Governments react to reports of UFOs, or UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena) as the military in Europe are inclined to call them, with a wide range of responses. For instance, France and Belgium encourage reports by civilian witnesses and conducts official investigations. At the other extreme, the United States follows a policy that, in her 2010 book UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record (Three Rivers Press), Leslie Kean calls the UFO taboo.
The U.S. government neither encourages reporting, not exhibits any interest in investigating and providing credible answers to the public. (Of course, the military investigates for its own purposes.) It inflicts a particularly childish form of denial on the public despite the vast number of Americans who have witnessed three-dimensional objects that fly at thousands of miles and hours and pivot on a dime. As a result, voices of witnesses are silenced and pens of establishment journalists stilled for fear of marginalization at the least and stigmatization at the worst.
One chapter of Kean’s book is devoted to the work of Alexander Wendt and Raymond Duvall, two brave social scientists who, in 2008, were, by Kean’s estimation, the first to treat an element of the UFO phenomenon in a scholarly journal. Appearing in Political Theory, Sovereignty and the UFO is the result of Wendt and Duvall’s attempts to discover why a government such as the United States won’t touch UFOs, at least for public consumption, with a ten-foot pole. I’m currently reading the paper, but excerpts from the chapter they wrote for Kean’s book follow.
The inability to see clearly and talk rationally about UFOs seems to be a symptom of authoritative anxiety [over a threat that] is threefold. On the most obvious level, acceptance of the possibility that … an unknown, very powerful “other” might actually exist, represents a potential physical threat. [The] possibility of colonization or even extermination [thus calls] into question the state’s ability to protect its citizens from such an invasion. Second, governments may also be reacting to the possibility that a confirmation of extraterrestrial presence would create tremendous pressure for a [oh, no, not that! -- Ed.] world government, which today’s territorial states would be loath to form. … Anything that required subsuming [the difference between states] into a global sovereignty would threaten the fundamental structure of these states.
The final reason may be even more primal than the first two. (Emphasis added.)
Third, however, and in our view most important, the extraterrestrial possibility calls into question what we call the anthropocentric nature of modern sovereignty. By this we mean that, in the modern world, political organization everywhere is based on the assumption that only human beings have the ability and authority to govern and determine our collective fate. … Such anthropocentrism, or human-centeredness, is a modern assumption, one less common in prehistoric and ancient times, when Nature or the gods were considered more powerful than human beings and thought to rule.
Significantly, it is on this anthropocentric basis that modern states are able to command exceptional loyalty and resources from their subjects. [The] UFO phenomenon. … raises the possibility of something analogous to the materialization of God, as in the Christians’ “Second Coming.” To whom would people [then] give their loyalty?
… an authoritative taboo on the UFO is functionally necessary for rule to be sustained in its present form. … There is therefore nothing for the sovereign [state] to do but turn away its gaze — to ignore, and hence be ignorant of the UFO — and make no decision at all.
In other words, Wendt and Duvall write, the UFO taboo “is a functional imperative of modern, anthropocentric rule.”
Just as we suspected, UFOs may be a threat to the rule of man.