Harari claims that the cognitive and agricultural revolutions pushed Homo Sapiens to the highest echelons of life. 70,000 to 30,000 years ago the cognitive revolution birthed a new human way of thinking and communicating (Harari, 21). These mental enhancements gave Sapiens a “dual reality” where both objective nature and myth connected thereby laying the framework for cooperation through imagined orders (Harari, 32). Likewise crucial to human development was the agricultural revolution. 10,000 years ago, humans systematically domesticated plant and animal species to provide for their basic needs (Harari, 77). Agricultural and pastoral communities created early settlements. Unprecedented concentrations of humans arose because giving up a nomadic lifestyle meant less risk in having frequent offspring (Harari, 86). This rapid shift in lifestyle and populace brought forth violence, disease, long term future considerations, and a means of keeping records through the first partial written scripts (Harari, 122).
Harari explains Sapiens domination through their ability to cooperate in massive groups greater than seen in previous humans. However, to successfully coexist in large populations, Harari proposes that imagined orders must be necessary. These “imagined orders” are a compelling argument. Their inter-subjective storytelling has immense uniting power. In the modern and historical world, we can directly observe how imagined realities and hierarchies tie together millions and remain immune to the opposition of individuals (Harari, 112). I appreciate Harari’s more cerebral approach to human society and wonder how it fits among the likes of Darwin’s “struggle for existence” and Kropotkin’s “mutual aid”. If Harari is correct, then human society has been constructed on lies. Perhaps we need to emphasize that even though orders may be false, belief in something greater and unifying may be necessary for progress. Harari was right when he said, “cynics don’t build empires” (Harari 112). Were everyone a cynic, there’d be no innovation.