Pluto and interplanetary liberation

If anyone still thinks science is an objective exercise exempt from political struggle, the debate over the status of Pluto and some other orbiting rocks should put it to rest. Only a hegemonic power drunk with its own illusion of importance would claim the authority to name and categorize autonomous, foreign planets with its self-serving schema of subordination and hierarchy. When have we seen a more naked display of Terraism than this assumption of rights over other worlds, peacably zooming around their own orbits, unless it’s our brazen disposal of used hardware under the most imperialist extraterritorial principles. Do we observe Martian parking and right of way rules, and pay fines? Do we have permits and file environmental impact reports when we drop junk on this or that planet…or even “stuff falling from the sky on you” impact reports? Do we get court orders to snoop on interplanetary or intergalactic electromagnetic signals? We do not, such is the arrogance bred by living on the only planet we haven’t given a used name, and the others are insulting to boot: Mercury? toxic. Venus? lascivious. Mars? playground bully…and so on.

Astronomy isn’t an inconsequential sideshow to the struggle for liberation and equal rights, it’s the furthest extension of the imperial hegemonic impulse. Let Ceres decide! Power to the orbiting masses, down to the least asteroid! No deplanetization without representation!

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

2 thoughts on “Pluto and interplanetary liberation”

  1. I think this proves you're don't take the War on Plutons seriously. You people in your liberal ivory observatories can act like relativists and say, "oh, everybody's some kind of planet." Let's call these tiny, icy menaces by their real name: terrorists. Or, perhaps, "planetofascists." Have we learned nothing from the merciless attack on the dinosaurs? If you let Pluto have planetary status, the asteroids win!

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