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.