Thinker Harari in Barcelona: ‘Most crimes done by people who think they do right thing’

‘Sapiens’ author shares ideas for a better future on opening day of Biennial of Thought

'Shared futures' talk on Biennial of Thought Barcelona 2022
'Shared futures' talk on Biennial of Thought Barcelona 2022 / Maxime Van Cleven

Maxime Van Cleven | Barcelona

October 11, 2022 10:48 PM

October 12, 2022 03:54 PM

Historian Yuval Noah Harari shared the stage at CCCB with Dutch author Rutger Bregman on Tuesday to discuss problems of the current era and imagine a better future for humankind. Moderated by Llucia Ramis, the two explained their points of view on modern society and how it can evolve in the future on the first day of the Biennial of Thought in Barcelona.

“We live in the most peaceful era of humankind, yet new wars and dangerous regimes keep appearing”, the duo noticed. “Several institutions to maintain a peaceful life have been built over the years, but some people simply neglect them. Technology took away privacy which allows dictators even more power and leads to the worst totalitarian regimes ever. It is the scariest thing”, Harari added. “Most crimes are committed by people who believe that they are doing the right thing.”

Famine, for Harari, is "political," arguing that it exists because of the will of politicians, or perhaps the lack of political will to stop famine. "The same happens with war," the philosopher adds. "For many years throughout history, war was a part of nature for humans. It's not like that anymore."

However, Harari is optimistic that "recent generations have shown we are capable of building international institutions and standards that help reduce violence around the world, ushering in the most peaceful era of human history. Not by divine miracle, wars have been stopped by human-made institutions."


“The planet has undertaken drastic changes over the last few years, including the rise of technology and the role of money. This leads to people feeling lost in the society they live in”, Bregman said. “Money does not necessarily bring happiness, but is also very hard to neglect. People with high degrees and economically important jobs often feel useless. They feel like their work does not contribute enough to society and lacks true importance”, said the author of Utopia for Realists.

The need for growth

As humans have different points of view and ideologies it becomes hard to create a world where everyone can live happily in. The thinkers touched on the idea of a universal basic income, but kept an eye on the risk of the rich becoming richer and the poor being stuck in their ways.

“There needs to be a willingness to change your values and ideas to evolve”, the two pointed out. “The scientific world does it, but other institutions like the Catholic church or the American constitution have a hard time admitting they were wrong about certain things. We need self correcting mechanisms like democracy that admit their own mistakes and can be changed over the years”, they suggested.

Harari kept things hopeful by pointing out the essence of growth to evolve as the human species. “Growth is the most important idea of modernity. It does not matter what regime, ideology or religion you have, everyone believes in growth. It is the number one goal and will solve everything”, he explained.

Similar talks about modern society and the future continue until this Sunday, and can be found in this guide of the Biennial of Thought or at the event’s website.