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In 1999, Virginia Postrel, then editor of Reason magazine, produced her book The Future and its Enemies, which introduced the idea (a radical, world-changing idea, I think) that humanity can be divided, not into liberal vs. conservative, or rightist vs. leftist, or god-fearing vs. atheist, or bourgeois vs proletarian, but into stasist vs. dynamist. In brief, stasists are opposed to change and innovation, dynamists welcome both. Since The Future and Its Enemies, Mrs. Postrel has elaborated on the status of the stasist-dynamist dynamic in her excellent blog, The Dynamist, and written another radically innovative book, The Substance of Style. The Internet, where Jonathan's Coffeeblog lives, is a product of the dynamist world view. It seems to me that that some of the world most extreme stasists are utilizing the Internet to spread their ideas in order to fulfill their goal of controlling the future by stifling innovation and change. By using the Internet that way, what stasists are doing is paradoxical if not hypocritical. However, before going into detail, I want to clarify, in Virginia Postrel's own words, just what is meant by a stasist and a dynamist:
On one side of the new political landscape you have what I call "stasists." They view the future as a dangerous abyss. To avoid the abyss, some stasists want a return to some imagined, more stable past.
On the other hand:
On the other side of the new political landscape are what I call "dynamists." They see the future as an exciting process of experimentation and learning. That process has many different outcomes, for different people. There isn't "one best way." Dynamists celebrate such open-ended processes as scientific inquiry, market competition, artistic innovation, or technological invention.
Mrs. Postrel appears to view stasists as control freaks:
Other stasists want to build a safe "bridge" to the future. They want to control the future. You get a lot of that among politicians. In either case, stasists first decide the one best future for everyone and then they work to impose it.
Whereas dynamists are less so:
Dynamists tend to be less overtly political than stasists, because they aren't trying to grab government power to impose their ideas. But their vision—especially of the economy as a process—increasingly affects our politics.
In the "New Media" category of Jonathan's Coffeeblog, I have described many of the innovations created by dynamist thinking related to the Internet. What have not said explicitly, however, is that they are all capable of bringing about extreme and unpredictable social change, the kind of change that strikes terror in the heart of all true stasists. Granted, in what I believe to be a reasonable interpretation of Mrs. Postrel's ideas, I leave room for the possibility there there is a little bit of stasism in every dynamist (or maybe more than a little bit) and vice versa. Nevertheless, I believe there really is such a thing as a stasist as well as a dynamist, and their ideas and values are at odds with each other. Now, on to the paradox:
To begin with, any online stasist who is openly condemns modern technology would be self-refuting, and so I searched for websites operated by Amish and Neo-Luddites. The former is a religious group that is known its opposition to modern technology, especially electrical technology, whereas the latter is considered an prominent anti-technology political movement. It turns out that finding a genuine Amish website and a genuine Neo-Luddite website is not as easy as I thought. There are plenty of websites about the Amish, but so far I could not find one which claimed to be a genuine Amish website. I had a little more success with this "Neo-Luddite" website, which denies that they are anti-technology. However that website is an archive and is no longer active. I tried the URL "www.luddite.com" and found that the it has been registered, but appears to be up for grabs. Wikipedia's article on Neo-Luddism suggests that most Neo-Luddies do not identify themselves as such.
Still, Internet dynamism is commonly exploited by stasists, which is why I call such behavior "hijacking." Mrs. Postrel's comment about finding "a lot of" stasist agendas among politicians makes it easy to find the hijackers. My list of control freaks include the US House of Representatives, the Presidents of Russia and Iran (check out the cool URL of the Russian President) and the government of the People's Republic of China. And what is Osama bin Ladin if not a stasist (check out one of his fansites)? And something tells me that the United Nations and the European Union are seething hotbeds of stasism. But politicians and globalist bureaucrats are an easy target. The dynamist battle against creeping or galloping high-tech stasism is ongoing. If you visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation's page on innovation, you will find some of the latest battles against the stasists who would, in their view, stifle innovation on the Internet.
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