Its very easy, these days, to rely on Nazi metaphors to model current events. And there certainly is good reason to do so. Central to all fascism is the conviction that “We” are inherently superior to “Them”. Sometime this alleged superiority is ascribed to genetic causes–the myths of racial or blood superiority. Other times it is nationalistic, the idea that our connection to a certain geographical region or historical tradition is the source of our exceptionalism–blood and soil.
In our own enlightened times, the origin of our superiority to others is often explained by our unique embracing of supposed shared virtues. We are told our tribe is “better” because only WE truly embrace ambition, deferred gratification, hard work, family values, patriotism, religious devotion, innovation, self-reliance, creativity, competition, individualism or entrepreneurial excellence. The Other, of course, is accused of being utterly devoid of these qualities, and therefor worthy of subjugation, oppression and even extermination.
The horror of twentieth century fascism was eventually defeated, but it took an unholy alliance to do so. It was eventually dispatched by the cooperation of a brutal Stalinist dictatorship, history’s greatest and most widespread imperialist empire, and a progressive democracy which had built its strength by exploiting slave labor to work the lands it had stolen from its own indigenous people and its weaker southern neighbors.
I make no personal accusations here. None of us was even born when these events occurred. we need not feel guilt about them. It is not our fault that we may benefit from historical injustice, but we can be rightly condemned for forgetting it.
The powerful and the wealthy are primarily interested in staying that way. They may not necessarily feel they are superior to anyone else, but that is the myth they peddle to their victims when they need allies to seize control of the social, political or economic order. They will exploit fear, uncertainty, and the biases and prejudices that may already exist in society to do so.
Perhaps this is why we are drawn to SETI. Perhaps we subconsciously seek communities, or civilizations, which have outgrown or abandoned the many forms of human fascism.