At our current pace of capitalist exploitation, the human race will die out within a century. Homo sapiens, the last species of the genus homo, will be no more.
Despite the knowledge that we are headed for oblivion, our plutocrats (the only ones with the power to meaningfully act in a totally corrupt nation) continue to pollute our environment—the biosphere which provides for our existence.
Despite the knowledge that we are dooming ourselves, the plutocrats continue to make nuclear weapons, knowing that we already have more than enough to destroy civilizations, were they to exist, on all of the known planets. They dismantle the old ones as they make new ones, profiting at every step while maintaining an insane several thousand.
Climate change is real. A scientist friend, a chemist now retired from NASA, once told me he has believed in the human-caused global warming theory since 1980. Had we started then to find ways to keep the atmosphere free of excess carbon, we probably could have stopped the problem from reaching dangerous levels. Too late now, many scientists say it will take a long time, many decades at the very least, to restore our environment to safe carbon levels, and that, only with an Herculean effort.
Meanwhile we witness a number of catastrophic storms—Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria—seemingly too much to be a natural phenomenon. Temperatures are way above average for most years now, and have been warming for decades. Temperatures which feed killer storms and melt polar icecaps.
Our elected officials pretend they don’t see what’s happening and encourage the burning of more fossil fuels in order to reward those who finance their election campaigns, oblivious to scientific reasoning.
All the while we build more nuclear weapons. President Trump, who’d lose a debate to a doorknob (the amazing Democrats found a way to lose to him), appears to think that having more nuclear weapons makes a nation more powerful (he was recently quoted as saying he wanted the current arsenal multiplied by ten). My old friend Carl Sagan used to grimace at such ignorance and ask his audience to picture enemies in a room where they stood waist-deep in gasoline, all the while arguing about who had the most matches.
One would assume that such dim-witted assumptions would have been corrected long ago, but we still have thousands of nuclear warheads—proof positive that our leaders are idiots—together with their plutocrat backers who could stop them in less time than it takes to say “No more campaign bribes for you.”
The “Nuclear Mafia,” defense contractors who benefit from having a large nuclear arsenal, push this way of thinking. They stuff the pockets of Republocrats running for office and thereby control the White House and Congress as securely as hypocrisy in a “family values” politician.
The making of the warheads themselves is quite lucrative for the Nuclear Mafia, and a company will clean up from the taxpayers by doing so, but there’s so much more. ICBMs, strategic bombers and strategic submarines are some of the highest ticket “defense” items, and they are “justified” by their participatory role in global thermonuclear war strategy.
Meanwhile our elected leaders reward those who financed their election campaigns by making more nuclear weapons, and rattle sabers at other nations to get them to build some for themselves in response, in order to “justify” even more nuclear weapons by spreading fear, pushing us to the brink of annihilation.
Capitalist practices are moving us toward extinction, reminding one of the old communist joke that a capitalist will sell you the rope used to hang him, in order to make a profit.
It seems to me that extremely corrupt capitalism is so rooted in our system of government that we cannot change it, so something else must happen if our species is to survive—something from outside must intervene.
What is there to save us?
In my youth, the science fiction movies of the fifties, in glorious black and white, would show aliens landing from another world only to be confronted by an artillery barrage. It was assumed that extra-planetary beings would be dangerous and had to be killed. Like the Viet Cong. Like the Taliban. Like al Qaeda. Like Isis. Like Iraqis, “North” Koreans, Iranians, Venezuelans, Chinese, Russians—anybody who disagrees with Wall Street greed at any cost.
In my old age I have thought about this and I’ve concluded that the aliens were attacked because the screenwriters thought they would be like us. They would be warlike beings who defeated their opponents and became masters of the known universe. Like the Roman Empire. Like the British Empire. Like the American Empire. The examples we know.
But the screenwriters were wrong. Any being that discovered how to cross the vastness between stars to new planets would have solved the “dominant warrior” dilemma. They would be peaceful, and we should greet such an arrival of them with welcoming arms, because they could teach us how to fix our broken governments.
Our species has destroyed its cities again and again in wars, and spends much of its time rebuilding. The ultimate end to this is modern capitalism, which cannot find a way to exist without wars to fuel its profits, combined with polluting the environment as a byproduct of an all-consuming quest for revenue going mainly to a small number of ignorant plutocrats who run the world like a private plantation.
On earth, our “manned space program” has been limited to the earth’s system, including its moon–baby steps in space travel. With distances in hundreds of light years between stars, the science for discovering the means for travel to new habitable planets would require an environment of absolute peace, without the constraints we have on earth.
Beings arriving from other planets would have discovered how to break away from capitalism and fascism, moving toward a socialism of compassion, sharing and understanding.
Space travel of the kind required to find other intelligent species requires one to travel between stars. It’s been estimated that there are about two-hundred billion stars in our galaxy, likely containing about 273,000 intelligent civilizations.
One outside-the-odds scenario for saving the human race would be for us to accept such an alien people who contacted us, and let them show us how to make plowshares of our swords. Any civilization capable of galactic space travel would likely see earth humans as ignorant barbarians, so if they did discover us one might assume they would have a difficult time deciding whether or not to make contact.
If they did contact us, I think there’s a good chance they would be socialists practicing compassion, sharing, and understanding. Such a people, free of capitalism’s hatred, greed and delusion, would have an opportunity to explore science and the arts to very deep levels, allowing for interstellar travel.
Whenever there is an attempt at socialism on earth, capitalists have made war on it, so that the socialists have had to become like the capitalists and arm themselves for survival, taking away from any advancement toward higher civilization. Capitalists at the very top of the system know that if socialism were allowed to compete on a level playing field, it would win (hence, all the gunfire).
When the czar of Russia was overthrown in 1917, capitalists, including the USA, immediately sent troops in support of the czar. Unsuccessful with that, they surrounded Russia and China with militant, totalitarian regimes and hundreds of military bases. Cuba has been restricted from trading, and Venezuela is under constant threats, including attempted coups.
The problem for capitalists is that when they trade goods, they have to slap a profit on the goods for all of the descendents of robber barons and the rest of the idle ruling class who invest, rather than work for a living. Socialists, not so constrained, are able to trade their products at a lower price, all things considered. If socialists were not forced by the capitalists to arm themselves to the teeth for survival and fend off the various economic and military attacks, they could easily take trade from the capitalists.
I believe evolution follows a pattern, that life forming on other planets would go through similar stages as life on earth. So there are planets with apes coming down out of the trees and walking upright that they may see further to look out for predators. They may appear with African, Asian, or European-like characteristics, but however they look, it would be similar to the way people on earth look. And they would, sadly, go through a savage capitalist stage, warring on one another to steal resources.
Early on the atmosphere would have to be built, as it was on earth. Primitive plants would add oxygen. An ozone layer might be established. Eventually the basic building blocks of DNA would guide evolution toward human life, a natural process.
My friend Carl Sagan thought that humans have reached their limits in intelligence, based on the fact that the hips of our females cannot get wider without women having difficulty walking. Carl pointed out that it is that female hip width which determines our intelligence, allowing for the birth of a head with a large brain.
So I think our visitors from outer space might look a lot like us, even if they are an older species of human who’ve managed to eliminate nuclear war and human-caused climate change.
It is a long shot probably, with the vast distances of space, that a savior alien species will find us in time to stop the madness of our leaders bent on hatred, greed and delusion in order to serve ignorant billionaire masters who cannot think beyond wanting it all for themselves.
In any case, unless we move away from rapacious capitalism, and toward the compassion, sharing and understanding of benevolent socialism, it is my belief that we are doomed to go the way of the dinosaur.
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.