It has been nearly twenty years since the prescient publication of “The Future and its Enemies,” in which author Virginia Postrel painted a picture of a world riven by clash between “dynamism” and “stasism”, between those open-minded enough to seek change, creativity, and free market disruption for the betterment of humanity, and between those who would plan, control, and otherwise restrict the flow of goods, ideas, and people.

I chatted with her about how our politics and economy look today, and what we need to do to remain dynamists in an increasingly stasist world.


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Members have made 3 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Joseph Eagar Member

    People forget, the first two waves of disruptive industrial change predated universal suffrage.

    • #1
    • January 25, 2017 at 10:14 pm
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  2. Profile photo of Leslie Watkins Member

    What a great podcast! James, your description of having the ideas from The Future and Its Enemies recurrently ripple through your thoughts—and it being your best book of 2016—follow my experience exactly! Luckily, though, I read the book in 1999, and it has helped me immensely in recognizing that I wish to experience life as a dynamist. Of course I fall short, especially when I’m feeling insecure about my personal economic situation, and as Postrel noted, it’s this powerfully difficult aspect that makes dynamism such a hard sell, especially in such uneasy times. And you’re absolutely right about needing to have her on to talk about glamour and its relationship to politics, the recent presidential election in particular—the Richochet Podcast also could benefit from having her on to discuss the subject. Tyler Cowen calls The Power of Glamour Postrel’s best book, and I agree, though I can’t see it emerging before The Future and Its Enemies. Her books broach very different subjects but contain common threads that are leading her in yet another new direction, textiles as Ur technology.

    You asked really good questions, which made the discussion quite lively and engaging. Much appreciated. You also seemed to be having a good time. I sure did!

    • #2
    • January 26, 2017 at 9:12 am
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  3. Profile photo of OmegaPaladin Coolidge

    I would argue that the dynamist view does not consider the very real possibility of regress. The future might not be better than the past, and just because something can be done, does not mean it should be done. (Virginia Postrel is from Reason, after all) That’s why dynamism faced setbacks from economic downturns.

    Furthermore, as a conservative, I don’t think that certain fundamental truths change. Just because technology advances does not mean we can toss out the Gods of the Copybook Headings or basic principles of strategy. For example, the existence of cyberwar does not diminish the value of a navy – in fact, it makes the old techniques more valued. Being concerned about national manufacturing capacity is Similarly, culture is based on timeless principles. The national ideal is still more powerful than the gauzy transnational / globalist ideal, and its biggest competitor is religious.

    • #3
    • January 28, 2017 at 1:09 am
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