The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress

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“The” Free Press, 1998 - Social Science - 265 pages
23 Reviews
Today we have greater wealth, health, opportunity, and choice than at any time in history -- the fruits of human ingenuity, curiosity, and perseverance. Yet a chorus of intellectuals and politicians loudly laments our condition.Technology, they say, enslaves us. Economic change makes us insecure. Popular culture coarsens and brutalizes us. Consumerism despoils the environment. The future, they say, is dangerously out of control, and unless we rein in these forces of change and guide them closely, we risk disaster. In The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel explodes these myths, embarking on a bold exploration of how progress really occurs. In areas of endeavor ranging from fashion to fisheries, from movies to medicine, from contact lenses to computers, she shows how and why unplanned, open-ended trial and error -- not conformity to one central vision -- is the key to human betterment. Thus, the true enemies of humanity's future are those who insist on prescribing outcomes in advance, circumventing the process of competition and experiment in favor of their own preconceptions and prejudices. Postrel argues that these conflicting views of progress, rather than the traditional left and right, increasingly define our political and cultural debate. On one side, she identifies a collection of strange bedfellows: Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader standing shoulder to shoulder against international trade: "right-wing" nativists and "left-wing" environmentalists opposing immigration; traditionalists and technocrats denouncing Wal-Mart, biotechnology, the Internet, and suburban sprawl. Some prefer a pre-industrial past, while others envision a bureaucratically engineered future, but all share a devotion to what she calls "stasis," a controlled, uniform society that changes only with permission from some central authority. On the other side is an emerging coalition in support of what Postrel calls "dynamism": an open-ended society where creativity and enterprise, operating under predictable rules, generate progress in unpredictable ways. Dynamists are united not by a single political agenda out by an appreciation for such complex evolutionary processes as scientific inquiry, market competition, artistic development, and technological invention. Entrepreneurs and artists, scientists and legal theorists, cultural analysts and computer programmers, dynamists are, says Postrel "the party of life." The Future and Its Enemies is a vigorous manifesto for the dynamist worldview, as well as a penetrating analysis of how our beliefs about personal knowledge, nature, virtue, and even the relation between work and play shape the way we run our businesses, make public policy, and search for truth and beauty. Controversial and provocative, Virginia Postrel's thesis heralds a fundamental shift in the way we view politics, culture, and society as we face an unknown -- and thus invigorating -- future.

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Review: The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress

User Review  - Zac - Goodreads

A useful expansion of the map. Far ahead of Sowell's visions, but lacking Lakoff's cognitive science input. Slightly limited for coming from and focusing on the tech sector. Read full review

Review: The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress

User Review  - Frank Thiel - Goodreads

I enjoyed this book and will recommend it to others. I think the most convincing part of the book is the chapter on the bonds of life. Her idea of nested rules presents a worthwhile argument against ... Read full review

Contents

The One Best Way
1
The Party of Life
27
The Infinite Series
55
Copyright

7 other sections not shown

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About the author (1998)

Virginia Postrel is the editor of Reason magazine, a columnist for Forbes and its companion technology magazine, Forbes ASAP, and a contributing editor for the online political magazine IntellectualCapital.com. Her work appears frequently in the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and other major publications. She lives in Los Angeles.

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