Sleeping Giants

Harari seems to be arguing that the rise in population and industry due to things like the agricultural and industrial revolution as the things that brought about the rise of the market and the state. As people and industry grew the need for larger cities and groupings of people came about. We had outgrown the villages and small towns. Harari states, “Markets and states today provide most of the materials once provided by communities, but they also must supply tribal bonds.” (Harari, 362) So if they provide the sense and feeling of community, how do they supply the tribal bonds? As I understand it the markets have provided us with many things in which to create our own personal tribes. Fans of sports teams, lovers of a particular artist, and connoisseurs of certain cuisines are tribes in their own right. These tribal bonds have been created by the market and the state and have allowed them to have a certain level of control over people since around the mid 19th century.

I think historians have a very major role to play. As Harari states, “it is now beginning to break the laws of natural selection, replacing it with the laws of intelligent design.” (Harari, 397) This is in reference to the newfound ability to change and edit the genome along with the many other scientific discoveries we have made in the same vein as that. This kind of power requires a great responsibility and I think that responsibility will fall on the laps of historians. We need to understand how society will react and handle the changes that this sort of technology brings. We need to understand how people have reacted to wide sweeping advancements throughout history and watch out for our future selves by looking into our past. We can’t just implement things like this without looking at the social consequences and issues that may arise from it. That is the role historians will have to play.

2 thoughts on “Sleeping Giants”

  1. Good morning Peyton,
    I like your discussion of modern day “tribes” created by the market economy; while these differ greatly from past communities, they truly do hold a level of validity in collecting and interpersonally developing the bonds between people. Though the family based structure historically seen in ancient societies is gone, we can now as autonomous individuals group with people we enjoy and are similar to.
    Just as we saw in the reading of Johnson, science can experience major backlash when it differs from common religious belief systems, and the progression of genome studies would truly require a new moral foundation we cannot yet determine, thus creating massive upheaval between empirical and spiritual groups. I agree that it is then important for historians and scientists to deeply consider the long term social consequences of their research. Great post!

  2. You make some really interesting points. I have never thought of the market as a platform of bonding. This makes sense though, especially when looking at brands such as Obey and you have some good examples of this capitalist tribalism. These bonds certainly have returned on the market that created them by creating loyalty to this market. Its a social entity that dictates our behavior and connections with other people. I agree that historians have a major role to play as the can reflect on past scientific advances and advise new ones. However, their responsibility and power ends there. Whether or not they are listened to depends on the government and other powers that be. If they’re ignored, all historians can do is say “I told you so.”

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