We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

In praise of the dynamic future

The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress
Virginia Postrel
Free Press, 1999

The title, modelled (unacknowledged) from Popper, equates the future with the victory of dynamism (defined as evolution through variation, feedback and adaptation, p. xviii; “a world of constant creation, discovery and competition”) over stasis, the static state, or even a planned attempt at change, “a regulated, engineered world” (p.xiv). In the opening chapter the author points out that the situation is no longer a simple Left-Right alignment: Pat Buchanan and Jeremy Rifkin are both against such things as globalization, NAFTA, WTO, and Free Trade generally. Both want control over people and processes they disagree with and, disturbingly, with the Left wrapped up in Conservation and the Right in Conservatism, the similarity of the two concepts results in an alliance of people in search of stability.

The plight of the superbureaucrat, longing to administer what he knows is good for other people and thwarted by the market, is almost comically enunciated by Jacques Attali, who fears that as a result “Western Civilization is bound to collapse”. There is an unwillingness to admit that freedom to investigate the unknown cannot possibly guarantee the discovery of anything in particular, only an attempt to make use of what is found.

That, hearteningly, things have changed from what they were twenty to thirty years ago is instanced by the Nixon Administration’s attempts to control the price and distribution of oil and petrol and Galbraith’s dictum that entrepreneurs were no longer possible. The book is very interesting and multi-faceted in a way that makes it difficult to summarize structurally and, although it is packed with illustrations and examples, I should like to have had an examination of “externalities” and whether self-correcting mechanisms exist for such problems as environmental degradation.

2 comments to In praise of the dynamic future

  • none

    Hear, hear. And please keep it coming about Pat Robertson, Orrin Hatch, and their ilk. It is frightening to realize how many Americans–even those who understand the threat posed by foreign theocracies–don’t realize that, given sufficient leeway, Robertson et al will become the Taliban. Christian theocrats are no better than the rest of that rabble.

  • None – don’t worry about it. Won’t ever happen.

    Not because some people don’t want to install a Christian theocracy (some do), but simply because there’s not majority religions. There is no enforced sect of Christianity which controls all the levers of power, which means none will ever have them.

    Freedom through conflict. I’ll take it if that’s the only way I’m going to get it.