Monday, November 7, 2011

Extraterrestrial Contact: Globalism and Conflict

I think it’s safe to say that high-information First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization would change the future for humanity. The real question is how? Much of that would depend on the nature of the First Contact, the aliens themselves, their motives and perhaps most importantly, the type of information we receive. Just what would happen to our civilization would depend on a number of factors that are pure speculation on our part. There are reactions that we can better predict. They involve the very forces at work in human society today.

First Contact would present a great need for some sort of organized diplomacy on the part of the people of planet Earth. That would most likely occur at an international level. Right now, the only organization capable of carrying out such diplomacy would be the United Nations. All of this would lead to a conflict that I don’t think has been well-considered yet: globalists versus the opponents of globalism.

You probably don’t think of yourself as a globalist. It’s kind of an odd term in the first place. It is popular with some on the political right. It’s defined in many dictionaries as a national policy that treats the entire world as a sphere for political influence. Primarily this refers to the United States. However, it can also be defined as placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations. It is this meaning that is most often used by conservative thinkers. It represents a concern that the United Nations and other global bodies will lessen the power of the United States.

How does all of this tie into First Contact? Let’s ask American Free Press writer Keith Johnson, who writes about the spat of popular media coverage about a journal article exploring First Contact scenarios, some of them negative in outcome (covered here a few weeks ago). Johnson basically says that liberals are once again preaching doom, this time in the form of alien invasion, to bring about world government and ultimately take away our liberties. My apologies for linking to a news outlet that is considered extremist in viewpoint by many, but don’t get the impression that the fear of globalism is a fringe view. It’s become a rallying cry of the Tea Party movement. President Obama is routinely criticized for being a globalist. Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann frequently rallies against globalism. It’s a popular subject for evangelical Christians, as pointed out in a recent Mother Jones article (I had to balance the Free Press link). The worry seems to be that world government is a sign of the apocalypse and part of a movement towards secularizing the world and destroying Christianity. The “Left Behind” series of books and movies are perhaps the best known examples of this concern. The stories portray the rise of the anti-Christ as the United Nations Secretary General, who is increasingly given more power due to dire world situations. Christians, who arrive at the notion too late to be part of the rapture, ban together on Earth to fight back.

Globalism often gets wrapped up with globalization, which is more commonly viewed as a process that is occurring in the world economy, as nations increase trade through the reduction of tariffs and restrictions. Globalization is perceived as a widespread action toward economic interdependence due to technology and international relations. Interestingly, many on the left also fear globalization, because they say it’s allowing multinational corporations to form alliances to control the world economy and create widespread economic disparity. The World Trade Organization, the World Monetary Fund, the G-8 and the G-20 are frequently cited as enabling this corporate power grab, and they are the subject of many protests by leftist organizations. It is one area in which the far left and the far right could perhaps agree: big government and big corporations are dangerous for individual liberties. Both try to limit the power of individuals to be successful and prosperous. I can’t say I disagree with those concerns. Globalization may be inevitable, but how that globalization occurs will be a significant question. The rights of individuals need to be protected. How far you take those views is what can make them fringe in nature.

Globalism is usually viewed as an active movement to strengthen international authority, and weaken individual nations, especially the United States. For the critics, it’s a big step towards the infringement of individual freedom. The religious right perceives globalism as similar to the growth of government in the United States. They see any big government as a threat to individual freedoms, and secular government in general as a threat to Christianity.

Let’s get back to the extraterrestrials. Ronald Reagan said it best:
“I occasionally think how quickly our differences, worldwide, would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”

President Reagan was speaking to the United Nations and while he was using the concept to make a larger point about the need for international cooperation, it’s an idea that makes sense. And it doesn’t have to be an aggressive alien threat. Just the fact that there is at least one other civilization out there in the Universe would naturally bring humans closer together. At first this might not seem like a controversial idea and I would expect it to be a common theme After First Contact. Once the surprise wore off though, I would imagine that the anti-globalists, and especially the evangelical Christian community, would begin to perceive a new threat.

You might say that this would merely be a fringe issue, with no bearing on world politics. However, I think it’s naïve to think that evangelical Christian philosophies are limited to fringe groups. There’s a good possibility that the next President of the United States will be an evangelical Christian (again). What would be the reaction of that evangelical Christian President to First Contact? Would he or she be able to separate religious views from practical politics? Would the result be outright hostility to alien visitors? Evangelical beliefs are held by many powerful members of congress. How would they react?

Any measure giving the United Nations power would be perceived as a threat. That would include giving them the power to lead diplomatic relations with extraterrestrials. It would certainly be considered a threat if the United Nations were to lead the gatekeeping effort for releasing extraterrestrial information.

Sorry, I know this sounds like conspiracy theory. It’s really not intended to be that at all. It’s a practical examination of how key groups in this country, and across the world, might react to extraterrestrial First Contact. It’s something that I don’t think has been discussed. First Contact needs to be considered in a real-world environment. Earth is a complicated place with many competing beliefs. I think there is a very good possibility that First Contact could set up a confrontation between people fearing globalism and those pushing for a world response to First Contact. Would it be possible for these two factions to find common ground? Perhaps. However, it could also lead to severe turmoil here on Earth. How severe might depend on who is leading the charge on both sides.

Do I consider myself a globalist? I certainly believe that a global response to any future extraterrestrial First Contact is the only logical response. It is ridiculous to think that every nation on Earth is going to somehow establish separate relations with extraterrestrials, by-passing the United Nations. Giving the United Nations more power would be fraught with challenges. The U.N. has not been a very effective body in its history thus far. Leading extraterrestrial diplomacy and contact would be a huge job for the U.N.

I don’t advocate world government and I share the concerns of those who worry about large government infringing on individual rights. Government can be stupid and big government really stupid. We need just enough government to have a cohesive, fair and productive society. Anything more can become intrusive and wasteful. Government must be watched closely, forced to be efficient and effective, and limited in both power and scope. It must not be allowed to take away from individuality and the power of people to join together in communities that they determine: neighborhoods, churches, organizations and advocacy groups.

We need people fighting for individual rights. The tug and pull of the left and the right in this country is a necessary and important part of our society. It’s when fringe elements on either side try to hijack the system for their own personal beliefs, and personal gains, that the system becomes distorted and ineffective. It will be up to the sensible majority to pull humanity through a time of great debate After First Contact. That sensible majority is usually quiet. They will need to stand up to be heard loud and clear in the wake of First Contact.The future of humanity will depend on it.


John Carl Penn said...

I think the conservative opposition against US participation goes back to American Exceptionalism, a view that is shared by many US citizens. Throughout its entire history the USA has either been a superpower or an isolationist regional power, surrounded mostly by colonies. However even the British or the Spanish Empire were always just one of several European powers, and Imperialism heavily curbed Chinese sinocentrism.

The transition to a more multipolar world will therefore be difficult for America and its citizens, independent of the speculations about First Contact. But was this means for the topic of this blog is, that other countries are very unlikely to share a possible American opposition to give Human-Alien diplomancy into U.N. hands.

If the Extraterrestrials have studied our history and have the intention to make contact with the entire world, they will probably agree that the U.N. is the only body who has any legitimate claim to represent the entire human race. If the USA won't participate in this, they will be left standing on the sidelines.

However I have enough trust in the American political system and in the American people to not elect a President who would go this way of ignorance.

Eric said...

John: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think you're right, American Exceptionalism would be major barrier to having Americans accept a global response to First Contact. I also agree that the weight of the world would push towards a UN based diplomacy in First Contact. However, your last line is what worries me: the current crop of Republican candidates for President is interesting. Strangely, I think Gingrich might be the most creative and perhaps best able to understand the importance of a global response to extraterrestrial contact. Perry and Bachman would be worrisome, because of their extreme religious views. Paul would probably not want anything to do with the UN or extraterrestrials. Mitt Romney is hard to pin down, primarily because it's hard to say what he really supports. It would be critical that the American President reacts calmly and shows leadership. However, that leadership will have to be in promoting a unified global response to First Contact.

Rick1962 said...

If First Contact happens, execute the evil-gelical funda-mentally ill reborn too many times again Christians as they are a retardation to human development anyway. This group is primarily American and I can easily say that I see a huge series of mushroom clouds over this country soon if the don't stop messing around in other people's business so they may be a moot point in the end. Also, we could hand them over to the aliens for their further study - anal probes to study their brains would be good.

Eric said...

Rick: I think that's harsh, to say the least. I have a good number of born again Christian friends who would do just fine with extraterrestrial doesn't threaten their religion at all. I think fundamentalism can become extremism in any religion and when it does conflict becomes more likely. I think cooler heads will prevail in all of the world's religions if First Contact occurs some day.