June 27, 2007 (the date of publication in Russian)
Mythology of extraterrestrial invasion as a probable disguise for pretty mundane planetary dictatorship
THE ALIENS, AND REALPOLITIK
What to you think of a person who would start raising the problem of an extraterrestrial invasion quite seriously, in a political audience? You would correctly suspect that the guy is either not quite sane, or is actually choosing the framework of borderless universe for addressing some practical earthly problems. In The Carnival Night, a Soviet comic movie of the romantic era of first spaceflights, a drunken lecturer confessed: "Science does not know quite well whether Martians exist or not". More obvious is the practical use of stories about Martians, beyond the issue of their existence.
For decades, images of aliens have been extensively populating the virtual space. Beside literature and cinema, a contribution was made by ufology, contending for the status of science and sometimes developing into a kind of quasi-religion. In practice, ufology provides less scientific data than bizarre and sometimes heavily misanthropic beliefs. In 1997, a ufological sect named Gates of the Heaven undertook a collective suicide, administering a high dose of soporific. The members believed they were traveling to a "flying saucer". This occasion is exceptional but exemplary.
Since 1970s, ufology has elevated from a marginal to a mainstream trend in Western culture. Myths of extraterrestrial life are used by the gurus of the essentially neo-pagan New Age movement, along with theosophy and spiritualism. Seemingly odd ideas and practice attracted too much attention from intelligence and military agencies to overlook the significance of this would-be science. This bizarre occupation of high professionals in strategic decision-making suggests that ufology is heavily exploited for modeling various globalistic scenarios.
Gennady Shimanov, a Russian elder-generation patriotic thinker, once made a curious proposal: "Can't the invented menace of extraterrestrial aggression be used as a pretext for establishing of a world government with dictatorial duties? I won't be surprised if the US Department of State once issues an urgent address to the whole mankind: 'The human race is facing extraterrestrial danger! We had been concealing this information to avoid panic, and trying to arrange a mutually acceptable deal with the aliens. But today, it is clear that their diplomacy was mere trickery, and they are going to exterminate us quite seriously! Therefore, the whole population of the Earth should either submit to a world government to repulse this aggression, or be completely destroyed'. I won't be surprised if this statement were followed with reports of missile strikes from space, alien landings, mysterious rays affecting our conscience, extraterrestrial spies among humans etc" (from Shimanov's essay The UFO and the New World Order).
An awesome scenario of this kind seems today much more realistic than two decades ago, as at the face of a real civilizational crisis, “la société du spectacle" is more likely to launch a really impressive performance – given the sensibilization of public conscience to a probable extramundane invasion.
Not only public conscience is sensibilized. Psychologist C.G. Jung emphasized the huge impact of the "UFO factor" on the human subconscious. Analyzing eyewitness reports about extraterrestrials, Jung hardly believed in their reality. He admitted that some unrecognized phenomena really take place, originating probably just from the atmosphere. He was more focused on popular fixation on those phenomena, which he associated with specific features of XX-century culture. To his opinion, a contemporary human places his Ego too high, while the Subconscious reminds of the Ego's subtlety by use of "celestial" phenomena, and this is reflected in emergence of myths which compensate the Ego's self-confidence.
Not sharing Jung's speculative logic, I do agree that "saucers" produce a really powerful impact on the subconscious sphere. Orthodox Christian theologians indicate that modern reports about contacts with aliens are strikingly similar to medieval evidence of contacts with demons. Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim Rose used this argument in his essay Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future (1975).
HOLLYWOOD AND AGITPROP
A great contribution into overblowing "extraterrestrial menace" is made by the Western movie industry, which has skillfully generated an awesome image of a hostile Alien, intending to conquer the Earth and exterminate the human race. Remember Independence Day and Mars Attacks!. The latter movie is a comedy, but in some details, it is rather startling than amusing.
Some masterpieces of this genre even identify the organizing agency of a probable "invasion performance". A Russian spectator perceives "scare pics" rather as a banal pastime for middlebrows. However, mass culture Ц and extraterrestrial mythology in particular Ц is a means for dissemination of ideology in a most adoptable wrap-up.
In crude terms, Hollywood fulfills the same function as the infamous Agitprop (Agitation and Propaganda) in the Soviet Russia of 1920s. It is only more sophisticated than the Bolshevist propaganda machine, which demanded permanent mobilization from a human mind, and which was frequently too primitive to be convincing. Hollywood's "agitation and propaganda" is much more attractive and colorful.
The same is true about the very subject of extraterrestrials. The fantastic movie industry of the Cold War times was based on the same principle of division of the world into "friendly" and "hostile" creatures as the Bolshevist propaganda. However, a Western fantastic story about aliens represents a breathtaking drama, or rather a heroic saga about the fight against the Evil. On the contrary, the Soviet fantastic literature since 1960s was instinct with a certain "galactic complacency".
Brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, the classical Soviet fantastic authors, even created an image of a paranoid fighter against a supposed extraterrestrial "super-race" Ц Rudolph Sikorsky, a character of their novel The Strangers. At the same time, "advanced" extraterrestrials, as described by the Strugatskys, are actually very nice, though very odd fellows (i.e. the inhabitants of the Leonida planet). These fellows would even adopt a human child, later happily embraced by the humans (The Kid).
The Loop of Orion, a famous Soviet fantastic movie, is a real chef d'oeuvre of complacency. In the movie, generous aliens help the humans to get rid of a space virus. Despite their advancedness, they are unable to exterminate the virus, instead surrounding the Earth with a "space loop". It is noteworthy that the movie was shot on the eve of Gorbachov's perestroika. The last General Secretary seemed to believe that the advanced Washington is really able to assist the USSR, and this belief completely coincided with Washington's own effort to use an efficient geopolitical loop in order to heal Russians from what was perceived as a virus.
The above described flabby complacency, along with imagery of "galactic altruism", was less popular in the late USSR than the thrill of Western space war serials. Soviet schoolchildren of the 1980s definitely preferred Star Wars to The Loop of Orion.
What image does the "extraterrestrial menace" acquire in today's Hollywood production? A good example is The Men in Black. The movie presents a design of a mysterious intelligence service, ostensibly supervising the activity of extraterrestrials on the Earth. The agents of this intelligence agency are obviously independent from any state. Moreover, state-run law enforcement bodies only interfere in their battle against combat extraterrestrial "criminal bosses", smugglers, terrorists, etc.
According to the plot, the obscure intelligence agency emerged as a small group in 1950s, since that time dealing with aliens and thus achieving access to powerful technologies, enabling to surpass any state agency in its influence. This image reminds of the design of a transnational corporation, for which state borders and nation-state as such are only a vexatious obstacle. Today’s corporate bosses really despise any kind of statehood. As William I. Spencer, once president of First National City Bank (present Citicorp), declared in 1970s, "political borders of nation-states are too narrow and constricting for the scale and power of modern business". Similar views have been developed by lots of authors, and Alvin Toffler even generated the image of a "Universal Corporate Council".
In case The Men in Black scenario comes true, the world community, or a major part of it, will be overtaken by an awesome totalitarian dictatorship. Some critics ridiculed the movie, comparing the men from the obscure intelligence service with SS officers. A joke may be prophetic, given the scale of a probable new dictatorial regime, encompassing a larger part of the world than Nazism, and disguising similar cynicism about human civilization with a more attractive mask. In The Men in Black, intelligence agents are featured as courageous and humane persons. Still, one of them, a senior officer, declares: "A human individual is sound, while a crowd is a blunt and dangerous animal, inclined to panic". This assumption does not reveal any respect to democracy among the design's authors.
In another widely popular movie, The Star Command, aliens are confronted with a powerful state of an imperial type. Democracy is not present here, either. In this state, full-fledged citizenship is granted only to warriors. These warriors are also engaged in exhausting warfare against a race of intelligent beetles. Ironically, vicious beetles are present also in The Men in Black. (In Strugatsky's A Beetle in a Formicary, beetles are, on the contrary, ridiculed).
Most probably, The Star Command reflects the ideas of the part of Western establishment which does not accept the domination of transnational corporations Ц primarily, their approach towards statehood. However, this "opposition to corporations" is relying upon the military force of the United States and the North-Atlantic unity of Western allies, echoing policies of US neoconservatives and their stake on a number of European figures, especially Nicolas Sarkozy. This policy may pursue a "liberal-fascist" design of global domination, most explicitly illustrated by Hollywood's Agitprop in The 300 Spartans movie. "Racism and Social Darwinism permeate every cadre of this film", comments Russian author Yegor Kholmogorov. "The Persians, as they are portrayed in The 300 Spartans, accumulate all kinds of anthropological and even inhuman mutations, while all of the Spartans possess a perfect Nordic appearance.
The genre of the movie perfectly permits the authors to include at least a pair of athletic Afro-Americans into their ranks Ц but there are none. It seems obvious that an imperialist Bush-type neocon has secured an alternate line of retreat from the failed "liberal empire", exemplified here with the idea of a "liberal empire for whites only", in which rights and liberties are available only for a certain racial type.
Still, The 300 Spartans rather appeal to the past, while The Star Command is rather addressing the future. And these dreams of future may come true.
A BENIGN ALIEN
Still, strategists of globalization never put all the eggs into the same basket. The image of a generous alien is rare in the US cinema, but it still exists Ц particularly, in Steven Spielberg's The Alien. A more interesting approach is used by the authors of the Alf serial. Alf (the name of the creature derived from "Alien Life Form") is a charming hairy trickster who permanently brings troubles, smashing all around himself and gobbling a lot of food. Still, the family which hosts him is getting so accustomed to the trickster that it actually can't do without him Ц as he helps in a lot of everyday problems. Getting more and more trained, the creature even manages to establish communication with the US President to advise him on prevention of nuclear warfare (the movie was shot in 1980s). But essentially, Alf is just a nice alien, beguiling everyday family life, and becoming an indispensable element of this life.
The serial produces an impression that the audience is being prepared to certain difficulties which may be brought into their family life by the extraterrestrials. They will be able to provide "precious advice" on establishing a "kind" global government, efficiently eradicating all the "threats" Ц military, economic, environmental et al. Technologies, used by Уla société du spectacle", enable to convince not only babies of real existence and necessariness of those nice though daffy "alfs".
It is not clear today which of the models of the "alien mythology" is going to be implemented in political life. This myth may never emerge as a factor of Realpolitik. Still, this factor should not be underestimated.
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