“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
- Philip K. Dick.
In his book Sapiens, the historian Yuval Noah Harari posits the provocative theory that a crucial factor behind mankind’s evolutionary advantage over our ancient predecessors and biological competitors has been our capacity for, and appreciation of, the power of narrative. The thinking goes as follows. A small village of perhaps 100 people has no need of external administration. It organises itself. But a country of perhaps 70 million people requires some form of exogenous coordination, if only to provide those services that the free enterprise system cannot or will not provide itself (street lights and armies, for example). In extremis, the country has to provide a cohort of young men – it will be, invariably, men – willing to fight and, if need be, die in defence of said country. How does it achieve this ? By telling stories. National myths.Ever Get The Feeling You’ve Been Cheated ?