Nothing Against Mars Per Se, But Earth First!

The technological cheerleaders, much the same crowd who have facilitated the increase in inequality, diminishment of democracy, and general all-around debasement of society, are awfully excited by prince Elon Musk’s plan to remake human civilization… on Mars. Frankly, it looks as optimistic as a Popular Science cover from the 1970s, but publicity is the key to all things, so onwards, ad astra!

I read a lot of science fiction back then, though, and thought the best of it was about us, not the gizmos, but that lesson doesn’t seem to have settled so well with the technocrats.

From what I understand from the Elongated One, there’s been no thought advanced on how this Martian society of his will be organized, how decisions will be made, who will surveil and police it (will they shoot unarmed black men there, too?), and who will clean it. Will be the liberal plutocrats, those smart, decent folk who went to the best schools, go to the weddings of their gay hedge-fund manager friends, raise their daughters to be CEOs who are lauded for the innovation of killing jobs, and are full of virtue, dedicated to a philanthropy that gives them more say than the rest of us?

Well, maybe not that last task, the cleaning, I mean. An underclass must always be good for something. Using their neuro-smart apps, the impeccable Uber-menschen can contract out microhour-laborers to swab down those embarrassing space sickness incidents. I can just see the trouble those hot Venusian au pairs are going to cause in the pod with Mr. & Ms. Furturismo.

Mars! Imagine living in an air-lock. Colonization will be like buying a house, Musk speculates — an interesting word, speculates, in our casino-lottery economy of bubble and bust. I suppose for some the enclosed sterility has its attractions: there’ll always be Paris, or at least pictures of it, and Pokemon.

There’s a movement among our masters that goes by the name transhumanism — I envision a brain floating in a bespoke broth — which fears mortality, which loathes the pitiful meat of the body, which is alienated from the planet and the glorious web — even as much as we have punched holes in it — of life here on Earth. Evidently, they can’t wait to get away from the devastation they’ve profited off of here. So where better to build the ultimate gated community, the Martha’s Vineyard and Burning Man of the heavens, than Mars?

Imagine not seeing and hearing the Chimney Swifts overhead in summer. Imagine not experiencing the wind moving the leaves of a big tree, and a whole troupe of trees swaying in impossible combination. Imagine missing out on the dragonflies, moths, skippers, grasshoppers, bees, zinging around a meadow on a hot summer day. Imagine not being able to stand on a beach as gulls float by in the wind. Imagine never being woken up by a passing kestrel or feeling the rain pelt down on you.

I don’t know about you, but being immured in a sealed station on an airless planet with a bunch of libertarian assholes sorta sounds like… death.

But the true horror is that, for so many, already, this won’t be so different from what they know now, having forgotten they live on a planet so rich with life it can make you ache in your bones with wonder. img_0186

4 Responses to “Nothing Against Mars Per Se, But Earth First!”

  1. 1 Kathleen October 9, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Bravo! This should be published nationally! I’ve meant to comment long ago – to thank you for your work – because your observations, witticisms, insights and photos make me laugh, learn, or ruminate.

    This particular post was so good it made me do all of the above (as well as whince at our sad state of affairs!) so I am finally writing to say thank you and to encourage you to please keep ’em coming! We need your voice of reason.

    Kathleen (We’ve never met but Ken Chaya recommended your blog to me some time ago.)

  2. 4 SB October 9, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Amen Matthew and Kathleen!

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