As human civilization grew and population increased, the state as an institution became more powerful. The government started interacting with and affecting the lives of people individually, and thus the importance of family and social ties diminished. Instead of relying solely on their children for support in their old age, elders can now count on the state to provide some level of welfare or social security. With this growing dependency on the state, the state has, in turn, started treating people as individuals in terms of their responsibility and punishment. Along with (and perhaps causing) this, capitalism encourages people to desire individualism. Harari explains that after the Industrial Revolution, markets expanded and became a center of power. This growth of industry changed how common people interacted with material wealth. Consumerism creates wealth, and wealth drives consumerism. The imagined realities that we have created that allow such a free market economy have now become an integral part of our functioning society.
This historical perspective will prove to be important as we consider the future of the human species. Harari says “If our successors indeed function on a different level of consciousness… it seems doubtful that Christianity or Islam will be of interest to them, that their social organization could be Communist or capitalist, or that their genders could be male or female. And yet the great debates of history are important because at least the first generation of these gods would be shaped by the cultural ideas of their human desires” (413). If this is the case, human history will directly influence the future, even if the human component becomes nonexistent. Although this is a seemingly apparent notion, it possesses deep insights. After all, a cylinder cannot be built from a square base. Historians’ assessment of the past will perhaps provide direction on how to build that initial circular base; although the future may be well out of our hands, the present does not have to be.