HomeArticleSpace Colonization And The Myth Of Separateness: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Space Colonization And The Myth Of Separateness: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

I’m old enough to remember people defending the incarceration of Nelson Mandela with “He’s a criminal, he cheated on his wife, people died because of him!” Now they smear Assange but history will vindicate his defenders. The only question is how long, and will it kill him first?

I only see random douchebags with hardly any followers smearing Assange online now. It used to be highly influential pundits doing it. Virtually everyone knows his case is bullshit at this point, even if they don’t have the balls to admit it.

Did you hear about the billionaire-engineered virtual reality universe where consumers plug into another world that’s like a cutesy fantasy version of real life? They’re calling it “the mainstream news”.

The year is 2031. The sky is red and we all live in cubicles but we don’t notice because our Meta goggles only show us happy Pokemon trying to sell us digital accessories. We’re at war with China but the news is only reporting on the controversy over whether Peppa Pig is a SWERF.

Covid vaccine mandates will radicalize workers more than today’s western left ever could.

If you speak out against “anti-vaxxers” more than you do against western imperialism then just put on a pussyhat and add a blue wave emoji next to your name on Twitter, because you’re a worthless shitlib now.

The overall behavior of the United States government has changed a tiny fraction of a single percentage point since Trump left office.

If you’d seen a video clip of me calmly watching a child drown in a swimming pool and doing nothing to help, would it ever occur to you that I should be in charge of the world? That’s how weird it is that we let billionaires who could end world hunger at any time shape society.

All of the problems that proponents of space colonization claim it will solve can be far more realistically addressed by sociopolitical changes and technological innovations geared toward protecting and preserving life here on Earth. The only reason anyone takes it as a given that humanity needs to become independent from Earth’s ecosystem to survive is because they assume the destructiveness inherent in capitalism are an inescapable constant. And there is literally zero reason to believe it’s even possible.

The only reason anyone even believes it’s possible to colonize space is because cognitive and perceptual biases cause us to assume that the human organism is separate from its ecosystem. It is not. The biosphere is one inseparably unified happening of which humans are part.

We developed these biases of perception out of evolutionary necessity; our recently-evolved prefrontal cortices gave us unprecedented capacity for abstract thought, but it couldn’t help us advance our survival unless we thought of ourselves as separate from sabre-toothed cats etc. In reality the biosphere isn’t made up of separate “things” any more than a tornado or hurricane is. An organism is just a process, a happening, that is in nonstop interplay with the rest of the ecosystem on every level due to its need to eat, breathe, drink etc.

We’re interconnected with this planet in so very, very many ways, many of which we probably don’t even know about since we’ve never actually tried to live independently from it. Our brief visits to space have been nothing more than glorified scuba excursions that were 100 percent dependent on supplies and support coming directly from Earth.

But because we’re conditioned to think in terms of a separation that doesn’t actually exist in real life, we think we’re these separate things that could just ship off into the stars. Really it’s like thinking you can snip a swirling eddy out of the river it appears in.

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Latest comments

  • “We developed these biases of perception out of evolutionary necessity; our recently-evolved prefrontal cortices gave us unprecedented capacity for abstract thought, but it couldn’t help us advance our survival unless we thought of ourselves as separate from sabre-toothed cats etc. ”

    Caitlin, despite your capacity to nail just about everything else, you are so fucking serially wrong about this bit. Humans developed your cited pre-frontal cortex capacity for abstract thought millennia of millennia ago. In a comparatively scant blink of time at this end of that continuum, humans have developed agriculture, thus enabling energy storage and thence the capacity for socio-political hierarchy and extended, systematic warfare. Innate to systemic intertribal warfare is warfare upon resources bases, aka self-absorbed alienation from landscape and nature. Then, mere seconds of time ago, we have the Enlightenment and its defining catch-phrase, “I think therefore I am”. There, in a nutshell, lies the pivot of our modern psychotic alienation from the infinite grandeur of nature.

    How about having a think about your perspective of seeing humanity as being inadequately evolved rather it in fact being devolved, if not pathologically deranged from self-induced, cumulative trauma? Your dogged blindness on this is unfortunate given your perspicacity otherwise.

      • Refer to the direct quote from your article that begins my comment.

        You have plainly stated that humanity’s view of separation from the biosphere developed as an evolutionary necessity. I’m saying it did not, rather it is a modern development that is devolutionary not evolutionary. Indeed, on current directions, it will be the crux of our self-mediated extinction, which constitutes an extreme degree of devolved function. This separated cosmology is evidently an adjunct to the psychotic traumas incurred pursuant to the neolithic construct of expanding power hierarchies.

        Instead of wishing for an evolutionary miracle, why not instead examine how humanity might act, by intent or by force of natural event(s), to strip away the fatally malignant affectations it has succumbed to over just a relatively few millennia?

        • Sorry Greg, but she is correct. Your command of language says you have done 2 years of college but sometimes plain language makes more sense and sells more paperbacks.

          The biosphere is our concept, nothing else looks that far abroad and at the same time nothing wants to be eaten by hyenas even though such dieing is an integral part of the system and ensures the long term viability of both prey and predator. So each and every one of us resists starvation, predation, celibacy, domination by ubermenschen, real or self styled unless they can convince us that they can answer the primal question in our favour too if only….. The primal question is of course “What’s in it for me?” and is asked by everything down to nematodes, every nanosecond of the day and is the guiding principle that balances the biosphere everywhere in the universe where there is one. Call us hypocrites ‘shitlibs’ but we aren’t eager to put our heads on the block even if the only thing left that can save the world is for 7 billion of us get together and do just that, preferably after decommissioning and cementing all the oil and gas wells all the way to the bottom of the ocean. And you know what? The survivors would give thanks to their gods for choosing their favourite sycophants and do it all again. So we all gotta go, we have the means and the intent apparently.

          So ‘when in Rome’ rules and we shall do what we can and enjoy our lives as they grow ever harder until it’s “Goodbye little munchkins.”

          • Perhaps I ha’ve used overly dense language, the purpose of which is to contract more explanation into a shorter space. I thought I was posting to a thoughtful forum, not a rump of ‘paperback’ consumers. Nonetheless my comment at least maintains a coherently consistent line of subject and reason throughout, unlike your reply which presents a structural cohesiveness akin to the pattern on a toilet bowl after an excessively wet fart. I’m sure you feel that you know the compositional meaning of your patchworked array of allusions. Everyone else, not so much.

            Your response falls apart at outset by creating a straw man issue around the genesis and meaning of the term ‘biosphere’. This is completely irrelevant to the point I’ve proposed in direct response to Caitlin’s very distinct use of and analysis from that term.

            If you can’t understand what is being discussed, it is best to ask questions rather than make wrong-headed assertions.

            • If you read the comments besides mine from space cadets through to anti-vaxxers you would understand this is not an elite audience and I offer you your own metaphor. And in second year and beyond we listened to obscure subject jargon but only to get through.

              • If you’d bothered to actually understand my first post you’d realise it was addressed directly to Caitlin, as was my reply to her following response. There is no reasonable rule demanding that I dumb down such direct interaction for the benefit of the lowest planks in the surrounding barrel. Not only don’t you understand the content of the post, you don’t even understand the mechanics of the conversation. Perhaps have a re-read and reflect upon the merit of your interjections?

          • Also, why make an arcane and irrelevant reference to a completely different comment thread regarding shitlibs? It creates the impression that your brain is foaming as it tries to express itself.

    • I found your original comment cogent and spot on.
      I have attempted to explain here, several times, that wild humans were not driven by competition and internecine violence, as tame(slave) humans are. No visible luck with that.
      We share +98% of our genetic makeup with chimpanzees. While the largest, most violent male chimp is the one most likely to reproduce, humans in the wild followed a nearly opposite strategy. That’s why we have language and huge social judgement centers up top, and chimps don’t. That’s why chimps stayed in isolated habitats eating grubs while humans explored the world basically naked, from South Africa to Tiera del Fuego.
      Turn off the artificial scarcity panic, and humans will slide into sharing and cooperation as gracefully and gratefully as if they were made for it— because they are. Acknowledging this hard coded truth about who we are as a species changes absolutely everything about how to deal with our current crises.
      I guess folks are just too attached to the caveman concept.
      Do you read anthropology?

      • So why did my father in uniform, an amiable and intelligent man who grew up in hard times, survive being machine-gunned and blown up with a mortar bomb to kill thirty or forty men personally on Okinawa and with white phosphorous facilitated the incineration of two or three times that number who refused to surrender even at the end of the battle? Why were the lovable and co-operative Polynesians who arrived on Aotearoa transformed into Maoris fortifying their villages and cannibalizing each other 200 years before Cook ever arrived? And they don’t do it anymore with European agriculture feeding everyone quite nicely albeit at the cost of the long -term viability of the island – the forests are gone along with a major gas discovery that provided nitrogen fertiliser for domestic use and export ( now depleted). Your post reminds me of an old nursery rhyme; “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” .

      • It is hard for all of us to see outside of the world view conditioned in us by immersive repetition. Many can’t even begin to do it. Every angle of vision beyond the ‘normal’ remains encrusted with myriad shards of a ‘reality’ that is in fact nothing more than familiar imagination reified by shared and individual ritual. These imaginary artefacts have to be seen as such as they arise to obstruct any alternative vision, whether that be the generality of human nature or specifics regarding our options for economic and political structure. They obstruct broader consciousness by demanding that the familiar is how it is and how it has always been.

        The construct that we’ve alway been competitive brutes battling nature and each other serves to actively validate the status quo as it also feeds the notion that we need another evolutionary step to progress into vibratory and omniscient celestial creatures. This prevalent competitive construct of human nature is a modern amalgam of religious and mercantile Imperial dogmas. We’ve never had it so good is the slogan of the latter, and original sin is the root of the former. The pervasive modern tenet that we can’t go back only forward is incisively deconstructed in many critiques published under ‘The Myth of Progress’.

        In simple terms human nature and experience will improve as we stop doing a lot of stupid shit that, in fact rather than imagination, we haven’t been doing for very long at all. The idea we have always done these things is hierarchy validating propaganda. Thus it is not practically simple to stop these things because the full weight of the hierarchy enforces them. Predicating exit from the current mess upon an aspirational evolutionary step is akin to looking for lost car keys in a well lit lounge room despite having evidence that they’re hanging in the ignition of your locked car which is parked outside in the rain. They simply aren’t there to find, no matter how comfy the search environment. We have the key already. We do not need to make a new one for want of finding it. We just have to leave the toxic cosy lounge room and go back outside into the real world where the key is. However most will choose familiarity, comfort and convenience even at the cost of futility. The house will need to fall down to move them away from it.

        I don’t read a lot of anthropology. I’d like to read a lot more. Fortunately a lot of this is transparent by observation if time is taken to process the meaning of observed events and relationships. Even soundly arranged human consciousness and function will be largely an imaginary construct as humans are imaginative creatures and we codify our reality in stories. However these entirely different mythologies won’t be at odds with the very things that keep us all alive. Thanks for your comment.

        • Much appreciated.
          “After the Ice” Steven Mithen
          Reads well, not the usual stultified pretension; enjoyable and informative. From the last glacial max to the end of the Neolithic.

  • 5 million dead worldwide from covid, and climbing fast. Let’s all get the vaccine and put a stop to it. Then maybe the right wingers won’t feel the need to beat up any more flight attendants.

    • Five million dead from what?
      Where did they pluck that figure from when the Covid PCR test
      ‘IS NOT A DIAGNOSTIC TOOL’ (especially above 30 cycles) as stated by it’s inventor, Nobel prize winner, Kary Mullis?
      Just askin.

      • The world health organization, via a country that the USA is trying to destroy, namely Venezuela. Feel free to look it up.

  • In French, it’s called “fuite en avant”. I looked for a proper translation but all I could find was “dodge”, “forge ahead” or “carry on regardless” which doesn’t quite make it. The concept of “fuite en avant” means that people are fleeing (“fuient”) after a defeat, a failure. But instead of retreating to think it over and maybe try again more successfully after learning from their mistakes, they “flee” forward – clearly a metaphor since this, in real life, would mean extermination – where they are bound to repeat the same mistakes, as happened in the colonization of America. A lot of people came from poor European suburbs, clueless about agriculture. They bought themselves some land and exhausted it in a few years. They then sold it cheap to someone who knew better (or a sucker) and started all over again further and further west where homesteads were free. There’s a very good song by Eagles about that process (aka the American Dream) called The Last Resort where the pioneers ultimately say on reaching the west coast: “there is no more new frontier, we have got to make it here”. Wouldn’t be so lucky though… Having fucked up through the land, they will now “flee ahead” and fuck up through space, from one fucked up station to the next out of the same existential discontent – which is the real “original sin”. Blaise Pascal said that all the troubles of man came from his inability to stay quiet in a room and Lao Tzu wrote that if he ruled some land, he would make sure people were so happy with their lot that even though they could hear the dogs bark in the next village, they would never feel the need to go and check what it looked like. However the western man, out of some strange curse, is unable to enjoy the life he’s been given. He always has an eye on the horizon – which moves along with him like the carrot on the stick before the donkey’s muzzle for a dream is a dream – and, doomed to the rat race, cannot stop long enough to realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.

    • Eastern and every other man is just the same. The barbarians had 20 good years and a European dryas sent them scurrying to warmer climes just when Rome was ready to be sacked. Polynesians moved westward, island hopping into unspoiled paradises, just plunked out there into their path by their Tiki, for their use, where the birds and geckos were tame and easy kai kai. Western man came out of Africa, more recently Islam filled the void the depredations of colonisers, especially the Dutch made in SE Asian archipelagos. We breed up, average 6 or 8 live births to each woman and before you know it there is hunger and discontent and we prey on ever smaller and more labour intensive creatures or each other. It seems self interest is the guiding principle of life probably in the universe, if you don’t fill a niche someone else will and it would have all worked if we weren’t so good at what we do. This must have happened a million times in our own galaxy, Goodbye little Munchkins is like gravity, an inevitability, just one more guiding principle in the universe.

  • There is a very powerful reason why humanity seeks to colonize space. It’s because a certain, not small, proportion of us are restless, curious, or have itchy feet: the explorers, pilgrims, seekers, colonizers, pioneers. Space is empty. There are no natives to exterminate or enslave. Everything we build, we have to make from space rocks, ices, and dust–hauling supplies up from the surface of Earth is a no-no in the long or medium term.
    Caitlin, can you really state without regret that if you could travel to the moon or Mars in reasonable safety and convenience, you wouldn’t go? I’d go in a shot, except I’m too old and the journey would probably kill me.

  • “Worthless shitlibs” are now the modern version of HUAC interrogators and oppressors. And, if you speak out against them, you are targeted for blacklists that result in your no longer being able to work or eat.
    Mandated Persecution:
    https://seaclearly.com/2021/09/23/mandated-christian-persecution
    Obama On Mandates – Before Taking Office:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoSnqofelsQ
    Fauci On Mandates – Before a New Office Came In:

    • Does it help human progress to call people “worthless shitlibs?” One would think that Caitlin knows better than this. So is she playing to her audience in much the same way that the right does in calling people “libtards.” I’m SO tired by this name-calling, aren’t you? Or do you still get a little rush from dogpiling on the rabbit, however much the rabbit may deserve it? The left, I fear, has lost the ability to lead by example.

      • That they are dumb enough think they have to against all evidence to the contrary is why they are called ‘worthless s$$#’ etc.

    • I seem to recall a recent article on this site admonishing us that “All Our Problems are Built On Us-vs-Them Propaganda. It would seem to be appropriate to ponder the shitlib othering.

      https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2021/10/07/all-our-problems-are-built-on-us-vs-them-propaganda/

      • You’re personalising the term rather than seeing it as a category that functions as a flawed assembly point for political identity and action. ‘Shitlib’ is a behaviour that stridently espouses values but refuses to live up to those same standards, and refuses to process, or even allow, cogent thought forms around those discrepancies.

        In large part ‘Shitlib’ is a very particular variety of hypocrite. Should we no longer use the term hypocrite because it might ‘other’ those people who might perhaps be identifiable within that constuct?

        Maybe we should stop communicating precise concepts altogether as the illumination is just to upsetting to the people who are made feel a bit naked by its stark illumination.

        To quote a famous person who doesn’t get a lot else right, “we shouldn’t leave our minds so open that our brains fall out”.

  • Meanwhile, in the lockdown epicentre of the Universe (Melbourne), the Zombies are watching the ‘privileged and pretty people’ celebrate the annual torture spectacle of another species. Horses.
    Is there no end to our hubris?

  • RT has an interesting video interview with Nils Melzer about Assange which is worth watching. Melzer makes the point that Baraitser actually crippled Assange’s appeal with her verdict, because that decision prevents the appeal from being based on human rights/press freedom issues and limits it to the issue of U.S. prison conditions, a much more difficult case for Assange to make. If Baraitser had simply approved the extradition, Assange could have raised these human rights issues in the appeal.

    https://www.rt.com/news/538997-assange-torture-uk-melzer/

  • Prioritise:
    to decide which of a group of things are the most important so that you can deal with them first.
    1. Feed EVERYBODY.
    2. House EVERYBODY.
    3. Clean up the Earth.
    4. End war.
    5. Deliver social justice.
    6. Foster creativity and cooperation.
    7. Dismantle hierarchies.
    8. Send those who disagree to party on their cold, dark, dead space colonies.
    Easy, ain’t it?

    • There is a major split or splits in the environmental movement over your priorities. We have to reduce our impact on the world which means less consumption. Social justice demands more for the have nots but no-one is willing to take less in a logically zero or negative sum game. Not without a war at any rate and to end it you have to fight people who choose it as an option. And since another aspect of social justice is freedom to reproduce, an infinite number of earths are required to feed all these new candidates for life. A 2% population growth rate is a double every 40 years and my calculations say that in 11 doublings (440 years) there is only 1 square meter per person which is standing room only. So do we move into space or deny social justice to somebody else by our simple act of living? Who gets the sh* end of the stick – the ones who don’t get to go or the exiles that leave the relatively rich and hospitable surface of the earth? And we better get a move on, there is a consensus that in a decade or two we will even have destroyed space, practically at any rate because the volume of junk out there now is pushing criticality – when all the crap bashes into each other and fills the useful orbits with Mach 60 clouds of shrapnel.

      • My prediction is that humans will, in the end continue to consume, befoul and reproduce until the current ecosystems all collapse. Then, perhaps, there will be a few hundred thousand humans surviving in rural Antarctica, or perhaps also in the extreme north, the remainder of the world having been rendered uninhabitable from centuries of pollution.

        Here my prediction is archived, so that the surviving descendants may check on its accuracy a thousand or so years from now.

        • Probably true but think of all the crap these tenacious survivors will have to wade through to celebrate you and your perspicacity which like all our endeavours will be nothing but slowly metamorphosing homogeneous sludge for the sedimentary record.

    • actually, it wouldn’t be that difficult to take care of that entire list if people would realize that our neighbor and ourself are the same. If i made it my goal To assure that if I eat, you eat. If I have shelter, you have shelter, etc. etc. etc. This doesn’t happen because our childhood narratives of me against you is in control.

      • Yes, Rick. What NDErs often bring back from their brushes (or perhaps more) with death, according to Dr. Bruce Greyson who’s studied them for some 40 years, is that the Golden Rule (common to all religions and secular humanism) is STRUCTURAL, part of the very fabric of the universe, not merely a moral precept that it’s nice to try to live up to.

  • Interesting metaphysics. Great article

  • As usual – perceptive, well said and accurate. I would add that colonization is, to understate it, unrealistic because Mother Earth protects us from so much – the solar wind and highly energetic cosmic rays that would penetrate anything and destroy life. That is why one billionnaire wants us to be the ones to live in outer space.

    • Share your views 100% Alan. From my observation and reading of interstelar issues, it has become crystal clear to me, without earth’s magentic field protecting humans and everything on this planet, as well as the periphial space between the earth and the Moon, (which is the limit man has reached safely) there is no way in hell, current technology has advanced to the stage humans can go further into REAL space, OUTSIDE the reaches of earth’s magnetic field. Anyone trying to do so will be microwaved in seconds. Until this issue is resolved, mankind is stuck on those earth and needs to get it’s head out of it’s arse, realise this FACT, and clean up it’s own back yard, where the money will be far better spent. The people pushing this interstelar agenda are all people who stand to gain from the investment of such funds, which would be far better spent elsewhere. Maybe cleaning up the junk flying around the earth would be a good start ?

      • Someday, the sun will expand, but well before it occupies Earth’s orbit, the Earth will be incinerated, melted and become part of the sun. To fulfill humanity’s dream of infinite existence, space colonization is required.

        Maybe just not in the next few hundred million years.

        • That dream of humanity’s infinite existence does not involve or require space colonization. Check out the rigorously-researched “Surviving Death” by Leslie Kean, an award-winning mainstream author. Thy mind will not merely be expanded but blown, as was mine.

          • You redefined the terms I used in order to hijack and oppose my view. To be clear, I was referring to the continuation of the physical existence of human animals.

            Inasmuch as the earth will at some point cease to exist as a separate entity [scientific consensus], the life of human animals on the earth cannot continue into infinity.

            • Didn’t mean to do any hijacking, Ferd, but don’t you think that the billionaires dreaming of living forever in space colonies have failed to apprehend that life–the one they/we already have– is eternal?

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