Isn’t it beautiful that dream of space exploration?
That drive of the human race to reaching other worlds and to colonising them? Isn’t it charged with an ineffable light of wisdom and confidence in the progress-driven fanfare of our civilisation?
No, it’s not. Conquering the space now would only replicate the European history of colonising other continents. Now, as we look back, the history of colonisation was a complete disaster for the native populations and their cultures. Bloody massacres, cultural annihilation, blunt theft of their resources and treasures.
The advances of Western moral philosophy and democratic values have proven themselves a mere myth: our permanent encounters with otherness here on this planet proves that we are unable to have a proper management of our pathologic, self-destructive dispositions. The pretext of spreading one’s values through colonisation and war entails without exception a self-deceptive mindset, starting with the spaniards who colonised America and ending with the US war against the Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian regime, both of which having proved themselves completely wrong, imoral, bloody, and useless, as the only things they managed to export were chaos and destruction.
But does that have anything to do with colonising other planets? It certainly does, because it shows us that this is the self-portrait of humanity that we have painted. That’s just how the human race is; we don’t have another one, in spite of our ideals, myths, fictions, or claimed good intentions.
How exactly would we go into space? We would privatise and contractualise outer space; corporations would start exploiting resources, governments would begin claiming territories, new wars of domination would start either with alien races or among humans.
Humans have demonstrated monumental abilities in destroying their environment, in being dreadfully inhuman towards their fellow beings, in permitting millions of people to starve while wasting 30% of the food they produce (or deliberately destroying it in order to keep the level of prices), in treating other beings (eg, chicken, cows, or pigs) with contempt, cruelty, or sheer negligence, in destroying the balance of nature through deforestation, reckless exploitation of the planet’s resources, unrefrained pollution of the air, land, and waters. And now we dream of stepping onto the next level, that is, of repeating these stories on other planets.
As long as these flaws of humanity are here with us, we have no moral legitimacy of even dreaming of stretching our civilisation beyond the limits of planet Earth. We might have the right of dreaming of it only when we’ll rediscover a set of basic values that many of the populations that we moderns call primitive have known and practised for millenia:
- that resources are out there for us as precious gifts, which are to be cherished and used judicially, not as fields of prey that are to be rapaciously vandalised an devoured;
- that life is valuable in itself unconditionally and is to be cared for, protected, and treated with reverence, not as an expendable good;
- that our actions, deeds, histories, and achievements, if they are to be measured at all, they ought to be measured by the amount of love that we’ve put into them, not by the amount of money we’ve spent or by the amount of power we’ve used to carry them out.
We humans are a most arrogant species. If this planet slowly turns unable to supporting our civilisation, it does not mean that we have the right to abandon it like a shipwreck and seek other worlds to inhabit and consume, only to throw them into the bin again. If this planet is slowly (or quickly) turning into a garbage bin, it simply means that our civilisation is moving downhill, in spite of the illusion of progress that our constantly evolving technologies inebriate us with.
We’re the bad guys in our own story, and we should start with acknowledging what we are and where we stand. Unless we wake up, we are to sleepwalk into self-destruction. Other planets are very far away, and they must stay like that until we become the good guys.