The Alien Contingency (1999, 2001)

Nuclear Issues, Young Person's Guide.. chapters

This essay reflects a lifetime of being interested in science fiction and the possibility that alien species from Outer Space have visited Earth and influenced elections and other human events….   When I started putting together a book, “A Young Person’s Guide to Life, Love, Art, and Philosophy,” this was one of the first topics I wanted to present.  I’ve updated a few of the references in here, but it’s basically the same as what I saved in 2006.   I’m posting individual chapters, here, in case the book is never finished or published….  Paul Stephens, June 28, 2017

The Alien Contingency (1999, 2001)

In arguing with “true believers” about flying saucers, alien invasions, and a future in which intersteller wars between different species and cultures may come to pass, a number of interesting contingencies arise. Personally, I acknowledge the possibility that alien cultures, more advanced in science and technology than our own, have visited earth, and may still be here, observing and altering the course of human history in various ways.
What probability do I place on this being true? At present, I conjecture that there is about a 1 in 7 chance, or 15%, that this is true. There is also the possibility that life on earth was “seeded” here by aliens millions or billions of years ago, rather than having spontaneously evolved from materials indigenous to earth. The second conjecture depends on the first, but the converse is not the case. Life may have evolved independently on earth, and only recently come to the attention of extra-terrestrial species who were attracted by our nuclear explosions or high power radio transmissions (mostly television and radar, which could have already traveled about 60 light years into space).
This estimate, entirely free of scientific evidence, statistical or other mathematical derivation, is a very rough guess based on my reading of science and s+cience fiction, and the credibility of the evidence which various people put forward to “prove” either that aliens are here, or that they couldn’t possibly be here. No doubt the estimate will seem overly generous to many professionals in the field (even those who strongly believe there is life in other solar systems are very doubtful that it could have ever traveled to earth), while it will seem drastically conservative to those who are totally convinced of an ongoing alien presence.
If I had ever personally observed flying saucers, or had the experience of alien abduction, I would undoubtedly give the alien presence a much higher probability, which is why I stress that this is a personal estimate, based upon my own personal experience. Tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are presently being spent on such projects as SETI ( the “search for extra-terrestrial intelligence”), although most of it is now privately funded, since Congress decided this was an unconscionable waste of the taxpayer’s money. It seems unlikely that such projects would continue if it was already certainly known that extraterrestrials are already here, and our government is spending billions of dollars in studying, preserving, and reverse-engineering alien spacecrafts and other technology. Yet, there are many highly educated and experienced people who will claim that this is true. I hope to include some comments or analysis from such people in this chapter. [See attached PDF – AlienConting-ET&Sci-Tech]

What I am wondering, and intend to explore in this essay, is whether or not the alien presence is a contingency which is taken seriously in national security planning. It drastically changes the nature of defense policy, for example, if we are to prepare for an alien invasion, rather than merely an attack from some other human nation – no matter how large and powerful it may be. In fact, it changes the whole picture so drastically that it seems clear either that nothing is being done about this contingency at all, or that it totally overshadows all other defense considerations.
For example, even though space-based defense systems, large nuclear arsenals, and sophisticated laser and other “ray gun” or electro-magnetic-pulse (EMP) weapons are totally useless (and potentially suicidal or “doomsday”) defensive weapons if deployed against other human nations, they may be entirely rational and necessary if deployed against an impending alien invasion. Of course, it would be up to the defense authorities to somehow prove or demonstrate that such an invasion was impending – something they are neither willing nor able to do, at least publicly. Yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if a great deal of military policy and research, development, and procurement of advanced weapon systems is actually based on this idea.
On the other hand, it is virtually certain that we will eventually have a global nuclear war – with nuclear winter, destruction of the ionosphere, a proliferation of mutations and the degeneration of the gene pool (both human and for other species) along with other genuine threats to our very existence as an ecosystem – unless we dispose of our nuclear arsenals before that happens. It is almost as certain that we will have plagues and famines resulting from biological warfare and genetic engineering killing billions of people unless we control these technologies along with nuclear weapons. Further exponential population growth and environmental degradation also threaten our health and well being in a much more obvious and direct way than any potential alien invasion.
Yet, even these more tangible and human-caused threats seem to be largely ignored or denied in our real-world policy-making efforts. And it is a non-partisan or bi-partisan kind of denial. When Democrats controlled the Presidency and Congress, they were no more interested in ending the Cold War, disposing of nuclear weapons, and removing the causes of war than the Republicans are, today. There are too many jobs, corporate profits, and “national security” issues involved to let this happen. Indeed, whatever programs and treaties once attempted to address them have been put on the back burner. They have become politically inexpedient, and any major candidate who focuses on them is likely to lose the next election, largely because of negative news coverage and biased polls which misrepresent the issue and then misinterpret voter interest in it. (See the chapter “Fads and fallacies in the name of Democracy”).
Better, perhaps, that we consider alien invasion as a kind of generic disaster scenario. At least it has a following in Hollywood – something the anti-nuclear movement hasn’t had since Jane Fonda retired. Perhaps, as Jung suggested, alien contact is only a metaphor for a human-caused crisis (the nuclear arms race) or disasters. In a similar fashion, George Lucas’ Star Wars became a generic term for space-based weapon systems and a revival of the nuclear arms race among human nations. As long as we keep thinking in these terms, and each successive generation is imprinted with images of space flight and combat with alien species, we will continue to spend the billions of dollars and risk billions of lives in an enterprise which is so stupid and improbable that we can hardly conceive of its actual costs and consequences.
Whatever the case may be, a 15% probability of an alien presence is not enough to focus a nation’s energies to meet that threat. But it is certainly worth a lot of research and contingency planning. The chances of a serious nuclear accident, in any given year, are supposed to be about 1 in 50 (historically, it has been about 1 catastrophic accident every 10 years, any one of which could have precipitated some larger nuclear exhange in one of many “doomsday” scenarios). The chance of a nuclear war being started more or less by accident is approximately the same. For some of us, this is far too great a risk to take, when the consequences may include the extinction of the human species.
A similar logic could apply to the presence of aliens. Even if there are some, the chances that they are hostile and mean to destroy us are much less than the probability of their existence and presence here. Perhaps there is a 1 in a 100 chance that we are actually being threatened by hostile aliens. Or 1 in 10,000. Without concrete, reproduceable evidence that we actually face such a threat, any calculation of probablilities is sheer guesswork and speculation. If there are such beings, here, it would seem prudent to treat them as though they were welcome, and attempt to establish peaceful relations with them, rather than immediately assuming they are some sort of hostile force. But that would be a strange reversal, at least for American diplomacy and “foreign policy.”
One can’t help but wonder whether the nuclear arms race, itself, has been stimulated by a fear of alien invasion. For those who were fans of the short-lived television series Dark Skies, or more successful series such as The X-Files or Earth, Final Conflict, these contingencies have already been worked out in fiction. Dark Skies interpreted “post-Roswell” history as being largely the consquence of alien infiltration and intervention. President Truman, according to this account, started the war with the aliens by refusing to surrender unconditionally in a meeting at Roswell, and then ordering the alien emissary’s ship destroyed. Thus began an alien infiltration into the highest levels of government, and the show subsequently dramatized the Kennedy assassination as being alien-caused. Finally (the show was cancelled after the first season), they were portrayed as being at large within the government as a kind of CIA-like underground, manipulating government policies at home and abroad. A similar conclusion was reached in the X-files TV series and subsequent feature films.
This is the issue which concerns us, here. What political methods and policy options are available to those who would resist such an alien takeover? In Earth, Final Conflict the Taelons attempt to peaceably acquire a benign and wisely scientific hegemony over earth. Unfortunately, they, too, are threatened by another species in an intergalactic war, and there is much deception and intrigue in the effort to recruit human soldiers and adapt them to warfare in interstellar space. At first, humans are genetically altered to be “companions” to the Taelons. Later, under a secret program which the “good Taelon” Da-an opposes, large numbers are altered or created as warrior clones and other secret operatives. A resistance grows to overthrow the Taelons, leading to a situation where earthlings and resistance leaders are making contact with another alien species at war with the Taelons. A few years later, it is the “Twilight of the Taelons”, who are running out of their vital energy, and threatened by yet another alien species.
All this makes an interesting story, but it is little different from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds written nearly a century ago. It was viruses or other micro-organisms which destroyed the Martians, and we would probably do just as well to rely on such natural obstacles to alien colonization, ourselves. In any case, there is no use planning for such contingencies in the absence of any evidence that they might happen. It all begins to sound like the ritual to keep away elephants, which was later judged a success due to the fact that no elephants have appeared.
If we can solve our very human problems of the nuclear arms race, environmental degradation, plagues (whether human-caused or “natural”), and overpopulation, we will be doing very well, indeed. But it wouldn’t be the first time that preparation for a war which otherwise would never have happened has been the cause of war, genocide, and otherwise undreamed-of devastation and human suffering.

Aliens, 9-11, and the War on Terror

The text of this chapter so far was written in about 1999. Now, it is September, 2001, and we are experiencing the immediate aftermath of “the attack on America” by 18 Islamic “terrorists” who commandeered four airliners, crashing three of them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. The film, Armageddon, has been released in the interim, in which a number of asteroids and large meteors hit the earth. In some of the scenes, skyscrapers in New York City are destroyed in a vision so much like what we have just seen in the nightly news that people have remarked about the similarity. This has nothing to do with aliens (we’d have to go back to the War of the Worlds film from the 1950’s in which several Los Angeles landmarks are destroyed by alien ray-guns to make that connection), but the fact remains that science fiction often seems like prophecy when compared with current history.
Nearly every science fiction plot, today, has something to do with aliens. Its the one unifying theme, and the source, perhaps, of most of the popularity of this genre. What is the significance of this fear of aliens? Is it merely a transposed fear of the outsider, the foreigner, and thus a kind of xenophobia? Now, we actually have legitimate sciences concerned with this issue – exobiology, and the like. We routinely sterilize spacecraft and quarantine their crews, lest they bring back some alien microbes which could wreak havoc on our bodies since we have no immunity or resistance to such organisms.
Paradoxically enough, Congress and the Defense Department have eliminated nearly every kind of “Search for Extraterrestrials”, flying saucer research, or whatever. Yet, many professional, experienced and legitimate ex-government or military people claim that “Area 51” in Nevada (said to be the repository of alien remains and technology) exists, and that much of the recent explosion in advanced technology was obtained by “reverse engineering” from flying saucers and other alien machines. The unwillingness of governments to even admit the possibility of this alien presence may be due to political pressures of various kinds, or simply the requirements of mility secrecy. If there actually were such programs and the alien presence they imply, wouldn’t there be widespread panic based on the failure of the government to protect us?
This is one of those issues which will not be resolved by any sort of idle speculation, no matter how sophisticated. Either there is an alien presence and the government knows about it, and is keeping it a secret in order to use these technologies and the threat of hostile alien action to further restrict our freedom and well-being, or it is being made up by some sort of cadre of people, in or out of the government, who hope to stampede the country into war, dictatorship or other harmful outcome. Who knows?
My position, and that of this book, is that we don’t need a “national security state”, and creating one acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy to create the very threats which the national security state is supposed to counter. Whether the imagined “enemy” is aliens, terrorists, or “godless communists,” the consequences are pretty much the same. We lose our political self-determination, our individual rights, our freedom of expression and association, and our national wealth and human resources are channeled into weapons of mass destruction and a militaristic regimentation which has by now become entirely politcally and socially respectable. For the past year or two, and in recent days, especially (following “the attack on America”), I have witnessed an astounding change in young people These changes included a surge in enlistments in the military, a marked tendency to become politically right-wing and nationalistic, and believing implicitly whatever we are told by the media and those in authority.
For those of us who came of age during the Vietnam War and the social revolutions of the 1960’s and 70’s, this is inconceivable, and it is for this reason, primarily, that I have undertaken to write this book. We must continue to “Question Authority!” and otherwise maintain our mental, spiritual, and material freedom and independence from government and the agencies of coercion and repression which are constantly being expanded and marshalled against us. We will have more to say in other chapters about the education system and the co-option of the youth culture, and their roles in creating this vast reversal in youth consciousness.

From the Nuclear Bantustan…

Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Mafias,  Cyber-nuclear Terrorism, and the limits of Full Spectrum Dominance

How do they figure that a nuclear Doomsday Machine is any sort of “asset?”

A Chinese-Filipino I hung out with for a few months in 1971 – call him Gene – taught me a lot  about the “Outsider’s” point of view. His father, part of the commercial elite of the Philippines (wholesale food production and trade), sent him to California to go to school.

One of the “gems of wisdom” he enunciated (which later proved all too true) was that “military towns are Mafia towns”, citing San Diego (where he was in the process of moving) as an example. The military demands an authoritarian, business-like culture, education system, etc. No room for radicals or independent thinkers, and some sort of “black ops” or contracted Mafia can take care of them, sparing the taxpayers and elected officials from the embarassment and expense.

Since I had grown up in such a town (Great Falls, MT, with a nuclear strike force of 200 Minuteman missiles at Malmstrom AFB, carrying up to 600 nuclear warheads), it was all too familiar to me, but I’d never seen it from “the Outside.” Although many people here opposed the preparations for nuclear war (focussed clearly by “Dr. Strangelove”, “Fail-safe” and other anti-nuclear “survivor” films and even TV shows in the 1950’s and ’60’s), there was little beyond the mainstream Catholic and Protestant peace sentiments, and they were very subdued. Any sort of “demonstrations” were virtually unheard of.  We also later learned that many foreigners (from “communist” or otherwise “hostile” countries) were prohibited from living here, and if they did, they had to register and place themselves under surveillance.  Thus, we had become “a nuclear Bantustan” on the model of South Africa.

We did have a local free press which was highly critical of this “nuclear enterprise” – the installation of the latest solid-fuel “Minuteman” missiles which could be launched to hit targets in the Soviet Union in a matter of minutes. This was 1962, when Montana Senator Mike Mansfield had replaced LBJ as Majority Leader. Perhaps that had something to do with the Minuteman being sited here – a Mission which every Democrat is still taught was a great thing for our local economy and national security.

A couple of years later, the Tribune was sold to Cowles Media (the Minneapolis Star-Tribune), which might have had a more positive view of the nuclear Doomsday Machine, and better connections to the Military-Industrial Complex. The Vietnam War, which was resisted all over the country by every tribe and class and in every imaginable venue, was basically ignored in Great Falls. We believed whatever the government told us, and no one here ever heard that our sainted Senator, Mike Mansfield, was doing all he could to get us out of Vietnam.  He would have been challenged and defeated by a Goldwater Republican if we had known.

The College of Great Falls employed a number of Berrigan-style Catholics – often Jesuits or from the Catholic Workers tradition, but even this caused a scandal. When we later organized a campaign to block new missile systems, CGF was dropped by the Air Force as an “approved” college for Missile Launch Officers to pursue an advanced degree. That was a big hit to the finances of this quiet Sisters of Providence school, and it later re-organized as “The University of Great Falls” with an emphasis on programs like pre-med, pre-law, and Criminal Justice which would fit in with the needs of local Air Force personnel and veterans, a third or more of whom were “missile cops” guarding the nuclear arsenal.

Our local “peace movement” (for a time re-vitalized in the late 1980’s by the World Beyond War campaigns) was often politically conservative and against abortion and other “liberal” causes, but Christianity is ultimately a “peace religion” at its core, and that remained. We also had a great Bishop – Hunthausen – who later became Bishop of Seattle and was reprimanded for his progressive views. Father Gregori and Ron Haverlandt were also notable peace, justice, and indigenous rights advocates in the Electric City, building on the tradition of Sister Providentia, who succorred local Native Americans for many decades, and at a time when there was little support for such activities.


UCSB in 1971

I was working in the computer center of UC Santa Barbara in 1971, and living in the student ghetto, Isla Vista – the scene of anti-war riots and a Bank of America branch burned the year before. UCSB was the “party school” of the UC system, with beaches on three sides (mostly nude, in those days), and that was a major reason I took a working-class job there. My various attempts to form lasting relationships with accomplished people had generally failed- nearly always in the case of females- and I thought this might be a good place to gain some social skills.

I actually found the job more or less by chance, and since I already worked part-time in the UCLA computer center, it was easy to move to a full-time job at Santa Barbara – where some of the most advanced remote computing systems were being developed – the fabled “BBN Box” which became the first router, which you could “log on” to. The “N” in BBN was von Neumann, who designed the first framework for digital computers which is still used – the “Von Neumann Architecture” of I-O devices, processing, and storage in RAM and ROM form.

So, I was literally present at the birth of the Internet – both at UCLA and then at Santa Barbara, which had an NSF grant (and probably DARPA, or whatever it was called then) to develop a national network of about 10 engineering schools so they could use our relatively large and fast IBM-360-75. Big deal. I had nothing to do with it. But I was an avid Sci-Fi reader and “futurist”, although that term was itself mostly science fiction (or “prophecy”) in those days.

One contemporary film captured this well – “Collossus: the Forbin Project” in which American military computers hook up with Soviet ones and take over the world. And there was also the recent “2001 A Space Odyssey” (1968) where the computer on a space mission to Jupiter kills the human members of the crew. And there were early Star Trek episodes with a similar theme (1966-69 -exactly shadowing my years at UCLA). So, I was already well-aware of all the dangers of centralized computer control systems, and monitoring of everyone’s “transactions” of whatever kind.

It’s interesting to reflect that “machine thinking” applies to politics just as well as computer hardware. But it’s a particular kind of politics – organized, money-driven, corporate – the same structure found in any sort of dictatorial system, criminal or otherwise (and all are ultimately “criminal” in the sense of being destructive of human values).

During the Vietnam War, and in the midst of strikes and mass demonstrations, university computer centers had been taken over by “student radicals” and “peace activists” who accused them of participating in military planning and procurement, along with police state “pacification” projects, supporting Apartheid in S. Africa, or whatever crimes against humanity were being funded. In one case, they totally demolished the tape-drives and other visible stuff, while leaving the expensive “guts” (core storage, which then cost about $1 a byte, as opposed to maybe $1 a gigabyte which we have, today). A large main-frame computer might have as much as 2 megabytes of core storage (like ours at UCSB, and much of it was still the old “donut/3-wires” system – not even transistorized.) Therefore, we “long-haired computer freaks” (later called “hackers”) were in demand if there was a riot, figuring that we could talk our brethren radicals out of doing anything “stupid.”

Fortunately, no such confrontation ever happened to me. At UCSB, the leading hardware guy was right out of the Charles Manson family, but he was the only one who understood the system and could make it work. Maybe I took a hint from that, when I quit the job after less than a year, ostensibly to return to Montana to help my family.

That was when I met Gene of Manila, or maybe it was Leyte, where my father had wanted to return and start a night club after WWII. Gene was one of the most accomplished people I’d ever met – world-class chess player, a fine classical pianist, and a student of culture in general. He spoke several languages, and was an anglophile, besides. He may have been born during the Japanese Occupation, and many people thought he was part-Japanese. He was also looking for economic opportunities, and social advancement in a very strange time and place – Southern California c. 1970.

When I met him, he had already gone over to the Dark Side, joining car gangs (souped-up VW’s), dealing pot, and when I met him, in the process of joining the beach-van culture of surfers and various criminal elements. But he did it all from a very superior perspective – not someone trying to “work his way up” and finally get into “the Mafia”, which many drug dealers were doing at that time. He was trying to “figure out this culture”, which was very unsettling to him. Although he seemed very “corporate” in his thinking – “grow or die,” “expand the business”, “develop a new territory,” etc., most of his mind-set was classical Chinese philosophy and practice – something which was ubiquitous in the I-Ching-throwing counter-culture, as well as the vast proliferation of other Eastern schools of philosophy and spirituality which had found a foothold in California. Soon, Kung-Fu with David Carradine and all sorts of “martial arts” films and TV series would proliferate like another Cultural Revolution. Indeed, we explicitly thought of ourselves as being “culture freaks” rather than political revolutionaries, without any particular attachment to Mao and the Red Guards. I read somewhere that in the 1970’s, there were 100,000 “Maoists” in Norway (out of a population of about 4 million). So, it was a global phenomenon.

This was Gene’s overseas-Chinese family history (“the Jews of E Asia”), and coming from the Philippines, much of it was military and related to US Imperialism. He had come to the source, in order to better-understand how to function in “the Empire.” He had military ID. He could shop at any US base commissary. He had no revolutionary (or even “reformist”) attitudes or values whatsoever, which took me awhile to figure out. He could have been a highly-trained Intelligence officer, or maybe Counter-Intelligence, infiltrating the radical student elements in California, as well as the then-nascent drug cartels and “Counter-culture” – which seemed a real threat to “Authority” in those days. If so, he did it entirely with an “underworld” rationale and style…. like James Bond infiltrating the Mafia.

We’ve been watching gangster movies since the 1930’s. Some of our biggest, most popular movie stars might appear as an Al Capone or some other “heavy.” It tended to legitimize the whole gangster thing, reverting to a simpler boss-driven tribal society, and real-life gangsters had a lot to do with producing and distributing such films. Chinese gangsters (Tongs) and martial arts cults, along with Ninja, the Filipino martial arts (used in the Bourne films) flourished, and most of it goes back centuries, or even millenia – like our Graeco-Roman wrestling, fencing, etc.

This also explains the origins of “identity politics”. Each tribe, race, class, or other “demographic” (an accurate term, for once) is perceived to have particular interests which must be addressed in political campaigns. The Greens, for one, were supposed to have transcended that conundrum. We were for the interests of all – and for the planet and resources upon which all must live for the rest of eternity. No one seems to get this latter point, but it is the essence of all religions, as well as an open and diverse society.

Native Americans and other indigenous people tend to “get it”, or did before they were corrupted by “White Man’s Thinking.” And that is why it is so troubling to see Native Americans running for office on essentially a “White Man’s platform”, wanting nothing but more “welfare” and “federal support” for the very stuff that’s killing us – like a nuclear arsenal and continuing or expanding fossil fuel use – two policies which cost Denise Juneau the election (for Montana’s lone House seat), in my opinion. She certainly couldn’t compete in the military arena with a decorated Seal Team 6 Commander, who was very measured and sane in most of what he said.

Yet, she basically surrendered the contest to him before it had even begun, saying nothing against war or military spending – let alone the prison system, which she should have been “up in arms” about. Unfortunately, she also holds a law degree from what must be one of the worst law schools in the country – the University of Montana – which has consistantly supported all the ALEC policies to create a domestic Police State with the largest prison population (and the most lawyers, cops, and jailers) in the world. And it has expanded 5-fold since 1971.

Denise Juneau also earned Master’s from Harvard’s School of Education – something which former Dem Gov. Ted Schwinden’s son, Mike, also had, and later moved to Boston to live and work. By emphasizing these personal “accomplishments”, I can well imagine that many Native Americans didn’t care to vote for her, or vote at all, since she was still probably the best Democrat running for a major office in Montana. She wasn’t doing much for her people, but she had done a lot for the education bureaucracy and teacher’s unions, who were funding her campaign.

Ultimately, the Dem “strategists” (using the term loosely) didn’t want her to win. Rep. Zinke could do a lot more for their corporate bosses than Denise, who would follow the NEA line to the letter, and perhaps make further claims for the descendents of people illegally massacred by the Feds, in the process of stealing their lands and resources. No matter how much a Native American claims to favor strip-mining, logging, oil drilling, nuclear warfare or whatever, she’s always suspect, because those activities are the ultimate crime or sin – raping and looting our common Mother which sustains us all.

And so, a close race became a rout. Denise just wasn’t addressing the issues of importance to her own people, let alone the rest of us – peace, sustainable economy, loss of national sovereignty through trade deals and NATO, and ending corporate control of our vital institutions – especially the “criminal justice system” and our local utilities and public services (like education, libraries, public broadcasting, etc) which are constantly under assault from out-of-state (and in-state) corporate interests, as well as “government take-overs” from Washington, D.C.

That’s what no doubt “tipped the scales” from a close race to a rout. The Control Freaks always end up at the same point – they want to keep controlling us, no matter what we believe or which office we hold or organization we belong to. Worse, it’s never their fault, and whatever negative consequences follow from their desires to dominate and control us, it’s always safe to blame the victims, or some imaginary “enemies” like Russia or China.

This is, by the way, the essence of Fascism – total control of the economy and the government by corporate interests, usually with a military emphasis and a desire for war and global “Full Spectrum Dominance”, a police state at home, and prisons in place of health care, food, and housing. Amerika Uber Alles is no longer a slogan. It’s our official “Defense Posture”, and well on the way to being fully-implemented in domestic policy as well. STOP NATO. Peace Now.