Early empires like the Romans, conquered lands not for knowledge or to study foreign lands, but to become more powerful and wealthy. These early empires had no interest in discovering new technologies, because they believed that there was no use in it. It was only after the admittance of ignorance that Empires realized that they did not know everything about the world. After this realization, conquest to foreign lands became intertwined with science, capitalism, and empires. Harari states, “Political and economic institutes provide the resources.., In return, scientific research provides new powers that are used, among other things, to obtain new resources, some of which are reinvested in research”(Harari 250). European countries were the first to start sending scientist with their explorations, because they knew that new discoveries could bring about more powerful weapons, medicines, and commerce that in turn would make them a much more powerful empire. Take for example the Manhattan Project; the United States government knew that if they put billions of dollars of research into creating atomic bombs that they could put an end to World War II, and by doing this become one of the most powerful countries on the planet. Without this weapon the war could have continued for years, costing the U.S. an unimaginable amount of money and lives. They also knew that with this research would come many more useful technologies. Everything about the Manhattan Project was shaped by political and fiscal interest.
I do believe that progress does play a pivotal role in the linkage between science, empire, and capitalism. Without progress, there could possibly be no linkage between all of these things. Before the scientific revolution, people were afraid of challenging the ideas of religions, because it was ridiculous to think that man could make the world a better place by creating new technologies. Harari makes a valid point when he says, “When the admission of ignorance was married to the idea that scientific discoveries could give us new powers, people began suspecting that real progress might be possible after all”(Harari 264). If man did not make progress from the point of believing that God would come solve all our problems, we may still be in that situation today.