Back in 1998, then-Reason Editor Virginia Postrel published The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Entreprise, and Progress:
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.
As we stare down the barrel of the 2016 election—a contest in which the two major-party candidates are tripping over themselves to offer protectionist solutions to economic stagnation and to come up with new, coercive ways to force companies to "bring jobs back" to U.S. shores—Postrel's book is as relevant as the day it was published. That's a sad commentary on how long we've been spinning our wheels, stuck in old ways of approaching technological innovation, social change, and public policy. We need a new operating system for this 21st century and it's increasingly clear that the Democrats and the Republicans—and certainly Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—have no interest in breaking decisively with old command-and-control thinking. The Future and Its Enemies is an intellectual wakeup call that just might get us up and running toward a better life.
The Future and Its Enemies is available for a limited time for just $3.99 as an e-book at Amazon.