MOSCOW (RIA Novosti political commentator Anatoly Korolev) - The world premiere of Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds took place just before the London bombings. Some signs of the world's destiny can be read into this odd coincidence.
H. G. Wells wrote his novel in 1898, at a time when everyone was in love with gadgets. The telephone, radio, the first automobiles and airplanes - everything inspired humankind with a belief in scientific progress. Inventors and pilots were the idols of the era. People believed that technology was about to bring happiness to everyone.
Later it became clear that it had been a trap of global self-deceit, an illusion that the historical path was a synonym for progress, meant to make millions of sensible people happy.
The novel was written after a scientific sensation. In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli was the first to observe lines on the Mars; he described them as canals dug by Martians fighting droughts.
The news was welcomed with open arms. Man was no longer alone in the Universe, and soon the different races would reach out to each other.
At that time, no one doubted that Martians were the spitting image of men. It was believed that the Universe repeated the development of terrestrial forms, and that a sentient being had to have two arms, two legs, two eyes and a head.
Wells was among the first to question the received wisdom of historic progress. What if inventions fell into evil hands? What if Martians were not so nice, and looked completely unlike us?
These alarming questions gave birth to the horrible novel about Martians taking over good old England. The tentacled monsters, walking on tower-sized tripods and calling "Aloo, aloo" to each other, destroyed all belief in the future with their beams of fire.
Wells' novel was the first anti-utopia to come true in just 16 years, when the writer's fantasies came horribly true: Crowds of refugees, chaos on European roads, poison gas, the first tanks, bombings of cities and other horrific elements.
A few days ago, on July 7, England saw a similarly sudden transfer from euphoria to reality. The good old island power seemed to be immune to the disasters befalling the rest of the world; terrorists and metro bombings happen to the rest of the world, but we have peace between cultures. So what if London has 300 mosques, if streets are covered with carpets where thousands of Muslims pray in the open air, and if there are thousands of girls wearing the hijab on the metro and on buses?
Perhaps the British now see things a bit differently: the Muslim "Mars" has shown it cannot be tamed. The young men who grew up with an English mentality and holding British passports sacrificed their lives out of solidarity with their compatriots on the continent. As to the Martian call "Aloo, aloo," it has long been heard in slightly modified form across London early in the morning, when mullahs call the faithful to morning prayer to Allah.
It will take the British a long time to understand the shift in their thinking. However, American film director Steven Spielberg has undergone a similar metamorphosis from sympathetic tenderness to fury.
Before the War of the Worlds blockbuster, he had made two films about space aliens: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T. These were wonderful fairytales showing the humanism of such encounters. There could be no danger in the space; just remember the sweet, helpless and charming E.T.
Spielberg used to call himself a goodwill ambassador in contacts with extra-terrestrial civilizations.
Then came a different statement: I am tired of it.
It turns out that he has long dreamed of making a film about intervention, since living through his youth in fear of a nuclear war between the superpowers.
And so Spielberg has produced a terrible film about military invasion by merciless Martians. His previous fairytales have turned out to be illusions that are now abandoned.
This is eloquent testimony that we have become different, both in secret and openly. After September 11, after Beslan, after July 7 in London, it was time for many to say openly that the war of the worlds was already underway. And we should honestly admit this reality.
But is this really news? For a long time, the part of the terrible, evil Martians - the enemy - was played by Russians. They came to symbolize all the deadly sins. For example, in Armageddon, a tipsy Russian cosmonaut treads around the space station wearing a fur hat and in passing puts the entire world in jeopardy.
That was a typical propaganda gimmick.
Today, Russians are no longer the enemies of the Earth. But this does not make anyone happy, for the new enemy has already been found. For Christians, it is a Muslim on the top of a mosque, calling for a jihad with his "Aloo, aloo." For Muslims, it is the "white billion," growing fat on the sufferings of the poor East.
The solution is simple: We simply need to reform each other. To put Allah's banner on top of Big Ben, for example. Or open a McDonald's in Iraq.
We can see a new emotional trap the humankind has found itself in: Each side believes that only after it wins will we be able to reach general prosperity.
Alas, this is just another utopia.
Is there a way out? Perhaps it can be found in the ideas of the great Indian Ramakrishna, who in the morning prayed to Allah, in the afternoon to Christ, in the evening to Buddha, and at night to the goddess Kali. God is one, he said. It is only names that differ.
Perhaps we are in for a long haul towards abandoning the names of the Supreme Being. When in 1998 the Pioneer space probe approached the Mars and people on the Earth for the first time saw its real appearance, the world shuddered: A gigantic chasm several kilometers deep went across the planet, and in the desert there ran dark streambeds of dried-up rivers, which a century ago we cheeringly took to be canals.
There was not a single Martian on the Mars.
The dead planet silently suggested that man had only himself to fight against.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.