A Guide to Planet Earth for Visitors and Residents

This planet is dangerous. (Casual travellers and tourists are not permitted to visit this planet. For reasons of safety and cultural disturbance only officials may visit, and then covertly.)
General Administrative Directorate

The inhabitants of this planet fight each other, and poison their air, soil, water and electrosphere. Visitors may be affected by these activities.

This is the third planet from the star. No other planets in this system are inhabited at present. The inhabitants have so far made short visits to their only satellite, which is large enough to be classified as a twin planet, but are not occupying it at present and are believed to have no plans for visiting it again for many years. Only one other planet (the fourth) is likely to be visited in the near future (estimate within the next hundred years). All the others are either too hot or too cold. Intelligent life can be found on land in every part.

Methods of Communication

The intelligent life on this planet communicates through several modes:

Sounds made by the mouth and breathing system.

Writing - marks on paper and other surfaces.

Body movements - gestures of the limbs and expressions of the face. These communications can be transmitted through various kinds of electronic means, both electromagnetic radiation and using wires and light tubes. Telepathy is not known to be used. Several thousand different systems of communication (languages) in each of these modes are found throughout the world. However in very recent times one language originating in a small island on the north west corner of the main land mass is becoming known in every region so that for the first time communication is becoming possible between people in every part of the planet. This is an important recent development. Only recently have electronic means been developed which have needed this common language.

Nuclear Weapons
Some of the distinct states (see nuclear) have them in their possession. It has now become known that the explosion of any of these weapons would poison the whole planet and would affect both the user and the "enemy". (Although this is known, at present several of the states possessing these weapons are exploding them at regular intervals, adding to the radioactive gases present in the atmosphere.)

The sovereign areas at one time claimed the right to fight each other whenever the governments of these areas thought it necessary or useful to do so. When these wars were conducted with the kind of weapons which did not affect the health, climate and general well-being of other areas this habit was less harmful to people and animals outside the states involved in the war. However, for the last seventy years wars have had the potential to cover the whole planet. Thus the "right" to make war has effects for everyone. There are signs that the leaders and people of the largest states have realised that they can't make war on each other without destroying themselves and everyone else. However, many smaller states and other groups continue to make war. Most of the wars going on are not between sovereign areas but between various unofficial groups. Usually these unofficial groups are secretly aided by one of the state governments.

(Europe) The succession of supremacies
The people of every local nation on the planet believe they are the end of the process of growth and that their nation will last forever. The study of their history shows, however, that there is constant movement and change. A nation which is dominant at one time loses its overwhelming power and becomes either unimportant - one among others - or is ruled by a later dominant nation. Thus, the supremacy of Spain, from when it gained access to the gold of the Americas was displaced by France, the Netherlands and Britain, followed by the United States. It seems unlikely that the domination of the United States is final.

 Inspired by Doris Lessing - Shikasta

Shikasta. Canopus im Argos: Archive I

Glossary of Terms used on this planet Glossary

Because this is a planet where things are often concealed by misleading names visitors must take care when interpreting what the natives say about what is going on. They may not know the truth, or they may not wish the truth to be known by other natives.

State This term has several meanings:

1. The name of the organisation of all political and public activity of a Nation (see below).

2. A sub-unit of some nations (United States, Brazil, Nigeria)

3. A nation The list of states (Nations with states) is supposed to be closed. New states can only be formed rarely and usually after war. After the end of colonialism the first to be formed was Bangladesh (1971): but following the end of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia many were formed.
Sovereignty At one time the right of a king to act and make decisions without being restricted by anyone. Now it is the right of the government of a state to act unrestricted by other states within the geographical borders of the state. It implies the rights by which the government of a whole planet might act in relation to another planet. However, most of those states called 'sovereign' are in fact controlled by the leading power, or are otherwise constrained by alliances and treaties - see European Union.

1. Armed fighting between one or more states and other states.Wars

2. Armed fighting between a state and other groups not organised as a state. Nation A group of people who may or may not possess a state. Usually they share a language, or religion, or common origin, or common beliefs about these origins. If they have no state the people may be fighting or preparing to fight in order to create a state. Some states are composed of more than one nation. Some nations exist in several states. See Basques and Kurds

A group of people who share a language, or religion, or common origin, or common beliefs about these origins. The term is used by others (governments) usually to prevent the members of the "tribe" from creating a state. A nation without a state is often called a tribe. (Unless in Europe).

Religion (This section not to be distributed in the United States or other irrational areas) The natives of this planet have a variety of explanations of their origins and purpose on the planet.

One of their writers has noted that an alliance is when "two thieves whose hands are deep inside each other's pockets combine together to steal from a third". (Ambrose Bierce - Devils Dictionary)

The Powers
The importance of a nation or state has usually been measured by its military power - its ability to make other states do what the rulers want. From the point of view of foreign and military policy, states are known as powers. In the period beginning about 1700 and ending in 1945 there were said to be a number of European Powers which owned technological military power and used it in most parts of the planet. Some of them, the larger, were known as the Great Powers. In 1914 the Great Powers were considered to be Britain (with its worldwide Empire); France (with Empire); Germany; Russia; Austria-Hungary (in reality a puppet of Germany); Japan (rising), United States (unknown strength). By 1918 the Great Powers were said to be France, Britain, the United States of America, Japan, while Russia was weak. However, from 1945 there were two Powers recognised as larger than all others. From about 1950 these were known as Superpowers, meaning that they alone could exercise military and other power in every part of the planet. This was not be a permanent condition as one of them, the Soviet Union, collapsed and disappeared leaving one predominant Power.

An Empire is a group of nations or states ruled by the government of another state. In the past this rule was overt - the government of one state openly appointed the governor of the other and claimed sovereign rights. Empires of this kind were owned by Britain, France, and other European powers until about 1965. Now the dependent state is usually claimed to be independent and sovereign. Only close attention to what is going on will reveal that actually a government operates not in the interests of the people of the nation but in the interest of another government. Signs of this are the presence of soldiers of another state, frequent visits of the heads of government to each other (but usually of the dependent to the supervising state). Thus most of the former European powers are actually dependant on the United States, as well as many other states.

Government by the people, or by elected representatives of the people, or by spokesmen of the people. On this planet most governments call themselves democracies. Most governments, whatever they say about themselves, are in fact composed of self-renewing oligarchies. Some of these are more willing to change and assimilate new people than others. (Sub-section People's Democracies)

Military Dictatorship
Some states are ruled openly or covertly by the controllers of the weapons of war. That is, the soldiers rule the other people by threatening to kill them if they don't obey. Some of these governments are concealed by apparent elections which are in practice fixed by the rulers.

In states with a ruling assembly, the different factions may be called Parties. Their use is to package the different desires of the voters to influence the government. However, in many states which are actually ruled by a single person, or by an oligarchy there may be only one Party. In this case it is not a device for conveying people's desires to those in power, but an instrument of the government to enforce compliance. Examples in the past were the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, the Nazi Party in Germany. In other states - e.g. United states and Britain - all the representatives of several parties may be paid and commanded by the same business interests so that their conflict is simulated rather than real.

Inspired by Doris Lessing - Shikasta

Last revised 6/10/09

Note: the author does not believe in aliens. It is a literary metaphor.

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