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#1 2012-03-08 13:53:25

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
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History, The Frontier and its Consequences

I wanted to start a topic about the Martian Frontier. I know this isn’t the first such thread on these boards but I believe it is a topic that shouldn’t be forgotten.  The main article of reference here is
The Significance of the Martian Frontier
by Robert Zubrin
From Ad Astra September/October 1994
http://www.nss.org/settlement/mars/zubrin-frontier.html

Skimming this article over on my lunch break is not going to be enough to create a significant thesis surrounding Zubrin’s conjecture but there is an immense amount of history to consider so I think it is best to start informally.
According to Zubrings paper, The Frontier was announced closed in in 1890. This is only 25 years after the end of the American civil war. A good part of Zubrins paper discusses progress in the 1900s which is after the official closing of the frontier. The 1900s were a very transformational time in America which includes the Guilded Age and half the progressive era:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilded_age
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era

Whatever, cultural impact the Frontier may have had in this period of time would be due to lingering cultural effects. Well, the Guilded age is praised for progress it is also the Era when, The Rober Berron’s rose to power. With their rise to power America began the transition of America back to the corporate economic model which Jefferson and the founding fathers rejected.
Following the Guilded Age, the progressive era marked the beginning of the rise of what I will call the Institutional class in that various public and private intuitions gained power (such as the public service sector, universities, Non Profit Groups) from then until now to provide a counter force to corporate power.

The growth in the concentration of power from the beginning of the 1900s until now has created a power structure where size and influence is often enough to trump merit and innovation.  To completely describe the events and consequences of this period of history between the founding of America until now goes well beyond anything I’ve written in my opening post. I only hope to begin the discussion as, I don’t yet have the knowledge of history to conclude it.

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#2 2012-03-08 17:26:52

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,565

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

John Creighton wrote:

I wanted to start a topic about the Martian Frontier. I know this isn’t the first such thread on these boards but I believe it is a topic that shouldn’t be forgotten.  The main article of reference here is
The Significance of the Martian Frontier
by Robert Zubrin
From Ad Astra September/October 1994
http://www.nss.org/settlement/mars/zubrin-frontier.html

Skimming this article over on my lunch break is not going to be enough to create a significant thesis surrounding Zubrin’s conjecture but there is an immense amount of history to consider so I think it is best to start informally.
According to Zubrings paper, The Frontier was announced closed in in 1890. This is only 25 years after the end of the American civil war. A good part of Zubrins paper discusses progress in the 1900s which is after the official closing of the frontier. The 1900s were a very transformational time in America which includes the Guilded Age and half the progressive era:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilded_age
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era

Whatever, cultural impact the Frontier may have had in this period of time would be due to lingering cultural effects. Well, the Guilded age is praised for progress it is also the Era when, The Rober Berron’s rose to power. With their rise to power America began the transition of America back to the corporate economic model which Jefferson and the founding fathers rejected.
Following the Guilded Age, the progressive era marked the beginning of the rise of what I will call the Institutional class in that various public and private intuitions gained power (such as the public service sector, universities, Non Profit Groups) from then until now to provide a counter force to corporate power.

The growth in the concentration of power from the beginning of the 1900s until now has created a power structure where size and influence is often enough to trump merit and innovation.  To completely describe the events and consequences of this period of history between the founding of America until now goes well beyond anything I’ve written in my opening post. I only hope to begin the discussion as, I don’t yet have the knowledge of history to conclude it.


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

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#3 2012-03-08 17:28:41

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,565

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

I am sure each country will interpret the Mars project through their own cultural prism.

I do think the settling of another planet by humanity will have profound cultural effects, especially once people start moving their on a permanent basis.


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

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#4 2012-03-08 21:48:49

SpaceNut
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Posts: 15,108

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

America's frontier started as soon as there was a need to grow and to want more. It was the individual that had the ability to make the choice and to finance ones own way. Expansion from coast to coast was a little over 200 years.

Mars however does cost way more and while we mabe able to live off the land once there we can not afford to go as individuals as the histor lesson indicates.

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#5 2012-03-09 00:12:00

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
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Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

louis wrote:

I am sure each country will interpret the Mars project through their own cultural prism.

I do think the settling of another planet by humanity will have profound cultural effects, especially once people start moving their on a permanent basis.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to debate this tonight. I once heard criticisms to Zubrin's arguments and bought them in so much as I ended up believing that the dream of the frontier is an American central dream. I look today and see the philosophy of Malthus seemingly gaining more and more hold. I work today in an engineering company and wonder what the days were like when design was driven more by our creative impulses then by standards. What did Zubrin say that was different between the new and the old world? He said that the old world is owned. Well to many Zubrin may seem like a staunch capitalist the common ownership of the means of production is far from a right wing ideology.

What does this say about Mars? Mars is not the frontier of the past where everyone is independent but  it is also not the terrestrial society where the means of production are owned and the good produced are managed and doled out based on status. Mars cannot afford our bureaucracy in government or in business and will not prosper if everyone does not take a direct interest in its prosperity. Well, some may say this is only an adaptation to scarcity, I say it is a fundamental improvement in our system of economics. We on earth have lost so much control that we wonder if we can sustain our-self in an abundant world but we forget that in the dawn of our industrial civilization people were able to get buy working no more than we do today.

Have we really become that much more inefficient or is it the case that the rents we pay for the necessities of our life far exceed the costs to produce those necessities? Well, some may say the return on all investment is small; it is worth pointing out, that this is irrelevant if you are not investing with your own money. Size gives one a disproportional advantage over finance. This helps to protect the large from the innovation of the small and allows corporations to extract monopolistic rents upon the populous.

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#6 2012-03-14 00:32:15

JoshNH4H
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Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

I tend to be of the opinion that the "Turner Thesis" as it's called is largely caused by a confusion of correlation and causation, as well as over-generalizing circumstances which are in many cases localized to his specific time and country.

Specifically, the "Age of Gigantism" which we could be said to be in today is a result of industrialization.  Industrialization is a strong force for democracy because it frees people from the daily struggle for food, water, and shelter that is often characteristic of rural poverty by concentrating people in cities.  At the same time, industrialism makes vertical and horizontal integration easier and the benefits from doing so easier to obtain.

If you live in a city, it is much easier for you to get in someone else's way in the course of living your life than in a more rural area; the simplest analogy I can think of is how much easier it is to get in an accident on a busy highway than a country road where there are no other cars.  Thus as a practical matter government and regulation grows because it is simply necessary for a different economy. 

Industrialization made it possible to fill the frontier sooner, as well; When traveling to newly opened land involves a few day on a train or in some cases a boat instead of a dangerous, uncomfortable, costly, and long trip on a covered wagon or a horse or however people traveled to the frontier before the railroad.  At the same time, this transportation infrastructure led to a decrease in the difficulty of surviving as a frontier farmer, because it was easier to get your raw goods back to the cities.  Ultimately the use of industrial infrastructure in farming shifted the profits therefrom to the cities and further allowed for their growth.  The corruption of this era was caused by the inability of the institutions from a low population density agricultural era to manage a higher population density industrial era.

The systems made some of the required changes to adapt to this new era, and the result was relatively good.  Today, we face problems both new and old, as organizations get still larger and even those organizations which are nominally acting on the behalf of the people are becoming out of their reach, while at the same time, the entire paradigm is changing with the rise of the postindustrial economy.  Part of the problem is that our conceptions of government and justice are becoming outdated and badly adapted to the new world in which we live, since they were conceived a quarter millennium ago. 

A frontier is not some kind of vitalizing element that quells social instability.  Rather, it allows new ideas to be come up with and even more importantly put into practice.  A republic was established in the US in 1776 and again in 1787, at a time when the idea that all people (Or even all adult white heterosexual property-owning  males of the predominant ethnicity and religion) are equal was a very radical one.  Similarly, we could expect new ideas of all kinds to flourish on Mars, and in this way set an example on Earth.  I would argue that the existence of a frontier is actually a destabilizing element in society; The existence of a republic in America proved that it could work for Europe, and contributed to the French Revolution and much of the other instabilities of 1800s Europe).  New ideas do not have to take place in a frontier first; however it is easier for them to do so because there are no pre-established structures or interests preventing them from doing so.

Therefore, I reject the "Turner Thesis"


-Josh

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#7 2012-03-14 12:41:13

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

JoshNH4H wrote:

I tend to be of the opinion that the "Turner Thesis" as it's called is largely caused by a confusion of correlation and causation, as well as over-generalizing circumstances which are in many cases localized to his specific time and country.

Let me address your points from the last to the first. My first question is if America hadn’t shown the people that they could have a better life, then what would Europe look like today? Would it have progressed as much as it did? What is wrong with disruptive forces? Shouldn’t ideas stand and fall on their own merit rather than because of which interests they support? When it comes to the free market we believe in adaptive structures, so why shouldn’t the organizations we create to serve our common interest be adaptive and dynamic?

With regards to whether our concepts of government and justice are out of date we could agree on this but for very opposite reasons. Therefore, I will wait for you to address how you think our ideas are out of date.

Now with regards to the interplay between industrialization and the frontier, at first the very existence of the frontier would have given people a choice between city life and frontier life.  This would have given the worker more bargaining power to negotiate wages and helped to make city life better. So while the city helped the frontier, the frontier would have also helped the city.

However, later developments such as the creation of the plow and railway, would have created a large surplus in agricultural production and would forced people into the cities because they would have a harder time selling their crops and obtaining new land for their kids. The Gilded age is praised of an era of economic progress but we must remember the large influx of people into the cities due to the invention of the plow created large slums. History however is not largely written by the people living in slums.

Well, surplus labor created from farming innovation may have led to large economic growth, the reduced economic status of farmers would led to the first popular movement in the Age of reform (Progressive Era), as the economic refuges felt as there was a conspiracy by corporations to end the free availability of land in the frontier.

Well, industrialization did lead to large economic benefits the rewards were not equally shared and this would lead to a growing dependence on people first from corporations and then from government for their livelihood.

Well, there were many comforts to industrialization in America one must not discount the value of being self-sufficient. The existence of the frontier both put city dwellers and farmers in a stronger barging position economically. This gave dignity, hope and an optimistic sprit which is conducive to innovation and progress.

Well, we may say that this wasn’t necessary to achieve the progress to our modern economy we must not discount the importance of disruptive forces for political and economic change.

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#8 2012-03-15 00:27:48

JoshNH4H
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Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

I'm not arguing that there's anything wrong with destabilizing or disruptive forces in society, necessarily.  However, the Turner Thesis is based on the idea of social stability, e.g. the existence of a frontier enhances social stability by drawing off those who would destabilize things.  Turner (And by extension Zubrin) would point to the 1848 Revolutions in Europe (Essentially every state in Europe had at least one revolution in that year, with the exception of the UK, which merely suffered from elevated social discontent, and Russia) and note that instead of having a revolution in that year, the US had a Gold Rush.  I would turn things around; the US was a frontier, and because it was far enough separated from Europe it could advance its social institutions and create an example for them to use, though it's not the only cause in any sense.  Note that that frontier does not need to be geographical, per se:  It is a cultural frontier.  I would argue that, properly conceptualized, the Internet represents just such a cultural frontier, or its progenitors; The growing (and related) gap between younger and older generations provides another such cultural frontier.  Though this leaves an important position from the frontier, it is different from the Turner Thesis.

While our current systems of justice serve well in many instances, I don't think they're suited to an age where the law addresses much more than very clear matters of property.  The more complex modern age also makes the relatively fixed procedures of the courts slow-moving and often ineffective for an increasingly ineffective batch of laws (Example: Intellectual property and lawsuit liability).  Especially when a law exists by general consensus to further a specific social or economic aim (Government is now a significant part of western society, and definitely has a place in the economic and social life (In such benign a case as the example that free public education  it doesn't make sense to treat this law as an objective fact, which is generally speaking the ultimate ideological base of our court system. 

Broadly speaking, not enough people were actually able to immigrate to the frontier to really say that it provided a true alternative to the city.  Also, I do believe that many of the migrants to the frontier were pretty middle-class; As is usually the case the people hurt most by the system are least able to escape from it.  I agree that having empty land was a great help to America, but I don't think it's really enough to argue that it was such a significant factor in helping our development.  Pre-1917 Russia had massive amounts of empty or agricultural land but it was still the least developed country in Europe.  I know that in the context of Europe, it is very important to note that while the conditions in the city were bad, they were not necessarily worse than the conditions which they had left in the country. 

Because the frontier was not a viable actual alternative, you end up referencing merely the idea that you could, in theory go out to the frontier to escape from the woes of civilization.  But if the escape is merely notional, then there is absolutely no need for it to take the form of a physical space of unused land. 

I don't doubt that a good dose of social instability ultimately strengthens a society, but I contest the idea that the Frontier is the only or even necessarily the best way of generating this instability (More important, really, is the expression and demonstration of new ideas).  While it is certainly one possible way to aid the development of a society, the contentions of Zubrin and Turner IMO go too far in discussing its impact and the directness of the relation.


-Josh

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#9 2012-03-15 12:45:21

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
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Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

JoshNH4H wrote:

I'm not arguing that there's anything wrong with destabilizing or disruptive forces in society, necessarily.  However, the Turner Thesis is based on the idea of social stability, e.g. the existence of a frontier enhances social stability by drawing off those who would destabilize things.  Turner (And by extension Zubrin) would point to the 1848 Revolutions in Europe (Essentially every state in Europe had at least one revolution in that year, with the exception of the UK, which merely suffered from elevated social discontent, and Russia) and note that instead of having a revolution in that year, the US had a Gold Rush.  I would turn things around; the US was a frontier, and because it was far enough separated from Europe it could advance its social institutions and create an example for them to use, though it's not the only cause in any sense.  Note that that frontier does not need to be geographical, per se:  It is a cultural frontier.  I would argue that, properly conceptualized, the Internet represents just such a cultural frontier, or its progenitors; The growing (and related) gap between younger and older generations provides another such cultural frontier.  Though this leaves an important position from the frontier, it is different from the Turner Thesis.

While our current systems of justice serve well in many instances, I don't think they're suited to an age where the law addresses much more than very clear matters of property.  The more complex modern age also makes the relatively fixed procedures of the courts slow-moving and often ineffective for an increasingly ineffective batch of laws (Example: Intellectual property and lawsuit liability).  Especially when a law exists by general consensus to further a specific social or economic aim (Government is now a significant part of western society, and definitely has a place in the economic and social life (In such benign a case as the example that free public education  it doesn't make sense to treat this law as an objective fact, which is generally speaking the ultimate ideological base of our court system. 

Broadly speaking, not enough people were actually able to immigrate to the frontier to really say that it provided a true alternative to the city.  Also, I do believe that many of the migrants to the frontier were pretty middle-class; As is usually the case the people hurt most by the system are least able to escape from it.  I agree that having empty land was a great help to America, but I don't think it's really enough to argue that it was such a significant factor in helping our development.  Pre-1917 Russia had massive amounts of empty or agricultural land but it was still the least developed country in Europe.  I know that in the context of Europe, it is very important to note that while the conditions in the city were bad, they were not necessarily worse than the conditions which they had left in the country. 

Because the frontier was not a viable actual alternative, you end up referencing merely the idea that you could, in theory go out to the frontier to escape from the woes of civilization.  But if the escape is merely notional, then there is absolutely no need for it to take the form of a physical space of unused land. 

I don't doubt that a good dose of social instability ultimately strengthens a society, but I contest the idea that the Frontier is the only or even necessarily the best way of generating this instability (More important, really, is the expression and demonstration of new ideas).  While it is certainly one possible way to aid the development of a society, the contentions of Zubrin and Turner IMO go too far in discussing its impact and the directness of the relation.

While I don’t agree with everything from Turner and Zubrin in this regard, I am not sure that they do go too far. I acknowledge that there are other ways to drive change; unfortunately people today feel little hope that we can make a better world. The right plays on our fears to encourage our possessive impulses while the left seeks to make us dependent upon the state to ration out the perceived scarce resources in Malthusian like manner, often completely rejecting the notion that there can be industrial progress.

If we as a society can only see one of two depressing futures, then what hope do we have of making a better world? The Martian frontier would do something very dramatic. It would show earth that life can flourish in a world which is much less abundant then our own and then from this realization they will conclude that we can certainly provide for the needs of people on earth. From this realization they will demand that society organizes in a way to achieve these ends.

As for the history. I’ll need to address much of it later. You say that not enough people left the city to make it a real option for poor city dwellers but how did the wages in the cities of the frontier compare to Europe? Was the growth of a larger middle class a stronger trend in America? Also the comparison of farming in Europe to city life in Europe probably isn’t that relevant because I don’t think farmers tended to own their own land in Europe in that time period.

I don’t know much about Russia in that time period but it would be an interesting study. The notion of, the internet as a cultural frontier, is also interesting but I think I’ll make a new thread on that one. The Internet as a bastion of freedom is rapidly changing though, as people try to control it though, intellectual property laws, wire tapping laws, terrorism laws, public disturbance laws, and countless other instruments justified on the basis of numerous boogiemen.

The notion that there may be other ways to help people see more positive ways to make a better future says nothing contrary to the fact that the frontier would be an extremely powerful way to achieve this end. We can try many things that we think might work or we can go ahead and do something that we are nearly certain that it will work.

Last edited by John Creighton (2012-03-15 12:46:01)

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#10 2012-03-19 14:04:55

JoshNH4H
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Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

I actually agree with a lot of what you said; But Zubrin's singular focus on the existence of a physical frontier as the only way to "fix" our "broken" society, based heavily on Turner, is such an exaggeration of the reality of the situation that in my opinion it's closer to being wrong than right.  I am not the first one to call out Zubrin for being hyperbolic.

I won't argue for a second that the America of the late 1800s and early 1900s was different from many other Western states, But I do argue that the reason for that is not because of the existence of a frontier hundreds or a thousand miles west of where most Americans lived.  Instead, the differences were probably because America's social order (so to speak- though perhaps the most significant difference is that there is (was?) not a social order in America in the European sense) was not created in the dark ages.  This was caused by the fact that America, perhaps two hundred years earlier, was a frontier, and very little to do with the fact that it had one.

Further, by modern standards, even though the US frontier was declared "closed" in 1890, there was still a whole lot of empty land.  Here is a zoomable map of the US population density in 1890.  Note that there are huge areas with population densities below 2 people per square mile.  To this day, the United States has a lot of empty land (To be fair, I am speaking as a New Yorker and my definition of "empty" may not align with that of other people).  At the least, we have Alaska which has very few people for its size.  Many African nations have pretty low population densities, yet more often than not these same nations have tremendous and unsolved issues.  Australia has less than one half the population of England (And I do mean England, e.g., not including Scotland, Wales, or Ireland), in nearly sixty times the land area; Yet it would be a stretch to say that either is more than a little better off than the other.

Further, I would argue that there is no way to be absolutely certain that a Martian frontier would lead to this kind of benefit for Earth.  It is not as if it is an inevitable fact that people put in a new environment will create a better society.  The new society of Apartheid formed in South Africa after Dutch colonization and later independence is hardly something we want to emulate.  It only happens through hard work, idealism, and real thought on what people want their world to be.  It can be derailed at any point by the rise of a charismatic dictator; by economic or political oppression; By any of a trillion unforseeable circumstances.  Even in America, the establishment  of a new society came with a dark smear, that being the institution of chattel slavery.  As much as we like to pass over it, say it was just the south, make claims of economic necessity, it doesn't matter.  We as a country brutally enslaved millions of human beings over hundreds of years, while slavery within European countries was largely nonexistent.  That doesn't sound much like an improvement.  Then there is the whole other issue of the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the United States, which is also terrible and also generally not spoken of.  Estimates vary, but there were somewhere between 1 million and 18 million non-European people living in the territory that is now the US, and while many of these people died from then-unavoidable and then-incurable spread of disease, many were also intentionally killed or exposed.

So, I think that it is not right to say that the existence of a frontier leads to a "near certainty" of a better world.

Last edited by JoshNH4H (2012-03-19 14:13:42)


-Josh

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#11 2012-03-20 13:02:31

John Creighton
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Posts: 2,401
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Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

I actually agree with a lot of what you said; But Zubrin's singular focus on the existence of a physical frontier as the only way to "fix" our "broken" society, based heavily on Turner, is such an exaggeration of the reality of the situation that in my opinion it's closer to being wrong than right.  I am not the first one to call out Zubrin for being hyperbolic.

It is interesting the choice of words you chose to quote. I will address these implicit points later. Historically (for instance see the Hegelian dialectic), it was believed that significant changes occurred by replacing the old with the new. The belief in the Mortality of states can be traced back at least as far as Plato when he talked about the transition from one form of government to another in his book, “The Republic”.

From this historical perspective significant change, occurs by replacing the old with the new, in other words it is a new start and in a new world such a new start would be easier. I think that the evolutionary perspective probably gained prominence sometime after 1900 both due to failures in various revolutionary movements and because of the prominence evolution gained in our cultural consciousness after Darwin’s The Origin of species.

Modern societies are complex self-reinforcing systems as was observed by Marx and; from the vantage point of a given system it is hard to see alternatives (see deep capture theory). Most things in the system have adapted to the system and hence have a purpose from the perspective of the system but the popular presumption that this purpose is by some form of superior design (either an all powerful creator or the supreme wisdom of the heroes of our history ) show that the idea of natural law is still a strong part of our consciousness..

Aristotle believed the rain fell to the ground so the plants would have water just  as some creationist would presume that rabbits have white tails so that they are easier for men to shoot (as Russell said, “I’m not sure how the rabbit would feel about that).  The belief in an inherent meaning , cause and purpose behind everything in life still is a dominate part of our psychology despite the influence of existentialism and instrumentalism.

Now with regards to the words fix and broken, these terms largely depend on our perspective and later I will discuss perspectives where our way of doing things is viewed much less positively.

I won't argue for a second that the America of the late 1800s and early 1900s was different from many other Western states, But I do argue that the reason for that is not because of the existence of a frontier hundreds or a thousand miles west of where most Americans lived.  Instead, the differences were probably because America's social order (so to speak- though perhaps the most significant difference is that there is (was?) not a social order in America in the European sense) was not created in the dark ages.  This was caused by the fact that America, perhaps two hundred years earlier, was a frontier, and very little to do with the fact that it had one.

This is an interesting distinction but the point is taken.

Further, by modern standards, even though the US frontier was declared "closed" in 1890, there was still a whole lot of empty land.  Here is a zoomable map of the US population density in 1890.  Note that there are huge areas with population densities below 2 people per square mile.  To this day, the United States has a lot of empty land (To be fair, I am speaking as a New Yorker and my definition of "empty" may not align with that of other people).  At the least, we have Alaska which has very few people for its size.  Many African nations have pretty low population densities, yet more often than not these same nations have tremendous and unsolved issues.  Australia has less than one half the population of England (And I do mean England, e.g., not including Scotland, Wales, or Ireland), in nearly sixty times the land area; Yet it would be a stretch to say that either is more than a little better off than the other.

In Zubrin’s paper he discusses the importance of autonomy for a frontier and it is for this reason he argues for instance that Antarctica or under the water would not serve the same purpose as Mars.

Further, I would argue that there is no way to be absolutely certain that a Martian frontier would lead to this kind of benefit for Earth.  It is not as if it is an inevitable fact that people put in a new environment will create a better society.  The new society of Apartheid formed in South Africa after Dutch colonization and later independence is hardly something we want to emulate.  It only happens through hard work, idealism, and real thought on what people want their world to be.  It can be derailed at any point by the rise of a charismatic dictator; by economic or political oppression; By any of a trillion unforseeable circumstances.  Even in America, the establishment  of a new society came with a dark smear, that being the institution of chattel slavery.  As much as we like to pass over it, say it was just the south, make claims of economic necessity, it doesn't matter.  We as a country brutally enslaved millions of human beings over hundreds of years, while slavery within European countries was largely nonexistent.  That doesn't sound much like an improvement.  Then there is the whole other issue of the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the United States, which is also terrible and also generally not spoken of.  Estimates vary, but there were somewhere between 1 million and 18 million non-European people living in the territory that is now the US, and while many of these people died from then-unavoidable and then-incurable spread of disease, many were also intentionally killed or exposed.

So, I think that it is not right to say that the existence of a frontier leads to a "near certainty" of a better world.

I think this is a fair point. My question would then be (perhaps for another thread) what ideals will people take to Mars and how will this shape our society. I think that the Mars will require a unique mix of cooperation and independence and consequently will look quite different than historical examples we find on earth.

Now, at the moment I wish to ask one question. We both agree that Zubrin’s paper is an oversimplification but if you look at the politics of our day and how things are taught in school; then most things are communicated with over simplifications. Who is Zubrin’s audience? Different audiances will require different depths of arguments. 

Well, today we see Zubrin’s paper as more wrong then right, this is from a cultural perspective which believes strongly in evolutionary change and the indeterminism of history. From a different cultural perspective they might find our beliefs a strange mix of existentialism with natural law. It is not that I don’t think we are more objective with our treatment of history today, it is that I believe in the importance of theories in histories as a schema to try and understand and connect events. I reject the mix of blind empiricism with blind faith in the purpose behind change and trends.

Last edited by John Creighton (2012-03-20 13:09:35)

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#12 2012-04-13 23:52:13

clark
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Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,252

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

Let me sum the state of the argument.

Wikipedia, bad. Zubrin's thoughts on anything, worse.

Mars, Luna- space. They are all so vastly different from our historical experience as to make any analogy laughable. The Frontier model  is an over simplification to win hearts and minds for those who have want a fantasy to fill their canvas.

I really don’t want to waste our collective time by showing you the fallacy of some out dated historical model and how it simply cannot apply to space exploration, or by association, colonization, but I will, if I have to.

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#13 2012-04-14 01:02:52

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,565

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

clark wrote:

Let me sum the state of the argument.

Wikipedia, bad. Zubrin's thoughts on anything, worse.

Mars, Luna- space. They are all so vastly different from our historical experience as to make any analogy laughable. The Frontier model  is an over simplification to win hearts and minds for those who have want a fantasy to fill their canvas.

I really don’t want to waste our collective time by showing you the fallacy of some out dated historical model and how it simply cannot apply to space exploration, or by association, colonization, but I will, if I have to.

It is certainly going to be different. I think more a cross between Antarctic base, university campus and airline operations in the early days, rather than the romantic idea of the Frontier. But if people can start to get to Mars at their own cost, then the game will change.


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

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#14 2012-04-14 23:20:28

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

clark wrote:

Let me sum the state of the argument.

Wikipedia, bad.

Irrelevant. In terms of acuracy wikipedia has 5 errors for every four of encyclopedia Britannica. Moreover, encylopedias shouldn't be used as primary sources. A good starting point to find primary sources is through the refferences of an enyclopedia.

"Keen displays a similar lack of understanding of stigmergy and the adversarial approach when it
comes to Wikipedia. He's all over Wikipedia for its lack of professional editors and fact-checkers.112
What he fails to note is that the rate of error in Wikipedia is actually comparable to that of
Britannica.113 And while it takes Britannica until the next edition is painstakingly ground out, over a
period of many months and tens of thousands of committee man-hours, to correct an hour, errors in
high-profile Wikipedia articles are usually corrected in a matter of minutes. He also fails to grasp the
main purpose of an encyclopedia. An encyclopedia is used either for a cursory search for the most
basic and non-controversial information, or as jumping-off point for further research; it's almost never
cited as an authority in a matter of scholarly contention.
"
http://c4ss.org/wp-content/uploads/2010 … ssives.pdf

Zubrin's thoughts on anything, worse.

So then his PHD on astronaughtical engineering wouldn't suggest that he might have something usefull to say about rockets. The man has a PHD, founded a very innovative company and his mars direct plan formed the basis for the Mars reference missions. He is far from a hack. Is he a historian perhaps not but given that, then why spend so much energy trying to discredit his whole thesis by looking for Strawmen. Alternatively I believe that we should look at each point individually and decide what points are the most interesting and which points are the most relevant. History is far to complex and full of too many conflicting narratives to learn by either accepting or rejecting a person's viewpoint of history in full. It cannot be reduced to a single schema.

" Scientific theories that are half-valid and half-invalid can be entirely brushed aside with reductionism, whereas with a holistic paradigm such as additivism, one can add the half-valid parts to updated assumptions. A reductionist would be less likely to view currently invalid theories as valid contributions in the context in which they were observed, utilized and presented, whereas a complexity theorist would be more likely to."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductioni … ductionism

It is fallacious to reject a single premise based on a multi-premis implication.

Mars, Luna- space. They are all so vastly different from our historical experience as to make any analogy laughable.

I think that the to arguments for the benefit of the frontier are in terms of liberty and economics. The theory goes that both benefits result from the lack of government control on the individual and business. Of course with all such arguments what must be counted is allegations of a romanticized view of a golden age. Just as critics of Marx and Engels say the medieval golden era before capitalism never existed, libertarians like Ann Rand and Ron Paul would have to defend the existence of a golden age of the 19th century in America if they actually argued that. However that is not what they argue. They don't say things were better in the 19th century, what they say is that in the 19th century the living standards improved faster than any time in-history and this was due to the freedom of man to innovate and learn without the interference of government. They would argue it wasn't governments which raised our standard of living but the power of mans mind to multiply the power of his labor through innovation. The rapid rise in living standards was known as the great divergence and if you look at figure 1 on this paper America led the way in the rise of living standards:

http://www.usna.edu/Users/econ/rahman/g … l%2011.pdf


The Frontier model  is an over simplification to win hearts and minds for those who have want a fantasy to fill their canvas.

What should I call this tactic? Bate then attack? Given we live in the present, our expectations for the future is always to some degree a fantasy but this doesn't discredit that some future will come to be our present. We can only relate the future to what we know and the West is one of the geographical frontiers that we know.

I really don't want to waste our collective time by showing you the fallacy of some out dated historical model and how it simply cannot apply to space exploration, or by association, colonization, but I will, if I have to.

I don't consider a discussion of history a waste of time and I think it's been about 10 years since I read one of these frontier debates on this forum so I think we are about due for another one. Bring it on, Mr Emanuel Kant, I mean Clark.

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#15 2012-04-15 23:32:19

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,252

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

The man has a PHD, founded a very innovative company and his mars direct plan formed the basis for the Mars reference missions. He is far from a hack.

Anyone who has spent the time looking at the Mars Direct plan identifies the flaws. It is a primer to "sell" Mars to people who have little or no interest in it, that's it. The "plan" would also preclude any possibility of colonization- which is why I have always had a deep problem with the plan. I drank the kool aid and said, "OK, it makes no sense, but let’s colonize Mars." Everyone here subscribes to that premise (mostly), so I find it fascinating and frustrating that so many defer to this plan, or use it as their baseline.

What should I call this tactic? Bate then attack? Given we live in the present, our expectations for the future is always to some degree a fantasy but this doesn't discredit that some future will come to be our present. We can only relate the future to what we know and the West is one of the geographical frontiers that we know.

Call it what you want. But let’s dance.
The default setting for most here is to embrace a version of some libertarian re-telling of the American western frontier as substitute for a possible Martian Experience.  It misses the point. It misses the lesson of history- not just the American western frontier, but all of our shared history.
Environment dictates the experience. The environment we are considering is so radically different as to make our current conceptions on human rights, personal liberty, security, privacy, property rights, and personal responsibility laughable and unrealistic.
Any conversation regarding what Mars might be like, that starts from some historical experience, and not from an examination of the constraints of living in a vacuum, shows me that someone really doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Zubrin's plan equates to flag and footprints. It gets us to Mars for the saking of getting there. It makes Mars a sideshow.

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#16 2012-04-16 14:29:28

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

clark wrote:

The man has a PHD, founded a very innovative company and his mars direct plan formed the basis for the Mars reference missions. He is far from a hack.

Anyone who has spent the time looking at the Mars Direct plan identifies the flaws. It is a primer to "sell" Mars to people who have little or no interest in it, that's it. The "plan" would also preclude any possibility of colonization- which is why I have always had a deep problem with the plan. I drank the kool aid and said, "OK, it makes no sense, but let’s colonize Mars." Everyone here subscribes to that premise (mostly), so I find it fascinating and frustrating that so many defer to this plan, or use it as their baseline.

When given limited resources for an expensive undertaking there will always be perspectives which think the use of resources is not optimal or sufficient -- from these alternate perspective the deficiencies can be called flaws. The NASA reference missions contain similar architectural concepts as Zubrin's proposals but the total plan is more costly; which consequently allows them to be more robust then Zubrin's plan. They also have the advantage of hindsight (since Zubrins proposal created a baseline plan). Combining the value of hindsight with a greater number of authors for a greater perspective;  they were able to find something with a wider appeal.

Zubrin's plan is not, Colonization Direct, it is, Mars Direct. I would prefer colonization direct but the resources might not be there yet for such a mission. The proposed constellation program previously put forth buy NASA may have been seen as providing a more robust lunch infrastructure then Zubrin's proposal since each payload sent to mars comprised of two launches and crew was separate from cargo for a higher degree of safety. Unfortunately, the operating cost of maintaining the two vehicles proposed by NASA was two high for a sustained effort. What is the saying? "An Elephant is a mouse built to government specifications".

Zubrin's plan may seem unrealistically cheap but we engineer and build with considerably more overhead now then we did in the 1960s. It was less safe then it is today, unfortunately this safety comes at a large cost.

What should I call this tactic? Bate then attack? Given we live in the present, our expectations for the future is always to some degree a fantasy but this doesn't discredit that some future will come to be our present. We can only relate the future to what we know and the West is one of the geographical frontiers that we know.

Call it what you want. But let’s dance.
The default setting for most here is to embrace a version of some libertarian re-telling of the American western frontier as substitute for a possible Martian Experience.  It misses the point. It misses the lesson of history- not just the American western frontier, but all of our shared history.
Environment dictates the experience. The environment we are considering is so radically different as to make our current conceptions on human rights, personal liberty, security, privacy, property rights, and personal responsibility laughable and unrealistic.
Any conversation regarding what Mars might be like, that starts from some historical experience, and not from an examination of the constraints of living in a vacuum, shows me that someone really doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Zubrin's plan equates to flag and footprints. It gets us to Mars for the saking of getting there. It makes Mars a sideshow.

I remember an argument from Ayn Rand's book, "Capitalism The Unknown Ideal" along the lines of that if government is bad at regulating primitive economies why should they be better are regulating more complex economies. Foreign policy was given as an example where; some people say some economies are not ready for capitalism yet because they are too primitive. However, if government is not good at planning the basic distribution of resources in economies devoted to the satisfaction of peoples basic needs why are they likely to excel at regulating highly technological economies with tremendous specialization of labor and expertise.

By nature of it's environment mars will be the most technologically complex economy of existence and as a consequence the nature of the martian economy will far exceed the expertise of any bureaucrat. Now, there is no system of government that escapes planning and no doubt early on Mars can be centrally planned without too much overhead and inflexibility but as the society progresses, price will provide a much better signal of the best allocation of resources then the whim of a bureaucrat. I'm not sure what the transition will look like but the lower we can reduce the start up cost of an enterprise, the easier it will be for new business to be created early on in the colorization of mars.

Now with regards to personal (rather then economic) liberties it has always been the case that governments use fear to justify their power grabs. On the economic side some argue that government standards reduce the incentive for businesses to compete on quality. On the personal side the trust in government to protect us will cause us to build structures which we might not consider safe if we have instead taken the personal responsibility to engineer our environment against structural breaches from unpredictable acts or terrorism.

Not only might excessive government police and military forces give us a false sense of security but the demons dreamt up to justify them may be greatly exaggerated.

"If we can wander, without fear, not only in the streets of Paris, which bristle with police, but especially in rustic walks where you rarely meet passers-by, is it to the police that we owe this security? or rather to the absence of people who care to rob or murder us? I am evidently not speaking of the one who carries millions about him. That one - a recent trial tells us - is soon robbed, by preference in places where there are as many policemen as lamp-posts. No, I speak of the man who fears for his life and not for his purse filled with ill-gotten sovereigns. Are his fears real?

Besides, has not experience demonstrated quite recently that Jack the Ripper performed his exploits under the eye of London police - a most active force - and that he only left off killing when the population of Whitechapel itself began to give chase to him?
....
When we ask for the abolition of the State and its organs we are always told that we dream of a society composed of men better than they are in reality. But no; a thousand times, no. All we ask is that men should not be made worse than they are, by such institutions!
"
http://www.panarchy.org/kropotkin/1896.eng.html
from Anarchism, It's Philosophy and Ideal by Piotr Kropotkin (1896)

The last point I suppose is war. Is war on Mars mutually ensured destruction. Is it the same on earth. Now for a historical fact.

The word federalism originated from Anarchist philosophy.

Some anarchist philosophers dreamt up a loose federation of states which they called federalism. We might consider this analogous to pre-civil-war America. On the surface this seems like a good concept but if Mars was such a nation how might we prevent such a civil war? I don't know. The forced integration through globalization today provides seems to provide a strong disincentive against war but at a great cost to liberty. To what degree can a loose federation of states be integrated and still be a loose federation of states.

Finally, to prevent war I have not seen much beyond the proposals of balance of power and global government. Balance of power failed to provide piece in Europe but the globalization of government seems to have changed the nature of war rather then eliminate it. We no longer fight governments but instead trans-government groups such as terrorists and drug cartels.

Anyway, the subject of war I think is probably too big a topic to approach in this thread.

Last edited by John Creighton (2012-04-16 14:36:48)

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#17 2012-04-16 20:57:47

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,252

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

By nature of it's environment mars will be the most technologically complex economy of existence and as a consequence the nature of the martian economy will far exceed the expertise of any bureaucrat. Now, there is no system of government that escapes planning and no doubt early on Mars can be centrally planned without too much overhead and inflexibility but as the society progresses, price will provide a much better signal of the best allocation of resources then the whim of a bureaucrat. I'm not sure what the transition will look like but the lower we can reduce the start up cost of an enterprise, the easier it will be for new business to be created early on in the colorization of mars.

I'm going to ignore most of your post because it is a lot of white noise. Ayn Rand? Kropotkin? Federalism?

If we must play with sock puppets, let me have our dear friend Kropotkin speak, "In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense—not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species."

The point? Successful societies work together towards surmounting their environment- to reiterate my previous point, any hypothesis regarding the future Martian experience must start with the environmental conditions and the inherent constraints. The environment will inform us far more than some little slice of twentieth century western history.

Or perhaps you prefer your Ayn Rand, "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. "

From this premise, we agree a bare minimum function of government- protection of man from physical violence. To extrapolate from this basic premise, we need only look at sources of violence to identify what the government would need to protect man from on Mars. The environment. The radiation. The vacuum. The millions of little deaths caused by carelessness, poor quality control, shoddy construction, lack of training, suicidal tendencies, megalomania, hormonal imbalances, psychological disturbances, children, etc. etc. etc.

You project the equivalent of some Federalist daydream on a reality that is more akin to living in a 747 24/7. Want to fly on an unregulated 747? Want to share unregulated airspace where the results of someone’s shortcut results in the end of your life?

The stakes are too high. The reality too unforgiving.

You suggest market forces will be the best dictate? Do you really think leaving power, air, water, food, shelter all up to the vagaries of market forces? Do you really think creating a situation where individuals can be cornered into desperate situations in an environment where they can effectively wipe out everyone else is the most rationale approach?

Obviously the bureaucrats will need to adapt and be more effective than their historical counterparts.

Last edited by clark (2012-04-16 20:58:48)

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#18 2013-01-04 00:08:34

bobunf
Member
From: Phoenix, AZ
Registered: 2005-11-21
Posts: 223

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

John, I don't believe that the Hegelian dialectic reaches a conclusion that significant change occurs by replacing the old with the new. Do you not remember?  Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.  The old ideas evolve into contradictory explanations and eventually yield a synthesis.  And, I don’t think Hegel directly commented on the emergence of new states.

Citing Plato (of the Ideal Forms) as a believer in the “Mortality of states” is ironic?  When Socrates finished constructing his Republic, it was perfect.  Of course, once finished, it would never change.  I can hear Socrates now:

“Is the perfect not good?”
“Certainly.”
“Can the good by virtue make it bad?”
“Assuredly not.”
“Any more than heat can produce cold?”
“It cannot.”

And if some smart ass pointed out the fact that heat could produce cold, Hegel would have responded, "Then so much the worse for the facts."

Last edited by bobunf (2013-01-04 00:11:04)

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#19 2013-01-04 01:32:27

bobunf
Member
From: Phoenix, AZ
Registered: 2005-11-21
Posts: 223

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

It is difficult to understand how the Turner Thesis can be used by anyone who seriously considers the matter.  It was first presented by Turner at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, which adjoined the then under construction University of Chicago. It’s kind of surprising that lay people put such store in a discredited theory of history that wasn’t much good when it originated more than a century ago.  It does have appeal for American jingos.   

The Thesis has morphed into something a bit slippery, but for purposes of New Mars, it runs something like this: a physical frontier results in more innovation, equality, direct individual involvement in political processes, and better living standards. There are so many counter examples; and so many other ways to explain what differences exist between the United States and other countries.  It’s embarrassing.

Josh mentioned a bunch, but there are innumerable others:

> The Polynesians had an unbelievably vast frontier, quite compareable to Mars.  I don’t see the kind of innovation that occurred in Song China, or Renaissance Italy, or Classical Greece.  And I don’t think the Polynesians were particularly noted for equality, direct individual involvement in political processes, or particularly better living standards.

> By the way Classical Greece and Renaissance Italy were noted for their great scientific and artistic innovations, equality, direct individual involvement in political processes, and better living standards.  Song China for innovation and better living standards.  None had frontiers.

> Siberia has been part of Russia since at least the 17th century in a colonization process very similar to what occurred in the US, Canada and Australia.  If Siberia were its own country, it would be the largest country in the world, over 13 million square kilometers – larger than the US, Brazil, Australia, Canada or China.  Until 1867 the Russians also had Alaska.  Even today Siberia has a population density lower than almost any country in the world – comparable to Australia with about 3 people per square kilometer.  In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries the population density was much lower. I don’t think the Russians or Siberians of the 17th, 18th, 19th or early 20th century were noted for innovation, equality, direct individual involvement in political processes, or particularly better living standards.

>  Brazil has had a frontier similar to the US during a similar time span, and until the late 20th century was not noted for innovation, equality, direct individual involvement in political processes, or better living standards.

>  Two other countries with frontiers that still exist even today are Canada and Australia, both still monarchies.  Both evolved through the 19th century into egalitarian democracies with much direct individual involvement in political processes, and better living standards.  An evolution that has continued though the 20th and 21st centuries to the point that one could plausibly claim that Canada and Australia are as innovative, egalitarian and democratic as the US – or more so, and that their living standards are as good or better.

>  Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan never had frontiers, but do have innovation, egalitarian democracies with much direct individual involvement in political processes, and better living standards.  Maybe a bit less democracy in Singapore.

> On the other hand, there are many other explanations for the relative degree of innovation, equality, democracy and better living standards that evolved in the US: slavery (an economic system that existed in and underpinned Classical Greek and Roman civilizations), selective immigration, free trade within the colonies - for a start. 

There are a huge number of historical examples that cannot be crammed into the Turner Thesis, and numerous plausible alternative hypotheses to explain the US.  Including that it's just not that special.  Thus we see that the Turner Thesis might more appropriately be referred to as the Turner Myth.

One could go on and on.  But what’s the point.  After all, Hegel made it clear: “Then so much the worse for the facts.”

Last edited by bobunf (2013-01-04 10:54:11)

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#20 2013-11-09 11:14:07

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

SpaceNut wrote:

America's frontier started as soon as there was a need to grow and to want more. It was the individual that had the ability to make the choice and to finance ones own way. Expansion from coast to coast was a little over 200 years.

Mars however does cost way more and while we maybe able to live off the land once there we can not afford to go as individuals as the histor lesson indicates.

Depends on how rich the individuals are. The truth is until individuals can afford to go, any colonization effort will be pathetic. There are technologies that promise to make interplanetary travel more affordable.

One has to also ask, why people don't colonize Antarctica? I think government regulation prevents people from doing the things they need to survive once they got there, so all were stuck with is government bases staffed by government employees. The American West was not colonized this way, there were mechanisms for people to claim land and see a return on their investments, to colonize Mars we'd need something similar, if the ecotypes have their way, MArs will never be colonized, which may mean Venus will be easier to colonize than Mars if the Green people have their way.

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#21 2013-11-09 12:20:18

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,014
Website

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

The reason people don't colonise Antarctica probably has something to do with the cost putting it out of the range of the ordinary person. Those with the means to do so (corporations, governments, wealthy individuals) don't have any particular reason to. If a few hundred wealthy individuals decided to (average net worth in the 8 digit range), though, then they could. But again, they'd need a reason to, and the if that reason is freedom... why, they can get most of that if they arrange their paperwork right.

That's not to say we couldn't use flagrant loophole abuse to colonise the place. Paraterraform a few valleys, lease out land to colonists... it would be a useful dry run for off-world operations. Greenpeace already demonstrated that non-state actors can operate bases there just fine.


"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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#22 2013-11-09 23:22:34

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

One incentive is Antarctica has a very low tax rate, 0%. I often wondered why investors don't build a hotel in Antarctica, there are tourists who visit the place in cruise ships to see penguins and walruses, so my question is why not take the next logical step, build a hotel on the shore of Antarctica with a landing strip so airplanes full of tourists can book a room at the Antarctic Hotel at McMurdo base. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMurdo_Station McMurdo has 1,258 residents comparable to your fictional Mars settlement in your short story, like that base, McMurdo is staffed by government employees. What McMurdo needs are people who have their own business and don't receive a check from the government doing what the government wants them to do. How about a hotel at McMurdo to accomodate visiting tourists and the occasional VIP on government business. would that be a viable economic model? It would earn its revenue and pay its hotel employees based on tourists flying in and renting a room to stay complete with satellite television, hot showers, and indoor swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves locally caught seafood and a ski resort complete with lifts for those people who want to hit the Antarctic slopes, and a ski rental shop for those who don't bring their own skis. I think so much money could be made with Antarctic tourism if only the proper facilities could be built, what do you think is stopping them?

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#23 2019-03-29 03:27:06

CharlesAnigh
Member
From: Qatar
Registered: 2019-03-26
Posts: 2

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

Thank you, C. R. The book is quite suitable. But I agree with О±ОЅП†П† that cothurnus escapes me a little. Apparently it just meant many different things in different times, places and contexts?

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#24 2019-06-07 21:58:11

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 599

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

An article showed up in my news feed today, with a provocative title suggesting that perhaps it would be better if humans DID NOT colonize space.

I was skeptical in opening the article, but the author steadily built a plausible argument.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/why- … ket-newtab

The dystopian future the author unveils is a long way off, but it is worth considering.

I'll be interested in any comments forum members might make.

(th)

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#25 2019-06-08 02:53:46

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,014
Website

Re: History, The Frontier and its Consequences

Pre-emptive strikes don't work. If you have the capability to launch an interstellar first strike, you have it to launch an second strike. Stealth in space is hard under optimistic conditions - a relativistic kill missile moving at 99% of the speed of light will require engines that can be seen across light years, and even if you use a Nicoll-Dyson laser, you'll have to scorch the entire solar system to take out their launch systems. If you don't take them all out, you've just given the survivors a very good reason to retaliate - and marked yourself out as a threat to everyone.

Even if we accept the premises of the article, it only applies to humanity going interstellar. Or else it applies to humanity colonising the globe. We're still here, regardless of what some philosopher in North-East Africa said a seventy thousand (or two million) years ago.


"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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