And Now For Something Completely Different

If I was a book in a library, then I'd finally be free

Revolution on the Moon; or, Why Do Liberal-Progressives Hate Space Travel?

with 5 comments

I just want to get this idea out there before it fizzles. That is to say, this isn’t a completely researched thought, just an observation with some meat on it.

Yesterday I read an Alter Net article, written by Tad Daley, about Why Progressives Should Care about Human Destiny in Space. If you don’t know, Alter Net is a self-identified liberal news-outlet, and attracts probably a largely self-identified liberal readership. In light of that I was surprised, though not entirely, by the comments in response to this reasonable plea for renewing interest in and funding for space travel. Most of them were negative, and either flat-out called space travel a pipe-dream or, while not objecting to space travel in the abstract, argued that we should “focus on making life better on Earth first.”

This kind of response, though particularly the latter, stinks of the ideological rationale Zizek attributes to the regression of Left Wing politics. It’s what Zizek, in The Sublime Object of Ideology borrowing from Peter Sloterdijk, argues as “Cynicism as a Form of Ideology.” In America at least, we know very good and well that the space program is underfunded by all standards. However, the most common critique against the space program, the most popular among even liberals, is that it costs too much. No one is for one minute going to say that defense spending or consumer goods cost less than the space program, and yet no one is going to suggest that these areas should be gutted before something like the space program is. In other words, they know perfectly well that the space program doesn’t cost nearly as much money as most other areas of spending, private or public, though they act as if it did.

Daley notes that Carl Sagan made with some prescience the observation that space travel is subversive. That comes from a passage in Sagan’s most famous book, Contact, which couchs the subversive quality of space travel in a context of nationalism. It’s subversiveness goes beyond the vulgar politics of nationalism though. It is obvious that seriously turning our collective activity towards space travel means turning it away, not from the poor, the sick, or the environment, but from Capitalism. It means turning the frenetic activity of Capitalist production and the kind of activism it allows into useful and directed endevours—not just space travel, but all the ills of this planet and its inhabitants.

To most liberal-progressives seriously turning towards space travel appears as impossible, if not utterly invisible. To the extent that it doesn’t, to the extent that science gives us glimpses of its feisability, it appears to them as repugnant. This is why they will reproach the space program in terms of helping the poor, the sick, or the environment. It is this impossibility or grotesque closeness of revolutionary change that Zizek critiques in Repeating Lenin. What is maintained in the cynics’ reproach is not the possibility of better alternatives to how we organize society or treat the Earth, but the positive impossibility of any alternatives.

The point is obviously not that we can create utopia if we establish a colony on the moon or whatever. Rather, it is an ardent rejection of the “until this…” rationale that we apply to serious endevours like feeding the world, going to the stars, taking better care of the environment, or all of those at the same time, which feigns practical caution when all it is reactionary, false pragmatism. It is not that utopia flows from the rocket exhaust as we barrel towards Mars, but that opening up the possibility to as species collectively enact those kinds of projects embodies freedom.

Advertisements

Written by Joe

August 12, 2007 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. As a liberal progressive of a kind, but with a difference I think space travel is the ultimate adolescent technocratic fantasy. The fantasy of complete independence from “mother” earth.

    It is also not subversive but just more of the same. An extension of the same power and control games at the root of the current adolescent enterprise of scientism.

    And what will happen out “there” in space? Just more of the adolescent bang bang you are dead insanity that is now being dramatised all over the planet 24 hours every day.

    This essay gives a profound Understanding of the nature of human freedom.

    1. http://www.dabase.org/freedom.htm

    This essay gives a disturbing picture of our collective “normal” everyday dreadful sanity. The same dreadful sanity that wants to go “elsewhere”.

    2. http://www.dabase.org/spacetim.htm

    This long essay provides a unique understanding of the “culture” created in the image of adolescent technocratic “man”.

    3. http://www.aboutadidam/org/readings/bridge_to_god/index.html

    John

    September 20, 2007 at 9:33 am

  2. You speak of space travel as a adolescent fantasy, but I could just as easily point towards the obsession with “Mother Earth” as a childish fantasy. Of course, that’s not to say, like many narrow-minded liberal-progressives, that by looking to the stars we turn ourselves away from the so-called “Mother Earth.” That’s a false dichotomy pure and simple===it should be in logic text books, and taught in 100-level writing classes on argumentation.

    How exactly, in your own words, is space travel, when compared to the petty human bickering and warring on Earth, just more of the same? How exactly does a monumental task like establishing a human prescense in space, an expenditure of not just material resources and energies but libidinal energies too, leave room for the utter waste of human life and energy commonly called nationalism, sexism, Capitalism or any variety of domineering spirit?

    pdxstudent

    September 20, 2007 at 4:13 pm

  3. Did you read any of the essays that I pointed too?

    The third reference was a chapter from a remarkable book on Science as an all destructive adolescent anti-“culture” titled The Transmission of Doubt.

    Yes it is exactly the same. The same terminal adolescent insanity extended into the “heavens”.

    By adolescence I mean the motive to achieve a state of complete untouchable independence from anything or anyone else—which is of course impossible.

    Plus another essay on how we are “educated” to be incapable of true responsibility for any and everything here on planet “mother” earth.

    1. http://www.dabase.org/2armP1.htm#ch2

    My “mother” I mean that we are totally dependent on our sustenance from “mother” earth, in which we are indivisibly enfolded/embedded (our womb as it were), as is the foetus in the mothers womb.

    Plus an essay on the transcending of ones childhood Oedipal script or patterning as the ESSENTIAL KEY to growing up.

    2. http://www.dabase.org/beyoedip.htm

    Otherwise EVERYTHING that we do do all of the time, moment to moment, is a dramatization of our Oedipal patterning.

    We relate to the world and our BODIES exactly as we relate to the parent of the opposite sex. The world is an extension of our bodies, in fact IS our body altogether. We dramatize our Oedipal patterning on to all others and the world altogether.

    And as our scientism based “culture” is essentially and fundamentally a “creation” of male adolescent and “controlled” by males with uninspected Oedipal hostility to quite literally everything “else”, we are quite literally raping “mom” and saying “fuck you” to dad’s demand to grow up and be truly responsible and to stop “fucking over” everything “else”.

    Dad being the inherent demand of Reality altogether to grow up and be responsible. To become a true man.

    Unfortunately there are precious few, if any at all, males that have gone through the Oedipal crisis and become established in a Culture of Wisdom.

    What Wisdom Culture?

    Elsewhere the author points out that the present crisis of civilization altogether is a crisis of collective adolescence.

    Grow up collectively (one at a time and altogether) or you WILL destroy yourselves. He points out that that is exactly what we are ALL doing, right now. And that we have been doing so for a very, very long time, and that it is at the root of the Western “cultural script altogether with its drive to total power and control over everything “else”, and that the situation is getting worse and worse everyday.

    Therefore it IS time to grow up in place and assume responsibility for your present pattern of relationships, which ultimately extend to all beings and the entire planet.

    Not to go “elsewhere”.

    John

    September 21, 2007 at 2:40 am

  4. I’m going to quote the following passage (I’m not native english speaker):

    “However, the most common critique against the space program, the most popular among even liberals, is that it costs too much. No one is for one minute going to say that defense spending or consumer goods cost less than the space program, and yet no one is going to suggest that these areas should be gutted before something like the space program is. In other words, they know perfectly well that the space program doesn’t cost nearly as much money as most other areas of spending, private or public, though they act as if it did.”

    First of all, I can’t even start to say how obvious it should be. National Defense can’t be stripped even if we wanted to — of course since most of us expect to live in ‘freedom’, but we all know without any kind of defense, such a thing is open to be taken away. But I’m not pro-defense either myself. Heck one reason why I think the space program should be stripped of funding (at least from the public) is that some people don’t want to pay for it. Not all humans are concerned about how we should go into space and colonize as fast as possible. With funding you get to force them, through taxes of course. Is that for all “mankind”? Depending if we have primitive ego.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a conservative — I fully support community activities. But such activities should be thought out before wasting billions on what some of us aren’t interested, because that would be slavery to a less extent. Not just slavery, but slaving off for a cause that some try to PREVENT. That is like environmentalists slaving off for bigger bulldozers, which is totally against their ideas (of course it was an analogy).

    In my opinion, space exploration isn’t bad in itself, but colonization is. I know colonization is kinda far-fetched but let us hypothetically discuss about it. Simply put, when we go out it means we ‘infect’ other planets — by ‘infect’ I mean in a negative sense. Why? Because it is obvious, if we didn’t infect the Earth currently negatively, then we wouldn’t need to go out further. We have what’s called lack of resources because of our growth, so in effect we are negatively infecting them (since we need more than they can provide). Picture a man and his son, we being in the man currently, ‘water’ in the Earth being his blood. Now, what excuse do we have to suck this man from the inside out? Because he’s going to ‘die’ eventually anyway? (e.g: engulfed by the Sun in millions or billions of years) Is that a reason for us to kill him way before (suck up resources) and then infect his son so we can survive (let’s say his son = Mars for example)? I mean, we are all going to die eventually anyway, so why do we treat diseases? I mean, diseases and viruses kill a person way before he dies of old age, but that’s ok, he was going to die anyway right? Even more, let’s encourage their spreading and “growth” since we encourage the spreading and growth of the space-colonization-oriented mankind, which fits under the typical ‘disease’ or ‘virus’ traits very nicely it seems!I guess the Earth should find a cure for us, if we keep on sucking and then wanting to infect his siblings as well (not literally). I thought we were way above the selfish ego, since we can be rational. I guess I was wrong.
    What’s more, forcing people to pay for this “for the good of all” is like the virus (which is us) infecting other type of cells, for the good of “the virus”, not for the good of “the cells”, since it literally morphs them and takes over them (and their mentalities).

    I’m sorry. “Community activity?” “For the good of all?”. I’m not gonna want to pay for an activity that is for the good of the above “mankind” since I don’t want us to act like viruses eating up more hosts. I want to pay for the community of a different mankind, one which knows the limits and isn’t obsessed with growth but with quality. I pay for a mankind that does not practically rape the planets they go to and shares virus traits.

    For this very reason, why the hell should I pay for a cause that is completely against the community which I have in mind, and instead will morph us into a virus community? I’m only going to point out (in a childish sense), if you want me to pay for more funding for this space colonization, then you should pay for more funding for anti-colonization-mentality mankind I wish to fund, not the virus-type of mankind. In effect paying for the virus-type of mankind not only decreases my funding for the other “mankind” mentality, but it actually funds “the enemy” so to speak, not literally.

    I guess we have different versions of what’s good to a proper “mankind”: some think materialistic reasons and growth and infecting as much as possible by keep on growing, others think to be able to live gracefully without having obvious behaviors of a virus. In any sense, it is not me the one who wants to force anyone else to pay for something they are actually against. It’s not just like funding and wasting money, but even more like funding and wasting money on a weapon that is then going to kill ME (not literally).

    Heck it’s enough pollution we have around and they don’t care, not like we can stop them, even though they are the ones who pollute and do as they please, using what they consider ‘good of mankind’ when in fact, it’s like the ‘good of the virus’ which is infecting healthy cells. Since when do they “own” the Earth? Not just a few of us, but why SOME of us “own” it (i.e the one which pollute)? I certainly don’t own the Earth — after all, if I did, I wouldn’t allow pollution (in all forms, including radio waves). And I most certainly do not want to pay for such a virus community — I want a different mankind community to pay for. Who decides? Not all people have the same goal on what’s in the best of mankind (depending on what you mean by ‘mankind’, either the virus or the healthy cells) — those that think the best for mankind is to have traits like a virus disgust me, pure and simple.

    ZergFood

    December 7, 2008 at 9:12 am

  5. I am what they refer to as a liberal. I support compulsory taxation in principle because most people are dumb or preditory seeking unnecessary domionion over other consciousness for the sake of fun. There is not enough higher order concious indviduals at this time to absolve the governmental system. It is necessary for higher order civilization at this time.

    All is natural. Those that are not naturalists are fools. Look it up.

    Those that would say that space colonization is to turn the back on “mother earth” do not understand the meaning of life properly.

    In the future many, many, many millions of years from now (given that we are successful at survival and propagation of earth life), those of earth linage will honor it like those that honor religions now though they will likely have no appearence of current earth life.

    The thought viruses being circulated by the extinctionists (they do not know who they are for the most part) will ultimately fail. This is because life survives and because the thinking supporting survival is by its nature superior because it survives with life and more specifically with us (Homo sapians). In the larger scheme of things, being correct is the only thing that matters. Otherwise, you live an illusion being subject to all manner of dead ends and unnecessary exploitation.

    There is only one likely window of opportunity for this planet barring alien intervention. That time is now and will extend for a hundred years or so from now. If we do not understand how and set out to propagate through space, earth life is likely doomed to death by ice then fire over the next some odd millions of years. I say the time frame for possible space ventures is now because of the socioeconomic psychology of most humans. If we do not push forward, the “mother earthers” will gain control of the political systems and impliment a system of bondage keeping earth life grounded indefinatly. “Mother earthers” is a term for a matriarchy that would follow the dominate patriarchy of past times as part of a sociopolitical cycle that is some 40,000 yrs old. Both patriarch and matriarch seek dominion over the other. Not good. Success comes from cooperation in general. Once tech has matured, 50-100 yrs, a system of nearly ablsolute mind control will be possible once the human population is reduced to a “managable” level. The “mother earthers,” being religious types, will make wrong decisions based on false beliefs resulting in the eventual extinction of earth life. Funny thing about it is that they believe they are doing what is good for life. Messed up value systems tend to do that.

    Ironically, I do not believe that this will happen because life survives.

    Those who are above me in the comment column should take their own advise. If you believe humans are so bad, and you are a human, kill yourself now and stop trying to bring the rest of us down with you with you piss poor understanding of reality. That is unless you enjoy being evil. But in that case, you will be killed by your own evil ways because. Evil, by the way, is a precarous term. Basically, evil imposes its desire knowingly and unnecessarily on others. That means doing something to something that does not desire the action and is not necessary for any function beyond the pleasure of the imposer. We all have a bit of evil in us, some more then others. Most simply lie to themselves to justify their actions. When they become conscious of their actions, they must change and repent or be tagged as evil and an opponet to long term survival of earth life.

    Good luck with propagating yourselves and ideas. I bet my life on my methods. I would bet my soul if there was such a thing. Our options are to survive or go extinct. Stop serving self-centered, short term interests unnecessarily. I judge it to be bad, but not necessarily so.

    ZergFood-Yea, um viruses are blindly replicating short dna codes encased in simple protein packets. That is not a good or bad thing. In fact, viruses are an important part of evolution (a very messy and inefficient process) and survival of higher order organisms over the long term. Referring to ideas as thought viruses is a more accurate metaphor then refering to humans as viruses because of percieved negative qualities. This is because ideas themselves do not have much to them and they require a vessel to transmit them. Humans are like viruses if they do bad and are not if they do good makes no sense if you undserstood viruses. Its only bad (according to your goals) if you say it is. Otherwise, you need a god or something to tell you it is bad. Is that what you think is best? Letting higher beings define what is good and bad for us (hypothetical lower beings). Good and bad are defined by your goals. Set your goals. They will dictate your morality. Your goals, however, are going to be related to your genetic composition and environmental exposure, which at this time you have little volition over in our younger years.

    I have ranted and spewed enough nonsense for now. I hope the antipropagation crowd will become more accecpting of proper development in the near future as things will become increasingly distastful for them.

    Crazy, young, quasiliberal, whackjob signing out.

    Have a nice day 😉

    Knower

    March 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: