The Never Ending Cycle of Science, Empire and Capitalism

According to Harari, science, empire and capitalism are very closely connected. One great example that he details is the cook expedition. One sentence that explains this expedition well is “But, since it was funding such an expensive expedition, it hardly made sense to use it to make just one astronomical observation.” (Harari, pg. 276) This is the basis of the connection between science, empire and capitalism. Many voyages started out with goals of scientific exploration but the essential ingredient in exploration is money. When money is involved so are people and politics. When Cook set out he was accompanied by eighty-five soldiers. This eventually led to the occupation of Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and parts of the Pacific Ocean. The basis of British Occupation of the world formed from the combination of science, empire and capitalism.

I agree with Harari and how he relates progress to science, empire and capitalism. As Harari states “science began to solve one unsolvable problem after another.” (Harari, pg. 264) This connection between progress and science has led humans to great inventions and discoveries. As humans “progress” we discover new ideas that help further progress the human population. This also connects to money because without money people would be more limited in research areas. This leads to a system we have now, in which “billions start flowing from governments and business coffers into labs and universities.” (Harari, pg. 272) This trifecta relation started at the beginning of the scientific revolution and still continues strong today.

2 thoughts on “The Never Ending Cycle of Science, Empire and Capitalism”

  1. Mr. Krueger,

    i very much enjoyed your point about the devolution of scientific progress into capitalistic gain. It was well worded and posited a fascinating argument. I would agree that the necessity of funding for scientific research puts exploration and innovation in an unfortunately dependent relationship with financiers, where scientists’ ability to continue working is predicated by the necessity of findings that are favorable to the financial backer. As you also summarized this makes it extremely difficult to research something in a properly unbiased manner. I think you have suggested a deeply important question, and one that has the potential to, if correctly approached, change the way in which we go about scientific research.

  2. Mr. Krueger,

    You have posited an interesting and valid point about the manner in which scientific research is influenced and often controlled by the capitalistic motivations of its financial backers. I would agree with your assessment that the dependent relationship between scientific research and the financiers who support such research is one that lends itself easily to biased or unsubstantiated results, and it would be worth considering how such a relationship has influenced our history of scientific discovery. Your summary of and expansion upon Harari’s work was well done and worthy of further consideration.

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