Forgot We Hadn’t Finished This Book Yet…

According to Harari, society was not all that happy with family and community life, until the state and market approached society in true Godfather fashion “with an offer that could not be refused” (Harari, 359). The state and the market allowed us to become individuals in the truest sense of the word, and this propelled us into the modern society we still have today. Now, the individual could be cared for by the state and the market and kept afloat during difficult times. Eventually, government jobs and programs seeped into the very fabric of society and the state and market became the central aspects of human culture, governing our lives in ways we don’t even realize. The nuclear family became less and less important as the fundamental unit of society and state and market slowly replaced it, leading to stronger individuals. This is laid out very well in the little chart on page 361 of Harari, demonstrating the shift from strong family and community to strong state and market. I find this fascinating, and sort of ironic because as Harari mentions early in his book, homo sapiens have separated themselves from other species by creating and believing in imagined entities (like state and market?!) that end up controlling the lives of large numbers of people (On second thought, I’m not sure that was all that ironic…just kinda neat). I have never really considered how exactly we ended up with the individuality we have as human beings, but this is a state-and-market-based historical explanation that blew my mind just slightly and actually makes a whole lot of sense. Hope this came somewhere close to answering the question.

Knowing our past trajectory is absolutely so incredibly important for the future, whether that be planning for it, understanding it, attempting to predict it, or simply moving ahead on into it. Some of the most important aspects of us as homo sapiens we created ourselves, like technology, religion, government, money, nations, etc. In my opinion, this is pretty remarkable and there’s certainly a lot for us to learn from past generations. It frustrates the heck out of me when someone attempts to make an argument about why their beliefs are right and someone else’s are wrong when the argument has a historical basis and the person knows absolutely nothing about history. This is a very benign and insignificant example but think about all the issues our voters and our government must address today that would be a whole lot easier to understand with a little historical knowledge. I am not sure if mankind will really wipe ourselves out in the future, but maybe this is the only appropriate end to such a powerful race (Sorry, that was a little dark). At any rate, I do know that we will continue to advance technology and work toward what we believe is the greater good. The role of historians here will be to help those across many disciplines to learn from the mistakes of the past, and of course, the successes. I also think that we have a hard time seeing our human tendencies until they are pointed out to us many years afterward. Historians can help to knock some common sense into the human race before we do anything damaging that we can’t reverse, whatever that may be. Overall, history is important and so is science…that’s why this class is so neat.

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