Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Distant View of the World Economic Crisis

The recent global economic downturn has brought many opinions about what is occurring. Some say the U.S. bailout is a sign that the United States is still the dominant player on the world economic stage. While it is true that the United States economy still dwarfs any other nation or even bloc of nations, others say that the long term impact of the current meltdown will be a lessening of United States influence in the world economy.

If you take many steps back, perhaps enough steps to get you off the planet; a different picture begins to emerge. One of the reasons the U.S. economic roller coaster has had such a large impact on the global economy is that all economic systems are more closely linked than ever before. There has never in the history of the world been such an intermingling of investments, trading and linking of markets. The internet has turned world trading into a truly global platform which can be accessed by people in most of the countries on the planet. We are joined as never before and in perhaps the most profound of ways: Money is the engine that drives human civilization.

The extraterrestrial view of the current economic crisis is tough to predict. Perhaps they have been waiting for U.S. domination of world affairs to diminish, so that we may be more closely joined as nations on a more equal footing. Perhaps they are concerned about what global economic collapse would do to our technological pursuits and the stability of our civilization. One would imagine that extraterrestrials considering contact with Earth would want to start a dialogue with a stable society able to handle the immense pressures that would come with the revelation of a larger universe.

Still, this is a defining moment in history. Economic forces are so closely related that it has become a rich quilt of commerce and investment. No one nation can survive without economic relations with others. We have entered a new era of global connection that would have been hard to imagine 100 years ago.

If extraterrestrials are trying to decide if and when to contact us it is quite likely they have an established criteria. First Contact with many separate countries would be tough to imagine. If I tried to guess what that criteria might involve I would submit the following elements:

-A form of world government allowing for representation by most of the countries and cultures on the planet.
-A global communications system.
-A world wide information bank to store and share knowledge.
-A world economic system.

The first was formed in 1945 with the United Nations. The second came to fruition in the last 40 years with satellite communications. The third came to life in the 1980’s and 1990’s with the commercialization of the Internet. The fourth has been growing for many decades, but spurred by new trading technology and the rise of new world economic forces has come into its own in the last 10 years.

So, is it time for First Contact?

You could wait for the current world financial crisis to calm down. You could hope that world government would grow stronger and become a force with muscle, rather than a largely ceremonial body. You could say that nations still need to grow closer and cultures need to meld to a greater extent.

Or you could find that we are at the pivot point in some grand world development. Who is to say that things will progress from here? A few wrong moves and we could be plunged into a dark age that will set our development back centuries.

Perhaps the big question is what we do to get out of a global economic crisis. Does the interwoven system begin to crumble? Or do we work together and get stronger?

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