The History of Happiness

In the last section of Harari’s book, he talks about how the market and the state became the central part of human culture. Rather than the family and the community taking care of people, the market and state have taken on that role in recent centuries, especially after the Industrial Revolution (Harari, p. 359). Harari argues that the state and market encouraged people to become individuals and that they no longer had to rely on their family and community to provide them with basic necessities such as shelter, food, education, employment, and work (Harari, p. 359). With the Industrial Revolution, the market gained more power, which in turn gave the state new types of transportation and communication. At first, family and community was at odds with the newly empowered state and market. Over time this changed, as the state and market used their power to weaken family and community bonds. The last step of breaking the power that the family and community held over people was encouraging the development of the individual who relied on the state and market rather than the family and community (Harari, p. 358-359).

I think historians should fill the role of teacher in today’s society. I think it’s important for historians to teach society how the past fits in with the present, and how our actions now have an impact on the future. I thought it was interesting that Harari talked about how history has an impact on the happiness and suffering of individuals (Harari, p. 396). This ties in with another point he makes, that humans need to think about who we want to become and what we want (Harari, p. 414). Historians should help society think through these questions while considering the past, and the impacts of the present on the future.