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#1 2017-10-02 16:16:02

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,380

Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

I think in the  next few years we will see how good a politician Musk is.  Anyone who wants to establish the first off-Earth human settlement on a planet that provides access to a few quadrillion dollars of resources is by definition or default a politician.

My point here is that Musk can't stay silent on governance for much longer. Space X begin construction of the Mars ship next year, but there has to be doubt whether they have begun construction of a viable governance model.

Seems to me there are a number of issues he has to square off:

1.  Will the settlement operate under the terms of the Outer Space Treaty?  I presume the answer is "yes". However, I have yet to hear him declare that.

2.  What will be the involvement, if any, of the UN in this project.  Will he keep the UN informed?  Will he invite there comments.  Does he consider Mars subject to UN treaties?

3.  What will be the relationship between the Mars settlement and the USA.  Will the USA have special privileges denied to other states of the world? Will the settlement be subject to US law on matters such as copyright?

4.  Does he intend the settlement to be self-governing?  If so, will that be from the outset?  Will they be able to control Space X assets on Mars? 

There are of course many related issues but I think these are the key ones which might come to the fore in the next few years. 

I think that the closer we get to a real Mars project - and we are already getting damn close now - then the UN, China, Russia and others will begin to show interest and the green-eyed monster of jealousy will raise its ugly head. There will be stirrings.

Last edited by louis (2017-10-02 16:16:48)


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#2 2017-10-03 06:27:10

IanM
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From: Chicago
Registered: 2015-12-14
Posts: 276

Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

Regarding your four points:
1) I would think so, at least to the extent that Mars is off-limits to any countries on Earth, and thus would be its own country.

2) In terms of governance, I don't think there would be any involvement of the UN, especially since it's mainly intended as a peacekeeping, rather than governing, organization. Then again, Mars could be the modern equivalent of the League of Nations mandates of old, but I think that would violate self-government and the right to self-determination for each nation that the UN itself cherishes.

3) Musk himself loves the US from what I understand, but I think most ties to the US would be informal. Perhaps Mars would be to the US what Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are to the UK. Maybe US Citizens would have the right to visa-free travel and indefinite stay/abode on Mars, and perhaps vice versa for Martian citizens, that other countries wouldn't. That, in turn, raises the point of what exactly the immigration and visa policy would be for the Red Planet. On a bit of a tangent, I would also assume that the US Dollar would be the currency of the planet, at least for the first few years.

4) It might be, and probably eventually will be, though I'm not sure it would be from the very beginning. Perhaps he would appoint a President/Governor General of sorts, with democracy growing as the settlement matures, much like again most of the former British colonies.


The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. -Paraphrased from Tsiolkovsky

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#3 2017-10-03 06:43:53

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,180
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Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

I doubt a Chinese colony would give rights to US citizens that other countries wouldn't have. If the American colonies wish to do so, though, that is their prerogative.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#4 2017-10-03 08:20:45

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,380

Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

Replying to your points, Ian:

1. That would be one interpretation but I think plenty of international lawyers would argue that the Treaty assumes no  new country will be established on the planet - and certainly not one intimately connected with an existing Earth country, in this case the USA (although one could equally imagine the Chinese sending a few thousand model citizens to Mars to start up a kind of new Hong Kong, that would be Chinese territory in all but name).

2. I can't myself imagine that the UN will resist the temptation to interfere. It already has its own outer space office:

http://www.unoosa.org/

And they are already discussing Mars.  COSPAR appears to be campaigning against Mars colonisation by humans.

https://www.cospar-assembly.org/

The treaty obligation not to contaminate Mars may well be used as a way of stifling settlement. I think there are a lot of scientists and a lot of UN people who want to turn Mars into a new Antarctic, with no exploitation of resources.

3. I think assuming that the US dollar will be the currency of the planet is a sure way of arousing suspicion all around Planet Earth! The point I am making is that the American legal system is very aggressive in declaring jurisdiction over things that happen all over planet Earth. If Space X is an American company, it is quite likely the US legal system will in effect claim jurisdiction over its activities on Mars, which I think does raise questions about whether the US is thereby claiming this territory for itself.

4. My view is that moving from Mission Commander, to Governor, to Governor with appointed advisory council, to Governor with elected advisory council, to Governor sharing separated powers with  a legislative council, to a fully democratically elected President and legislative assembly is a good gradualist model that could be pursued over a 50 years timeline.

Finally, I don't really have a simple answer to the question of what Musk should say, it's just I doubt he can get away with saying nothing. If he can all well and good and I'll be proved wrong! But I think it is more likely that the closer and closer we get to the Mars Mission, the more opposition we will see to his plans.


IanM wrote:

Regarding your four points:
1) I would think so, at least to the extent that Mars is off-limits to any countries on Earth, and thus would be its own country.

2) In terms of governance, I don't think there would be any involvement of the UN, especially since it's mainly intended as a peacekeeping, rather than governing, organization. Then again, Mars could be the modern equivalent of the League of Nations mandates of old, but I think that would violate self-government and the right to self-determination for each nation that the UN itself cherishes.

3) Musk himself loves the US from what I understand, but I think most ties to the US would be informal. Perhaps Mars would be to the US what Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are to the UK. Maybe US Citizens would have the right to visa-free travel and indefinite stay/abode on Mars, and perhaps vice versa for Martian citizens, that other countries wouldn't. That, in turn, raises the point of what exactly the immigration and visa policy would be for the Red Planet. On a bit of a tangent, I would also assume that the US Dollar would be the currency of the planet, at least for the first few years.

4) It might be, and probably eventually will be, though I'm not sure it would be from the very beginning. Perhaps he would appoint a President/Governor General of sorts, with democracy growing as the settlement matures, much like again most of the former British colonies.

Last edited by louis (2017-10-03 08:21:13)


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#5 2017-10-03 11:55:50

IanM
Moderator
From: Chicago
Registered: 2015-12-14
Posts: 276

Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

1) That is true, although as I feel Martian colonization is inevitable (as detailed below), some level of governmental organization will likewise be inevitable, and a country would be the best for that. I do agree that any country formed would be its own and not merely an extension of a Terran country, at least nominally. Mutually-assured backlash would likely prevent any country from expanding itself onto Mars.

2) That is also true, but if the US, Russia, and China each oppose what they feel would be as you say "interference" on the part of an organization that is quite pointedly not a government, they could perhaps use each of their veto power in the Security Council to sink it, though I am admittedly ignorant about the structure and workings of the UN. As for COSPAR and the treaty, I feel as if Martian colonization is inevitable because in the words of George Mallory, "it is there", and that the treaty would very likely be disregarded, at least initially, by those with the means to go to Mars. I do feel as if the treaty will be amended to make a distinction between space and celestial objects. I feel like humanity will collectively shoot itself in the foot if Mars, and especially other celestial objects, are treated as a new Antarctica.

3) That is a very interesting point. I simply assumed the Dollar would be the initial currency, before the planet is mature enough to decide its own monetary policy, because it is the most-traded currency on Earth, and given that Musk is Americentric. You do raise a good point about the US claiming Mars via an American company. If I'm not mistaken in history the United Kingdom took control of India from the British East India Company. I do perceive, however, that American influence globally is on the decline, so I'm not sure how it feels as if it can get away with a similar action a couple decades from now.

4) I agree to a large extent, and such a development mirrors the development of Commonwealth countries, although the ultimate fate of the company once full democracy/responsible government is obtained beats me.

To ultimately address your point about Musk, I'm not sure what really he <i>can</i> say given the political climate, without enraging at least some people. Perhaps he'll appoint the leadership of the first mission and let the government grow organically from there.


The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. -Paraphrased from Tsiolkovsky

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#6 2017-10-03 12:45:58

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,863
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Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

I posted history of Newfoundland a few times. It's a proposal for Mars. Let me summarize.

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Ever wonder what happened between then and the Mayflower? When Columbus returned to Spain with wonders from the New World, an English explorer went to see what he could find. John Cabot sailed from England in 1495, hired 2 Icelandic guides and took a northern route. Had a labour dispute with ship crew, turned around and went home. He sailed again in 1496, discovered Newfoundland. He discovered a bay on a day in the Catholic calendar called "Saint John the Baptist Day" so he called it "St. John's Bay". That formed a natural harbour where ships could weather a storm. And he discovered the Grand Banks, the richest fishery in the world. He came back later that same summer, reported his findings. Fishermen from southwest England set sail for the Grand Banks right away. They built a fishing camp on the shores of St. John's Bay to process the fish, preserve them for transport to England. In 1497 they built a house for a caretaker, to ensure nothing happened to the fishing camp over winter. That camp became a town, the town became a city. That city is still there. St. John's is now the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland.

Later official government history claimed John Cabot discovered Newfoundland in 1497, but a letter from the son of John Cabot stated he was on the ship when they discovered St. John's Bay, and that was in 1496. I believe a letter from a first-hand witness.

St. John's was not founded by any government, it was not built as a colony. It was just businessmen. For over a hundred years they didn't have any government at all. This was the first European settlement in North America, at least since the Vikings. One letter describes St. John's and does not mention any street, another letter does describe a street. That street was "Water Street", and it's still part of the city of St. John's today. We don't know who built it or exactly when it was built, it must have been built between the dates of those two letters. That street dates before the Mayflower, before Roanoke or Jamestown, before any government colony.

Administration of St. John's was very simple. The captain of whatever ship arrived first that fishing season was governor for that season. His title was Fishing Admiral. Historically rule by fishing captains was far from ideal, but they built a city that still stands today. In 1997 the city of St. John's celebrated their 500th anniversary. That city dates their founding from the first house.

Large wooden ships with canvas sails, capable of sailing the deep ocean, and technology of navigation was developed for navy ships. It was used by commercial businessmen for fishing, in the 1490s it was still a relatively new technology. Yes, I'm creating an analogy to rockets. Both Christopher Columbus and John Cabot were explorers funded by governments: analogy to NASA. John Cabot discovered and documented profitable resources, as well as a safe place to live while harvesting that resource. Then government stayed out of the way while commercial businessmen established the first settlement in the new world.

I could list many government colonies that failed. Not only was St. John's decades before any government colony, it was successful while many government colonies failed. It was over a century after St. John's before a government colony succeeded.

In 1583 a British admiral took 3 navy ships, 2 frigates and one larger ship, to declare St. John's and 20 leagues inland was a colony of Britain. One of the frigates had committed piracy against a Portuguese fishing ship, so the fishing ships established a blockade to prevent the navy ships from entering the harbour. But 3 state-of-the-art navy ships of the most powerful navy of the day, against fishing ships? After a few days they got through. Carrying marines with military assault rifles of the day, they forced every business in St. John's to pay taxes. When returning to England, first one then a second ship had problems, had to stop for repairs. The last ship proceeded to cross the north Atlantic with the tax money, but mysteriously disappeared. Led by an admiral of the British navy, a veteran who crossed the north Atlantic many times. No one at the time believed that disappearance was just an act of nature. No one tried to collect taxes from St. John's for many years after that. England sent a governor to take control of St. John's in 1616. I'm sure a lot of people today would like to do that to the taxman.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2017-10-03 15:26:18)

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#7 2017-10-03 17:23:24

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,380

Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

Regarding the currency,  I don't think in these days of digital currency it would be that difficult to establish a Mars currency from the outset, if the will was there.  No need for printing or coining. Everything can be done electronically, with accounts held on servers on Mars.

[Edited to add: for currency stability you could link the amount of currency issued to the amount of electricity generated on the planet every Mars year, if you wished.  So, for x GWhs you have 100 Million Mars Currency Units in circulation and for 2x GWhs  you have 200 Million Mars Currency Units in circulation, with perhaps a 10% leeway either way to fit Mars government economic policy - so between 180 and 220 million units in circulation on that basis. ]


IanM wrote:

3) That is a very interesting point. I simply assumed the Dollar would be the initial currency, before the planet is mature enough to decide its own monetary policy, because it is the most-traded currency on Earth, and given that Musk is Americentric. You do raise a good point about the US claiming Mars via an American company. If I'm not mistaken in history the United Kingdom took control of India from the British East India Company. I do perceive, however, that American influence globally is on the decline, so I'm not sure how it feels as if it can get away with a similar action a couple decades from now.

Last edited by louis (2017-10-03 18:30:37)


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#8 2017-10-03 22:46:06

Excelsior
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From: Excelsior, USA
Registered: 2014-02-22
Posts: 120

Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

This is why it's so important for NASA to swallow it's pride, and make the BFR the core of its exploration, and ultimately colonization program. Putting the effort under NASA's banner allows us to pick international contributors that share our values and give the operation international legitimacy.

We simply can't give rival states the ultimate high ground and expect to survive long term.


The Former Commodore

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#9 2017-10-04 02:10:20

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,380

Re: Musk can't stay silent on governance forever...

Well I think it cuts both ways.  It may well bring on the UN agony as they see the USA via NASA establishing an identifiably "American" colony.


Excelsior wrote:

This is why it's so important for NASA to swallow it's pride, and make the BFR the core of its exploration, and ultimately colonization program. Putting the effort under NASA's banner allows us to pick international contributors that share our values and give the operation international legitimacy.

We simply can't give rival states the ultimate high ground and expect to survive long term.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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