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C O U R S E 
A Brief History of Humankind
Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
State/Market vs. Family/Community
Notes taken on April 30, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
one of the most important changes for human life over the last two centuries has been the eroding of the family and community by the industrial revolution, and their replacement by the state and the market
from the earliest times, over a million years ago, humans most always lived in small, intimate communities, most of whose members were related to one another
the cognitive revolution, 70,000 years ago, and the agricultural revolution 12,000 years ago, did not change that
in fact these first two revolutions emphasized close and dependent family and community relationships
families and communities remained the basic building blocks of human societies, whether you lived in the country or city, families remained the base unit of human organization
the industrial revolution, however, in little over two centuries, managed to break the building blocks of families and communities into individuals
many of the traditional functions of families and communities were handed over to either the state or the market
prior to the industrial revolution, daily life was dominated by the nuclear family, extended family, and local community
most worked in family businesses
if your family was too poor to own a business, you often worked in the business or workshop of your friends or neighbors or of someone in your community
family was the main provider of work, the welfare system, the health system
your children were the only pension fund you could have
if you died young and left young children behind you, it was the family, not the state, which took care of them
if you wanted to build a house, you went to your uncles and cousins to ask them for help
if you wanted to open a business, the family provided you with knowledge and money to open the business
if you wanted to get married, or even if you didn't want to get married, the family often chose for you your partner, or at least vetted the prospective husband or wife
if you came into conflict with someone else in pre-industrial societies, there was often no police, you had to rely on the help of your family
if the family could not handle it, it was the local community who stepped in, not the king or the emperor
the community offered people help on the basis of local traditions and an economy of favors where were very different from the laws of supply and demand that govern the free markets of today
neighbor went someplace and needed someone to look after his sheep
you help him look after his sheep without receiving payment
later when you need help to fix your house, he helps you
or local nobleman might have drafted all of you in your village to construct his castle without paying you anything
and later, you count on this nobleman to defend you against brigand, robbers, and barbarians
so you didn't have a free market as we do today with supply and demand and money, it was a different kind of economy
village life involved many kinds of transactions but very few payments
you did not pay for or buy most of the things you needed
there were markets in the modern sense of the world, but relatively few kinds items were sold in those places
most of the things that people needed for their lives, they manufactures themselves or they got from their family or neighbors
in markets you bought perhaps 10% of your needs: spices, specific tools, services of lawyers or doctors
there were larger societal structures such as kingdoms and empires which performed tasks for people:
waging wars
building roads
constructing palaces or cathedrals
for these projects, people were taxed and enlisted
but with very few exceptions, most kings and sultans and rulers did not intervene in the daily affairs of families and communities
even if they wanted to decide how you and your family should live your lives, most kings did not have the resources to do so
most kings didn't have the resources to build mass welfare systems, or educational systems, or hospitals
they left all these matters in the hands of families and communities
Ottoman Empire
family vendettas were often used to maintain order instead of maintaining a large police force and imperial courts
if your cousin murders someone, their family could murder you in retaliation, so there was an incentive for families to control violence and keep family members in check
Chinese Ming Empire (1368-1644) Baojia system
community-based system of law enforcement and civil control
every ten families were grouped together to form a "jia" and every ten "jia" constituted a "bao"
when a member of a "boa" committed a crime, other boa members could be punished for it, particularly the boa elders
this gave people in a boa incentive to look after what other people in their community were doing and prevent them from breaking the law
taxes were levied on the bao, not on individuals, and it was the responsibility of the boa elders to determine who much tax each family should pay
kings and emperors throughout history for the most part generally stayed out of the private lives of families and communities, and ruled in a kind of mafia style: occasionally taking money and goods from subjects in return for not harming them and protecting them from neighboring kings and emperors
but kings and emperors generally didn't provided any of the services which we take for granted from the state today: police and fire departments, educational and judicial systems, political systems, or anything like disaster relief, welfare, medical care, or unemployment support
life was controlled more by families and communities than by states and markets
this, of course, was often bad news for members of families and communities
families and communities could oppress their members no less brutally than modern states and markets
internal dynamics of families and communities were often full of tension and violence
but for the individual, there was almost always no other choice: you could not live outside a family or a community
a person who lost his family or community 300 years ago was as good as dead
you had no job, no education, if you fell sick you weren't cared for
if you needed money or protection, you didn't get it
if you lost your family or community, you had to very quickly find an alternative family or community
boys and girls who ran away from home could, at best, hope to become servants in some new home or family, otherwise they had two choices: join an army or join a brothel
there was no social network of the state to look after them
last two centuries and the Industrial Revolution
the importance of the family and community changed dramatically over the last two centuries
the Industrial Revolution
gave the market immense new powers
provided state with new powers of communication and transportation
all the wealth created by the industrial revolution enabled governments to start employing teachers, policemen, social workers, tax collectors, and all the other government employees
when the market and state tried to use their growing powers to control the lives of people, they were blocked by families and communities
parents and elders were reluctant to allow the younger generation to be indoctrinated by national education in the schools of the state
they also didn't like the idea of systematically giving their children away to the army
they didn't like the idea of children leaving the village and migrating to the city to become urban workers
in order to over overcome this resistance, the market and the state tried to weaken traditional bonds of the family and communities
the state sent law enforcement officers to control family vendettas
the market started intervening in the affairs of families and communities and convinced people to follow the fashions of the market, and not those of the family or their community
but this was difficult because families and community ties and loyalty was very strong
to accomplish this, they needed someone from inside the family/community to work against the family/community
this "somebody" was the individual
the state and the market encouraged people to "become individuals"
you will be free form the power of your parents and community elders
you can marry whomever you want
you can take up whatever kind of job you want, even if your family or community doesn't like it, it doesn't matter: move away to the city and be yourself
you are no longer depended on your family and on your community for your survival and livlihood
the state and the market will now take care of everything you need, which was previously taken care of by the family and the community: jobs, education, health system, welfare system, an employment system, and even pensions and insurance so that you are no longer dependent on your family and community
it is a common theme in romantic literature to present the individual who is constantly struggling against the state and market, but this is the opposite of what has been the general trend in the last 200 years
the state and the market have over time assumed more and more roles of the mother and father for the individual
the individual as we know it today, could not have appeared without the help of the state and the market
it is the state and the market which provides us with work, insurance, pension, education
if you want to open a business, you are no longer dependent on your family, the bank will loan you money
if you want to build a house, you don't have to ask your cousins to come and help build it, you hire construction companies, and if you don't have the money, the bank will give you a loan, or the government will give you a mortgage
if violence flares up around you, you don't have to run to your uncle to protect you, there are police and emergency units paid for by the state which will help you
and if your family turns violent on your, as an individual now have state-protected rights and you have state agencies to turn to in order to protect you from your family
if you are sick, you are no longer dependent on your family and community, you have a state health system or medical insurance from the companies supported by the market which will take care of you in hospitals and clinics which exist because of the market
today when you grow old, you will likely not be cared for by your children or family and friends in your community, but by a state institution or by strangers who work for an elderly care clinic
the tax authorities no longer tax society as communities but as individuals
you are no longer punished by crimes committed by your cousins, as was common e.g. in the Ottoman Empire through the tradition of vendettas, but you are treated and held responsible as an individual
not only adult white men, but men of all races, as well as women and children have throughout the last 200 years in most Western countries attained the level of individual with full rights in their societies as everyone else
for most of history and still today in some countries in the world, women were/are seen not as individuals, but as property of the family or the community
modern states and markets increasingly see women as individuals who have independent legal rights and independent economic rights
allowed to hold their own bank accounts
allowed to decide on their own who to marry
allowed to decide to divorce their husbands, something that was unthinkable throughout history until a very short time again in a limited number of countries in the world today
along with the freedoms which individuals won, they also became more vulnerable to the intervention of the state and markets
today we are far less constrained by what our father or village elder tells us to do
but we are far more exposed to the power of the government and large corporations
in pre-industrial societies, the state had difficulties telling individual people what to do because the family and community shielded individuals from these interventions
are people better off when they are free from the control of their families and communities but are simultaneously subject to the power of the market and the state
no matter what you answer this question, and certainly there are good arguments for both sides, it is astounding how fast this change took place in human history
for millions of years humans have been living as members of intimate families and communities
for the last few thousands years, cities and kingdoms and empires grew, but they were still composed of families and communities as their basic unit
today, with in a mere two centuries, we have become individuals who have rights above and beyond the families and communities we live in, if at all, and the laws, institutions, incentives, and deterrents that influence us the most, increasingly come from the state and the market
families are still provide important emotional needs which the state and market are not able to provide
yet even here, the family is subject to increasing intervention
emotional support is often found today in online communities
as the market competes fiercely for every second of attention of the individual, families will become de facto less powerful to influence the behavior of its members
the family used to be the main match maker, bride and groom would meet
money would pass hands between the fathers of the families
today its the market that shapes our romantic and sexual preferences and the market that helps us fulfill our romantic and sexual fantasies
money passes from the couple to the cafes, fashion designers, clothes stores, hair dressers so that we arrive at our date looking as similar as possible to the idea of beauty fashioned by the market
today parents are obliged in most cases to have their children educated by the state
parent/children relationships
parental authority was sacred
today police can put parents in prison for abusing their children
to most societies in history, the suggestion that the state should interfere with parents beating or humiliating their children would sound absurd, as parents had complete control over their children, e.g. enslave them, beat them, and marry them off for money
today the state gives children rights to protect them from their parents, and provides state education for their children
popular culture sanctifies through songs, movies, and TV shows the freedom of children from their parents
in modern Western society it is becoming customary to blame parents for problems that children have as adults
intimate communities have been replaced by state and market communities
an intimate community
people you know for years in all kinds of situations, you know their characters, and your very survival depends on them, these are your tribe members, you may not like them, but one of the main characteristics of an intimate community is you can't just break your ties with your intimate community, you are bound to them
this is different than what most of us mean today when we use the term community
intimate communities are becoming more and more rare: you have communities in families, online, school, and work, but in most cases, you can survive without them
today two identities are becoming stronger:
identity with their country
e.g. you are an American, German, or Israeli, etc.
identity with the market
your job title and company you work for and who pays your salary
your consumer tribes
Madonna fans
the define themselves largely by what they buy and what they consume: tickets, CDs, posters, shirts, ringtones
Manchester United fans
a German vegetarian might well rather marry a French vegetarian and not a German carnivore