A Market State of Mind

According to Harari, the market and state began to become a central aspect of human culture after the Industrial Revolution. The state had “new ways of communication and transportation”, and the government could make more use of its citizens as teachers or social workers (358). Whereas before, all business was conducted within a familial community, now, the state could stop fighting families through courts, and the market pushed commercialized products. Historically, and even nowadays, the concept of filial piety in Asia was widely believed to be the only way to live. Your family chose who to marry, and who to befriend. Furthermore, the family was more important than anything. Betraying your family was a fate worse than death. Even today, many Indian marriages are still arranged by the couple’s parents. The reason why the market and state became such an integral part of human culture is because, they offered people with the ability to “Become individuals” as Harari puts it (359). People could choose whom to marry, or which doctor they wished to see if they fell ill. The freedoms offered by the market and state are far more enticing than your parents telling you what to do for the rest of your life.

Personally, I believe historians should play the role of referee. Humans have a knack for destruction. We’re exceptionally adept at destroying our environment. Since we’ve become the dominant species, we’ve caused countless plant and animal species to become extinct. In the future, who knows what kind of people we will be. We could become more war-like, or even more peaceful. Historians need to be there to remind us of past mistakes, or what has worked. This is especially important in the case of the market and state, because as we’ve seen through multiple genocides, and economic depressions, the market and the state are not without faults.

2 thoughts on “A Market State of Mind”

  1. Colleen, I really enjoyed your personal take on the role of historians in helping humans determine their own fate, especially because the state and the markets are certainly not without fault. As I see it currently, the state and the market have even more power than Harari gives them credit for, as they have completely transformed society and shifted the mindset of humans completely around. Instead of obeying authorities at their word, custom teen behavior is to be rebellious at times and disobey even the smallest requests, and in college, we are often taught to question the norm and critically think of innovative solutions to reoccurring problems that might disregard authoritative action. So, historians hold a heavy burden of reminding us of this truth, and reminding us of the previous courses taken that worked well and help us analyze what will work well given all of the surrounding factors and variables at play.

  2. Hey Colleen! I really enjoyed reading your post! I liked how you brought up that State could control local family business through the court system. I think that is one of those things that’s often overlooked when we talk about the rise of State. And like you said, that allowed for more commercialized market. And I liked how you referred to historians as referees in the second paragraph. It could imply that historians don’t make new rules for the world, but they do know how it works. Great Job!

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