In the not-so-distant past, the world’s population began to increase almost exponentially as a direct result of what we now know as The Industrial Revolution. This revolution brought about drastic changes in the lives of homo sapiens, as “the replacement of the rhythms of traditional agriculture with the uniform and precise schedule of industry” led to a couple of fundamental changes to the political and economic structure that affected much of the world’s population (Harari 352). Workers increasingly became a sort of cog in the machine of industry, which was echoed in almost every other aspect of human life, such as in schools, hospitals, government offices, businesses, and countless other examples. As the world’s population continued to rapidly increase, infrastructure continued to expand, social order became more rigid, and the market adjusted to suit this new behemoth of an economic/governmental system. As a direct result of this, Harari points out that the individual became–perhaps depressingly so–powerless against the new iron will of the state and the market; in other words, “the state and the market are the mother and father of the individual, and the individual can survive only thanks to them (359).
I think it is important that historians continue to find optimism looking toward the future of our species. Harari warns that “any attempt to define the characteristics of modern society is akin to defining the colour of a chameleon. The only characteristic of which we can be certain is the incessant change” (365). Looking back on our species’ past, historians will notice that change is one of the few inevitabilities of our species, so it is indeed possible to imagine a world in which the individual regains power, and a future in which our planet is not ruined by expanding markets and all-powerful governments.