progress, guaranteed.

The state and market became the central aspects of human culture mainly out of necessity to maintain their existence. For the market, as Harrari notes, for the first time in history our supply surpassed our demand and citizens needed a reason to buy more than they actually needed. Enter consumerism. Consumerism provided a culture that insinuated that the way to happiness was with self-indulgence, or as a capitalist might market it, “treating yourself.” Consumerism led to much more than a culture of self indulgence however. Buying and consuming specific goods and more importantly expressing oneself through goods became a way in which communities were formed. Something as simple as wearing a shirt of the sacramento, CA based experimental hip hop trio, Death Grips could signal to others that one is of a similar community. Similarly, the state needed an invention that could trump the role that family and community had in enforcing local laws. Enter the individual. By converting community culture into individual culture, there was a supposed win-win. Individual culture provided more freedom from the shackles of community law, and in return, the state had more control in enforcing on its citizens as it no longer had to clash with the hold that a community might have on it’s members.

In these times I think historians should remind us of past empires and cultures to help us see what options, and therefore what possible consequences, we have open to us when facing our imminent successors. Historians could show us through the convergence of dominant and subservient cultures in history how we can best hand the reins to our successors as peacefully as possible. Harari’s made it plain and simple that progress and industry has been made quite nearly impossible to stop without the collapse of society, due to the nature of government, science and capitalism. As such, a successor to mankind must also be nearly inevitable. So if we are to accept defeat and retire our dominion of the world, historians should be the first we consult on how to do it gracefully.

1 thought on “progress, guaranteed.”

  1. I agree with you in what historians should do as we move forward. The point you made where historians could expose the futures possible consequences was spot on. As we will inevitably fall as a society I too think historians will play a major role on how we do it with the least impact on our surroundings and in you words gracefully.

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