Messianism and UFO Sightings as Counterfactual Strategies of Enchantment of the World

Piotr Urbanowicz 1
  • 1 Performativity Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland

Summary

In this text, I argue that there are numerous affinities between 19th century messianism and testimonies of UFO sightings, both of which I regarded as forms of secular millennialism. The common denominator for the comparison was Max Weber’s concept of “disenchantment of the world” in the wake of the Industrial Revolution which initiated the era of the dominance of rational thinking and technological progress. However, the period’s counterfactual narratives of enchantment did not repudiate technology as the source of all social and political evil—on the contrary, they variously redefined its function, imagining a possibility of a new world order. In this context, I analysed the social projects put forward by Polish Romantics in the first half of the 19th century, with emphasis on the role of technology as an agent of social change. Similarly, the imaginary technology described by UFO contactees often has a redemptive function and is supposed to bring solution to humanity’s most dangerous problems.

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