Change in the Village

When discussing the societies of the past, Harari paints a picture of a family and community central society where people relied on those around them to provide services and well-being. In these times, there was very little established market. The economy of favors was the dominating force behind the transfer of goods and services. For example, a neighbor would help you build your new barn with no expectation of financial compensation. However, it was expected that you would help the same neighbor when they wanted to build a new barn. The same goes for services such as healthcare and “law enforcement.” Family members were expected to take care of their ill and wounded and back their own during feuds and disagreements. If the family could not accomplish these tasks on their own, the responsibility was extended to the community (356). During these times, the state represented nothing more than a provider of safety from foreign invaders. These governments were setup on the same economy of favors. The king takes labor and taxes from the people in his kingdom, and in return the people expect the king to protect them. All of this changed thanks to the advances from the Industrial Revolution. New forms of communication and transportation allowed kingdoms to amass the power to intervene in an individual’s life. This new power weakened the traditional family bond, as kings could now send state sponsored policemen and healthcare workers to deal with issues previously handled by the family. Now, venders could travel large distances, bringing their goods to villages accustomed to an economy of favors and changing that economy to a monetary system. Over time, the individual became independent of the family and began to rely heavily on the state and the market to provide goods and services.

As we consider the future of our species, I believe historians can offer us powerful insight by examining our past. Currently, it can be very hard to predict the future. The rate of transfer of ideas and data due to the connectivity of the world has created an everchanging social environment. Because of this, I believe that we are limited in our ability to make inferences about the future based on the past. However, I believe that historians can adequately explain the path that got us to our current state. This can help us understand why things are the way that they are, and it helps us to dispel any false claims about the state of society or problems in society.

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