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The three body problem – In defence of the ETO

What happens when a single person takes upon itself the burden to doom humanity for a greater good?

Usually, when there is deception of aliens vs humans in sci-fi there is a neat division between the two. Humans want to defend themself and aliens want to destroy us but here, in this story, an alien warned us that we shouldn’t contact their world and a human decided that an alien invasion was the better outcome for us all.

This is the main point of one of the greatest sci-fi books of recent memory. It all started in 1977 at the Red Coast base of Radar peak in Inner Mongolia when Ye Wenjie, a chinese astrophysicist, decided to write a response to an alien message that clearly warned her not to do it. By doing so she became the first traitor of humanity.

She will begin a chain of events that will destroy humanity as we know it.

Unfortunately she is operating for the so-called greater good, her greater good, her idea that maybe and somehow, only an alien invasion can put humanity on its road to salvation.

Beyond this, Liu Xicin create a world where there is not a single granitic point of view but there are many and, among those there is the idea of the ETO (Earth-Trisolaris organization) it is an organization whose job across the decades will be to pave the way for the invasion and to effectively betray humanity at his fundamental level. But their existence is not a simple will to betray. Every single person inside the ETO follows a doctrine that is possible to sum in found different sentences across the first two books.

Quote 1

Is it possible that the relationship between humanity and evil is similar to the relationship between the ocean and an iceberg floating on its surface? Both the ocean and the iceberg are made of the same material, that the iceberg seems separate is only because it is in a different form. In reality it is but a part of the vast ocean.

It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from human kind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the Earth but pull up on their own hair.

To achieve moral awakening requires a force outside the human race.

The three body problem – Chapter 2: Silent spring

Quote 2:

Naive, idealistic hopes had been shattered. Scholars found that, contrary to the happy wishes of most people, it was not a good idea for the human race as a whole to make contact with extraterrestrials. The impact of such contact on human society would be divisive rather than uniting, and would exacerbate rather than mitigate the conflicts between different cultures.

In summary, if contact were to occur, the internal division within Earth civilization would be magnified and likely led to disaster.

The three body problem – Chapter 14: Red coast IV

Quote 3:

The old philosopher waved his pipe, which had gone out. He spoke with a serious mien. “Let’s discuss this question with a bit more depth: What is your impression of the Aztecs?”

“Dark and bloody,” the author said.

“Blood-drenched pyramids lit by insidious fires seen through dark forests. Those are my impressions.”

The philosopher nodded. “Very good. Then try to imagine: If the Spanish Conquistadors did not intervene, what would have been the influence of that civilization on human history?” 

“You’re calling black white and white black,” the software company vice president said. “The Conquistadors who invaded the Americas were nothing more than murderers and robbers.”

“Even so, at least they prevented the Aztecs from developing without bound, turning the Americas into a bloody, dark great empire. Then civilization as we know it wouldn’t have appeared in the Americas, and democracy wouldn’t have thrived until much later. Indeed, maybe they wouldn’t have appeared at all. This is the key to the question: No matter what the Trisolarans are like, their arrival will be good news for the terminally ill human race.”

The three body problem – Chapter 18: Meet-up

Quote 4:

The old man motioned for Tyler to sit down. “I sympathize with you. After so many years, you still don’t know what our needs truly are.”

“You can tell me.”

“Weapons? Money? No, no. What we need is far more precious. The organization doesn’t exist because of Seldon’s ambitious goals. You can’t get a sane, 132 rational person to believe in and die for that. It exists because it possesses something, something that’s its air and blood, and without which the organization would wither away immediately.”

“What’s that?”


Tyler was silent.

“On the one hand, thanks to our common enemy, our hatred of the West has faded. On the other, the human race that the Trisolarans want to wipe out includes the hated West, so to us, perishing together would be a joy. So we don’t hate the Trisolarans.” The old man spread his hands. “You see, hatred is a treasure more precious than gold or diamonds, and a weapon keener than any in the world, but now it’s gone. It’s not yours to give back. So the organization, like me, does not have long to live.”

The dark forest

Those are four different quotes disseminated across the book that sums the ideal of Ye Wenjie and the whole ETO (Earth Trisolarian organization) to which she is a founder member along with Mike Evans.

Now a question came to my mind:

Can you blame them?

This is a group of people that sees the detriment of humanity trough and trough.

Ye Wenjie lived through the cultural revolution in China, a moment of dark moral and ideological dictatorship that shaped the country as it is now and she was a victim of this colossal monster. Her father had been killed just because he had a different opinion, her mother had to hide her real self and she as well had to kneel to the dictatorship.

Mike Evans on the other side, he inherited the father oil company but tried to use the billions to do good for the world.

He even created his own environmental idea called panspecies communism all for the greater good of a fairer world and when they had been given the actual chance to save the world (in their minds) they got the balls and used it.

Fact is that not even them knew exactly what the trisolarians were and what they were planning to do. Only thing was that the aliens could, in their opinion, and according to logic, bring greatness to humanity itself.

If you flashforward to the second book (this will contain spoilers) where the aliens are just half the way through, humanity is already more united than it will ever be.

So, from this point of view, they had actually achieved what humanity hadn’t for thousands of years.

But, beyond this, it is shameful to point at them as the villains when they are simply done with humanity and they are creating a threat for something that will happen so much in the future.


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