Heaven Help our Alien Overlords!

The famous Blue Marble image removes the
boundary lines, but does not change our
divisive human nature.

In the wake of Super Tuesday 2016, I think one conclusion is crystal clear. 

Decades of political theorists, science fiction writers, comic book creative teams, video game creators, and filmmakers have gotten it wrong. 

We will never have a one-government world, at least not on Earth. That idea is a figment of imaginations not sufficiently grounded in human nature.

The Inner Council of the United Planets: Nope. Never gonna happen for real.
(Of course the President of Earth is an old white dude) 

I know. Never is a long time, and science fiction does tend to think in terms of eons sometimes. But I’m not sure the Earth will last long enough for human nature to change so profoundly that everyone would willingly submit to a single, planet-wide government. The sun will turn into a red giant before that happens, I’m afraid.

We in the USA can’t even willingly submit to a nationwide government, lately. This marvelous David Parkins image from The Economist sums it up visually.

How about unwilling submission? Couldn’t that happen? The invasion by an alien armada, bent on domination of the Earth, is a standard trope of the genre. The vast power and overwhelming technology of the invaders would make its mastery of Earth inevitable. Right?

A classic Alien Overlord, backed by his militant legions, riding in their UFOs, as envisioned by HeroMachine forum member “Grail.”

For a while, maybe. For a thousand years or more? Good luck with that. Successful empires tend to last about 250 years on Earth, and go through six stages, as outlined by Sir John Bagot Glubb, in a small but relevant essay called The Fate of Empires

One might argue with Sir John’s value judgment that “larger territorial units are a benefit to commerce and to public stability,” and that, therefore, empires are generally beneficial. It’s less easy to argue against his conclusion that all empires eventually end in decadence and internal collapse, since he has history on his side, for that one. 

Robot, alien, or whatever, don’t try to conquer Earth and then use the humans as handy slaves. Humans are sneaky and have a lot of practice with hate.

That’s the thing about empires–at least, those involving Earthlings. At some point the conquered folk have to either be decimated or buy into the idea of the empire’s being a good thing, or the rot sets in even quicker. If allowed to survive, I think humans, who are primed by evolution to hate each other (and thus are quite practiced at it) will not hesitate to turn all their energies to making life difficult for their conquerors.

Whatever it takes, the humans will resist.

Makes for fun fiction, but it’s not likely to help maintain a world government. 

Sorry, Brain. It’ll never work out.

IMAGES: 
Many thanks to NASA for the iconic “Blue Marble” image of Planet Earth, and to The Comics Round Table for the Silver Age image of the Inner Council of the United Planets. 
I’m indebted to The Economist online edition for the wonderful David Parkins illustration; the article that goes with it is also well worth the read. 
Many thanks to Grail and Grail’s Gallery on the HeroMachine Forum, for the “Alien Overlord” image that so perfectly captures the trope under discussion! 
Equal thanks to the creators of the “Trust No One” image, originally posted on the Machine Overlords blog. 
I could NOT resist including the image “Rebels vs. Empire” from the VideoGamesUncovered post, “Top 5 Overused Sci-Fi Cliches in Gaming” (I couldn’t find the original source). 
And finally, many thanks to Giphy, for the image from Pinky and the Brain.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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