Book Preview: 21 Lesson for the 21st Century

Some readers may recall that I'm a fan of Yuval Noah Harari, the Israeli historian making waves with his analyses of the human past and future. I just started reading his latest book, and I'm quite enthusiastic about the first chapter, about the current global disillusionment with liberalism. Some excerpts:

Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better. Every person, group, and nation has its own tales and myths. But during the twentieth century the global elites in New York, London, Berlin, and Moscow formulated three grand stories that claimed to explain the whole past and to predict the future of the entire world: the fascist story, the communist story, and the liberal story.

The Second World War knocked out the fascist story, and from the late 1940s to the late 1980s the world became a battleground between just two stories: communism and liberalism. Then the communist story collapsed, and the liberal story remained the dominant guide to the human past and the indispensable manual for the future of the world—or so it seemed to the global elite. The liberal story celebrates the value and power of liberty. It says that for thousands of years humankind lived under oppressive regimes that allowed people few political rights, economic opportunities, or personal liberties, and which heavily restricted the movements of individuals, ideas, and goods. But people fought for their freedom, and step by step, liberty gained ground. Democratic regimes took the place of brutal dictatorships. Free enterprise overcame economic restrictions. People learned to think for themselves and follow their hearts instead of blindly obeying bigoted priests and hidebound traditions. Open roads, wide bridges, and bustling airports replaced walls, moats, and barbed-wire fences...

...

The year 2016—marked by the Brexit vote in Britain and the rise of Donald Trump in the United States—signified the moment when this tidal wave of disillusionment reached the core liberal states of Western Europe and North America.

...

Ordinary people may not understand artificial intelligence and biotechnology, but they can sense that the future is passing them by.

Harari, Yuval Noah. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (p. 3-8). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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