“News” broke this week that not only do aliens allegedly exist, but they’ve been in contact with American and Israeli authorities.
(Why America and Israel? Maybe the spacemen figure those are the two toughest kids in the solar system, so best to befriend them first.)
The man making this claim is no kook, at least on the surface. Chaim (or Haim) Eshed is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the former head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Space Directorate. (Whatever that is.) He is even recognized on the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Wall of Honor.
At age eighty-seven and apparently out of shits to give, he has appeared in a new book claiming (among other things) that there is a “Galactic Federation” of aliens that has an underground base on Mars. Some Americans and Israelis are already there with the aliens. (Insert obligatory “Jews in Space” reference here.) The aliens have not fully revealed themselves yet because us silly Earthlings just aren’t ready. But, President Trump allegedly knows and has been talked out of revealing this bombshell.
The idea that Trump knows about this, and can keep his enormous mouth shut about it, is probably the biggest piece of evidence that this whole thing is bupkus. However, consider that late last year the United States announced the formation of Space Force. Then, earlier this year, the Pentagon (not the most forthcoming of government agencies, to put it mildly) voluntarily put out a number of crazy UFO videos. Coincidence? Who knows. Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.
While I am understandably skeptical about this story, as I tend to be skeptical of everything, it is an interesting idea to chew on. Since the universe is so outrageously large, it is almost a statistical certainty that intelligent alien life exists somewhere besides just Earth. Why we (supposedly) haven’t heard from any of these civilization is an interesting question in its own right. My favorite explanation for this is that technological civilizations tend to destroy themselves, either through wars or by destroying their environment. (Or, both.) And if civilizations only last so long and the universe has been around for a very long time, what are the odds that multiple civilizations exist at the same time? And that they could manage to contact each other during that window?
Assuming Professor Eshed isn’t completely off his meds (or pulling a fast one) and this Galactic Federation is real, and they do eventually make public contact…what happens next? Whither Earth?
The good news: this is just about the best case scenario for first contact. The aliens are apparently pluralistic (as implied by the word “federation”) and also peaceful. Whew, what a relief. Any civilization (or collection of them) capable of interstellar travel by whatever means is certain to be light years ahead of us (pun intended) in weaponry. So it’s super important that they are friendly. Even with thousands of nuclear weapons, Jeff Goldblum, and many Apple laptops at our disposal, we would almost certainly be sitting ducks for any hostile interlopers.
The bad news: it is only logical that any alien civilization that gets to us before we get to them is likely to be way ahead of us not only in weaponry but also a whole bunch of other stuff. It will take us a long time to catch up with whoever comes a callin’. So even if the little green men are friendly, we are likely to end up at the very bottom of any new galactic food chain.
Most science fiction puts humans front and center of any future involving aliens (lookin’ at you, Star Trek, or Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar series.) Or it minimizes aliens (lookin’ at you, The Expanse.) Or, it skips aliens altogether and presumes that we really are alone in the known universe (Lookin’ at you, Dune.) It is the most human of human natures to assume that our species is going to be the king shit superstar of every story. Even Star Wars, which allegedly takes place in a different galaxy sometime in the distant past, has human beings pretty much running everything.
That ain’t gonna happen here. At best, maybe we become the Albania of the Galactic Federation. And we’ll have to work our way up to that.
Worst case: friendly aliens appear and we totally fuck things up. (As we are wont to do.) Knowing that we nasty apes love to fight with each other over ethnicity, religion, language, natural resources, or pretty much anything else, it’s hard to imagine that we could stop fighting each other long enough to pick a fight with our new interstellar friends. But it’s not out of the question. And if we start a fight it’s not going to end well.
Best case: friendly aliens appear, we don’t fuck things up, and we start to slowly acclimate to this Federation. I have some bad news for all you anthropocentrics out there: the Federation capital ain’t gonna be in New York, San Francisco, or Paris. We’re going to be a backwater, and probably for a very long time. Earth could be a real life Tatooine minus the pod racing. You might even say we’ll be a shithole planet.
If we are taken into this Federation, we will probably be their version of a really bad neighborhood. We are going to be the ‘hood. Aliens will see us in much the same way that Americans see poor or developing countries. Commercials will be running on alien television encouraging them to support a random Earthling, perhaps the bloated Sally Struthers herself, for just pennies a day. Alien parents will harangue their kids into finishing their dinners by saying things like “Don’t you know, there are humans suffering on Earth!”
Bill Gates may end up as a migrant agricultural worker on LHS 1140 b. Elon Musk may end up on a roofing crew on Kepler-452b. Jeff Bezos may end up washing dishes at a restaurant on Luyten b. If there is a Starfleet, you won’t have any human captain of any starship for a long time. Jean-Luc Picard, if he is ever born, is likely to be swabbing the poop deck as opposed to barking out orders on the bridge. And they all may eagerly take these demotions if those other planets are advanced enough or provide enough opportunity to make it worth their while. Exactly like how immigrants currently come to America. But in this scenario, our entire world is a third world.
Our new alien comrades are likely to be quite racist against our entire species, at least for a while. When humans do make if off this rock and live on other planets, it’s likely to cause some “alien flight.” Imagine moving to planet Melmac, buying a house next to ALF, and he moves out because “there goes the neighborhood.” Mork was a really funny guy on television, but does he really want barbaric primates driving down real estate values on Ork?
Alien cops are likely to treat humans quite harshly. Will there be an ALL HUMANS MATTER movement? Even if the aliens aren’t seriously racist, they may bend over backwards to accommodate us out of pity or condescension. Which may actually be worse.
What will the political system look like? If it’s like ours, where representation is based largely on population, again we’re likely to be screwed. Suddenly liberals will be in favor of the Electoral College, but on a galactic scale.
It’s not all bad news though. Humans are seriously interested in a few basic things. Eating. Drinking/doing drugs. Trade. Fighting. Having sex. The aliens might be able to greatly expand our horizons on these matters.
Will the visitors bring us new and interesting foods? Will they have any exciting new drugs or booze? (Think: space weed. Cosmic crack.) Will they teach us new and exciting forms of violence? What sort of goodies can we acquire in trade? Can we, for lack of a better term, bang these aliens? Captain Kirk really needs to know. (The alien sex thing may be particularly alarming to some folks, since they are allegedly really into butt stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Of course they will also be coming here for interesting foods, drugs, booze, violence, trade, and sex. Earth could become the galaxy’s Thailand or Tijuana, a place where aliens on a budget go to behave badly. Imagine someone in Panama City Beach being interviewed on Federation Tonight and saying something like: “Y’all need to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, ’cause the aliens anal probin’ everybody out here!” Imagine rampaging hordes of drunken E.T.’s in Cancun acting boorishly and trashing everything in sight. Imagine American social justice warriors getting upset about young, hip aliens gentrifying Harlem or the Lower Ninth Ward.
What new technologies will we be exposed to? What new diseases? What new cures? What new religions? (Never mind that; we have too many already.) What new sports? What new languages? Will Earth un-balkanize itself and try to go from 195 sovereign states and 6500 languages to one world government and perhaps one common tongue?
I, for one, will welcome our new alien overlords. Especially if they can show me how to make a real life version of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.
Whatever happens: watch out for your cornhole, bud.