In Space, No One Can Hear the Internationale

>> Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For some reason, I find this enormously fascinating:

Lenin told the British science fiction writer H.G. Wells, who interviewed him in the Kremlin in 1920, that if life were discovered on other planets, revolutionary violence would no longer be necessary: "Human ideas—he told Wells—are based on the scale of the planet we live in. They are based on the assumption that the technical potentialities, as they develop, will never overstep 'the earthly limit.' If we succeed in making contact with the other planets, all our philosophical, social and moral ideas will have to be revised, and in this event these potentialities will become limitless and will put an end to violence as a necessary means of progress."
—Susan Buck-Morss, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (2002)

I suppose it would be even more interesting to here from Marx on the question. This doesn't seem all that materialist to me; how would the mere discovery of life on other planets transform the balance between classes, or shift ownership of the means of production? I think that Lenin is making an ideational argument, suggesting that the existence of other forms of life would change the landscape of ideas so completely that class warfare would become unnecessary. Or maybe there's an implicit assumption that any race sufficiently advanced to be discovered by us would already have proceeded beyond class struggle.

See also Gary. Via SEK.


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