The Three Counterparts to Guns, Germs, and Steel

Harari believes that, as with many other phenomena that have shaped our world, science, empire, and capitalism are linked in a chain of cause and effect which ultimately catapulted some to the top and left others in a state of stagnancy. According to Harari, science, empire, and capitalism are linked via those who wield them. To be more specific, the surge in European power which has organized global affairs for millennia can be credited to the development and use of these three pillars in conjunction. One of Harari’s examples concerns the arising issue of scurvy among ship crew and military, finally James Cook conducted experiments in attempt to deal with the issue. His scientific inquiries solved a massive problem in the transport of humans and assisted more successful European exploration and conquest (Harari 277). Harari also notes that Europeans did not have some sort of “outstanding technological edge” that allowed them to succeed in growing their empire, but can be more accurately accredited to their “unparalleled and insatiable ambition to explore and conquer” ie. grow empire (Harari 291). Finally, the rise of capitalism, or as Harari says “growing the pie” allowed Europe to grow their science, technology, and empire beyond the resources that were already in play. The idea of investment gave the European empire an edge for efficient growth that far surpassed their counterparts (Harari 317).

I think that Harari’s argument is quite sound because, after all, progress was the main motivation for the development of science, empire, and capitalism. I also agree with Harari in that science, empire, and capitalism were given the space to grow as a result of “progress” in other areas; it can be viewed as a cycle. To use an example presented by both Harari and Jared Diamond, when there is progress in the realm of farming and fewer people are required to be able to yield enough food for the population, more individuals have time and energy to learn new skills that allow new developments in other areas.