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

The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress

By Virginia I. Postrel

Free Press, 9780684862699, 288pp.

Publication Date: December 1, 1999



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.

About the Author

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

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

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

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.