Chapter 5 — Community

On tech addiction and how it is compromising genuine human connection and community, Harari makes the point that it is easier than ever to talk to his cousin in Switzerland but it is harder to talk to his husband over breakfast because he constantly looks at his smartphone instead of at him.

Chapter 6 — Civilization

10,000 years ago, humankind was divided into countless isolated tribes where we knew no more than a few dozen people. With each passing millennium, these tribes fused to larger and larger groups creating fewer and fewer distinct civilizations. In recent generations, the few remaining civilizations have been blending into a single global civilization.

People care far more about their enemies than about the trade partners, says Harari. For every American film about Taiwan there are probably about 50 about Vietnam.

The people we fight most often are our family members.

Chapter 7 — Nationalism

There is nothing wrong with benign patriotism.
The problem, Harari warns, starts when benign patriotism morphs into chauvinistic ultra-nationalism. Instead of believing that my nation is unique, which is true all nations, I might begin feeling that my nation is supreme.

The Environment

Unless we dramatically cut the emission of greenhouse gases in the next 20 years, average global temperatures will increase by more than two degrees celsius resulting in expanding deserts, disappearing ice caps, rising oceans and more extreme weather events such as hurricanes and typhoons.

It isn’t a coincidence that skepticism about climate change tends to be the preserve of the nationalist right, says Harari. You rarely see left-wing socialists tweet that climate change is a Chinese hoax. When there is no rational answer, but only a global answer to the problem of global warming, some nationalist politicians prefer to believe the problem does not exist.

To counter this, the advent of unconventional technologies might help. For example, clean meat. This might sound like science fiction but the world’s first clean hamburger was grown from cells and then eaten in 2013. It cost $330,000. Four years of research and development brought the price down to $11 per unit and within another decade, clean meat is expected to be cheaper than slaughtered meat, which can count for a lot towards ecological rejuvenation when you consider that the water footprint of beef alone is 1,800 gallons per pound of beef.

Three threats facing humanity: technological nuclear and ecological

We now have a global ecology, a global economy and global science but we are still stuck with only national politics. This mismatch prevents the political system from effectively countering main problems. To have effective politics we must either be globalising economics and the major science or we must globalise politics.

Global governance, Harari says, is unrealistic. Rather, to globalise politics means that political dynamics within countries give far more weight to global problems and interests.

Chapter 8 — Religion

Harari says that in order to understand the role of traditional religions in the world of the 21st Century, we need to distinguish between three types of problems:

1- Technical problems: how should farmers in arid countries deal with severe droughts caused by global warming?

2 Policy problems: what measures should Government adopt to prevent global warming in the first place?

3 Identity problems: should I even care about the problems of farmers on the other side of the world?

As Karl Marx argued, religion doesn’t really have much to contribute to the great policy debates of our time.

Freud ridiculed the obsession people have about such matters as a narcissism of small differences. On this point, I did some research to find out why the Eastern Orthodox and Western Christian religions branched off from each other. One of the key points of difference that ultimately split the churches was that most Western Christians use a version of the Nicene Creed that states that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son”, whereas the original Orthodox version doesn’t feature ‘and the Son’. That was it. Perhaps Freud had a point.

Chapter 9 — Immigration

To clarify matters, Harari defines immigration as a deal with three basic conditions or terms.

1 — The host country allows to immigrants in.
2 — In return, the immigrants must embrace at least the norms and values of the host country even if that means giving up some of their traditional norms and values.
3 — If they assimilate to a sufficient degree over time they become equal and full members of the host country. They become us.

Precisely because you cherish tolerance, says Harari, you can not allow too many intolerant people in. While the tolerant society can manage more liberal minorities, if the number of such extremes exceeds a certain threshold, the whole nature of society changes. If you are bringing in too many immigrants from the Middle East, you will eventually end up looking like the Middle East says Harari.

On culturists: People continue to conduct a heroic struggle against traditional racism without noticing that the battlefront has shifted from traditional racism to culturists.


On terrorists: They kill very few people but nevertheless managed to terrify billions and shake huge political structures such as the European Union or the United States to their core. Since September 11, every year terrorists have killed about 50 people in the EU, about 10 people in the USA, about seven people in China and 25,000 people globally, mostly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

Diabetes and high sugar levels kill up to 3.5 million people annually while air pollution kills about seven million people.

Terrorism is like the fly that tries to destroy a china shop. The fly is so weak that it cannot move even a single teacup. How does a fly destroy china shop, asks Harari? It gets inside a bull’s ear and starts buzzing. The ball goes wild with fear and anger and destroys the china shop. This is what happened after 9/11 as Islamic Fundamentalist got inside the ear of the American bull to destroy the Middle Eastern china shop. Now they flourish in the wreckage. And Harari reminds us that there is no shortage of a short-tempered bulls in the world.

The overreaction to terrorism poses a far greater threat to our security than terrorist themselves. This lesson echoes lessons from Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies of War, in luling your opponent into making premature, emotion-driven decisions and ultimately, the wrong move, one that you are ready to capitalise on.

Harari says that a successful counter terrorism struggle should be conducted on three fronts.

1 — Government should focus on clandestine actions against the terror networks.

2 — The media should keep things in perspective and avoid hysteria theatre. As it stands, the media obsessively report terror attacks because reports on terrorism sell newspapers much better than reports of diabetes or pollution.

3 — The imagination of each and every one of us. Terrorist hold our imagination captive and use it against us. It is the responsibility of every citizen to liberate his or her imagination from the terrorists and to remind ourselves of the true dimensions of this threat.

Chapter 11 — War

Today information technology and biotechnology are more important than heavy industry when it comes to war.

Today the main economic assets consist of technical and institutional knowledge rather than wheat fields, goldmines or even oil fields and you just cannot conquer knowledge through war.