Historians? In My Future? It’s More Likely Than You Think!

According to Harari, the state and the market rose to power on the back of the Industrial Revolution, and by introducing the idea of “the individual”. “The Industrial Revolution gave the market immense new powers, provided the state with new means of communication and transportation, and placed at the government’s disposal an army of clerks, teachers, policemen and social workers.” (Harari, 358) As the Industrial Revolution was bringing new technologies into the world, the state and market were breaking down the bonds of family and community. The state and market pressed forward the idea of “the individual”. We could make our own decisions, marry who we want, pursue the career we want, take up whatever hobbies we thought suited us; all without the approval of our families or communities. The state and market would provide for us if we all just become “individuals”. States and markets also created “imagined communities”, as Harari calls them (362). These imagined communities, containing millions of “individuals” imagined themselves all related to one another, despite never having met. The nation and the consumer tribe helped drive the imagined community, as the members of these communities believed themselves united. The state and the market created a powerful connection between the individuals they also fostered. This connection helped drill the state and market deep into our culture, and so it has become one of the central tenants of our modern time.


Historians should take a seat at the table with all the other “ians”, “ists”, and “ticians”. The sociologist, the physicist, the mathematician, the biologist, the chemist, the psychologist, the politician and all the others that would make this list far too long. In considering our future (or end), we need everyone to discuss what we should do. Historians may offer insight to our past, and we may use that as guidance towards whatever path we might want to follow. We may examine our current situation, and use past examples as stepping stones to our desired future. As we have discussed many times in this class, the historian is just as important as the scientist or the politician. Every person has valuable insight into our present and our future. So, the historian should be right alongside everyone else as we plot our trajectory into the unknown future of homo sapiens.

1 thought on “Historians? In My Future? It’s More Likely Than You Think!”

  1. Well done Ty! Your explanation of the state/market takeover of human society is straightforward and eloquent. You did a nice job ending with the presence of “imagined communities”. I enjoy how Harari applies his shared myth ideas to a localized level. Overall Harari’s text is fascinating and his models for human behavior are worthy of study and debate. I agree with your second paragraph, that all fields including history should be at the decision table when it comes to determining how humans will act or destroy themselves in the future. On the other hand, one could argue that such a democratic process that listens to all ideas and solutions might take a too long, eventually doing nothing in the end. Similar to our polarized American government. Perhaps, for the sake of efficiency, we need a dictator to take over our future decisions. In all seriousness though, if we want the future to be well informed, we better start figuring out solutions sooner rather than later.

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