In trying to anticipate the consequences of alien first contact, many people reach for a historical comparison, usually Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors arriving in the New World, and the terrible devastation that followed.
I do not find these comparisons pertinent for a number of reasons. For one, it seems like the alien beings we are dealing with have been here quite a long time. For another, it appears that first contact has already taken place—not with the public at large, perhaps, but with the militaries of the USA, the Soviet Union, etc… and various government officials.
I argue that a better historical comparison for the situation we find ourselves in, then, is Japan at the end of the Edo era, on the eve of the Meiji Restoration. Rather than the conquest and colonization that marked Spain’s encounter with the New World, the issues we may encounter this century are more likely to involve trade and cultural exchange, scientific and military modernization and expansion, and questions of political power balances at the national, global, and interstellar levels.
Perhaps thinking through the historical parallels here can help us to better understand this hinge moment of history, as well as the various players (both human and alien) and their agendas. It may also help us to chart several possible futures for the Earth—and avoid some of the worst potential outcomes.
In this first post of what I hope will be many, I seek to explain what we are witnessing with the Congressional hearings and Schumer’s legislation through reference to the Bakumatsu and the Meiji Restoration.
In future posts, I intend to explore other topics along these same comparative historical lines, such as:
Interstellar Trade, or One Possible Reason Earth is Being Opened like Edo Japan
Human and Alien Art and Cultural Exchange (from Japonisme to Earthism)
Ideologies and Slogans from the Meiji Era to Today (e.g., “Alien Science, Human Spirit”)
Interstellar Politics (including the Earth as “Buffer Planet” and Power Balancing)
Interplanetary Militarization: Necessary, but Treacherous
Potential Futures for both the Earth and Human Beings, including Immigration/Emigration
Needless to say, these posts are very provisional and speculative. I welcome other people to extend these comparisons in their own ways and to offer new insights in the days and months ahead.
Moreover, I hope that important decision-makers are aware of the clear historical parallels between Bakumatsu Japan and Earth on the eve of full Disclosure and are thinking deeply about the lessons this very relevant past has to to offer us.
The Shogun vs. the Emperor OR the Pentagon/MIC/IC vs. Congress
After the violence and chaos of the Sengoku period, the Tokugawa family became rulers of Japan through the Shogunate. Japan began a long period of greater national isolation, where trade and contacts with foreigners were extremely limited. This was the Shogun’s method of assuring both the national security of Japan and the continuance of its own power structure.
In terms of Earth’s recent history, this is paralleled by the USA with its military and intelligence services becoming a global hegemon after the violence and chaos of the two World Wars, then further consolidating power in the midst of the decline and fall of the Soviet Union. Through these historical developments, the USA has sought to maintain technological dominance, through such means as nuclear weapons.
At the same time, apparently through a disinformation campaign alluded to by David Grusch, it has sought to make the idea of any interaction between humans and alien beings seem not just impossible but ridiculous—the domain of movies and other fictional media, sure, but never part of our shared day-to-day consensus reality.
Returning to the end of the Edo era, we see how the increasing activities of foreign governments around Japan challenged the notion that the Shogun and his system could provide for the national security of the state. The arrival of Matthew Perry’s Black Ships and the forced opening of the Japanese economy through “gunboat diplomacy” showed once and for all that the Shogun was unable to assure Japan’s sovereignty. Japan was soon forced to sign “unequal treaties” that were a source of humiliation for the island nation.
When David Grusch speaks of “secret agreements that may threaten our future” with Ross Coulthart, we see a return of this same concern with “unequal treaties”—albeit now on a much larger, interplanetary scale.
Indeed, the activities of UAPs in and around Earth destroy any complacent belief in America’s technological and military superiority. This was emphasized repeatedly by David Fravor and Ryan Graves in the first Congressional hearing.
Like the Tokugawa Shogunate, the military and intelligence institutions of the USA (a kind of modern Shinsengumi/Oniwaban) are no longer seen as able to fully assure national security—not to mention the global security of the Earth.
Just as the Shogun’s 鎖国/sakoku policy was doomed to eventually fall apart in the ongoing march of history, the USA’s isolationist policy of ignoring and even ridiculing the presence of UAPs that marked the 20th century is necessarily coming to an end in the first quarter of the 21st.
We are witnessing the death of this 鎖世界/sasekai.
With the demise of a similar isolationist policy in Japan, many Japanese people saw the need for a new form of government and a new program for the nation. They rallied around the Emperor as their political foundation, and eventually succeeded in toppling the Shogunate. Modernization of Japan’s science, culture, politics, and military followed, as old features such as the samurai and feudalism eventually faded into history.
The legislation introduced by Chuck Schumer, as well as the ongoing hearings featuring Tim Burchett et al., suggest that Congress is firm in its resolve to reclaim power from the military industrial complex and intelligence communities and achieve its own kind of “Meiji Restoration”—with power re-centered in the three branches of government, most especially Congress (in accordance with the American Constitution).
And so, perhaps this era we find ourselves in could someday be called “The Congressional Restoration.”
Who knows what features of our society that we take for granted will also disappear into the mists of time like Edo Japan’s samurai and their feudal society?
In this light, players like Schumer, Burchett, Luna, Ocasio-Cortez, Elizondo, Mellon, Grusch, and many many other people working behind the scenes are somewhat akin to the Meiji revolutionaries of Bakumatsu Japan—although I don’t expect Christopher Mellon to be engaging in Hajime Saito cosplay any time soon. Nevertheless, if he or any of his party is looking for a Halloween costume this year, characters from Rurouni Kenshin and SNK’s The Last Blade series may be an appropriate choice.
In our next Episode…
In my next post, I plan to consider the possible intentions of the alien powers in light of the Bakumatsu and Meiji Restoration, especially regarding trade. Such trade may take place between Earth and a higher civilization, or it may take place between Earth and a civilization at a similar level to us, facilitated by a “Trade Federation”-type power more advanced than either.
After that, I would like to touch on how the Western powers used modernized Japan as a counterweight to the Russian Empire—and how Earth may play a similar role in the future as a Buffer Planet/Buffer Solar System helping to maintain a balance of power in the galaxy between various alien states.
And then so on, through various topics as mentioned above.
See you, Space Cowboys and Cowgirls…