Harari’s optimism

I chanced upon Yuval Harari’s piece in FT on what 2017 holds in store for the world. He had managed to sound optimistic while also putting in preconditions for his optimism to be borne out. Hence, I left the following comment on the article in FT:

The article is useful in the sense that he is not blindly optimistic but subtly lays down three conditions for his optimism on ‘liberal re-invention’ to materialise.

Look at this paragraph and the last sentence. That is precondition 1.

“The fact that western elites are waking up from their dream of the end of history may actually increase our chances of confronting global problems successfully. Part of that dream was the notion that these elites knew best what is good for humanity. This resulted in serious geopolitical blunders, such as the eastward expansion of Nato and the invasion of Iraq. A more humble stance in Washington and Brussels may go a long way towards fostering international co-operation.”

Pre-condition no. 2:   “Instead, the coming years might well be characterised by intense soul-searching and by attempts to formulate new social and political visions.”

Pre-condition no. 3: “Panic is a form of hubris.” ….”The truth is, I just don’t understand what’s going on in the world”.

That is, shunning hubris and embracing humility. He is right that panic is a form of certitude that if the world had rejected what I believe in, then it is destined to end up in hellhole.  His optimism is not woolly eyed but laced with conditions which, if they fail to materialise, would falsify his optimism.  I think he is aware of that.


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