Is Progress “progress”

According to Harari the enterprises of empire, science, and economy, are inherently linked and are what has allowed the rise of empires and fueled scientific discovery.  Harari explains that science came into vogue in the middle ages and brought imperialism with it. Harari explains that science is one of the largest driving factors of exploration.  With the advent of science and the search for greater knowledge humans began to go out and explore the corners of the earth searching for new discoveries that would also prove to be quite lucrative for their nation’s economy.  Once peoples started exploring searching for new discoveries to turn into technology that would become a source of revenue, these people realized that it would behoove them to conquer those corners of the world at the same time in order to secure a supply of their new discovery and give them an economically advantages position in regards to those new discoveries.  Empires then became powerhouses driving the idea of technological advances. Unfortunately this did not always end well for the indigenous populations whom they subjugated. Harari also explains how before science empires were not necessarily expansionist. The example of the Roman empire in which the Romans only expanded as far as they needed to protect their assets and Rome.  For example Hadrian’s Wall was built in what is now England to protect the Roman border. Instead of conquering the whole island they only wanted to defend what was theirs. Science also is dependant on funds to allow their research. This is why most technological advances come from the military industry which is incredibly well funded and has continued to be so into modern times.  One example is the splitting of the atom and the discovery of nuclear fission. While this created the most feared weapon of all time, it also created nuclear energy that was professed to be “too cheap to meter”.


The idea of progress, as Harari explains, is quite essential to the expansion of science, empire, and economy.  As long as the people of a society or nation can be convinced that an endeavor is undertaken in the name of progress and that it will benefit their quality of life they will always be in favor of that form of imperialism or scientific endeavor.  This phenomenon is painfully obvious in the United States as “progress” is a buzz word thrown around to promote ideas that otherwise would attract scrutiny. The people of the United States believed that it was in the name of progress and world peace that we invaded the Middle East when in reality it was for their natural resources and to establish governments that suited the US agenda.  Although the progress of scientific endeavors is at times genuine, it has been perverted by the military/industrial complex.


1 thought on “Is Progress “progress””

  1. Roman-
    That was a great post. I think you used great, in-depth, examples to demonstrate that science, empire, and capitalism are connected. I also really liked your perspective on “progress.” You had a really refreshing perspective that I agree with. Can you think of any other examples of how we are currently corrupting the ideology of progress, and using it to benefit ourselves? I agree that scientific progress seems to be genuine at times. Your blog entry made me start to wonder if people use the idea of progress to justify their actions or the actions of their nation. Do you think it is possible that people will try to convince themselves that they have done the right thing, in the name of progress, of course, in order to make themselves feel better about something that has been done? I would have to research that further, but I think it is an interesting idea.

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