Machinedo and Sagan's Politics

Beyond the high philosophy and science that forms the backbone of Contact, there is a very Earth-centric look at politics, nationality, and the nature of human civilization. When the Message is first found there is a push from Kitz to keep it under wraps to make sure that there is nothing that could be used against America. After debate, the existence of the Message prompts the United States, the Soviet Union, and other countries to start disarming their nuclear weapons. Countries are slowly coming together to grab all the pieces of the document being broadcast, since there is no other way to do so. The Japanese have coined a word to describe the growing belief that all humans have a share in the future of the planet: Machinedo, the Way of the Machine.

Sagan has always been an advocate for political reform, especially nuclear disarmament. It's not surprising to see that his novel contains a fair amount of growing political unity among countries. The most obvious is the decision of the United States and the Soviet Union to work together to piece together the Message, as well as to build the machine. How much of this is wishful thinking, though? If a message came from space, would the countries of the world be more likely to try to keep it for themselves? Or would they act more like Sagan (and the rest of the sane people on this planet) hopes: working together as a unified whole to benefit the entire human race? Perhaps it is even more likely that nations will cooperate, now that the Soviet Union has disbanded. The United Nations could also attempt to take control, which would hopefully help spread the duties of gathering, understanding, and perhaps creating around fairly.

What if Sagan's prediction is wrong and the countries of the world become even more divided after receiving a message? Would countries fight over the chance to reply first? It is entirely possible that any transmissions be classified immediately, in the hopes of giving that country an edge over the rest, should technology be mentioned in the message. The United States have many protocols for what to do if a message is found, with emphasis on keeping everything hidden until it is no longer necessary. If the message is short, unlike the Message from Vega, then one country may be able to hoard it for themselves. If this divisive situation happened, how would it be stopped?

In Contact, it is not just the governments but the individual people that are beginning to see themselves as part of a whole. The feeling of Machinedo is caused simply by the awareness of another, far more advanced civilization. Again, what is the possibility of Machinedo being felt among the people should a real message be found? What would we do if we didn't decide that we all had a stake in our future? Would we instead grow cold and distant, confused by the universe turned upside down? Would we just not care? The last one seems to be likely, if we consider how many times humanity has been pushed to unite. It would be possible to see all three appear in the population. Hopefully the discovery of extraterrestrials will implore us to be more united. If the extraterrestrials could survive long enough to effortlessly recreate worlds and memories, then presumably the human race can as well, if we come together.