Monday, December 17, 2012

Extraterrestrial Contact: Will the UN Take Over?

Direct extraterrestrial First Contact could alter the balance of global power. If one nation were to be favored by extraterrestrial visitors (and I’m not saying there are any extraterrestrials out there considering contact) that nation would gain considerable power. If the United Nations were to be the primary point of contact for extraterrestrials, the UN would gain power. Such a development would worry many, ranging from those who perceive the growth of world government as a religious and ethical threat, to those who see the UN as a weak and ineffective bureaucracy in need of reform. These two perceptions may seem similar in the sense that they are critical of the UN. However, they represent two very different mindsets. On one hand, you have people who view any UN activity as a threat to national sovereignty. This group seems most vocal in the United States and for good reason. The US would lose the most power if the UN was to gain power. On the other side, you have reformers who do not fear world government, but see the UN as incapable of carrying out the role, in its current form. One side wants absolutely nothing to do with world government and the other side wants to make the globalization process more open and democratic. And yes, both sides can often agree about problems with the UN.

Direct extraterrestrial contact would bring this quietly simmering debate to the forefront. Extraterrestrial contact of any type would require a global response. The groups involved in that response and the form of decision making used would help determine the future of diplomatic relations between humans and extraterrestrials. The stakes will be high. The debate is likely to be vociferous.
In her book “Hijacking Democracy” Marguerite Peeters says that the issue of national power versus bureaucratic power is already raging inside the UN. Peeters paints the UN as a “self-appointed and unaccountable group of bureaucrats.”

The power of the General Assembly, the body made up of national representatives, is undermined by the entrenched UN bureaucracy and the increasingly powerful international non-government organizations (NGOs). While this type of action may be participatory democracy it is hardly representative democracy. The ultimate issue is who can participate. The UN recognizes hundreds of NGOs and yet leaves out organizations it finds unacceptable. This certainly makes sense from a bureaucratic sense…groups promoting racism and cultural conflict would be harmful to the UN mission. However, it also leaves out room for dissent and debate.

Kenneth Anderson and David Rieff share many of the criticisms of the UN and come to a different conclusion in their essay “Global Civil Society:A Critical View”. They see a vacuum being created in globalization. As organizations such as bureaucracies (UN, IMF and World Bank) NGOs and corporations take an active role in global issues, national governments are giving up sovereignty. The result is what the authors call a “democracy deficiency”. They go on to suggest a reform of the United Nations to offer better representation and national influence.
This may sound like an esoteric debate now. In the wake of Direct First Contact it would likely become the most important world issue. We are not ready to act as a global entity and yet Direct First Contact would require us to speak and act as one planet.

How might extraterrestrial contact impact world politics? That’s just part of the problem in my new novel “The Ashland City Landing”. When I started writing the blog five years ago the primary purpose was to develop ideas for the novel and now it’s finally done. Here’s the synopsis:
Alex Morrison has made a new friend on the Internet. It’s a relationship that could drive his wife and friends half-crazy and that’s if federal agents and newspaper reporters don’t blow it wide open before the big moment. Can Alex hold it all together before The Ashland City Landing?

The Ashland City Landing is a sometimes-funny, sometimes-serious, science fiction novel about the practicalities of meeting space aliens and having to save the world from itself and also perhaps those very same aliens. Alex fights to keep his sanity, while concocting an introduction that will change the course of human civilization. He’s being pursued by a journalist desperate for a cover story. Alex’s best friend is a real ass and sometimes his psychologist. Alex’s wife does her best to be the Southern belle, but that’s not going too well. And yet he needs them both to pull it off. Along the way Alex enlists help from a burned-out astrophysicist and meets federal agents who are definitely not amused.
The Ashland City Landing is available in printed and Kindle electronic format through Amazon USA, Amazon Europe affiliates and through Nook at Barnes and Noble.

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