According to Harari, science and empire are linked in a circular cycle. Increases in science understanding lead to growth of empire, which leads to more growth in science. These linkages make science important to continuing the power and role of capitalism and empire in the world. He uses the example of the eastern countries not really paying attention to the “new” discoveries of land in the Americas, while the western countries were busy conquering them all in the name of amassing more wealth. Scientific discovery is shaped by political interests with all the research that goes into winning wars. Right now, there is a lot of focus on developing biological weapons to win wars against terrorism, which wars are based around controlling capital.
Harari says both science and empire were “motivated by the restless feeling that perhaps something important awaited beyond the horizon—something they had better explore and master.” (page 332) I agree with his view of progress driving all three of these factors. I feel like a lot of horrible things have been done in our history in the name of “progress”, from the crusades to the restricting of native Americans to reservations. A lot of people who value scientific discovery are convinced that it is the best way to live. The understanding of the way things work is a good way to be able to control it to your advantage. The problem is that this way of thinking makes people who don’t share the values of scientific discovery more likely to want to rebel against them, because the “my way or the highway” attitude rubs people the wrong way and makes them more inclined stubborn.