Commentary By Ron Beasley
I never thought it would be possible - yes a hell freezes over moment - but Charles Krauthammer as a column in the Washington Post that I can appreciate, Are we alone in the universe? He points out that judging from the number of stars and hence the number of planets that could support life number in the millions or even billions we have received no radio signals that would indicate intelligent life. This argument may be flawed since we really haven't been looking that long and the signals would take 100s or 1,000s of years to get here. But if life is common and wide spread then why is intelligent life so uncommon we can't find any evidence of it?
That silence is maddening. Not just because it compounds our feeling of cosmic isolation, but because it makes no sense. As we inevitably find more and more exo-planets where intelligent life can exist, why have we found no evidence � no signals, no radio waves � that intelligent life does exist?
It�s called the Fermi Paradox, after the great physicist who once asked, �Where is everybody?� Or as was once elaborated: �All our logic, all our anti- isocentrism, assures us that we are not unique � that they must be there. And yet we do not see them.�
Did the late great Carl Sagan have the answer?
So why the silence? Carl Sagan (among others) thought that the answer is to be found, tragically, in the final variable: the high probability that advanced civilizations destroy themselves.
In other words, this silent universe is conveying not a flattering lesson about our uniqueness but a tragic story about our destiny. It is telling us that intelligence may be the most cursed faculty in the entire universe � an endowment not just ultimately fatal but, on the scale of cosmic time, nearly instantly so.
Although he does ignore man made climate change he does get this right.
Why, a mere 17 years after Homo sapiens � born 200,000 years ago � discovered atomic power, those most stable and sober states, America and the Soviet Union, came within inches of mutual annihilation.
Rather than despair, however, let�s put the most hopeful face on the cosmic silence and on humanity�s own short, already baleful history with its new Promethean powers: Intelligence is a capacity so godlike, so protean that it must be contained and disciplined. This is the work of politics � understood as the ordering of society and the regulation of power to permit human flourishing while simultaneously restraining the most Hobbesian human instincts.
There could be no greater irony: For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics (and its most exacting subspecialty � statecraft). Because if we don�t get politics right, everything else risks extinction.
We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics � in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations � is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it.
Fairly or not, politics is the driver of history. It will determine whether we will live long enough to be heard one day. Out there. By them, the few � the only � who got it right.
He's right of course but what he doesn't mention is that both now and historically those politicians responsible for "the ordering of society and the regulation of power" are more often than not sociopaths or even psychopaths. It is the politics and the politicians that are making sure we don't survive.