his cabinet: Kirk Patrick Sale who wrote  a book called ‘Human Scale’ – communities… etc, Edmund Burke – for philosophy, Aristotle for more philosophy and keep a handle on everyone, John Eliot Gardiner, as the cabinet musician, Gerard Manley Hopkins as poet in residence…

So we talked about his book, The Lean Economy. A work 32 years in the making and an important work for all of us. Really. It is now published and available to buy at

We talked about Tradeable Energy Quotas (TEQs), a concept he came up with over a curry in 1986.

The Great Beth Barton was with us in the tree on Hampstead Heath too. This is an extract from our conversation.

David:            I think the book is all really about getting on with life and crucially getting on in life in the things that really matter. And what really matters is music…

Henrik:            music

David:            ….and humor and conversation and painting, the arts, things like that, and having fun, play and farting about and generally enjoying life. That’s what really, really matters, I mean everything else is… Well the needle hiss, we used to say in the old days, Gramophone records, oh you are probably too young to know that expression anyway [laughing]

I just watched Wall Street, the 80’s movie. It’s not great but it did bring into focus the madness of what we are up against. What David was fighting. Or maybe he wasn’t fighting it, he was preparing us for the fall out from it.

It’s a strange thing to say goodbye to someone with a confidence we’ll meet again, or at least the hope of it. – the website for David’s work.
Video of the Parliamentary launch of the TEQs scheme is found at the bottom of this page.

I present you Dr.David Fleming, and Beth Barton…

Henrik:                        Have to shield this thing from the wind… ok, Dr. David Fleming

David Fleming:            Hello [laughing]

Henrik:            Beth

Beth Barton:            Beth Barton

Henrik:            Beth Barton, thank you for joining me in this amazing oak. Umm. So Rob put me on to you, you don’t mind?

David:            That’s good, not at all


David:            Not at all… Rob is incredibly productive, I mean what he managed to do in the last 5 years was almost impossible, humanly impossible to get the biggest, fastest growing movement in the history of the world off the ground, to write all his reports, his stories and blogs for the Transition Network and do all the talking

Beth:            and to publish books

David:            yeah and publish his books and write all the forewords in other people’s books, its quite a story and also to be a family man with 4 boys, amazing. So he’s a good bloke

Henrik:            Indeed, he said he was surprised himself about the whole… because he’s had a lot of momentum, its kind of serendipitous the way its all come together, so he’s had, I guess not luck but… something

Beth:             synchronicity, or yeah

Henrik:            behind him, behind the whole thing so

David:            yeah it is absolutely right, something like 15 years ago or was it 10 something like that. The Town and Community Planning Association decided that they were going to start a campaign which was going to be about localities, not leaving it to the government to take initiative but to do it themselves. I forget what it’s called, it’s called a local design association or something like that. In terms of the brief it was exactly the same as Transition

Henrik:            Ok

David:            but it got nowhere it was the wrong time and they involved Loughbrough University to produce a pack, a design pack which they distributed to localities and said go on, get on with it, do it like this which is actually what Rob didn’t do. He said, he did it himself and said anybody who wants to do the same thing can do it exactly how they want to do it. So that just shows basically that Rob’s concept was right, almost the identical thing they had done 10 years previously it completely failed and got nowhere and Rob said ok we will do it another way which is, we will let people do exactly how they want it to do and its just taken off

Beth:            do you think that’s a lot to do with timing as well or?

David:            it might have to do with timing too that’s right. It might have to do with timing too. And also Rob is very practical I mean he’s a permaculture teacher as well, he really knows permaculture backwards, he really understands it. He’s been studying it for years and he did a dry run at Kinsale, I think that helped enormously.

Henrik:            yeah

David:            and he’s really modest very able fellow and very modest. You don’t realize how able he is at the first meeting. He’s really very impressive.

Henrik:            Yes umm… do you think coz it comes from the grassroots this stuff doesn’t it, its people just getting on with it

Beth:            yeah

Henrik:             Do you think that comes out of, do you think like, it being ready, do you think that’s to do with people being like, going well the government aren’t going to get on with it so we just get on with it ourselves and so there is a certain amount of dissatisfaction with action from the top

Beth:            that’s exactly what I was thinking coz the other day I was thinking, look at the French and how they are protesting and everything, and I came to the conclusion that the French are like teenagers, they still expect, they’re sort of like rebelling teenagers they still expect the government to do stuff for them whereas the English we are not sort of, you know, like all the other countries are saying look at the English they’re just like taking it, whatever the government throws at them

Henrik:            yeah, that’s what I feel like, but go on

Beth:            yeah, but I felt like possibly its because while the French still sort of expect the government to do stuff for them we’ve sort of given up and we are more like the adults and we have left home, closed the door and we are just like, we will get on with it ourselves

Henrik:            aaahhh, that’s an interesting … ok I like that idea. Do you think… do you concur or do you?

David:            oh absolutely [laughing]

David:            yeah, we were discussing it the other day. There really is a very different culture – the French. The Transition people haven’t really taken off in France, there was a discussion with French people at the Transition conference a couple of years ago about this and they said well its not for us to do that, it is for the government to do it. So the thing is the French have a strange, a mixed attitude – on the one hand they don’t think they aught to get on themselves, they leave the government to do it and that covers French politics in a very broad way.

They are prepared to put up with huge numbers of nuclear power stations, and prepared to put up with the national curriculum years before we did so they more or less do what the government tells them to some extent. At the same time, which seems to be a contradiction, they have an absolute contempt for the government and for politics and they reveal that contempt by having a revolution from time to time. And they’ve been having big revolutions or small revolutions at regular intervals for the last 200 years.

Beth:            So that’s why I see them like sort of being like rebellious teenagers, you know still demanding things off their parents, of the governments where as we have just given up

Henrik:            actually overthrowing people in power who aren’t you know looking after your interests, that’s pretty full on

Beth:            [laughing] I mean they possibly had more successes so, chopping off of Royalties headsthat’s in the past so [laughing]

David:            your rebellion is a teenage thing, because you only rebel, if in fact your parents are in a strong position, if they are not in a strong position, you just go off and do exactly what you want

Henrik and Beth:            yeah

David:            and so I think in Britain we have a sort of a disdain for politics I think, but I don’t think we take them as seriously as they do in France.

Henrik:            right

David:            and I think also, I think the last government did help, because the last government seemed to be so authoritarian. And whatever, any, what ever happened in public affairs the government almost inevitably decided to pass a new law, set up a new quango. They were really quite authoritarian, they really were treating us like, not teenagers, like children, so I think that may have helped too. But on the other hand I think it has been, I am not sure, I think there has been a good 20 or 30 years a real concern about the way things are going.

And you may be right that Transition wouldn’t have taken off 20 years ago but it might have, but I think people have been concerned, not concerned, worried. I think it is advanced from being concerned to being worried to being seriously frightened and also now it’s got into, there’s two modes; on the one hand when people think about it they see as if frightened, so they decide not to think about it. But the great thing about Transition is it’s actually made it possible to think about, when you think, oh not only have we got this dreadful situation but here’s also something we can do about it and that suddenly makes it thinkable and that is brilliant

Henrik:            yeah exactly, action… and progress, a sense of not being helpless is incredibly important, or gives you hope. So you guys are working on a book?

David:            oh yes you could say that [laughing]

David:            yeah I thought, I’ve been writing this book for a very long time, its kind of a joke now

Beth:            it’s going to get published very shortly though

David:            Beth is very encouraging about that, we’re within days of getting it more or less finished

Beth:            [laughing]

Henrik:            really, really, oh wow I am so, cool I’m so pleased to be here right on the end of this, well the edge of this life’s work being released into the world

David:            there was another 2 days of serious writing to do I think and then its going to be ok, be good enough to send it out to readers, referees to comment on. I have sent one or two bits out to people to comment on it and so far people haven’t liked it [laughing] I have absolutely been taken to the cleaners. However I think, I think I debugged it enough for people to be into thinking it might have something to be said in its favour, and I hope so because it’s the only thing I should have actually done in my life. It’s taken me 20 years

Beth:             What about TEQs?  TEQs is pretty major.

David:            oh yes ok there is TEQs too

Beth and Henrik:            [laughing]

David:            oh yeah I have done one or two other things [laughing] It’s the only thing I can remember recently, the only thing I think about really and I have been really, and I have been more or less flat out, full on to use your word, for 20 years and I first started thinking about it in 1978 how long, years is that?

Henrik:            was this TEQs

David:             no the book, the book. 1978 my goodness that is 32 years ago, that must be, and it took Dr. Johnson… it’s a dictionary, dictionaries take a long time to write

Beth:            its called Lean Logic ummm… what’s it, Dictionary for the Future

David:            yeah Dictionary for the Future…

Henrik:            oh wow, ok can you…

David:             …and how to survive it

Beth:            and how to survive it

Henrik:            ok really, can you tell me, can you try and… try and sum it up… if possible?

Beth:            this is always the difficult bit [laughing]

David:            how could I sum up a dictionary?

Henrik:            [laughing]

David:            600 entries

Henrik:            well what kind of entries then, if you could give me an example?

David:            700 pages

Beth:            it’s kind of like for the world post peak oil isn’t it, and how to survive it, and… what it would say it’s about a new sort of, economic system, and new way…. It’s a lot to do with communities

Henrik:            sounds good

Beth:             what would you say?

David:            I am glad you are here Beth, actually

Beth:            [laughing]

David:            Beth finds it easier to think about it than I do yeah

Beth:            [laughing]

David:            but what it really is, it’s a (coughing), sorry, forget about sustainable development, that is really, I never believed it since it was first thought of, we’re not going to be able to sustain the system we have got at the moment. It’s going to be heading for an absolute radical change. How radical that’s going to be is not for me to say. So but what one needs to think about, the life after that shock, there is going to be a major shock and, and, the very, very good thing, if having had the shock we learnt some lessons from it. We didn’t say oh dear that was just a glitch lets see if we can sort of step thing up exactly on the same basis that we had before.

Henrik:            yeah

David:             It would be really nice if we could actually learn some lessons from it and set things up in a completely different basis

Henrik:            yeah

David:            Umm… and that’s what, urm, that’s what it tries to do. It’s like… OK, the Lean Economy is going to be completely different from the market economy that we have at the moment

Henrik:            So can you describe the Lean Economy?

David:             Well its just going to be rediscovering society and rediscovering relationships between people and rediscovering the contacts and community and networks and… conversation, and well a….. and engaging with the life that we’ve actually got rather than the floating above it, on a sort of cloud of money and exchange and security. Money has in fact only been around for not many umm… not very long, invented something like 600 BC by the Greeks and so almost a whole of human history has been without money.

And probably we’ll never be, so long as we’re here as a human society in the future, there probably will be money, money will be part of it but its not going to be anything like as important as part of it at the moment. I mean the informal economy that is to say the non-monetary based economy is going to be incredibly, much more important and will take over from a lot of the things we do

Henrik:            you think it will for sure?

David:             yeah

Beth:             it will be more about based on relationships and living in a more of a sense of community. A lot of the research is to do with how we were living in medieval times, before we were using money as much as we are now

Henrik:            ok right, more bartering and / or

Beth:             yes, and producing quality goods

Henrik:            right

Beth:            because you’ve got that relationship to sustain and you know

Henrik:            have you read that book called ‘The Gift’?

David:            yes absolutely I have got it, yeah, yeah

Henrik:            I didn’t get right the way through but I really loved a lot of what she was saying you know about the idea of transaction you know, when you exchange something with money then it’s a neutral transaction

David:            yeah you wipe out the relationship, you just walk away. And yeah you just walk away and if you do something without money, then you set up an obligation. It doesn’t have to be repaid, in fact the more is not to be repaid the better because you want to keep the obligation live, you want to maintain the network of obligations and that’s what the community is all about.

And we tend to think whenever, if you talk to most people about this, they say come on pull the other one, this is not realistic but actually we also need to recognize how crucially important the informal economy already is now. And most of the things what we are doing right now is in the informal economy, we are not getting paid for this, our family life is informal, our friends are part of the informal economy and most of the things with people in our sort of, kind of life do are part of the informal economy. We do things for each other constantly all the time and if one were to do something, if I were to do something for a friend and if they were to offer to pay me I would be mortally insulted.

Beth:            [laughing]

David:             I would be more or less at the end of it

Henrik:            [laughing] yeah, yeah, yeah

Beth:            [laughing]

David:            so think of it, oh come off it, come off it, informal economy this is terribly romantic, unrealistic. On the contrary it’s very unrealistic to dismiss the informal economy as being unimportant. So it’s going to be absolutely a big rediscover of the informal economy which is very hard, very hard to summaries [laughing]

Beth:            [laughing]

Henrik:            ok how does it, you are doing a lot of research about how things have worked, and you obviously got ideas about how things could work but you know, we got this whole financial system. Are you… you are talking about replacing that with something else?

David:            no unfortunately I am not, I don’t think its going to last. I am a capitalist and I am bit of a right winger to most people’s horror and shock and so I think in many ways.

Henrik and Beth:            [laughing]

David:            the system we have got at the moment is really not a bad system. I think capitalism is a good thing. The only problem with capitalism is that it destroys the planet, you know, and that it’s based on growth. I mean apart from those two little detail it’s got a lot to be said in its favour.

Henrik:            yeah

David:            and when capitalism dies you know, we’ll be on our knee, we’ll wish it were back because it supports our high standard of living, it supports freedom, from the point of view of freedom, we’re an incredibly free society and that is basically to do with the capitalist system that we have got. It’s a wonderful system in a way, its very efficient, it’s based on pull, its not based on authoritarian people telling other people what to do on the whole.

It’s based on asking for services and paying for them. So in many ways, its got a lot to be said in its favour, but its got absolute, yeah you know there is no such thing as a free lunch, it’s got these absolutely crucial flaws which is well, the essential flaw is that it depends on growth and… and it will go, go on depending on growth to the point at which it collapses.

Its not necessarily against a system that it collapses because most systems do collapse in the end, I mean that’s a part of the nature, the wheel of life that systems do collapse, there is life and death. So I think I’m to some extent slightly inclined to forgive capitalism for being about to collapse. I mean there are lots of fine things, lots of love affairs and which have come to a sticky end, and lots of novels which come to an end, and life tends to come to an end. I mean life itself comes to an end. You can’t necessarily blame life for being something that comes to an end. So I am not really going to blame capitalism. On the other hand it does, I mean its quite a thing to be held, quite an accusation, yeah hard for it to live down, an accusation, not only is it based on the ludicrous idea that growth can continue indefinitely but its going to destroy the entire planet with it. That’s quite a…

Henrik:            that’s a big problem

David:            …that’s not a small problem

Beth:            [laughing]

David:            it’s a fairly fundamental problem there, but anyway the thing is, as it is going to hit the buffers in this way we don’t have to, you know go around destroying things, we don’t have to dismantle the banking system, that’s what I am saying. But what we make with the banking system will make absolutely no difference at all. We do not have to change, reform things, not reform, I don’t think we should waste time reforming things, its going to reform itself in that its going to come to falling about our ears very quickly indeed.

And indeed the longer we keep the system going in some ways, you could argue, the long… as we keep the system going, the longer the growth will continue and greater will be the fall when it eventually happens. The more nuclear power stations we will be able to build, the more forest we will be able to cut down and greater the CO2 accumulations when eventually the crash happens, so there is something to be said, actually for the crash being earlier rather than later.

Beth:            it will happen naturally, yeah

David:            But that doesn’t rule out umm… productive action, we have got for example, one example… it doesn’t mean I go around hoping the world is going to end tomorrow [laughing]

Beth:            [laughing]

David:            I do everything I possibly can, you know in my own personal life, not everything, but a large number of things too. And it, encourage people to do, to save things, to recycle, to recycle waste, I mean not to use energy unnecessarily and such things. I don’t do as much as lot of people do, but nonetheless it doesn’t mean that I am destructive in this way. So I think my situation, my position is ambiguous and it’s full of contradictions, but I would challenge anybody, really to analyze their position in a way which is not full of contradictions.

Henrik:            yeah yeah I could buy that. I mean capitalism is it gone so wrong because, I mean, this is what was mentioned earlier on which is the… you know, ownership, the problem is that you start out where things are unfair, you know somebody has inherited, because way back in the day you know, somebody was bigger than somebody else, or a tiny bit more intelligent, or bit more shrewd, or bit more cunning and they manage to swindle or get other people to work for them or steal land or whatever it is, no? I am wrong? Am I completely…?

David:            I … you haven’t finished your sentence yet, I am waiting for the end

[all laughing]

Henrik:            well the thing is, that basically we have inherited, most people have inherited a situation. Some people have inherited a situation through, by parenting, have ended up having parents that didn’t look after them properly or um… you know they gambled their money away you know I mean this is the details but um… and so, that’s the system capitalism is operating in. Any system would have to operate in that but. Ok I am not a communist but the idea of you know, kind of leveling the playing field, how do you respond to that?

David:            well [laughing] I am not quite sure what your question is but I think I sort of get the drift. I .. I .. I  think one needs to be careful about this because any large scale society anywhere in the world at any time does have very substantial differences in authority and influence and freedom and wealth and such things. And the difference we have got in our own society at the moment, absolutely trivial in comparison to the differences in most previous societies. Take a look at any point of history in China for example I mean we just don’t know what inequality, we… we… we…

Henrik:             we don’t understand it?

David:            we don’t know what inequality is…

Beth:            in comparison

David:            …so in fact, if we’re talking about inequality being a bad thing, we need to wake up to the fact that you know, every large society does have inequalities, our society’s inequality is far less, far less pronounced than probably any other large society’s inequalities that has ever been.

I am bringing that word large in, the concept, for good reason, because if it’s a small society you can have a more or less egalitarian society, the Inuit society is more or less egalitarian. The Cambodians have villages, famously described, – the last century as the most perfect place on earth, most wonderful place to live. Their evolution is basically, you know villages with equality, you have all traditional societies, most of human societies, most of human history has built, organized around small scale localized economies and with substantial equality.

Equality from the point of view of leadership, if someone decides to lead a hunt, he is the leader of that day, but from the point of permanent inequalities, small scale societies don’t need to do it. As soon as you get it large scale, you have lots and lots of differentiation

Henrik:            so you are saying that it’s inevitable when

David:            It’s inevitable, not only is it inevitable but you know you can hardly, not just say oh what a dreadful thing, it happens. Its impossible to imagine a large scale society without an economy because in a large scale society you have lots of differentiation in function if you’re going to need a large scale society – you need, now lets suppose you need an irrigation system, so you need someone to organize the irrigation system and someone you know to get people to participate in it and someone to organize where the canal is going to go and where the river is going to be diverted and something, and all that, its completely absurd to argue that can be done on the basis of equality.

Henrik:            yeah but obviously then what we have got now is where people are being paid, the amounts, the differences in wages, I mean I don’t want to get into this too much because… you know I mean people working their arses off, like you know in jobs that may be they are not skilled but they’re still putting the time in and they are doing it as well as they can and then other people you know, being like these, you know like I don’t know, doctors, obviously they deserve to be rewarded I think but umm… on the other hand its kind of disproportionate. So I mean I am saying that’s the…

Beth:            that this is the large scale… yeah…

Henrik:            …dysfunction of or… it’s capitalism perhaps, that’s the kind of wrong end of it

Beth:            yeah because we are living in the large scale. When you are talking about small and large scale what are the numbers, when something becomes large and when it’s small?

David:            well… That’s hard to say, I think there is some sort of number but I think we aught to be very careful about numbers in a way, because it depends what you mean by community and how close one community is to another community and so on, what the circumstances are. Umm… and so I would think that a small community is one with something like, well it depends, I would say 150 but there are various stages of the scales, after 150, if one starts going up to 5000 or something like that, which is the next sort of stage up, then inequalities do start appearing, there starts being people with a sort of Mayoral functions and what are described as big man functions, and there are quite a lot of differentiations. But a, 150 is just above the upper limit at which you can maintain a decent level of equality. I think in a … I never really liked talking about equality and inequality, because I think that there are lots and lots of misconceptions about it. In many ways, the least, well, several ways, one way is, it has very little to do with the problem we’ve got at the moment, and if I was talking about the big problems, the big problems of climate and energy and fish and environmental pollution and loss of species, and the range of the thing which I call the climactrick which are sort of poised to change our civilization to completely out of control.

It will make no difference whatsoever to the way that pans out, how equal or unequal we will be. So I sort of think, since one can’t even discuss everything then go for the big ones

Henrik:            right, just the big ones yeah

David:            it doesn’t mean to say that if anybody were to argue against exploitation, exploited labour now I would be against it, I think absolutely exploited labour is an outrage and it shouldn’t happen and wish people were more in that case, that if the…

Henrik:            you know its outrageous that we have these trade rules isn’t it? That are working in our favor, trade rules that stop other nations developing, you know like I mean the whole debt thing. I don’t know debt, the thing is can you… what would you describe, what’s your title in this world?

David:            my title

Henrik:            if you had to give yourself a title

David:            how do you mean?

Henrik:            like a job description

Beth:            he’s actually an economist

David:            oh me, oh no, my passport. Would I call my self an economist, I don’t think other economists would call me an economist [laughing]

Beth:            he’s got a PhD in economics

David:            yeah I have got a PhD in economics but nonetheless, I never think [laughing] I have never, but yeah I have, written about economics and I read probably a great deal about it, but I never sort of practiced in a bank as an economist, I never advised the government as economist and I never really could understand econometrics, at least I tried to understand it, think I got the idea but [laughing] I can never really get those computers to work.


David:            So this is not really answering your question is it? Mind you, it was difficult to work in, we had a punch card system and they were very difficult

Beth:            [laughing]

David:            so question — I have lost the question

Henrik:            no you have answered the question – the title, you see yourself as an economist within an environmental or I don’t know, you are interested in…

David:            I am an environmental economist you could argue, I am a thinker but the thing is I do… my specialty is being a generalist and my specialty is sort of going out, its being… in the academic world it is called… its an extremely long word, your tape recorder will probably crash


David:            Umm… interdisciplinary studies [laughing]

Henrik:            yeah, yeah, yeah

David:            I sort of cover everything, there is almost nothing that I don’t sort of include in um, in Lean Logic, which is why it’s taken such a long time.

Henrik:            so you are a holistic economist

David:            yes, yes

Beth:            well there is a lot of anthropological stuff actually isn’t there, in Lean Logic, which is interesting…

David:            yeah and it could be taken to the cleaners, because they are having to cover such a wide front even with the assistance of Beth, it can be very difficult to keep up with what’s going on in all these things, if I do keep up, I mean thing is I keep getting constant flack from friends and people, people pointing me in the street. See how, that poor fellow over there…

Beth:            that’s right [laughing]

Henrik:            he’s got big ideas


David:             …he’s been writing this book for the last 20 years, he will never finish it, but then they say he is a nice fellow just don’t mention the book


David:            So I think… I am in real trouble

Henrik:            I really want to read it

David:            I am very glad you said that, I am very glad

Henrik:            yeah, yeah but I also want to tell… can you give me a bit, a few more clues?

Beth:            as to what its about

Henrik:            as to like what it actually contains, I mean it’s a dictionary of…?

David:            I think possibly, a kind of, fairly clear clue, that after the shock we will be thinking of build a new world. One of the things that will happen we will not have a market economy in the background, we won’t have capitalism, it won’t exist and therefore we all will be extremely poor. We won’t have any income and amongst the people who don’t have any income is the government. We may not even have a government but they won’t have any income, they won’t be able to raise any taxes because we won’t have any jobs and so the government will go bust and therefore they won’t be able to pay for education or police service or defense or hospitals or social security or any other thing you can think about.

Under these circumstances how do we organize our communities without all these things being provided by government? If we have to organize our own schools and hospitals and universities and police forces and defense and how do we set about doing it. With great difficulty is the first answer to that. Then I think well ok let’s ahh…

Henrik:            this is, sounds interesting

David:             and then I develop lots and lots of ideas about how to do it and some of the ideas are more successful than other. For example lean defense is very difficult

Henrik:            [laughing] lean defense?

David:            yeah after our organising, after the shock people have to provide their own armies, well that could be hard, ummm… but I have written something about that. And what I’d like to do is stop worrying about whether those 12 sort of essays about the future are right or wrong or whether they are well enough researched or not, but I have done a lot of research, but enough is enough… the time is going to come very, very soon I hope when through the Transition movement or somehow, we can start sort of thinking about, sort of days and workshops, and we say, ok lets think about this, we’ve got this essay as a starting off point, this essay in Lean Logic is ridiculous, we can do better than that, that’s absolutely fine. But at least they got something to start from. I think it’ll be really worthwhile…

Henrik:            sounds great.

David:             be really constructive to think well, lets actually apply our minds and may be set up a website you know, a Lean Defense website and start thinking about Lean Education, and see if it can be improved.

Beth:            it’s quite academic.

Henrik:            can’t we… I mean it seems a shame that if, have got all these you know, got all these great ideas on how we can do things differently, that we have to go through this kind of horrendous kind of destruction first, can’t we just sort of I mean… I wrote something about, does the bubble have to burst? Can’t we just sort of let it down slowly and then kind of

David:            well you are absolutely right about that, there is absolutely no way I would say, one the great thing about the Transition movement is they are receptive to the idea of doing these things before the bubble burst before the… the… do you have a Cleanex? I changed my trousers… will you mind if I wipe my runny nose on my shirt. You won’t mind will you?

Henrik:            Do you know what we could do… its very windy here and I am concerned about the sound, shall we, shall we mosey back?

Beth:            yeah

David:            it’ll change the entire timbre… [laughing] Then I’ll have to tell what I really do in my life, I work in a bank, [laughing] bloody hell, oh dear, kidded you along all this time

Henrik:            seems a shame but ummm… It’s definitely, it’s a different sort of setting for having a conversation, in a tree

Beth:            Hmm

David:             well any how I think its ok, you might find that wind isn’t doing too much harm

Beth:            I quite like it here to be honest.

David:            I’ve now wiped my nose at the back of my hand so that’s, that’s a problem solved

Henrik:            [laughing] Umm, ok what I am gonna do then is I am going to plug in my… headphones and just check that everything is picking up ok, coz this is a very sensitive microphone… wow its incredibly loud.

Beth:             well to set up Lean Logic, the sort of way of life but without the crash it would be

David:            oh yeah absolutely, that’s one of the great things about Transition. One does not need to wait for the crash because one starts experimenting, thinking about all these things and doing them absolutely, that’s precisely why Transition is so brilliant, so there’s no way the crash is a necessary condition for these things to be done, experimented or thought about. And the longer, from that point of view the longer the crash is delayed the better, and because the more time you have to think about these things.

Beth:            set things up

David:             postponement of the crash could be a good thing and a bad thing in various different ways, probably, on balance, it’d probably be a good thing

Henrik:            yeah I mean how long can the planet sustain it? I mean like the oceans are, you know the acidity in the oceans

Beth:            well people say about the oil as well. You know some people are saying that it is going to become really problematic in the next 5 years.

David:            there are lots of estimates about oil, the 5 year estimate, the end of 2011 estimate which is what it is, one of the quarter years and then there is a 15 year estimate. But it is definitely soon and I don’t think we are ready for it really. And the thing is, is there’s still the presumption, all government policies all over the world are based on the presumption that there isn’t going to be an energy problem. That’s probably assumed and you can see why, you can really see why, because you know if they say there actually is going to be an energy problem. Then they wouldn’t just know what to say, what to do [laughing]

Henrik:            then you would have to really rethink it wouldn’t you, they’d have to come and buy a copy of your book

David:            that’s right [laughing]

Beth:            its kind of aimed at undergraduates isn’t it, its quite academic, the book do you think?

David:            I don’t know [laughing], it’s a good question I sometimes wonder, who is it aimed for, I think it is aimed at people like us, for anybody who ever reads a newspaper, and is concerned about these things and

Beth and Henrik:            yeah

David:            well actually… I am on the dinner party circuit in North London, as I am sure you will be not surprised to hear [laughing] and most of the conversations round most dinner party tables, you know touch on these kind of things, that’s what people talk about, they all talk about climate and oil and trade and fission and things like that, and communities breaking down and social unrest and all these sort of things. So anybody who is interested in any of these things, then can pick up my book, and also if they have an argument, yeah they can pick up the book and can see what… Beth and I had an argument about…

Beth:            [laughing] about a list of arguments.

Henrik:            [laughing] an argument about list of arguments

David:            no the reason is, the thing is in the future we’re going to have to think for ourselves, and if we have to argue for ourselves we are going to have to look at each other in the eye and listen and be seriously able thinkers, in which case we aught to greatly improve the quality of argument because whenever I am sure, when ever any of us had an argument with anybody about anything, one or both of us has you know, sort of cheated like anything and talked absolute nonsense and they sort of fall into one these great fallacies of argument.

Well there is a well known literature about informal fallacies, very, very big literature, lots and lots of it written about informal fallacies and informal logic and the fallacies, mistakes people make in argument. And my book when it partly began as being about that, so I have done that, I have uncovered them all, I have got about 120 of the errors one makes in argument. So that every time, the next time you fall out, all you have to do is pick up my book, see where the mistake is and point out where they made the mistake or realise it was you that made the mistake, in which case you’ve learned a lesson.

Henrik:            yeah, yeah, yeah

David:            The result of that, is it will greatly improve the quality of our conversation, we can actually get together and develop positive solutions.

Beth:            I… I… am I allowed to say my… [laughing]

David:            just as long as you don’t believe her [laughing]

Beth:            because every single argument, you could look at this list and think, oh I did that, I did that, and it just seems impossible to me, so I said why not take out this huge list of 120 things not to do in an argument and just put one thing of what to do in an argument. I just think it will make it a lot easier

Henrik:            ahh, so you are going to do that, I mean not change it but you can have the alternative – the what to do and then you can have your list of 120 things

David:            I do that, I do that, there is quite a lot about how to argue in a positive way more than just how not to

Beth:            yeah but I do think that it could be one simple thing, just simple guidelines that people could just look at and remember, keep in mind while they are arguing because no one’s ever going to remember 120 things not to do

David:            yeah what is that holy grail? What is that, that should go into the…

Henrik:            well there is the you know the umm… love your neighbor as yourself, that’s quite a simple instruction

David:            Hmm, very hard to get people to do that. I think a lot of people have um…

Henrik:            yeah well I mean you need to, first of all you need to know to love yourself

David:            yeah exactly

Henrik:            which is difficult, a lot of people struggle with that don’t they?

David:            yes, yes

Beth:            but there is also, yeah about

Henrik:            a lot of people are suffering in pain and you know… this is what I like about what you are saying, is you know you are talking about economics but in terms of you know, people, and you know relationships which is yeah I mean it’s … so how do you physically or practically marry those 2 things, like in terms of an economic kind of system

Beth:            about people, the importance of people

Henrik:            I mean ok, people learning to communicate

David:            oh I see you are still talking about the argument, oh well

Beth:            no like the whole book really, the whole economic system, how does that marry with the people

David:            well yes it takes apart economics and says what’s wrong with it, and then it puts it together again and says that this is the way you aught to have economics. And also in a way, it also says actually one of the first things you aught to do if you’re really going to understand economics is forget economics all together, we aughtn’t to be thinking about economics, we aught to be thinking about people, thinking about, well yes our relationships and, and, and not even think about our relationships, and… I have got a good relationship with Beth on the whole apart from when she disagrees with me, which she doesn’t do too often…

Henrik and Beth:            [laughing]

David:            but I don’t spend, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our relationship, we just do it, we just get on with life, you know and I think the best relationships are about that. I think the book is all really about getting on with life and crucially getting on in life in the things that really matter. And what really matters is music

Henrik:            music

David:            and humor and conversation and painting, the arts, things like that and having fun, play and farting about and generally enjoying life. That’s what really, really matters, I mean everything else is… Well the needle hiss, we used to say in the old days gramophone records, oh you are probably too young to know that expression anyway [laughing]

Henrik:            I know needle hiss [laughing]

David:            it is just the foundation, most of the rest of life is just the foundation on which one really matters can be built. What really matters is culture and play and music and those things. So there is lots of…

Henrik:            so how does it practically work, I mean are you giving practical… are you suggesting how this can work practically in this book?

David:            yes well yeah, yeah absolutely, what people do about food, and what people do about water, and do about energy and materials and what they would do about conversation and what they do about having people round to dinner, and why eating is such a crucial part of life and not just eating in order to keep the body together but eating from the point of view of building relationships.

Umm…and the number of friends they have, not only the number of friends I think they aught to have, but the number of friends they actually do have, and so [laughing] how friendship works and how different levels of friendships work depending on how many you are talking about.

Henrik:            wow

David:            You have different sorts of friend – oh hello

Beth:            [laughing] well oh, this is a Jen

Henrik:            [laughing]

David:            How did you know which tree it was? Did Beth tell you? [laughing]

Beth:            yeah I managed too yeah, in a text, in one sentence I managed to say which tree it is.

David:            this is Beth

Beth:            [laughing]

David:            and this is Henrik

Henrik:            nice to meet you Jen

David:            did I say Beth?

Beth:            yes

David:            oh I am so sorry Jen

Henrik:            well there’s a lot of Beth’s going around today

David:            [laughing] that’s right

Henrik:            [laughing]

David:            oh dear my day for using the wrong words, sorry. I just got asked a lot of difficult questions. Come and join us

Henrik:            Umm…

Jen:             I am just going to move around the fringes and take some photos

David:            sounds like a good plan [laughing]

Henrik:            ok… Umm..

David:            yes so we were talking about friends, so I think I was answering your question about its all going to work, in making a society that works

Henrik:            I mean are you talking about… how are you talking about things being exchanged and things getting to people, and people, I mean you know people need to eat, somebody needs to grow the food, how does that…? Have you still got money and people’s…

David:            you may not have money but there are lots and lots of way in which people are already, you know Tamzin Pinkerton’s book

Henrik:            no

David:            oh its very, very good book I recommend that, Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins cooperated, mainly Tamzin’s work I think. They cooperated in something called local food, Transition food about the various systems that people set up to produce their own food and we think, oh well we have got this ridiculous theoretical tosser who is talking how about getting food without having to pay for it but actually it happens, it’s happening all over the country all the time, people are growing their own food in their own garden, in each other’s gardens, in cooperative gardens and in allotments, there’s a, a, – community agricultural projects, you know its happening all over the place

Henrik:            so you are talking about that on mass basically are you?

David:            well no not on mass and I can’t have on mass and there is some awful problems here, the thing is, what I am on about can more or less only happens on a small scale. As soon as one gets into the large scale, very large scale then the thing falls out of balance.

Henrik:            ok yeah I see, yeah right, so how does it work on a large scale, do you have, you still got money and…?

Beth:            everyone’s gonna have to get into smaller groups like a community under 150 people basically for the small communities to work…

Henrik:            yeah right, so Jehovah’s witnesses, they have this way of… when the church gets above 100 people they split off, because they decide they can’t work beyond 100 people, you can’t effectively nurture each other, or, and also I think it’s the way for them to keep expanding as well. I think that’s why they’re growing so quickly…

David:            I didn’t know that, that’s very interesting I didn’t know that Jehovah’s witnesses…

Henrik:            I think so yeah I will have to check it out but I am pretty sure that’s how they work

Beth:            yeah so the Transition Towns at the moment are all about being local and small scale. But I think we are gonna have to get even smaller aren’t we within ummm, although the Transition Towns groups are pretty small, the groups within each Transition Town.

Henrik:            so how does it work, do people sign up to a group in a local area?

David:             yes they do, you are right and then it gets too big and then it splits off

Henrik:            ok

David:            Bell sized park was the biggest one, and now there is Transition Hampstead, Transition Primrose Hill, Transition Camden Town, Transition Chalk Farm, I think, I am not sure but yeah, they are all over the place and there are more and more sort of growing in a viral way, and with the small numbers of people there

Henrik:            but with the Lean Economy it is the same system?

Beth:            yes, yes

David:            yes that’s right, the various stages of levels of friendship, there is 5 or 6 group which is the very smallest group and then there is the group of 15 and then there is the group of 35 and then there is a group of 150 and there is a group of up to 5000 and then it goes on to the nation size

Henrik:            ok

David:            the thing is, I am not saying we have all got to live in groups of 150 people, and also there’s a certain ambiguity which I have even now at this late stage, I haven’t got to the bottom of, but what does one mean by 150 people?

Henrik:            transsexuals?

David:            well yeah [laughing]

Henrik:            no sorry that was just complete… forget that I said that [laughing]

David:             there was something in the British Library about how they have, transsexuals, a special policy, a fair deal for transsexuals at the British library.

Beth:            oh don’t let’s get onto this topic [laughing]

Henrik:            that it’s a…

David:            no what I am saying is a group of 150, 150 households or 150 men and women?

Henrik:            yeah

David:            and if it is men and women, what age group we are talking about?

Beth:            and the children

David:            and these things, I have found it almost impossible, you can find a way to get to the bottom of this, I will be very grateful, I found it almost, find it impossible to find… my own presumption is it is normally 150 house holds. 150 men in men groups or 150 women in women groups, I think that’s how it works but I may be wrong

Henrik:            right

David:             and I think it is certainly how it worked in Switzerland because they have had problems… is this getting very… is it getting off topic isn’t it?

Beth:            oh it’s interesting

Henrik:            oh no, no its… for me this is the meat of it, the kind of nuts and bolts of how this stuff work

David:            but it is very uncertain now. In Switzerland they are still uncertain about it because, you know almost forever, in Switzerland they have always had direct democracy, they want to decide to do absolutely anything, they all get together in their town hall and they have a meeting about it, its called real democracy and they have big argument about it and it’s absolutely fine until 20 years ago when someone said come on, you’ve got to allow women into this, and they said oh no oh no no. Anyway they said they had to do so. But of course leaving aside whether it would be a good idea to have women there or not, well I mean this is, that would be off the topic, what it means is they have got…

Beth:            I don’t think that’s even up for discussion… [laughing]

David:            to have a hall that’s twice as big, you get twice as many people in alright, in which case do you end up with a hall which doesn’t take 5000 it takes 10,000 but they haven’t halls that take 10,000. 5000 is just about the upper limit of which you can maintain a conversation, in which case they have to say alright lets divide our communities up into 2, so that you’ve got men and women there which could be a good thing but on the other hand it means one has got the different decisions to make, then if one wants to make the decision covering the whole community of what was previously 5000 then you got to think of a way of doing that. So I am not actually making an argument here but the point is there are quite a lot of difficulties about this. From the point of view of the sheer arithmetic, mere neutral arithmetic there are problems about it

Henrik:            right, so you are talking about how you divide people up?

Beth:            I would say 150 adults rather than households, coz if you say household, like adults men and women of whatever, they don’t have to equal amounts, they just, whatever happens, happens

Henrik:            what about children you don’t want to bring children into this?

David:            but you might, the thing is, there is equally an argument for bringing children into it

Beth:            no but who you’re counting?

David:            and what about old people

Beth:            it’s difficult

David:            Hand on heart, I am not making a view about which I think would be best, but

Henrik:            sure, the thing is you don’t have to…

David:            but I just don’t know how it’s done

Beth:            yes

David:            Hutterites say 150, I’ve heard you say Jehovah’s witness, and whenever I ask are you talking about 150 people, 150 men I never get an answer. I am sure that some people must know I have just been looking in the wrong places, why don’t you research it?

Henrik:            probably, you don’t need to have everything totally… do you need everything complete ironed out?

Beth:            yeah that’s the thing about Transition Towns isn’t it. It’s quite sort of relaxed and its sort of like whoever is there is there and you know, people aren’t held to things and…

David:            yeah but it actually comes down to making a community without money, and making local decisions and organizing food and energy on the basis of reciprocal obligation

Henrik:            are you talking about fairness now?

David:            no I am not, I am absolutely not, I am talking about what works. The thing is you are talking to the least inventive person, I have never invented anything, I never had original ideas.

Beth:            [laughing]

Henrik:            it sounds like you have done quite a bit of invention.

David:            all I do is nick other people’s ideas, and know that 150 people will work. If one tries to develop reciprocal obligation between 500 people it doesn’t work, you just don’t know them well enough, you know

Henrik:            yeah

David:            We were talking about earlier about how obligation is setup. She has brought you half a dozen eggs you don’t immediately pay her, you don’t immediately reply with a bag of carrots because if you did… but the thing on the other hand you remember she bought you half a dozen of eggs and so you would think she is a good lady

Henrik:            yeah you are saying you can’t retain it with 500 people

David:            yeah well if it was with 5000 people, if it was some total stranger bringing you half a dozen eggs you’d think she was a nutter.

And if it is 10 you know well for god’s sake you are on the same boat together, so there is obviously some number that works and the number which constantly comes up is 150 but it comes back to this question about what 150 is. So the thing is that’s why I argue it really matters

Henrik:            I see what you are saying yeah

David:            its no good to say, even though you say love one’s neighbors as oneself

Henrik:            you are talking about the way you… I mean like ummm… we have got so much input, you are talking about input in the brain how much we can actually cope with?

David:            it is actually that story is there too, yeah absolutely it’s the neo cortex ratio, that’s right and 150 people is the maximum one, we can contain. We know them well enough and

Beth:            have a relationship with yeah

Henrik:            I mean this is why London is such a… you come to London, its such a difference, you know you try and talk to somebody in the street and its like, its just so many people flowing past that you’re just sort of lost, because they can’t cope with anymore… I don’t know, I am not saying its like that everywhere but…

David:            It absolutely is in London, but the thing is when you walk over the Heath people say good morning

Henrik:            yeah, yeah

David:             you walk along the streets they don’t, just walk past and don’t even see you are… and narrower the path…

Henrik:            it’s like Christmas isn’t it walking into the Heath? [laughing]

David:            …the more likely the other person will ignore… If you are walking through a narrow path in the middle of the wood people would definitely say good morning to you [laughing] so the thing is its not a matter of saying oh you must love your neighbor as yourself therefore you’ve got to say good morning to each other, if there are a few enough people around then suddenly every individual is seen…

Henrik:            it’s a good principle I am not trying to you know… advertise that but if you wanna break it right down, I mean like you were saying having one thing, as a rule of thumb, like one thing that you can just easily get your head around and filter it all through that and the all the other things, anyway I don’t want to you know [laughing]

Beth:            [laughing]

Henrik:            tell me, can you tell me about TEQ’s unless you wanna elaborate on what we were talking about

David:            TEQ’s, we talked about… TEQ’s, oh… bloody hell…

Henrik:            so you actually came up with TEQ’s

David:            yeah, over a curry in that restaurant over there.

Henrik:            [chuckling] right ok

David:            called the Shahbhag.

Henrik:            right

David:            yes, in 1996, an article I was writing for Country Life, I wrote, I was an environmental columnist, columnist? I wrote a lot of articles, feature writer for Country Life and they asked me to write about transport, and I… thought up TEQs over a curry and published it and I’ve been trying to push it ever since. And I haven’t been pushing it very well. I don’t have much of a flair for publicity.

Henrik:            well you have got a lot on it sounds like

David:            yeah we have got a lot of other things on, but I think the thing is partly a matter of too many things at one time, a part of it having absolute terrible judgment about things that really matter like that

Beth:            but I think it is going to get sorted out though isn’t it? Got the launch January 18th at the House of Commons, Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Leggett and so that should be…

Henrik:            they are into it are they yeah?

Beth:            yeah, Yes.

Henrik:            so what is it, can you give me a potted umm…. explanation

David:            well yeah it’s really, there are 2 things which were converging on us, which are two sides of the same coin. One is climate change, we know about, the other is peak oil, we all know about, and any pussycat will tell you they are really the same problem because climate change comes from burning up oil and oil is getting scarce and further along it is going to become so scarce that there’s not going to be enough to go around. Then we are going to be in deep trouble and both those problems lead, require a solution in terms of reducing our demand for fossil energy as fast as we possibly can. Really got to get it down very, very fast indeed ok,

Henrik:            yeah

David:            now this is where you need to listen extremely carefully, are you listening carefully?

Beth:            [laughing]

Henrik:            I am trying, I am squinting.

David:            Alright ok, as the amount of energy goes down, whether its because of peak oil, because of the amount of energy available is declining or whether it is because you have been so successful in reducing the demand for energy on the account of reducing fossil fuel emissions, carbon emissions from fossil fuels, then there is going to be less energy available and if there is less energy available then people who haven’t got very much money are going to be very short of energy. They are not going to buy any energy, there isn’t going to be any energy available in the shops they are just not going to be able to get it because the price will eventually rise to the point of which you know the market clears and the

Henrik:            so you are saying that if you start using less then you will… the price will increase

David:            there is going to be less around, it isn’t just a matter of price its going to be less energy around

Beth:            it will just get so expensive, its

David:            it will be distributed by price… be very little around

Beth:            it will be impossible yeah

David:            There is going to be huge energy scarcities will come, either because of the peak oil, or because of climate change, or because of both, ok. Under these circumstances there has to be some entitling system, a rationing system so that people are guaranteed to get at least a fair and equal access to energy, otherwise some people have no energy at all and the rich will get lots and lots of energy, little bit like during the war… um… I’m about to wipe my nose on my shirt [laughing]

Jen:            ok I won’t snap that [laughing]

David:            I changed my trouser and didn’t bring a, didn’t bring a, don’t you dare take a photograph of… [laughing]

Jen            I’m focused in…

David:            she is going to [laughing]

Henrik:            she is ready

David:            she is going to, I don’t trust her oh dear… [laughing]

David:            If Beth had a Cleanex, never go out without a Cleanex

Henrik:            Do you want an Oak leaf, they’re pretty good.

David:            It’s not really a runny nose, it’s just the fresh air… Excuse me, don’t take any photographs… Oh yes… and so… We need a rationing… If we are going to do anything seriously about reducing our need for fossil fuels, or if we are going to actually reduce our demand for fossil fuels in line with peak oil, there’s got to be a rationing system as well. A rationing system is not saying don’t use more than this, but is saying here you are, this is your share, this is a guaranteed entitlement, this is as much as there is available and so that’s got to be the case, and very few understand that. That’s why I said listen carefully, because very few people understand that if we are actually going to reduce you know, the total amount of energy used, there has to be a guaranteed entitlement system as well, otherwise individuals are going to be in deep trouble.

Beth:            it’s a very fair way of softening the globe basically, so the transition, it’s the way of easing the transition in a fair a way as possible

Henrik:            so how much energy does each person get, let’s say a person…

David:            depends on how much there is

Henrik:            Do the children get any? is it by household or is it by…

David:            well yeah the children could get it although they might or they might not, depends on how you want to play it. I would say argue the best thing is not, because, best to have it absolutely equal and guaranteed entitlement to all individual energy users and if babies are using the same as their fathers who are driving around in their cars, you know its going to be a very expensive baby, so that would be a little bit ridiculous, and if you thought of having baby shares then it starts getting really complicated. But you know if people want to do it like that, it could happen

Henrik:            but then if you got 5 kids then they all need to eat toast

David:             yeah there’s other ways of doing it, it could go on the child allowance thing

Henrik:            but so how much energy could each person get right now

David:            oh well now

Henrik:            if we implemented it now how much?

David:             well, no if it was now then

Henrik:            you get what you get

David:            no absolutely not, then there wouldn’t be a market. The energy policy committee would get together or the climate policy committee would get together, they would set the budget ok, and so if we were say, it started say a year ago or two years ago, by now the energy budget available would be less than we actually are using now, in which case there would be a market for it

Henrik:            right

David:            so the thing is that the total amount of energy is independent carbon policy committee that would make the decision and it’s not for me to say what that decision would be

Henrik:            So would I be able to, I mean you would have all the things that we could have in the house like appliances, would you be able to run all those things

David:            it depends on where we are, on the energy step down thing. Think about it as…

Henrik:            But it is a way of getting people to reduce their energy

David:            Well yeah absolutely

Henrik:            So would you set the bar lower than the amount we use at the moment.

David:            That’s the point here, if there was no bar, there wouldn’t be a market

Henrik:            so could I have toast, could I boil 5 cups of coffee a day?

David:            well depends on how far down the slope we were

Henrik:            lets say in 15 years time

David:            who knows you might be, may be no, who knows

Henrik:            ok I mean I am not worried about this but umm

David:            Well no, but a man needs his toast

Henrik:            I should drink less coffee anyway so [laughing]

David:            and the further down it gets the harder it will be

Henrik:            yeah

David:            so who knows, but the point here is, it is not me that is setting the problem of energy scarcity, that’s being sorted out, that’s being done for us, we don’t have to lift a finger about that

Henrik:            yeah… so this is just the way to make it less, um… I mean really what its doing is avoiding, kind of unrest, I mean people would freak wouldn’t they if they you know…

Beth:             everything will break down wouldn’t it?

David:            absolutely can you imagine that there are no oil shipments for a month because a submarine has been sunk in the straights of (inaudible), so there are no more shipments. So you can imagine and there is no petrol in the petrol stations then what happens, there would be riots and there would be no food on the supermarket shelves. That has to be

Henrik:            so this is actually a way of deflating the bubble isn’t it?

David:            well it’s a way of managing an extremely difficult situation in a much rather, much nicer if there were no oil peak and there were no climate change problem, in which case you wouldn’t have to bother about it, and I would argue in favour, if that could be arranged I would be arguing in favour of both actually [laughing] so its not my fault….

Henrik:            What no climate change or peak oil, well yeah it’s a bummer isn’t it? [laughing]

David:            Hmm-hmm, I am not causing peak oil

Beth:            so basically yeah, it would all be done online, everyone would get their own sort of rationing, how often would it be done like once a month or something

David:            well probably a week at the top up, you get your original entitlement at the beginning of the year, then it would be topped up every week so we have rolling annual thing. So you would never run out the end of the first week of January.

Henrik:            so what if you’re not very good at managing your, you know affairs.

Beth:            then you buy extra

Henrik:            how does it, is there like a welfare system as well?

David:            you will be in trouble but then the thing is, the same applies to everything, lot’s of people aren’t good at managing their money, I’m one… and not very good at managing their food, or their drinking habits or their relationships or any other bloody thing and so this would be no exception to that…

Henrik:            yeah yeah, so you are talking about another kind of monetary system in a way aren’t you but its not money its energy?

David:            well yeah but it’s not really money, a lot of people say its money but I don’t think of it as money [laughing] I see it as well, rations, entitlements, I think it’s a rational, a reasonable response to a terrible situation

Henrik:            no I think it’s a good idea, it’s a very good idea. And you thought of it just over there in a curry house

David:            yeah, yeah absolutely yeah

Henrik:            do you eat there often? Do you get good ideas when you eat there, every time? May be that is where I should go and come up with a brilliant idea… or I should say another brilliant idea

Beth:            [laughing]

David:             well I’m getting quite cold and my cough is getting worse

Henrik:            oh yeah we will wrap this up soon.

David:            I do find curry quite inducive to good ideas, I must admit, I must admit, I don’t know what it is about it. Someone told me it is the turmeric

Henrik:            ok

David:            which is…

Henrik:            gives you inspiration

David:            I never have understood turmeric, it’s a very nice orange color and I got some in my fridge, and I tasted it and it didn’t taste of anything at all. But I usually find a good idea after tasting [laughing] so I think there may be something in it umm… I think

Henrik:            ok which brings me to, ok I have got a few questions here that I have to ask you because I imagine that this Lean Economy is, it relies on imagination a little bit as well, am I wrong? Oh ok I have this idea… you have these, you know everybody who is out of work you know, like you have whole council estates or whole areas where the factories closed down and all of these people are out of work, and I kind of think, in some places those people would, actually they could just make something happen for themselves. They would start, you know they could grow vegetables, you can get involved with community, start up community groups, but instead people sort of wait for somebody else to, you know give them a job. So…

Beth:            it’s a sense of disempowerment, umm, because the government has taken over things umm a lot of the things were started by people in the first place like schools, hospitals, even welfare, like and they run pretty well then, but then the government came along and saw that they were running well and said ok don’t worry of that, we will take care of that, and it ends up with people feeling a bit disempowered

Henrik:            right

Beth:            and I guess that’s where the big society thing is come in from with the Conservatives, but its just about how to implement it, because I mean Transition Towns thing is also… and also Lean Logic is about the bottom of politics and people doing things for themselves and, but I don’t know if it will happen naturally, if people have to get into small groups like in Lean Logic, what do you think David?

David:            well I quite agree, absolutely I mean its related to this whole question which is now beginning to be understand better about incentives, and there is a very, very, I don’t know if you’ve had a look at the what is it the film on Youtube, RCA.

Beth:            oh yes

David:            I mean the RSA, it’s generally assumed that someone is going to do something really useful such as reduce the energy use, or recycle their waste. They are going to need some sort of incentive you know, so one aught to think of arranging they get at least a fiver a week if they are doing it properly and possibly pay a fine of a fiver a week if they don’t do it properly. But that is complete rubbish otherwise known as bollocks and is well recognized to be the case but not by the government. The government is still thinking about incentive schemes, because they say that people won’t actually do anything unless they are treated like donkeys you know with a carrot and a stick. Well actually we were not donkeys and if we are treated like donkeys we will behave like donkeys.

If we’re trusted to do something, you know which actually, which works that is to say we want to do, and are given a proper incentive to do it, then the thing is completely different and Tradeable Energy Quotas are based on that. And Lean Logic is to a very large extent based on that, its saying actually, its treating human beings with respect of people having imagination to use your word, and intelligence and judgment and motivation and what we are doing is unleashing. The great unleashing that I am interested in is unleashing the imagination of people so they can get on and build their own future which I think is, I think a lot of people are prepared to do and the Transition movement is an indication of how prepared they are.

Henrik:            Umm… ok I am gonna end with this. Umm… I mean I could ask you loads of things but your cabinet dream team?

David:            my cabinet?

Henrik:            if you are gonna have a cabinet, you don’t have to be on it, you could be though, sounds like you would be good on it actually

David:            of people to decide what is to happen next?

Henrik:            yeah

David:            am I allowed dead people?

Henrik:            yeah, yeah you can have anybody [laughing]

Henrik:            you can have people that you know that I don’t know

David:            Edmund Burke – the philosopher

Henrik:            what would he… what’s his role?

David:            oh he would be the philosopher, give guidance to the whole thing. I would have Aristotle, if he’s available

Henrik:            ok right, we’ll see if we can dig him up for you

David:            I might have Kirk Patrick Sale [laughing]

Henrik:            Who’s, he is… who is he?

David:            oh he wrote that wonderful book on scale – its called Human scale. He could understand scale better than anybody else

Henrik:            what’s his role on the cabinet?

David:            well he would understand scale, he would work through the implications of scales and he would see through this whole question of size of communities and he would understand how that worked. Really hard to say, I think quite a big… I think Rob Hopkins would merit a place in the cabinet. And I think I would probably keep it to no more than 6, I think probably 6 is the upper limit I am not sure how many I have got (so far). And I think umm… I was wondering maybe Gerard Manley Hopkins, maybe he would be the poet in residents, and may be finally if I have got, may be John Eliot Gardiner, as a musician. So there we are, I would keep it small, these cabinets of 25 are nutritiously a disaster. If I got as many as 8 then I’ll have to drop one, cabinets above 8 don’t work, I lost count

Henrik:            so are you the Prime Minister, or would you rather not?

David:            oh no, oh no I think so

Henrik:            you would give a go?

David:            yeah I think I would like to sort it out [laughing]

Beth:            Is this you standing to be Prime Minister then?

David:            Telling Aristotle what to do [laughing]

Henrik:            it’s the cabinet dream team question to end it, do you want anyone on your cabinet?

Beth:            David definitely

David:             oh very kind of you Beth [laughing]

Beth:             David, Jeremy Leggett.

Henrik:            Are there any politicians that you are…?

Beth:             Caroline Lucas.

David:            they could be dead people

Beth:            oh gosh that makes it too difficult [laughing] so many people

Henrik:            what about any of these people, what about Milliband, do you like any of these guys?

David:            Henry the 4th

Henrik:            Henry the 4th [laughing]

David:             he was a very good king, one of the best kings, he and the guy…. Beth knows about this… He’s given his name to that wonderful soft cheese, and he was the guy who said, he was very pragmatic and he decided to convert from being Protestant to being Catholic, and saved Paris from destruction as a result of doing that

Henrik:            is this Hal? Henry the 4th Shakespeare wrote about?

David:            no, no, no, this is a French King Henry

Henrik:            oh ok, French king, ok, you’d have him?

David:            yeah, but he was assassinated unfortunately

Beth:            Who’s that… what is the name of the writer that I love, that talked about natural all the time?

Henrik:            you can email it to me.

Beth:            Was about a hundred years ago. [laughing] I mean he was like completely in love with nature and he was in Yosemite, in America –

David:            oh yeah I know John Muir

Beth:            yes

David:            oh no he would be a weird person on the cabinet, mind you it would be an interesting cabinet, John Muir, real romantic, you would love John Muir

Beth:            [laughing] I love what he writes

David:            he climbed trees and he climbed waterfalls and he climbed rock faces, anything you can climb and John Muir climbed it, like a man after your own heart, I would recommend it

Beth:            just beautiful writing. Really sounded like he is completely in love with nature

Henrik:            any last thoughts

David:            no no I am getting an enormous cabinet here


David:            yeah some great people around, absolutely great people around I think you would probably enjoy reading some of these great classics of the literature, Robert Hart, read him you definitely aught to read him, he wrote Forest Gardens in fact you aught to be up to speed altogether on forest gardens, do you know about forest gardens?

Henrik:            Yeah I do a little bit yeah, I’ve talked a bit about it

David:            Patrick Whitefield

Henrik:            yeah

David:             Have you met him

Henrik:            no, no who?

David:            Patrick Whitefield, oh definitely you have to meet Patrick Whitefield, What about Martin Crawford?

Henrik:            no

Beth:            [laughing]

Henrik:            I have been doing this, only for 6 months, I am still at the beginning, this is still the beginning

Beth:            slow down he does that to me all the time

Henrik:            [laughing] no its just great, this is great I am gonna get all these people, so you umm…

David:            Robert Hart?

Henrik:            Umm… no

David:            well you are let off because he is dead [laughing]

Henrik:            perhaps you can put me in touch with a couple of people, got a lot to meet like you say

David:            Patrick Whitefield, he is a bit of a star and he’s quite hard to get, and think long and hard before getting in touch with him, he gives lots of courses. The best things is to go to a day course somewhere

Beth:            he is coming to do a talk for us, for the community

David:            oh really who’s…

Beth:            For Sean’s community and the Moneyless Man

Henrik:            oh really, oh Mark Boyle, he keeps coming up.

Beth:            he is based near Bristol isn’t he?

Henrik:            yeah he is yeah

David:            he’s got quite a sharp edge to him has Patrick

Beth:            I see [laughing]

David:            but no harm with that, I mean a lot of people have including me

Beth:            I’m a bit hungry.

Henrik:            yeah I am starving, haven’t had any lunch yet, ok should we call it a day

David:            yeah ok

Beth:            Jen got some good shots of you

David:            oh she did

Henrik:            thank you so much

Beth:            thanks

David:            oh its ok…

Shaun Chamberlin, author of the ‘Transition Timeline’ delivers a clear explanation of the TEQs scheme at the Parliamentary launch in place of David.

…and Part 2

You can see the Transition Network‘s short write up about it including further links.

9 responses to “Tree 172 :: The Great David Fleming ::

  1. Pingback: Dark Optimism » Blog Archive » In memoriam, David Fleming

  2. An utterly wonderful read, thank you Henrik. Captures David’s spirit perfectly.

    I know that you already know this, but for your readers, the obituaries and tributes to David are being collected on my website here:

    • Thank you Shaun,
      Really pleased you like it… as I said. Was a true honour to meet him.
      Hope to meet you too one day…
      I look forward to seeing what happens about the launch of TEQs!
      All the best


  3. Full details at:

    You have an open offer to drag me up a tree sometime :)


  4. Thank you so much for creating and posting this piece, Henrik. It must be amongst the last we have of David.

  5. dearest Henrik It’s 6 am and I’ve just read your dialogue with David Flemming and Beth ?, or should I say trialogue?
    How amazing! and touching and interesting and how sad that he has died and brilliant that you got that recording before he died…….A wonderful human beeing and caring man who beats to his own drum, has personalised his existence, without becoming an island unto himself.
    I loved the humour and lightness about such a serious subject. Well done. I am proud of you son!!!!
    I have been formally elected to the Residents association committee (or OARA, Outer Avenue Residents Association)! and a subgroup including Margaret and I and a few others are going to explore trees in the streets around here (my thing!)They are changing lampposts and somebody said that that might be an opportunity for us to get some trees put in….and margaret wants us all to improve the look of our front gardens. I am quite excited!!! comes of having decided to actually LIVE in Southampton after all these years….SORREEEEEEE!!!
    Big hugs

  6. Pingback: Tradeable Energy Quotas: Rational Action? | Plastic On Every Corner

  7. Pingback: Tradeable Energy Quotas launched in the House of Commons

  8. Pingback: LEAN LOGIC. A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive it

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