THE FUTURE AND ITS ENEMIES by Virginia Postrel

THE FUTURE AND ITS ENEMIES

The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A provocative and pretentious defense of the free society, the free market, and even the free person. The old political appellations of “left” ‘ and “right” no longer carry much meaning; it’s now more accurate, argues Reason editor Postrel, to see society as divided between those who champion dynamism and others who defend stasis. The old modernist ideal of a single, controllable future has given way to visions far more open, mobile, and unpredictable. Individuals and their associations, unfettered by government or convention, are creating a world of innovation and competition, a world of “evolved solutions to complex problems.” A global market is emerging where ideas and goods flow freely across borders. This may be messy at times but is nonetheless exhilarating; it’s the world the “dynamists” celebrate. Opposed to them are the “stasists.” Whether they lean to the “right,” with an abhorrence of change and protectionist economic leanings, or to the “left,” with the urge to regulate both the market and technological development, what all stasists fear is change. And what they desire above all is to control and limit change. As such, they are enemies to freedom and progress—and should, arguably, be resisted. Postrel is onto something here, though she owes much to the work of anti-stasist philosopher Friedrich Hayek. Her the-future’s-so-bright-I- gotta-wear-shades optimism provides relief from the morbid obsessions of so much postmodernist thought. Yet she also betrays the very openness she evangelizes. Can a complex world be so neatly divided between dynamists and stasists? Are no thoughtful critiques of the future possible? Apparently not, for to Postrel, “all current social criticism” is stasist! Like the undergraduate who discovers a new idea and so concludes that all other ideas must be wrong, she merely states over and over again how right she is without doing the hard intellectual work of engaging those who would challenge her.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-82760-3
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1998




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