Yuval Noah Harari on the world after COVID-19

Yuval Noah Harari is one of my favourite philosopher-historians.  I highly recommend his books Sapiens and Homo Deus. If you have read those two books, you don’t need to read 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

Here he is writing in the Financial Times.

In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity. 

Read the whole thing. Choose wisely – citizen empowerment and global solidarity are “good things”. Totalitarian surveillance and nationalist isolation are ultimately the same thing.

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63 Responses to Yuval Noah Harari on the world after COVID-19

  1. Robber Baron

    I choose freedom and private property rights. Both of which have been taken away from us by dictator Morrison, his government and the political classes.

  2. BorisG

    I wonder what Harari and Sinc would recommend in wartime.

  3. BorisG

    Sad to see Sinc preferring freedom to saving lives.

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    I wonder what Harari and Sinc would recommend in wartime.

    I can’t speak for Harari, but …

  5. David

    Harari’s books start with promise but degenerate into a dreary collection of unfounded assertions that match his politics, just like this article. He sells books to wannabe intellectuals. An absolute snooze.

  6. 2dogs

    Totalitarian surveillance and nationalist isolation are ultimately the same thing.

    That’s complete rubbish, as is Harari’s article.

    If a “global plan” is created, you can be sure it won’t be a good one.

    Multiple approaches in many countries ensures that some will get it right. Learn from those for next time.

  7. Brian

    If you believe people are at base good, then global solidarity may be achievable. But if people are fundamentally flawed, then nationalist isolation keeps the worst at bay. Global solidarity would be a totalitarian solution – ie it would not allow citizen empowerment.

  8. duncanm

    Totalitarian surveillance and nationalist isolation global solidarity are the same thing

    FIFY

  9. BorisG

    Sinc, I have read Harari’s aricle and, I disagree with him. Maybe you are kind of liberty fundamentalist, willing to sacrifice the of yourself and others in the name of freedom. I am pragmatic liberal. I see liberty as a way of achieving happiness and prosperity, not the abstract goal in itself.

    His example of South Korea is misguided. Their main approach was to track every infected person’s movement using exactly the kind of tools he condemns Israel for using. The second method was to completely lock down towns and areas where infections were found. Both methods worked because of a very localized original source of infections – but that is another story. The measures in South Korea are so draconian that the introduction to a major Imperial College paper various mitigation strategies groups the South Korean method together with the Chinese as socially unacceptable for most countries.

    But this is not even the point. This virus is particularly challenging for libertarian experimentation because most people who need to sacrifice personal convenience and livelihood do not face huge risks themselves.

    The idea that some of the surveillance and restrictions imposed to fight this pandemic will be permanent is a risk we need to take into account. But the way to fight against it is to hold the govenrment to account one the crisis is over. Just like many measures taken during WWII were removed after the war, so the public can demand, through the democratic process, to eliminate them. And if the public does, not, for instance because the government manage to sell the messsge that this is necessary in the name of health, that is their democratic choice.

    Now is not the time for such a debate. For better or worse we elected our leaders who are ok with using such tools in a grave emergency. We should trust them to get us through this. Then we can remove them like the Brits removed their Churchill after the war, and start anew.

  10. BorisG

    PS. Israeli example is a case in point. Harari implies that after the war of independence Israel failed to lift many emergency restrictions so that it could spy on its citizens. This is nonsense. First, Israel’s war was never over. It is still in a state of war with several Arab counties. Arguably the security and military challenges she faces are immense. Yet desire this, Israel has gradually lifted most if not all of those restrictions. Arab citizens, who were originally under limitary administration of some sort, not only have a right to vote, but wth 15 out of 120 Knesset members effectively hold a balance of power in the Knesset. And so on.

  11. BorisG

    I have read quite a bit of Harari. While some of this ideas are thought provoking, in my view he is well overrated.

    He is also a hypocrite. To placate Russian authorities, in the russian editions of his book he replaced ex soles of Putin’s anti liberal actions with those of Trump. He said that in this way the book will be more accessible and understandable to Russian readers. Oh yes…

  12. Chris M

    Poor Sinc, you gonna hate how this ends. With such a financial and social mess it can only be sorted out by…. tada! One world government. Read he books of Revelation and Daniel. Meanwhile if you are freaking you could leave your phone at home, just like the old days remember. Works up to the point they chip you haha.

  13. Sinclair Davidson

    Boris – we are not actually at war. The enemies of freedom are moving now to consolidate their position. So now is precisely the time to confront them.

  14. max

    Western nations lost freedom with WW1

    since than you can say we have more freedom than communist or dictatorship states but we are not free.

  15. max

    maybe we are less slaves than they are is correct word I was looking for

  16. jupes

    Does global solidarity mean we have to have another million Chicoms living here?

  17. BorisG

    Boris – we are not actually at war.

    I think you are in denial Sinc. Have you read the main paper: file:///C:/Users/216360d/Dropbox/Personal/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

  18. Sinclair Davidson

    Yes. I have. You’re quibbling about petty detail. I’m looking at the big picture. In the choice between freedom and slavery I choose freedom.

    Have you read Stephan Zweig’s The world of yesterday? It details the loss of freedom after WWI. Let’s not have that happen again.

  19. BorisG

    sorry here is the link: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

    should be primary reading for sceptics.

    without draconian measures conservative projections are about 2 million deaths in the US alone. That is about 4-5 times more than the US lost in WWII.

  20. BorisG

    It details the loss of freedom after WWI. Let’s not have that happen again.

    Sure. But there are two important points:

    1) do you think introduction of these measures was designed deliberately to take liberties away for good?

    2) wasn’t it indeed justified by the needs of war?

    Opposition to these measures in wartime could amount to treason.

    I think such sacrifices are fully justified if they help save lives (or defeat the enemy). They helped not only in china but also in South Korea. The technology allows the state to track infected people. If we oppose this, we are killing people.

    Harari argues in his books that surveillance in the name of fighting terrorism is unjustified because terrorism is a very tiny threat. Most people think terrorism is a grave danger of our times but this is a debate for another time. The threat this virus poses is undeniable and requires urgent and drastic measures. If ever government interventions are necessary, is in the time of such crises.

    We need a coordinated response and an elected government is best placed to make these choices, just like in the time of war or major natural disaster.

  21. BorisG

    On global cooperation, i partly agree with Harari but I think he lives in a fairyland. I also strongly dislike current unilateralism of national leaders such as Trump, Xi, Abe or Modi, but the emergence of such leaders is no accident. It is clearly a result of the fact that multilateralism (to an extent it was practiced in previous years) was not perceived to be reciprocal and equitable, with China in particular taking advantage of Western Nations.

    In my youth I thought a lot about these things. Individual people can be incredibly altruistic, but nations seldom are. This is probably because their governments accountable to their voters, not to some global good. Thus every country will act selfishly or it risks losing its power.

    Doctors and scientists can cooperate because they are not elected.

  22. Sinclair Davidson

    To your first comment: I reiterate, we are not at war. Furthermore to the extent that public servant enforce decrees from the unconstitutional “National Cabinet” they are liable for prosecution.

  23. Sinclair Davidson

    There is a lot to dislike about Harari. He is a vegan Buddhist. His ideas and thoughts, however, are well worth serious consideration.

  24. BorisG

    Yeh right. Let’s put these obstacles and if many more people die as a result – so be it. That’s price of freedom.

    I am happy that our leaders are not like this. They do not shy from making hard choices.

    I wish they were even more brave and imposed this a few weeks earlier. But then we won’t have the virus and people would complain that this was all for nothing.

  25. Sinclair Davidson

    What makes you think that making the correct choice isn’t hard? But making the wrong choice is hard?

  26. BorisG

    I reiterate, we are not at war.

    I am not sure in what sense. In a legal sense probably not. But in terms of danger to our lives, it is probably more grave than any military threat in Australian history. And in terms of urgency as well. The time to act is probably a month ago.

  27. BorisG

    What makes you think that making the correct choice isn’t hard? But making the wrong choice is hard?

    All choices are hard but the ones that save lives and avoid major calamity are the correct ones.

  28. BorisG

    Sinc you either underestimate the gravity of the situation or you think tens of thousands of avoidable deaths are a price worth paying for freedom.

    My daughter knows a few people who are doctors in hospitals. They are sending daily messages seeing an impeding disaster and pleading with people to stay home. But many people don’t heed the advice until government acts. Why Australians are like this I don’t know. but that is the fact.

  29. BorisG

    Sinc, it is good night even here. Stay safe!

  30. Marc

    “Boris – we are not actually at war. The enemies of freedom are moving now to consolidate their position. So now is precisely the time to confront them.”
    This I fear is true.
    Next will come cashless. After all the stimulus and handouts fail to re liquidate the system your bank accounts will become inaccessible.
    Do you believe that the government will step back from these measures they are implementing ? When have they ever ?
    This “Pandemic” is being used as cover by those that have been pushing the agenda for one world government.
    A reset is coming. Join the dots.
    Already evidence is coming out that this virus has been modified.
    Prof. Francis Boyle.

    https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/geopolitics-empire/e/66974269

    Dr. Boyle discusses the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China and the Biosafety Level 4 laboratory (BSL-4) from which he believes the infectious disease escaped. He believes the virus is potentially lethal and an offensive biological warfare weapon or dual-use biowarfare weapons agent genetically modified with gain of function properties, which is why the Chinese government originally tried to cover it up and is now taking drastic measures to contain it.
    It appears this research and technology was purchased by the Chinese Gov from both the Americans and the Australians.
    Also note the name Zengli-Li Shi and his affiliations with Wuhan and other research institutions. A name that appears in many of these research papers.

    Gain of function DNA sequence study:
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S01663542203005

    Australian Animal Health Laboratory research paper:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/44692434_Angiotensin-converting_enzyme_2_ACE2_proteins_of_different_bat_species_confer_variable_susceptibility_to_SARS-CoV_entry

    It is too late to stop this virus. It is already among the community. Shall we be under house arrest for 6 months? 12? 18?
    If we are at war Boris, as you believe, then you best accept that unfortunately war brings casualties.
    We are being set up.

  31. Dr Faustus

    When people are told the scientific facts, and when people trust public authorities to tell them these facts, citizens can do the right thing even without a Big Brother watching over their shoulders. A self-motivated and well-informed population is usually far more powerful and effective than a policed, ignorant population. 

    A big problem in the UK and right here in Australia.

    Trust in government has been eroded by the political circus and the open corruption of civic behaviour. Trust in ‘science’ similarly, by its close contact with the political process.

  32. CameronH

    We will not get Global Solidarity, we will get Global Totalitarianism. Globalism movers the decision making power further away from the individual. I much prefer Nationalism with a return to our federalist system with increased states rights. The rest of the world can sink or swim with their UN masters if they prefer.

  33. BorisG

    A big problem in the UK and right here in Australia.

    Trust in government has been eroded by the political circus and the open corruption of civic behaviour. Trust in ‘science’ similarly, by its close contact with the political process.

    Maybe so. But actually the entire assertion that a well informed population will do they right thing is exactly that – an assertion. Sure there will be many people who wiLl do the right thing but there will also be enough people that won’t. And when the situation is so grave, there is no room for error.

  34. C.L.

    My daughter knows a few people who are doctors in hospitals. They are sending daily messages seeing an impeding disaster and pleading with people to stay home. But many people don’t heed the advice until government acts. Why Australians are like this I don’t know. but that is the fact.

    If one more person starts a comment with “I know a doctor who said …”
    Tell us, Boris: are you eating at the moment?
    Where did you get the food? Did you grow it in your backward or was it made, packaged, transported and sold by people who aren’t at home?

  35. twostix

    The “disaster” at hospitals is because hysterical nitwits have over-hyped COV-19 so much that tens of thousands of people with the normal flu are turning up at emergency departments thinking they’re dying and have swamped hospitals who have to put them in beds, test them, and then keep a large fraction of those people in for observation (who would have stayed at home with the same symptoms six weeks ago).

  36. thefrollickingmole

    global solidarity

    The UN is a beacon of global solidarity: Discuss.

  37. C.L.

    Boris?
    You there?
    Where are you getting your food?

  38. Sinclair Davidson

    My daughter knows a few people who are doctors in hospitals. They are sending daily messages seeing an impeding disaster and pleading with people to stay home.

    In a previous life I was married to a medical doctor. She had graduated 3rd in her class. Very smart and technically competent in a very narrow range of skills. When confronted with a patient she was very, very good.

    She had won the prize for a subject called Community and Public Health. In this subject she had learned that multinational corporations caused illness and that capitalism was lead to mental illness and things of a similar nature. So here is the thing – when medical doctors (because real doctors have Ph.Ds) talk about actual patients and actual symptoms and actual treatments and the like I trust their professional judgement. But when they talk about costs-benefit analysis and the like I discount their judgement.

    Sinc you either underestimate the gravity of the situation or you think tens of thousands of avoidable deaths are a price worth paying for freedom.

    A number of responses could be made here – I could quote a whole bunch of my favourite Winston Churchill speeches back at you. I could tell you about my ancestors and relatives who have fought and died for the freedoms I enjoy and I will betray their memories and sacrifices for a mess of pottage.
    But let’s go with this – there is a very standard analysis that compares economic costs against something called quality-adjusted life-years. Maybe that analysis has been done – but I haven’t seen it. Now I have made something of a career pointing out examples of where the government has misled us, if not actually lied to our faces.

    Now I’m not being unreasonable – I have spent the last 10 days at home, going out only to forage for alcohol and toilet paper. In the meantime I’m watching the government spin down the economy – think of it as a controlled explosion to bring down a building. How exactly are they going to spin it up again? At what cost? To whom?

  39. Sinclair Davidson

    The UN is a beacon of global solidarity: Discuss.

    No. The UN is not a beacon of global solidarity. Trade and travel is a beacon of global solidarity.

  40. twostix

    Why Australians are like this I don’t know. but that is the fact.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Boris is a Russian who grew up in Soviet Russia then lived in Israel then moved to Australia.

    You don’t really have much to offer in the way of observations and critiques about the people who created and sustain modern western democracy old mate.

    We could simultaneously ask why a Russian is so immediately eager-beaver about with vast government repression of the people.

    If you don’t “understand” why we do what we do, it’s not that we’re doing things wrong – it’s simply that you don’t understand. Full stop.

    And if we’re chaffing against government overreach, and you claim to be a “liberal” who is learning about Democracy ™ perhaps you should sit back and observe and learn how how it’s done.

  41. thefrollickingmole

    No. The UN is not a beacon of global solidarity. Trade and travel is a beacon of global solidarity.

    Glad to hear it, thought the mind worms had gotten to you…

  42. BorisG

    Now I’m not being unreasonable – I have spent the last 10 days at home, going out only to forage for alcohol and toilet paper.

    Good on you, but there are two issues here. It is clear that restaurants (to take one example) will spread the virus if people dine in. It may be preferable from an ideological purity point of view that they are empty because responsible adults stay home (rather than by government decree) but the effect on the economy is the same.

    The other issue is that unfortunately we cannot expect everyone to heed reasonable advice. Bondi beach shows this. The situation is similar to that with kids vaccinations. Most people do the right thing but some nuts are putting other kids in grave danger. Hence coercion has to be applied. Here it is the same but much more urgent.

    I’m sure you are also against government ban on entering an area of high radiation (like around Fukushima reactor). Just alert people and then responsible adults will decide by themselves. At least in that case if they ignore the advice they only endanger themselves. Here it is different. The risk to young people is small but their selfish behavior (the driver of the economy in healthy society) puts older people in grave danger.

    Now I agree the economic analysis of the type you mentioned would be useful. I don’t think the government has done this explicitly. But they do have an estimate of the number of deaths and of the economic damage their actions bring, and they do weigh the two intuitively if not scientifically.

  43. twostix

    We know for a fact that in Victoria well over 25000 people have turned up at hospitals and GP’s (mostly hospitals) thinking they have COV-19.

    The worst of them have been tested.

    98% of those tested turn out to just have a regular cold or the flu.

    That hospitals are “overwhelmed” right now has nothing at all to do with a virus and everything to do with the media and government’s over reactive response to it which has created a panic in people who are sick with normal illnesses.

    Also there’s lots of evidence that many GP’s aren’t operating as the frontline triage like they should be and are just sending people straight to hospital because they don’t want to deal with any of this (don’t have tests, don’t want their practice to get caught up in a Cov-19 infection fiasco, etc).

    The actual public health policy response to this has been a complete disaster. The repressive crackdowns and policing of the public is bad cover for that.

  44. max

    March 22, 2020, at the time of writing, the total number of recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus stood at just below 14,000. This is a large number and is bound to increase, exponentially for a time, but it needs to be understood in context. It can be large or small depending on the time frame, the geographic scale, and the demographic composition of the population affected.

    TIME FRAME

    The number of COVID-19 fatalities is small compared to the 12 million total number of people who have already died this year from all causes, but the numbers could reach 3.6 million in just eight weeks at the current pace of deaths doubling each week. In the counterfactual, without COVID-19, we would expect 60 million global deaths in 2020, with 18 million people dying from heart disease, 10 million from cancer, 6.5 million from respiratory diseases, 1.6 million from diarrhea, 1.5 million in road incidents, and 1 million deaths from HIV/AIDS. Suicides could number 800,000.

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/03/23/a-mortality-perspective-on-covid-19-time-location-and-age/

  45. max

    It’s hard to estimate the impact on total deaths from the COVID-19 disease because, in addition to the direct effects that are measured, there are also large indirect effects from the policy responses. For a start, the direct impact itself is totally unknown and unknowable at this point. There are too many uncertainties to have any sensible range of estimates. At one end, it looks as if China may be able to contain deaths to about 3,500 (they are at 3,260 with about eight to 10 new deaths each day). This is less than 0.03 percent of the 10.5 million people who are expected to die in China this year.

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/03/23/a-mortality-perspective-on-covid-19-time-location-and-age/

  46. max

    Markets vs. Socialism: Why South Korean Healthcare Is Outperforming Italy with COVID-19

    South Korean Healthcare

    Although South Korea does have a state-monopolized system providing a universal health insurance, this state-provided insurance is not able to set prices in the market for healthcare. Hospitals and clinics routinely charge patients more than the state insurance will pay, which has caused many Koreans to take out private insurance to cover the difference. TheKorea Bizwire reports that eight out of ten Koreans take out such insurance, with the average Korean paying just over 120,000 won (about $120) a month for it.

    Care is provided by a set of hospitals that are 94 percent privately owned, with a fee-for-service model and no direct government subsidies. Many of these hospitals are run by charitable foundations or private universities. Private hospitals in the country exploded in number from 1,185 in 2002 to 3,048 in 2012. The result is that South Korea has 10 hospital beds per 1,000 people, more than twice the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average (and nearly three times as many as Italy’s 3.4 beds per capita). These private hospitals also charge significantly less (between 30–85 percent of the price) than US hospitals (which are also often required to get a “certificate of need” from the government before construction, depending on what state they are built in).

    Italian Healthcare

    In Italy, by contrast, surgeries and hospitalization provided by public hospitals or by conventional private ones are completely free of charge for everyone regardless of their income. This is entirely paid for by the the national health service, the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) (as are family doctors’ services). Waiting times can be up to a few months for large public facilities, though they are somewhat shorter for small private facilities with contracts to provide services through the SSN. Public and private medical providers offer “free market” options in which the patient pays directly, but this is rarely taken up and thus contributes very little to hospital revenues. Emergency medical service is always free of charge.

    Italy experienced an ongoing health worker shortage even before COVID-19 struck the country. The number of hospitals in the country has been on a steady decline over the last couple of decades, from 1,321 in 2000 to 1,063 in 2017. SSN prices for payments to hospitals were set below market rates for the purpose of saving money on healthcare, and the results were as expected for a de facto price control.

    https://mises.org/wire/markets-vs-socialism-why-south-korean-healthcare-outperforming-italy-covid-19

  47. Alex Davidson

    It is clear that restaurants (to take one example) will spread the virus if people dine in.

    If you are worried that you might catch this virus at a restaurant, then don’t go to restaurants, but that doesn’t give you or the government the right to compel everyone else to do the same.

    Your argument seems to be nothing more than an appeal to emotion, a slight variation of the line we hear all the time from government authoritarians trying to justify such things as forcing everyone with a pool to fence it: “even if it only saves one life it’s worth it”.

    Surely if you have lived at all you must have noticed that government always moves in the direction of increasing its power and reducing individual freedom. It is completely naïve to think they will fully remove the draconian restrictions they are imposing in the name of this virus. If we accept this without a murmur, what is to stop them doing exactly the same thing or worse when they identify any other virus spreading among us?

  48. Dr Faustus

    But actually the entire assertion that a well informed population will do they right thing is exactly that – an assertion.

    I’ll see your contention, and raise you a postulation.

    There is plenty of empirical evidence – running back many decades – that trusted advice in uncertain circumstances will change population behaviour. Arguably, Japan is benefiting from this right now.

    In any event, the public spectacle of Commonwealth and State leaders trying to squeeze opposing policies under the same claim to ‘expert advice’ is shredding the message.

  49. Sinclair Davidson

    Hence coercion has to be applied.

    Hmmmmm. Maybe. We live in a society where the social propaganda suggests that the coercive power of the state is severely limited and constrained. Before the population can be placed under house arrest they need to be convinced that the state is exercising its coercive powers in a legitimate manner. Those people at Bondi were obviously not convinced. That sounds like a government problem not a people at the beach problem.

    Then there is a problem that various Parliaments are prorogued and the powers of executive government are being exercised by a “National Cabinet” that in turn is being advised by a committee of medical academic experts and a committee of business people and public servants on the economy.

  50. BorisG

    If you are worried that you might catch this virus at a restaurant, then don’t go to restaurants, but that doesn’t give you or the government the right to compel everyone else to do the same.

    Sorry Alex but I think you completely miss my point. The risk to young people going to restaurants is not great but they spread the virus and infect other people. Maybe in your ideal libertarian world people who infected others could be held liable but this is impractical and cold comfort for those oldies further down the chain who died as a result of those young people’s behavior.

    Again maybe in an ideal society people will be so socially responsible that they won’t do anything that would harm others, even in the long run. But we don’t have an ideal society. We have what be have, and need to minimize the number of deaths from this plaque.

  51. NoFixedAddress

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3376911, posted on March 26, 2020 at 11:45 am

    Hence coercion has to be applied.
    ………
    Then there is a problem that various Parliaments are prorogued and the powers of executive government are being exercised by a “National Cabinet” that in turn is being advised by a committee of medical academic experts and a committee of business people and public servants on the economy.

    And there’s you problem, right there.

    They should be able to save a lot of money by doing away with elections.

  52. BorisG

    Those people at Bondi were obviously not convinced. That sounds like a government problem not a people at the beach problem.

    There are Several possible reasons why people behaved in tis manner. One: they did not believe the problem was as serious as they read in the papers, two: each person coming thinks he is not a problem, and does not expect that there will be thousands others. There: risk to young people is low, so they are acting rationally within their own self interest.

    In general I agree that people a should be allowed to make their own choices, even if they are harmful to themselves. This includes seat belts and taking drugs. But this only works as long as they don’t harm others. With infectious diseases their behavior harms others not themselves so much. Therefore government intervention is required. This is true for all infections, but particularity in this crisis, both because of the sheer scale of it but also because of a peculiar age distribution of the victims.

  53. NoFixedAddress

    @BorisG

    Do you have existing health conditions that would be exacerbated if you were infected with this Virus?

  54. Judge Dredd

    Sounds like a false dichotomy to me. No one really wants “global solidarity” , that is the UN and taking power out of the hands of sovereign nations. Australia should bow to no one but Australians – that sounds more like nationalism and something I fully support.
    Let get rid of globohomo forever, and Coronavirus has given us a chance to do that.

  55. one old bruce

    Sinc, read this critique of Harari

    https://mavericksmusing2.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/my-rather-long-rant-on-sapiens/

    I work alongside professional historians, I have some credentials to support that standing, and Harari strikes me as, sorry to say, and sorry for the department he represents, a quack, despite his ‘PhD’ and all that (His published PhD thesis has also been roundly questioned – He seems to just argue with straw men, which impresses amateurs of course, and maybe his PhD markers just weren’t good enough to notice that, which sometimes happens in isolated parts of academia).

  56. NoFixedAddress

    I didn’t interpret Harari’s discussion as supporting a UN type cabal as more about fostering a global solidarity of like minded countries.

    Admittedly I find the concept a ‘pie in the sky’ dream but that’s okay.

    He may find that solidarity easier to achieve among nations that actually allow their ‘citizens’ freedom and it is that erosion of freedom under whatever guise that he is highlighting.

    Thanks for the reference Sinclair.

  57. BorisG

    Do you have existing health conditions that would be exacerbated if you were infected with this Virus?

    I don’t think so. I am mainly concerned that while pundits debate, millions will die. Not me personally I hope. What’s your point anyway, NFA?

  58. NoFixedAddress

    BorisG
    #3377050, posted on March 26, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Do you have existing health conditions that would be exacerbated if you were infected with this Virus?

    I don’t think so. I am mainly concerned that while pundits debate, millions will die. Not me personally I hope. What’s your point anyway, NFA?

    You seem particularly focused on removing freedoms.

  59. BorisG

    You seem particularly focused on removing freedoms.

    I am particularly focused on avoiding a major calamity. Not of self interest.

  60. Sinclair Davidson

    Bruce – I know Harari is controversial in some circles. That doesn’t worry me. I’ve read all his books and found plenty to agree with and disagree with. I think he has interesting things to say and raises important issues to think about.

  61. citizen empowerment and global solidarity are “good things”. Totalitarian surveillance and nationalist isolation are ultimately the same thing.

    As if these were the only choices.
    Nationalist isolation? Like North Korea? Because that’s what Nationalist Isolation looks like. Who the hell is demanding that?
    Global Solidarity. A utopian dream that people should wake from by the age of 16 or early 20’s at the very least.
    Europe has been trying to achieve European Solidarity since the end of WW2. How’s that working out for them?

    There is nothing wrong with the type of Nationalism that Trump is advocating. Trade and security deals between nations are just that, deals. No different to deals made among businesses and between businesses and consumers. There is almost always a win win situation. If there isn’t a win win solution, you don’t deal. But a Global Solidarity would force a deal where a win win is not possible.
    No thanks.

  62. BorisG

    There is nothing wrong with the type of Nationalism that Trump is advocating. Trade and security deals between nations are just that, deals. No different to deals made among businesses and between businesses and consumers.

    Sure but assessment of whether there is win win situation is much harder in terms of long term agreements between nations as it is not simply transactional. European integration has produced some imbalances and tensions but the fact that there has been no military conflict within for 75 years is a positive (there was a war in the Balkans but that was outside of EU). Non monetary benefits are often hard to quantify.

  63. Squirrel

    The corona virus has been a potent reminder of the gap between the ideal and the reality of globalism.

    The hollow promises, lies and cheating about climate change and carbon emissions targets is another.

    If we come out of this with a somewhat more sober appreciation of the practical limits of globalism, that will be a good thing.

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