Capitalism: A Brief History of Why I Have Credit Debt

According to Harari, Europe was the first country to really open their eyes to the world around them and accept that they didn’t know everything. They developed a thirst for discovery in order to feel progressive and ultimately, to give themselves the upperhand. New scientific studies and discoveries were made that allowed them to conquer more efficiently and gain control of many empires. Science helped them create stable empires, and the power of empires encouraged them to continue scientific discovery. As science continued to grow and knowledge was more vast, the idea of true progress emerged. Progress meant admitting that they didn’t know everything and hoping that things will get better as more is learned. Now that the future was worth investing in, credit was born and capitalism laid its roots. Without science, capitalism never would have been able to confidently say that tomorrow will be better. Harari gives the example of Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus himself didn’t have the money to fund his expedition and the the king of Portugal won’t spend money on such things unless there’s potential financial and political gain. It wasn’t just a thirst for discovery that fed his expedition, it was potential for growth and conquering.


Using Harari’s definition of “progress”, I think he makes a compelling argument. It encompasses the fact of human greed along with human intelligence. In modern day, little scientific discovery is made simply because someone is interested. It’s always backed with a financial or political reason and often isn’t governed by “right” or “wrong”. There’s reason to believe that science, in its infancy, was used for the same reasons. It seems that curiosity costs money and money is only given if there’s something in it for the spender. Scientific discovery depends on this mentality and without scientific innovation, society would have become somewhat stagnant hundreds of years ago.