For profit or progress?

Growth made during the past 500 years has been driven by the “loop between science, empire, and capital(ism)”, with each driving the others (Harari, 234).  Harari highlights that the initial arrangement was only between empires and science, with the third being brought in for monetary purposes. He goes even further saying that modern science and capitalism allow for European imperialism to dominate even to the present day, with these two entities being present across the world.  The power of capitalism is felt in modern science, with it often being a race to discovery. One such example is the placing of a man on the moon. In an incredibly short time frame, the USA went from never leaving the atmosphere to sending astronauts to the moon. The success of the race would not have happened without the capitalist attitude the journey was approached with.  The political environment of the time in America drove the desire to beat the Russians, who were seen as the enemy during that era. Without the fiscal support of the government, the project would not have been able to succeed.


According to Harari, progress “is built on the notion that if we admit our ignorance and invest resources in research, things can improve.” (Harari, 265) Most development is done under the idea that eventually the results can alleviate an issue.  From curing cancer to exploring space, science often has to answer the question of why. However, I don’t believe Harari considered humans in his loop. We are unpredictable variables that can destroy progress, even if it would lead to scientific, societal, and capitalist progress. One such example is nuclear energy.  Scientifically it would decrease carbon emissions and capitalistically it would provide jobs, but the stigma toward nuclear halts this potential “progress” option.

1 thought on “For profit or progress?”

  1. Hi Kendra,
    First off, I really enjoyed your post and its clear to see that you have a strong grasp on the information laid out by Harari. The most insightful part of your post was definitely when you touched on the political and economic aspects of the moon landing and race to space against the soviets, which was completely applicable to the prompt. With this being said; however, I’m not sure I understand your assertation that Harari left humans out of the loop and it left me a little confused. When you say this, do agree with that Harari’s claim that progress links capitalism, science, and empire? If so, why do you agree with this?

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