The Future and Its Enemies
The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress
By Virginia Postrel
(Free Press, Paperback, 9780684862699, 288pp.)
Publication Date: December 8, 1999
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Today we have greater wealth, health, opportunity, and choice than at any time in history. Yet a chorus of intellectuals and politicians laments our current condition -- as slaves to technology, coarsened by popular culture, and insecure in the face of economic change. The future, they tell us, is dangerously out of control, and unless we precisely govern the forces of change, we risk disaster.
In The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel explodes the myths behind these claims. Using examples that range from medicine to fashion, she explores how progress truly occurs and demonstrates that human betterment depends not on conformity to one central vision but on creativity and decentralized, open-ended trial and error. She argues that these two opposing world-views -- "stasis" vs. "dynamism" -- are replacing "left" and "right" to define our cultural and political debate as we enter the next century.
In this bold exploration of how civilizations learn, Postrel heralds a fundamental shift in the way we view politics, culture, technology, and society as we face an unknown -- and invigorating -- future.
Virginia Postrel is the editor of Reason magazine and a columnist for Forbes and its companion technology magazine, Forbes ASAP. Her work also appears in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and other major publications. She lives in Los Angeles. Her Web site is at www.dynamist.com.
James K. Glassman
The Washington Post
American will prosper as long as we allow our trust in what Virginia Postrel in her brilliant new book, The Future and Its Enemies, calls dynamism -- freewheeling, even playful, change -- [to] overcome our fear of the future.
Daniel Silver The Wall Street Journal A pointed and provocative cultural critique.
Alan Wolfe The New Republic A lively, engaging, and thought-provoking book.
Etelka Lehoczky Solon Vibrant with genuinely remarkable new ideas...Postrel's prose is a delight to read. It bubbles with salubrious little maxims, the kind that reignite one's flagging sense of intellectual adventure.
Colin Walters The Washington Times Exciting, a very important book.
Arthur Hirsch The Baltimore Sun Virginia Postrel is stirring it up...arousing praise and criticism across the country.
John Derbyshire National Review Postrel's aim is to provide a defense of adventurous, optimistic attitudes to social and technological change. That she has done very admirably, with passion and vigor.
Anthony Day Los Angeles Times The strength of The Future and Its Enemies lies in the author's passionate belief in the inherent virtue in creativity, innovation, and competition.
James W. Ceaser The Weekly Standard It is a fervent partisan statement, an unabashedly dynamist work. Postrel's conviction displays itself not just in the content of the book, but in the style she has developed to explain it. Postrel writes like a dynamo.
Michael Barone U.S. News & World Report In industrial America, centralized bureaucracies believed they could identify and impose what 1910's management expert F. W Taylor called "the one best way" In post-industrial America, Virginia Postrel argues in her insightful book The Future and Its Enemies, it makes better sense to set out simple rules, allow flexibility and accountability.