Infatuated and Prosperous

Science, capitalism, and empire are linked in an endless cycle where one necessitates the others. Should any of these legs fail or change, the entire system fails or changes with it. As Harari states, “scientific research can only flourish only in alliance with religion or ideology. In exchange, ideology influences the scientific agenda and determines what to do with the discoveries” (Harari, pg. 274). It is needless to see how ideology influences politics as well. Politics determine what sciences receive the most funding, which shapes what scientific advancements are more readily available to the public and can be traded with other powers or hold power over those nations and peoples. Nuclear energy is a good example of this. The United States first developed the atomic and nuclear bombs and has since pumped a great deal of money into the development of weapons. They have also used their nuclear weapons as a form of deterrence to prevent other nations from developing nukes. In addition, the United States has bound these nations to them in other agreements to economically benefit the United States.

In Harari’s point of view, progress means “that if we admit our ignorance and invest our resources in research, things can improve” (Harari, pg. 310). Harari continues to discuss how progress mean growth, economically and empirically and directly spurred the idea of credit, and trusting the future. In turn, by the political decisions of investing in science promotes our economy which benefits the government and so on. I think he is correct in this statement, however I think it worth considering the cultural aspect of growth, especially when it comes to imperialism. By growing an empire, a nation grows their culture by forcing it on their colonies and seizing the resources of these colonies. The outstanding success of Europe, though requiring technology, was not the end all be all when it came to progress. In order to succeed, Europe also had to squander the existing knowledge and customs of colonies to protect their interests. This halted the progress of these communities and guaranteed the success of the colonizer. That being said, progress is not merely trust in the future and success in the present, but also transforming one culture into a pathogen that consumes others.

1 thought on “Infatuated and Prosperous”

  1. Well written post. In your first paragraph, I thought you did a nice job addressing the effects of imperialism and government influence on scientific advancement. However, I am curious as to your thoughts on the impacts of capitalism on scientific discovery, especially those investments by private individuals. Can you think of any examples of significant inventions or technologies that have been backed by corporations and businessmen or businesswomen? I think your analysis of progress was spot on. The idea of trusting in the future is so ingrained in progress that we often take it for granted. Things such as credit and investment are a huge part of our modern culture. I thought that your insight on the cultural aspect of growth was a nice change of perspective, as it showed that Harari did not necessarily cover all aspects of the growth of Sapiens society.

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