The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

Pileus, like most classical liberal outlets, is not exactly bubbling over with optimism during these troubling times.  But not all classical liberals think the future is bleak. 

Matt Ridley, author of the wonderful books The Red Queen and The Origins of Virtue, has a new book out that makes the optimistic case that the future is likely to get better fast – hence its title The Rational Optimist.  In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, Ridley explains some of why he thinks the future is so bright:

Given that progress is inexorable, cumulative and collective if human beings exchange and specialize, then globalization and the Internet are bound to ensure furious economic progress in the coming century—despite the usual setbacks from recessions, wars, spendthrift governments and natural disasters.

I’m conflicted – part of me hopes Ridley and other classical liberal optimists are right (especially because I’m a long-run optimist as well), part of me worries that they (especially the “technology will set us free” people) underestimate the darker aspects of the future (especially in the short to medium terms during which those reading this post will live and die). 

But I still need to read the book to see his full argument.  Can’t wait for July when I’ll have some free time to do so!

BTW, couldn’t resist the obvious flashback to Timbuk 3’s classic – and bad – tune from that time of great optimism on the so-called Right: the 80’s.

3 thoughts on “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

  1. Particularly worrying are the technological optimists that assure me we’ll find a new source of energy when we need it. As far as I can tell, it’s about 100yrs since we found a new source of energy. And we pretty much need it now.

  2. I like the Stockdale Paradox from Jim Collins’ “Good to great.”

    I am optimistic about the future and believe that we can make it through anything.

    However, I also understand that there are things that need to change and need to be discussed in an open and honest forum for us to get better.



    1. Yes, there is much room for improvement. And part of the answer is for folks to try and overcome the collective action problem, and do what they can to rally people to action and to act. Hence our blog, to a certain extent, and hence our quotation from Sam Adams.

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