Tuesday, 8 June 2021

The Tories Are Gerrymandering Our Constituency Boundaries

The Boundary Commission has drawn up proposals to make constituency boundaries "fairer" by giving each MP roughly the same number of constituents.

What this means in practice is that Scotland, Wales, the northeast and northwest - basically every region/nation less likely to vote Tory - will lose seats. Their people will have even less of a voice. The Tory-voting southeast, on the other hand, will get more seats and an even louder voice. 

Well, of course, they will. You didn't think the establishment believed in fair play, did you?

Here is who loses out:

  • The northeast will lose 2 seats
  • The northwest will lose 2 seats
  • The west midlands will lose 2 seats
  • Scotland will lose 2 seats
  • Wales will lose a shocking 8 seats
Here is who gains:
  • London will gain 2 seats
  • The southwest will gain 3 seats
  • The southeast will gain 7 seats
By law, each constituency will now have between 69,724 and 77,062 constituents each, but special dispensation will be given to islands such as the Isle of Wight. About 90% of constituency boundaries are set to be redrawn, with new constituencies often crossing county borders, and many of those seats will be renamed. Unsurprisingly, the changes have come in for huge criticism.

The proposals were made because the Tories have insisted the existing boundaries favour their political opponents, which is patently nonsense. We currently have an electoral system where the Tories can lose the popular vote by 2 or 3% and still win a general election. 

This means all the Tories have to do is pander to their southern base and they have clear advantage over the other parties, who must work much harder to win seats. This is one of the key criticisms of our outdated First Past The Post system. It would be much harder to rig an election in your favour under Proportional Representation.

For example, under FPTP, it took:
  • The Tories 34,153 votes to win a seat
  • Labour 40,174 votes to win a seat
  • The Lib Dems 300,000 votes to win a seat
  • The Greens 1.2 million votes to win a seat
This is what a rigged system looks like and the situation's only going to get worse if these boundary proposals go ahead. We are going to see some Tory seats become even safer seats and some of the seats held by other parties disappear altogether. The changes are expected to come into effect in 2023 and the proposals are only likely to be changed/cancelled if there is sufficient public outcry.

The biggest problem with my local northeast is that Tory rule is forever imposed on our region and this means permanent neglect and lack of investment. Public spending is always diverted towards the more affluent (but still highly imbalanced) southeast of England. The same can be said for the other regions/nations which are set to be impacted by these changes.

The north/south divide is a very deliberate and unnecessary construct. Us northerners get ignored and neglected, just like the Scots and Welsh do, and now the Tories will have even less of an incentive to represent us. 

They can simply disregard the needs of my local northeast, defund our services, and exploit our workers, and there is not a damn thing we can do about it. This is not remotely fair or democratic and is precisely why there are growing calls for northern independence, as well as Scottish and Welsh independence. 

The establishment controls the BBC, the mainstream media, our right to strike and protest, our constituency boundaries, both of our major political parties, and now it is taking another step towards ensuring its power is absolute.

The only things the establishment do not have control over yet are our social media accounts and the alternative media - the voices which have ensured younger generations are not brainwashed by bullshit MSM narratives. You can bet your right arm they will be looking at ways to come for us next.

As far as I am concerned, the breakup of the United Kingdom cannot come soon enough.

We have had enough of these Tory bastards.

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Monday, 7 June 2021

G7 Warns Aid Cut Will Cost Lives: Top Tories Fail to See Downside

The Tory government has received condemnation from the G7, and even some of its own MPs, for plans to cut foreign aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP. This money was to be spent on girls' education, reproductive health, HIV prevention and treatment, and humanitarian support for the genocides we are conducting in The Yemen and Syria. Basically, it was money to save lives and undo some of the damage of British imperialism, but the prime minister would rather hand that money over to his rich mates, presumably.

Fortunately, Boris Johnson faces possible defeat in the House of  Commons as some his MPs have apparently found their moral conscience (or more likely are acting upon factional opportunism and really want a role in Rory Stewart's future cabinet.)

Reptilian-in-a-human-costume David Davis has warned that: "morally, this is a devastating thing." 

Davis is understood to have looked up the word "morally" on Wikipedia, prior to defying his government, but he showed a glimpse of his reptilian scales when he added: "Historically, I am a critic of aid spending, but doing it this way is really so harmful."

In other words, Davis would and would not like to cut aid spending. He is a conviction politician, just like wor Keith.

Puzzlingly, I understand Theresa May is also trying on her human costume to join the rebels, but she really is fooling no one. We can still see the horns, Theresa. 

Regardless, the Tories tearing themselves apart can only be a good thing, and the whole drama presents the perfect opportunity for the leader of the opposition to capitalise and gain some of the 36 points he needs to get 20 points ahead. 

Any comment to make, Keith? What's that? You're still consulting your focus groups?

Palm meets face.

The government has defended the popularity of the foreign aid cut, but sadly, by "popularity," I suspect they mean popular among flag shaggers who say "Let's help our own first" and then refuse to help our own and spend their days raging against benefits claimants on social media. 

"Let's help our own billionaires!" they were meant to say.

The cut amounts to £4 billion, or roughly 1/10 of the amount the Tories gave Serco and other companies to run the broken Test and Trace program. Perhaps, if desperate people in one of the countries we've looted rebranded themselves as a corporation and donated a fiver to the Conservative Party, they might get offered a few billion quid extra. It's always worth a try.

The Tories have boasted they will still spend £10 billion on foreign aid this year, but no word, as of yet, if they plan to return the crown jewels or the contents of the British Museum to their rightful owners. They have also clarified the aid budget will be restored to 0.7% of GDP as soon as the fiscal situation is restored, which will probably be never, given how this lot are butchering the economy.

G7 leaders are appalled to discover Britain is the only member country which is cutting foreign aid this year. Clearly, they are blissfully unaware the Tories spent 11 years culling our citizens through austerity and are now taking their mass culling program worldwide.

Britain's wealth is built upon the exploitation of poor countries and foreign aid is basically our government putting sticking plasters over the bullet wounds of corporate greed. Now, we're telling the victims they're getting a smaller sticking plaster.

So, let's at least help our own, guys, right? I'm hungry, can I get some support, please?

No, fuck off, scrounger! they reply.

Let's be clear, this reduction in foreign aid is no more about reducing the UK's national deficit than austerity was. Remember the decade of poverty wages and broken services we endured to get us back to budget surplus and instead the deficit almost trebled? 

Well, the government has another excuse to do the same again - this time it's not the worldwide recession, it's the global pandemic, but the end result will be that you get poorer, your public services get worse, and while "we're all in this together," the rich will get ever richer. This is another shameless Tory cash grab and one which will murder some of the most vulnerable people on Earth.

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Saturday, 5 June 2021

Happy 153rd Birthday James Connolly

Today, 5th June 2021, marks the 153rd birthday of the iconic trade unionist, founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party, and later, co-founder of the Irish Labour Party.

James Connolly was a strong opponent of English rule in Ireland and he commanded the Irish army during the 1916 Easter Rising (aka Easter Rebellion). This marked the first armed conflict of the Irish revolution and although 16 of its leaders were executed, it led to a huge rise in public support for Irish independence. 

Connolly was sentenced to death by firing squad on 12th May 1916 for his leading role in the Easter Rising. He was so badly injured from the conflict, he was unable to stand and was therefore tied to a chair before being shot dead. His body was then dumped into a mass grave without a coffin.

Connolly's execution serves as a timely reminder that capitalists throughout the world will stop at nothing, certainly not taking lives, in order to protect capital interests and maintain their empires.

Connolly was heavily influenced by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx and became an active participant in the Scottish Socialist Federation. He grew heavily involved in socialist politics during the 1880s and went on to become the founding editor of The Socialist newspaper and later, the editor of another socialist publication - The Free Press. He was also involved with many other publications throughout his career.

Connolly saw the fight for Irish independence and the fight to overthrow capitalism as one and the same, and hoped victory for republicans would help spread anti-imperialist sentiment worldwide. His views meant he was just as hated by Irish capitalists as by British imperialists.

In 1910, Connolly co-founded the Irish Labour Party, with James Larkin and William O'Brien, to be the political wing of the Irish Trades Union Congress. Connolly is regarded as one of the most influential figures of the socialist movement, not just in Ireland, but throughout the world.

Here are some his his greatest quotes:

"No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression."
"The worker is the slave of capitalist society, the female worker is the slave of that slave." 
"Yes, friends, governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class." 

"The Irish people will only be free, when they own everything from the plough to the stars."

"Don't be 'practical' in politics. To be practical in that sense means that you have schooled yourself to think along the lines, and in the grooves that those who rob you would desire you to think."

"Under a socialist system every nation will be the supreme arbiter of its own destinies, national and international; will be forced into no alliance against its will, but will have its independence guaranteed and its freedom respected by the enlightened self-interest of the socialist democracy of the world."

"State ownership and control is not necessarily Socialism - if it were, then the Army, the Navy, the Police, the Judges, the Gaolers, the Informers, and the Hangmen, all would all be Socialist functionaries, as they are State officials - but the ownership by the State of all the land and materials for labour, combined with the co-operative control by the workers of such land and materials, would be Socialism."

"If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs."

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Is Donald Trump's Social Media Ban A Good Thing?

Former US President Donald Trump has received a two year ban from Facebook and Instagram for praising the US Capitol rioters. This comes five months after Twitter issued him with a permanent ban for similar behaviour. 

At the time of the Twitter ban, many people celebrated and I was certainly among them, but many others, even on the left, expressed concern about freedom of speech and the power of tech giants to censor even presidents.

While my gut says social media should have red lines, I must acknowledge there is some validity to the concerns which have been expressed. This is a fine balancing act to get right and I can understand the reasoning of Facebook to issue a two year, rather than permanent, suspension. 

Facebook had initially made the ban indefinite, but have now clarified the ban will last until at least January 2023 and will only be removed if the risk to public safety has receded.

I understand Twitter is looking at ways to bring people back after they've been suspended, but I'm unaware of any concrete plans to do this, and Twitter has stated Trump's ban is indeed permanent. 

So were theses bans proportionate? Or are we seeing overreach on the part of tech giants?

Let's recap:

On 6th January 2021, a bunch of MAGA fanatics stormed the US Capitol building in an attempt to overturn Joe Biden's presidential election victory. The Capitol was locked down for hours while politicians' lives were at serious risk, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who hid in a toilet cubicle from those who had come to murder her.

Ocasio-Cortez was told to: "Hide, run and hide," and she snuck into her bathroom as an intruder entered her office and yelled: "Where is she?"

Ocasio-Cortez later said: "this was the moment where I thought everything was over. And the weird thing about moments like these is that you lose all sense of time.

"In retrospect, maybe it was four seconds. Maybe it was five seconds, maybe it was ten seconds. Maybe it was one second, I don't know. It felt like my brain was able to have so many thoughts.

"In between the screams and the yells, I mean, I thought I was going to die."

One person was shot dead by Capitol Police and 140 other people were injured. Three people died from natural causes and one more later died from a drug overdose.

Donald Trump and his family were watching live footage of the build up to these events, laughing and joking, having told the public the election was stolen from them. Many commentators have argued this was incitement and an attempted coup.

It must be emphasised, the riot started at noon that day, when Trump addressed a rally, saying: "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

During Trump's speech, thousands of attendees marched to the Capitol and breached police perimeters. Many individuals, armed with guns and tie wraps, marched into the building, facing shockingly limited resistance from police, who were either complicit or powerless to stop them. The evidence suggests some officers were complicit, but other officers and reporters were injured. 

The mob erected a mock gallows and chanted: "Hang Mike Pence!" because they had wanted the vice president to overturn the election result and they felt betrayed by him. Offices, such as the office of Nancy Pelosi, were vandalised and looted as police evacuated the Senate and House of Representatives. Pipe bombs were later found at the offices of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and molotov cocktails were discovered in a nearby vehicle.

Donald Trump was still president while this invasion was taking place and he refused to send in the National Guard to quell the mob. Surely, this in itself was an act of treason. Trump only agreed to stand down as President when members of his own administration turned against him and resigned en masse. A cynical person might suggest they acted in self-preservation, rather than moral principle.

The whole event appeared to be much more than a mere riot. It looked like an attempted coup, or at the very least, a dress rehearsal for one. It looked like the President was testing the waters to see how many supporters would be willing to fight for him, how many law enforcement officers would take his side, and how many of his administration would back him all the way.

I would suggest he used his gullible fanatical supporters and did not care one iota whether they lived or died or spent a very long time in prison. I would suggest he was thinking only of the possibility that if he stepped down, he might himself end up in prison for the shocking levels of corruption he seems to be guilty of.

So that's the background to this - an attempted coup - one in which politicians from both parties came close to being murdered, and one which Trump has repeatedly praised.

The thing about dress rehearsals is that next time, during the real thing, people come prepared, they learn their lessons and they have a much better chance of succeeding. Donald Trump's social media platforms were his most effective tool for rallying his base and turning them into fanatics convinced he is the only person who can save them. 

Save them from what, I'm not sure? The establishment, I guess. 

If only they were smart enough to understand, Donald Trump is the establishment. He is the establishment on steroids, just without its respectable face. He is the one who keeps embarrassing his fellow corporatists by saying the quiet parts loud and causing the US empire to lose credibility. But his and their goals of consolidating corporate wealth and power are still one and the same. 

Trump's supporters are too gullible to understand that "Make America Great Again" never meant taking them with him, it meant exploiting them. But many are radicalised to the point they believe the opposite is truth and they will die fighting for the man who is their ultimate enemy. There is a cruel irony in there somewhere.

So, while on the one hand, I absolutely believe in freedom of speech, I must, on the other hand, say freedom of platform is not an absolute right and social media giants must have their limits. And those limits must be imposed whenever public safety is at stake.

Again, there is a fine balancing act here, and the risks of tech giants deciding which members of the public, let alone which presidents, can speak on their platforms is concerning. While I don't think Twitter and Facebook are as monstrous as they're often portrayed (don't jump on me!) I certainly don't think they are great protectors of democracy either. Their preference appears to be to maintain the status quo and there is nothing democratic about that.

While today, tech giants are rightly censoring a former president who attempted a violent revolution, perhaps tomorrow, they will use the same argument to ban a lefty blogger who calls for peaceful revolution against capitalism. All it takes is a single out of context quote and they've got their justification, if they're so inclined.

Of course, I am absolutely in favour of banning those individuals who incite violence or racial hatred. Nobody would, for example, object to a ban on a person sharing child pornography, and surely those others things fall into the same category of extreme behaviour. But at the same time, almost any other political views, even unpalatable ones, must be protected.

So how do we balance this? Do we leave it in the hands of social media giants to decide what is and is not acceptable? 

There have been many reports of Palestinian activists being taken off social media for exposing the war crimes of Israel. The counter-argument would be these people are "terrorists" or "supporters of terrorism" and therefore their removal was justified. But who is really qualified to make that call? Why is one side allowed a voice in a decades-long conflict and not the other?

We could argue for legislation to protect free speech on social media platforms, but would that really be any better? You could imagine a Donald Trump or a Boris Johnson skewing such rules massively in favour of the right wing to protect their imperialist narratives. Their justification would be that anyone who opposes them is a threat to a democracy or supporter of terrorism or whatever.

Let's not forget the Tory government banned all books from anti-capitalists in schools, even if the content was not political. Governments love to censor people to consolidate their own power.

In other words, legislation to "protect" freedom of speech is not risk-free.

I honestly don't know what the answers are, but I understand and respect the argument of free speech absolutists, who say no political speech should be censored for the above reasons. I suspect this is going to be a problem which follows us into the future, one which we will never have easy answers for, and one which will inevitably result in as many good guys being censored as bad guys.

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Friday, 4 June 2021

Margaret Hodge Is Gunning for Unite Leadership Hopeful Howard Beckett

Labour MP for Barking, Margaret Hodge, appears to be gunning for Unite leadership candidate Howard Beckett. She has asked the police to investigate the Unite union over accusations Beckett and others conspired to unseat Labour MPs Ian Austin and Tom Watson in 2018. Leaked emails show such a conversation took place, and that activists had wanted payment for their activities, but they do not confirm any money actually changed hands.

A reasonable person might argue those MPs deserved to be unseated, but it would be illegal to fund any such effort without Unite declaring where the funds were going. Fortunately, there appears to be no evidence that funds were misspent and Unite has insisted no payments were ever made.

Beckett said in a statement to the BBC:

"Margaret Hodge is making a political stunt.

"She's obviously doing it because of the fact that there is a Unite general secretary election. She opposes my candidature; she supports someone else in the race."

Hodge had the audacity to say of Unite's alleged activity that: "Whether it's legal or not, it is immoral."

Beckett described Hodge's accusations as "laughable" and "risible." 

I know whose side I'm on...

Howard Beckett does not strike me as the type of person who would act dishonestly and I suspect Hodge's behaviour is going to backfire if and when his name is cleared. I actually thought Hodge was supposed to be retiring as an MP, but maybe that was just wishful thinking, because here she is, doing the only thing she is good for: fighting the left.

She has a track record of fighting the left...

Hodge called Jeremy Corbyn a "fucking antisemite and racist" during his time as Labour leader and somehow she was not expelled from the party. Just imagine an MP from the Socialist Campaign Group speaking to Sir Keith Starmer in this manner. Imagine how many microseconds it would take David Evans to issue a suspension!

It appears to be one rule for the Labour right and another for the Labour left...

Margaret Hodge tweeted that people should not vote for Labour in 2019. Yet my friend James Foster was expelled from the party and banned from reapplying for five years for a lesser offence.

Just look at that Tweet. How is this anything other than a massive double standard?

Strangely, Margaret Hodge seems rather quiet about the Forde report which explores the possibility the Labour right diverted campaign funds away from left wing parliamentary candidates and towards right wing candidates without permission. If she is concerned about fair play, this is exactly the kind of thing I would expect her to be vocal about.

Hodge claims the Labour right were trying to win the last general election, yet she never missed an opportunity to go on TV and attack her own party leader. She has previously stated people are "deluded" if they think Labour should be a left wing party and she complained on Twitter about the influence of "trade union barons." Just wait until she discovers Labour was founded by trade unions to be a left wing party! She will probably shit a brick if she notices the words "democratic socialist" on her Labour membership card.

In all seriousness, MPs like Margaret Hodge should be nowhere near the Labour Party. Instead, they've taken it over. And now a brave few are fighting back. 

Howard Beckett is the man with the moral courage to lead the charge and he is currently surging ahead of other hopefuls in the race to gather nominations from local Unite branches, even winning nominations he was not supposed to win. Beckett is a man of the people and his message is resonating with disillusioned socialists who feel abandoned by Starmer's centre-right corporatism and lack of opposition. He has indicated that if Labour continues on its right wing path, Unite would consider pulling funding from the party under his leadership.

Here's my suggestion:

Now, I'm not sure if this is even possible, but I would be fully in favour of Unite standing candidates at the next general election and becoming a political party, or alternatively, backing fledgling parties like the Breakthrough Party and the Northern Independence Party, who both have brilliant people working for them. I, like so many, desperately want the kind of left wing alternative that Margaret Hodge and others are determined to deny us. That is why I back Howard Beckett for Unite general secretary.

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Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Buckingham Palace Refused to Employ Ethnic Minorities

Buckingham Palace refused to employ clerical workers from ethnic minorities, according to documents from the national archives. These documents reveal the so-called non-political monarch negotiated legal clauses through the "Queen's consent" to make the palace exempt from race and gender discrimination laws, such as the Race Relations Act 1968. Those exemptions remain in place to this day.

A civil servant noted in 1968 that it was not practice for the palace to employ "coloured immigrants or foreigners" in clerical roles, but they would be considered for "ordinary domestic posts." In other words, minorities could be cleaners and maids (nothing wrong with that, of course), but office work was considered above them.

The civil servant noted that if: "legislation applied to the Queen’s Household, it would for the first time make it legally possible to criticise the Household. Many people do so already, but this has to be accepted and is on a different footing from a statutory provision."

In other words, the monarchy knew it was being racist and did not want to be held legally accountable for its discrimination. The documents show the Queen's advisors negotiated the wording of laws with the government, and again, those legal exemptions remain in place to this day, even after the 2010 Equality Act. Just think, this Act presented the perfect opportunity for the palace to update its archaic rules and it opted to keep them in place.

We are talking about a family of German heritage whose ancestors were handed the crown after a bunch of rebels overthrew the King to replace him with someone whose religion they preferred. We are talking about a family which has married people from all around Europe, but of course, they were the "acceptable" kind of foreigner because they all had white skin. 

It is "coloured people" (their vile term, not mine), which they have a problem with, and people wonder why Meghan Markle found it so difficult living with this lot?

They bullied and humiliated Britain's first Black Princess and freaked out about the fact the Queen's great grandson might have been born with pigment in his skin. 

It's perfectly okay to fuck your white supremacist cousin in the royal family, but marrying a talented, charming, Black American actress is a bit too much for them. They see Black and Brown people as being no better than servants, and any role which puts ethnic minorities on a level footing with white people is unacceptable to them.

The idea of a royal family is unacceptable to me. And so is racism.

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Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Sorry, Folks, It's Not Aliens!

Now I know every thinking person already understands the recent UFO furore is just another distraction from whatever dumb shit the US empire is planning to do next (or maybe just a distraction from Joe Biden's broken campaign promises) but let's be honest here, we've all asked ourselves the same question: What if?

Personally, I would love nothing more than super-advanced aliens crossing the galaxy to overthrow our God-awful political leaders and fire them into the sun. After all, life under alien rule could not possibly be worse than life under Tory rule, but that possibility isn't just unlikely, it's absurdly implausible.

As I'm a sci-fi writer, America's latest distraction at least allows me a little self-indulgence and a fun diversion from my constantly angry political outbursts, so today I'm going to breakdown exactly why aliens aren't visiting us and almost certainly never will.

The Fermi Paradox

The Fermi Paradox goes something like this: our universe is unimaginably vast at 93,016,000,000 light years across and incomprehensibly ancient at 13,770,000,000 years old. There should be more habitable planets in our observable universe than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth and that means a lot of opportunities for life to arise.

It would seem reasonable to assume that life is arising throughout the universe all the time and some of these lifeforms inevitably go on to build civilisations. Those civilisations should on average be much more ancient and therefore much more technologically-advanced than our own. The techno-signatures from such civilisations should be everywhere and yet we don't see a damn thing when we look into the night sky.

If an alien species is traversing the galaxy, then humans, even with our limited technology, should know about this well in advance of their arrival, and this is because, not only should interstellar spaceships be highly visible, but so too should their empires. Techno-signatures are not things you can simply hide with advanced technology either, not unless you have technology which breaks the laws of thermodynamics. 

The only possible workaround I can think of for the above would be as follows:

An alien species slightly more advanced than our own sent a bunch of unmanned (un-aliened?) space probes to check Earth out. We did not see the techno-signatures because the probes travelled slowly over a long period of time with a propulsion system not much more advanced than what humans currently have. Such a propulsion system would probably not be visible to our radio telescopes. 

Those space probes eventually reached Earth after hundreds of years, and they are checking us out, but they probably haven't sent messages home, because any sufficiently powerful signal should be easily detectable with our instruments. We are talking about signals orders of magnitude stronger than anything humans have ever sent. 

If we could not detect such a signal, it would suggest the aliens had some physics-breaking technology, but this would put them way in advance of humans. If the aliens were so far advanced, we would not expect them to have sent such slow and crappy space probes to Earth. 

If the aliens did have incredible communications technology, they would probably have impressive propulsion technology, and again, that should be highly visible, due to the energy it emits. Surely, if aliens went to the trouble of hiding their communications signals with advanced cloaking technology, they wouldn't leave their space probes so visible to our equipment. It would seem like an obvious contradiction.

If the aliens were not bothered about hiding, we would expect to have more than inconclusive, grainy footage which can plausibly be explained in other ways.

Also, we would expect such an advanced species to have a Milky Way spanning empire which would not only be easily observable, but would probably have colonised our solar system like Europeans colonised the Americas (or exterminated our species or decided to watch over us like interstellar foster parents.) But we're not dead and we don't see the obvious signs of a spacefaring civilisation.

So, if the UFOs truly are of alien origin, the most plausible explanation is we are being visited by space probes from a species of limited technology, which is not communicating with home. These aliens must not be capable of spreading beyond their own solar system and have reached a technological dead-end. This would seem unlikely, given the technologies we think are within our reach, such as nuclear fusion rockets, which should enable expansion beyond our solar system. 

This explanation presents some additional problems

For example, the likelihood there is one other sapient species in our galaxy and they just happen to be at a similar level of technological advancement to humans seems low. With so many planets and so much time for life to evolve, you would not expect this to be the case, because even technological plateaus should be overcome, given enough time, unless the laws of physics prevent further breakthroughs.

But perhaps aliens sent these space probes a long time ago and their species has since become extinct. This is a plausible scenario and fits with the Late Filter Hypothesis which I will get to later, but it begs the question of how space probes of limited technology would survive in space for so long.

Space is not just an empty void - there are dust grains and rocks and solar flares and constant radiation. Even if a space probe could survive the physical wear and tear from spending a long time in space, which is not unthinkable, it would also face the problem of radiation messing with its circuitry.

Think of computer code like DNA - whenever it interacts with gamma radiation, the computer code is likely to be damaged or altered, and the longer a probe is in space, the more of a problem this becomes. 

For a species which is only capable of sending slow-moving space probes and not able to leave its own solar system, this would pose a huge technological challenge. How would they make their probes and circuitry capable of surviving such a long and dangerous journey? It's probably not impossible, but would seem unlikely for a species which was reaching a technological plateau, given challenges like advanced propulsion should be no harder to overcome.

Things just don't seem to add up

So, we are being visited by space probes of a species which is probably extinct, and if not extinct, has reached a technological plateau and not moved beyond its own solar system, nor sent any radio or laser signal that we have detected (unless they were responsible for the WOW signal which we could not make head nor tail of.)

The slow moving, technologically-limited space probes have somehow survived hundreds or even thousands of years in space and still follow their original programming, but are probably not trying to communicate with home because we would almost certainly hear the signal. 

Doesn't quite work, does it?

Now you might think I'm getting ahead of myself on one or two points here, so let's go into a little more depth. 

If alien civilisations were arising and thriving, then we should see obvious signs in our telescopes such as the infra-red glow of waste heat from Dyson Swarms as stars vanish from sight. But we don't, so where are they?

The most likely answers to this question are as follows:

1. They aren't out there because the genesis of life is such an improbable event that we may well be the only sapient species within about five billion light years. We think the universe wasn't particularly suited for life more than five billion years ago because there were far fewer rocky planets and complex chemicals, meaning we would not expect to see civilisations more than five billion light years away. We are possibly alone in our patch of the universe, which is a depressing thought, I know, but the next possibility is even more depressing...

2. Aliens are out there, but they never reach a level of technological advancement much beyond where we are at now, either because we are very close to a technological plateau, or there is a "late filter" ahead of us.

Filters in this context are anything that reduces the likelihood of life evolving and developing into a civilisation-building species. A late filter is something ahead of us which will stop us - which stops almost all lifeforms - developing any further. This could be climate change wiping us out, or nuclear weapons, or a cloud of grey goo, or some technological experiment that creates a black hole and sucks in our entire planet (the last one seems highly doubtful!)

Here's the scariest part: if the genesis of life is common (and we should know if it's common in the coming decades) then it means a late filter almost certainly lies ahead of us. Otherwise, we would expect to see techno-signatures every time we looked into the night sky. And we don't.

All of the technologies we can imagine, from nuclear fusion to antimatter drives to black hole engines to Dyson Swarms could leave tell-tale signs, not just in our own galaxy, but possibly even in other galaxies. We should see something, even with our crappy technology, because these things would be LOUD but we hear only silence.

And remember, even if sapience is a rare evolutionary trait, if the genesis of life is common, the sheer scale of the universe and the endless opportunities for life means sapience becomes inevitable.

Let's say, for example, only 1 in 10,000 planets which hosted life would go onto host a sapient species. If there were 100,000 inhabited planets in our galaxy, we would expect to see about ten civilisations here, and we'd expect to see civilisations in some neighbouring dwarf galaxies and in the Andromeda Galaxy and in almost every major galaxy within about 5 billion light years.

And here's the thing: we would not expect such civilisations to remain confined to a single solar system. They would surely spread out, just like humans spread out to every continent and island on Earth.

Humans are probably close to the point of becoming a post-ageing civilisation, meaning we should be able to halt the ageing process within the next 50-100 years. If we can do that, other species should be able to do that as well. What this would mean is exponential population growth and with that comes unbearable pressure to expand.

A post-ageing population would inevitably be forced to stop reproducing until it finds more real estate, and it's difficult to imagine every member of every species would be happy to agree to never have children. If they could expand, many would, and this leads onto the next problem:

The Dyson Dilemma

With exponential population growth, you don't just face increased demand for living space but also energy. It would therefore seem logical for an alien species to follow the optimal path for harnessing energy and resources, which, barring any physics-breaking technology, like transcending to a more accommodating alternate universe, would mean following the path laid out by theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson.

It goes something like this: as room on your planet is running out, it's reasonable to assume you would start assessing the options in your solar system. And while many might assume that would mean colonising other planets like Mars, it would actually make way more sense to start building space stations.

You can build solar-powered rotating space stations, called O'Neill cylinders, which would have huge advantages over planets. The living area you can create, relative to the amount of building material is truly immense and the rotation generates artificial gravity. If the population of your civilisation is forever expanding, O'Neill cylinders are the most resource-efficient step you can take to house as many people as comfortably as possible.

And if you have automation doing the building work for you, it becomes far quicker to convert an entire Mars-sized planet into O'Neill Cylinders, than it would to terraform that planet. You would also be able to house orders of magnitude more people in those space stations than on the planet's surface.

It would seem an inevitable step for any advanced civilisation to surround their sun with solar collectors to harness energy and space stations to cater for their unfathomably large populations. Even if they opted to leave their planets intact, asteroids and small moons would provide more than enough building material for such a project. Whether this process takes thousands, or even millions of years, we would expect to see stars surrounded by these swarms.

They are called Dyson Swarms or Dyson Spheres.

And remember we would not expect any civilisation to limit its home range to its solar system of origin either. It would inevitably spread out, sending its robots to every asteroid to build more O'Neill Cylinders and then to neighbouring solar systems, with waves of colonists shortly behind. 

You don't need to undergo the arduous journeys of travelling from solar system to solar system to colonise an entire galaxy. Your species can travel from asteroid to asteroid and eventually it will colonise Alpha Centauri and solar systems beyond, just like if you travel from island to island from the Americas, you will eventually reach Asia and then the continents beyond. Lots of short journeys with relatively slow space craft still adds up to a huge expansion. You crunch the numbers and a civilisation should be able to consume the entire Milky Way via this process in about 10 million years. Indeed, this is the path we would expect humans to take.

The only reasons we wouldn't are as follows:

1. We found something better. Maybe we managed to create our own tailor-made universe and simply left this universe for good. This is an idea known as transcendence and it seems far-fetched, to say the least,  but it would be a neat solution to the Fermi Paradox.

2. A late filter lies ahead of us - meaning extinction is nigh. Given our penchant for destruction and our determination to destroy our own climate, I'd put the odds on this one at fifty-fifty. The Mediocrity Principle suggests you are probably a typical example of your species. This means statistically there are likely to be a similar number of humans born after you as have been born before you. At current birth rates, that would give us about 600 years until humanity either dies out or evolves into a posthuman species.

3. A technological plateau means we can never reach the necessary level of technology. This option seems unlikely because you don't need to be super hi-tech to start the process of building a Dyson Swarm, and indeed, we appear to be on the brink of starting that process, right now.

The key hurdles we need to overcome are the ability to mass produce advanced metamaterials, like graphene composites, which seems to be just around the corner, and following that, the development of space elevators to massively reduce the cost of escaping our gravity well and getting into space (which is what we need the metamaterials for). 

We don't even need some of the other expected technologies like self-replicating machines and nuclear fusion rockets, although such developments would help massively and make such projects far cheaper and easier.

If humans don't face a late filter, it's safe to assume we will build a Dyson Swarm over the coming centuries and millennia, and our first O'Neill Cylinder will probably come this century.

So assuming the Late Filter Hypothesis is wrong, it leads us onto another possibility - the First Born Hypothesis. You could reasonably expect the first sapient species to evolve in a galaxy would consume the resources of the galaxy, and probably neighbouring galaxies too, stopping any other technological species from arising in the process (bearing in mind such a species could become a dangerous rival).

All the above basically means either we're not being visited by aliens because all civilisations wipe themselves out with their own technology and we will soon. Or life is incredibly rare, and we are among the first technological species to arise within a radius of several billion light years.

Either we are about to become gods or we are about to die from our own stupidity. But one thing is clear, we are almost certainly not being visited by aliens.

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