The Big 2: Market and State

According to Harari, the Industrial Revolution is what led to the market and state replacing family and community as the central aspects of human culture. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, there was a disconnection between state affairs and personal affairs; in other words, if a person got sick, their family was there and their community was there to care for them, not the government (p.357). This disconnect between personal and state affairs was primarily due to a difficulty in communication, transportation, and a lack of food surpluses, as governments couldn’t really impose a great deal on villages because it was too hard to get to them and once they were there, it was too hard to keep everyone healthy (p. 357-358). However, when the Industrial Revolution occurred, transportation and communication were streamlined, and cities had more than enough food to support government agents. This allowed governments to more easily impose ideas and morals on its citizens, which led to the weakening of the familial and communal bonds, and instead increased the reliance of people on the government (p. 358). The market replaced older cultural dress with new “commercialized fashions” (p. 359). However, until the state and market developed the idea of freedom in the sense that you could marry whoever you wanted, live wherever you wanted, regardless of economic status, because we (the government) will start providing welfare like insurance and pensions.

I think historians should play a role in helping us decide what is right and wrong based on things that have happened prior to today and not necessarily based on our laws. I believe this because when slavery was widespread throughout the United States, it was illegal to smuggle them off plantations and into the North; we know that ending slavery was the right thing to do, but technically it was against the law. The same goes for Jews and the Holocaust and for all the refugees now that we have the ability to help. I think historians should help in providing more insight to the rights and wrongs because if they don’t then who will?