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« Getting The Business | Main | Space Is A Place, Not A Program »

Why This Blog Bores People About Space Stuff

As a follow up to today's rant over our "allies" in Europe, over at USS Clueless, Steven den Beste has an excellent disquisition on the fundamental differences between Europe and the U.S. They don't, and cannot, understand that the U.S. exists and thrives because it is the UnEurope, that it was built by people who left Europe (and other places) because they wanted freedom.

I say this not to offer simply a pale imitation of Steven's disquisition (which is the best I could do, at least tonight), but to explain why I spend so much time talking about space policy here. It's not (just) because I'm a space nut, or because I used to do it for a living, and so have some knowledge to disseminate. It's because it's important to me, and it should be important to everyone who is concerned about dynamism and liberty.

And the reason that it's important is because there may be a time in the future, perhaps not even the distant future, when the U.S. will no longer be a haven for those who seek sanctuary from oppressive government. The trends over the past several decades are not always encouraging, and as at least a social insurance policy, we may need a new frontier into which freedom can expand.

Half a millenium ago, Europe discovered a New World. Unfortunately for its inhabitants (who had discovered it previously), the Europeans had superior technology and social structures that allowed them to conquer it.

Now, in the last couple hundred years, we have discovered how vast our universe is, and in the last couple decades, we have discovered how rich in resources it is, given will and technology. As did the eastern seaboard of the present U.S. in the late eighteenth century, it offers mankind a fertile petri dish for new societal arrangements and experiments, and ultimately, an isolated frontier from which we will be able to escape from possible future terrestrial disasters, whether of natural or human origin.

If, as many unfortunately in this country seem to wish, freedom is constricted in the U.S., the last earthly abode of true libertarian principles, it may offer an ultimate safety valve for those of us who wish to continue the dream of the founders of this nation, sans slavery or native Americans--we can found it without the flawed circumstances of 1787.

That is why space, and particularly free-enterprise space, is important.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 31, 2002 07:24 PM
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You get the link in Clueless by right-clicking on the little chain graphic at the top and hitting "copy shortcut". The post you refer to is this one:

Posted by Andreas at February 1, 2002 03:21 AM

Thanks, I've updated the link. I'm a word kind of guy--I hate icons. I always thought that we invented alphabets so we didn't have to communicate with ambiguous pictures any more. ;-)

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 1, 2002 07:03 AM

Still true today. We should change Thanksgiving to Colonization Day and start giving forward.

Posted by Sam Dinkin at November 26, 2004 08:47 AM

Hmm. An interesting motive. I've often thought that we needed a frontier myself.

Unfortunately, space travel and colonization is an extremely difficult task. It would require a far greater launch volume than at present, and that would probably require a technological 1st world (free) nation behind it.

So the tyrrany from which you want to escape would preclude the conditions of the space effort needed to colonize.

Furthermore, whatever social organization that exists in space is going to have to be centered around a large amount of capital and infastructure. It is only by this infastructure (power/water generation/recycling/chemical generation) that people can hope to survive in inhospitable places like the moon. (Perhaps less so Mars, but the issues still exist to some extent). It may allow for democracy, but perhaps not libertarianism (unless everyone can afford their own reactor). I fear it would be a situation highly susceptible to communal thinking. (Of course, if the society ceases to function productively, everyone dies, so perhaps this would prevent the colonists from going that direction.)

Posted by Aaron at March 25, 2006 05:34 PM

On the bright side, space colonists would have to be the ultimate tool makers/ tool users to deal with their environment. This lends itself well to industry, and perhaps capitalism.

Posted by Aaron at March 25, 2006 05:36 PM

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