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#1 2001-12-24 22:08:08

Alexander Sheppard
Member
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

What sort of parallels can we draw between future frontiers in the inner solar system and past frontiers on Earth?

One thing that seperates many past frontiers from this one is the matter of adaptation. In this respect, the space frontier is far more like the great frontier Earth of tens of thousands of years ago than anything else. By the time of the classic American and Spanish frontiers, humans had already mastered all the tools they would need to live in the places they endevoured to inhabit. Yet this was clearly not the case with frontier Earth. Frontier Earth clearly exhibited technological progress on the part of the colonists, probably some social advancement as well, and certianly, in the long run, better living conditions than were experienced in East Africa. Furthermore, the great civilizations of Earth would never have existed without this great step into the unknown. The case of Frontier Earth, perhaps the best model for our current situation that there is, lends a tremendous hand to Zubrin's arguments for expansion into space.

But there are other things to consider. Frontier Earth was expansion to many places ; to all of Earth. Expansion to Mars will be to a very specific place. In this way, the frontier will be much more like the classic example of the American frontier, and, in a more depressing way, expansion to South America by Spain. Mars west, indeed! But before we look at the actual frontier societies themselves, it is necessary to look at the effects of the frontier upon the parent nation. And what do we see? Wealth! Tons of it! And the result of that wealth? Growth! Technological expansion, social development, etc. There were some bad cases, that is true. Spain went downhill from a combination of factors, not the least of which was competition from other frontier nations, but even it had great wealth coming back from the frontier in its day. Later on, England and France inherited the title of frontier developers. They too shared in the great wealth that the frontier brought. Without the frontier, would modern science even exist? There is a good chance, in fact, that it would not.

It seems evident that wherever there is expansion, there is wealth, and many times, some real development! What does the frontier provide? For the places doing the exploring, it provides wealth and a chance for development into something new. For the places being colonized, aside from actually bringing them into existance as human frontiers, it allows for a new ideology to take hold. Good or bad, the frontier does offer a chance that whatever society takes root will be greater than the one which has gone before.

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#2 2001-12-25 13:05:16

Josh Cryer
Moderator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

Hey Alex, happy holidays and all that. smile

What sort of parallels can we draw between future frontiers in the inner solar system and past frontiers on Earth?

First, let's talk about motivation. Early Earth pioneers weren't well developed creatures. We worshiped the sun and gladly submitted to anyone who told us to, we were puppets to higher causes. Most of their actions were done for survival. Nothing more. Indeed, progress during the European period was excruciating slow, there were so many wars, so many lost civilizations. There were obviously isolated cases of Earth pioneers, but they rarely helped the progress of humanity.

In the case of American pioneers, however, primary motivation was freedom. Divergent ideologies compelled people to be pioneers despite their actual human abilities. I believe any expansion to Mars would be based on a strong political theory. It's hard for me to accept a corporate funded long term habitat on Mars. Any sane Martian colony will have to be completely self sustaining, and such a habitat would cost way too much in terms of money.

In contrast to American pioneers, Martian pioneers will have a much rougher transition. Early American pioneers basically had everything they needed when they arrived, and had the capablity to build what they didn't have. This is quite different from early Martians. We have no easy way to obatain locailized resources (as far as we know).

Look at how far Earth has come since America. The capability of free thought and expression is astounding when you look at it. And it took the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to push it forward.

[...] the space frontier is far more like the great frontier Earth of tens of thousands of years ago than anything else.

I don't quite agree with that. The one difference is that Martian pioneers will have to take everything with them. They need to have a biosphere that is capable of both self sustenance and self reproducibility. Such an environment isn't too hard to envision, given our current technological ablities. This then makes frontier Mars (and indeed frontier space) as hard as, if a little harder than, frontier America.

Without the frontier, would modern science even exist? There is a good chance, in fact, that it would not.

I totally disagree. The advent of science is the result of free thought, expression, experimentation, and open-mindedness. Alexandria is a very good example of this, only it was destroyed over 2000 years ago. It was arguably the most technogically advanced place in the world. Indeed, after the city was destroyed there were no advancements in 2000 years! (Yet there were plenty of frontiers.)

As Carl Sagan once remarked, “Imagine where humanity would be had Alexandria not been destroyed over 2000 years ago!”


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#3 2001-12-25 14:32:32

Alexander Sheppard
Member
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

Happy Holidays to you as well, Josh.

It is true that modern science was (and is) based on ideas, not physical resources, but I base my comment on the importance of the frontiers on Europe's reliance on foreign trade to maintain wealth during those days. Without that wealth, where would Europe have been? Poor living conditions are not beneficial to either social development, or scientific advacement. Even if it is the case, also, that the Renaissance would have begun without the frontier, it might have not carried itself into the modern age without that extra wealth to keep up its momentum.

The one difference is that Martian pioneers will have to take everything with them.

Well, early Martian pioneers will have to take everything which requires expensive facilities to produce on Mars, but they won't have to take everything. They won't have to take carbon or oxygen, and with the first base, they won't have to take water either. The list of things they won't have to take will become larger and larger.

I believe any expansion to Mars would be based on a strong political theory.

That is likely to be the case.

Updated 2021/09/21 by Moderator

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#4 2001-12-26 12:21:18

Josh Cryer
Moderator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

[...] I base my comment on the importance of the frontiers on Europe's reliance on foreign trade to maintain wealth during those days. Without that wealth, where would Europe have been? Poor living conditions are not beneficial to either social development, or scientific advacement.

You make a very valid point. But I was trying to suggest that a system that relies on capital is not what we want (and it may not fundamentally work in space). You're dead on when you say that poor living conditions are not beneficial to scientific advancement. One can not experiment and document things they observe if they're working 10 hours a day. When we look at history, though, we're faced with eons of oppression and slavery. Even Alexandria had nothing against the act of slavery. (Before the civil war in America, it was argued that since slaves were considered property, they were treated with more respect than Africian-Americans who weren't slaves. Which, ironically enough, was true.)

Wouldn't you agree that slavery and oppression is bad for social development? I would. I would say that that is the primary reason no scientific / technological progress was made for two millennia.

Well, early Martian pioneers will have to take everything which requires expensive facilities to produce on Mars, but they won't have to take everything. They won't have to take carbon or oxygen, and with the first base, they won't have to take water either.

Right. And any pioneers who don't take the capablity to produce facilities may as well sign their death warrent. It's inconcievable for you to settle somewhere without any growth potential. What happens if something breaks? The first settlement will have to be like a large city. What I'm saying is, if you go to Mars with a CO2 scrubber, you need to go to Mars with the ablity to make another CO2 scrubber.

[... [an] expansion to Mars [based] on a strong political theory ...] is likely to be the case.

I vote for anarchysmile


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#5 2001-12-27 08:09:09

Alexander Sheppard
Member
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

What a fool I have been! I once advocated anarchy (although I never actually read the literature about it until now). I had no idea what I was advocating! Now I understand what anarchy is. Now I can really favor it!

Wouldn't you agree that slavery and oppression is bad for social development?

Yes. They are bad for social development because slavery and oppression are the antithesis of free thought, and free thought is the key to both social development and modern science. So I agree.

There must be a mutually expanding relationship between the frontier and free thought. Free thought gives rise to new ideas, which necessarily helps us explore the frontier, in various ways (new technology, initiatives, etc). Yet, the frontier also helps free us from old ideas. For example, as Turner pointed out in his chronicle of the American frontier life, settlers belonging to Puritanism typically lightened the severity of their devotion to faith, and sometimes forgot it altogether when placed in the rugged frontier enviornment of the middle United States. Turner states something like "the frontier remakes man in its own image".

Zubrin and Kim Stanely Robinson are, perhaps, much more alike in their political viewpoints than they think!

What I'm saying is, if you go to Mars with a CO2 scrubber, you need to go to Mars with the ablity to make another CO2 scrubber.

It is too bloody expensive.

Updated 2021/09/22 by Moderator

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#6 2001-12-27 11:51:55

Josh Cryer
Moderator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

I once advocated anarchy (although I never actually read the literature about it until now). I had no idea what I was advocating! Now I understand what anarchy is. Now I can really favor it!

You have no idea what a sigh of relief that gives me. I'm often confronted with arguing the case for anarchy, and I usually fail because I don't have the strength to argue each and every issue (especially when I have to argue the case to a bunch of bigots).

[...] the frontier also helps free us from old ideas.

Exactly (and it takes large oceans or intersteller space to really facilitate new ideas). smile

If I recall correctly, Zubrin said this exact same thing during one of his NASA talks (I'm not sure which, I think it was the 40th anniversary; the poor guy had ten minutes to show a hundred billion slides... I really felt bad for him).

Note: I did a quick search. You can see Robert Zubrin's talk here, if you have Real Player. He's the third speaker in the afternoon session.

He talks so fast I can't transcribe the quote. smile

[Your idea] is too bloody expensive.

I know. sad

I am studying AI, since ultimately I think that AI will help space growth big time. If we could send robots to anywhere we wanted so that they could survey, mine, and even build building for us, we'd be way better off than we are now. If we could build a building with little or no man power we'd have unlimited growth potential.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#7 2001-12-28 11:54:49

JGM
Member
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 26

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

Josh,

I also was amazed at the arguments put forth for anarchy in the FAQ link you posted. It seems one of anarchy's biggest problems is the negativity associated with it when it is actually a very positive and hopeful philosophy.

One point that stood out was in regard to the argument that it is human nature to have hierarchical power structures in society and that this will always be with us. The author states that this is only really true for the past 5000 years and as such, is not an ingrained aspect of the human condition.

Ironically, I had just read an essay by Mars Society member John McKnight (don't have a URL handy) that spoke about the origins of despotism in the agricultural kingdoms of Sumeria where a handful of the elite controlled the welfare of the bulk of the population through their control of the irrigation systems.

The author of the FAQ says that mankind has learned the hierarchical behaviour and that this can be unlearned. One of the big problems with unlearning it is that the system has such tremendous inertia. One can't become an anarchist within the current social reality without seriously jeopardizing one's security. I'd love to quit my job to free myself from wage slavery but I know that all other options open to me would result in much greater difficulty feeding and housing my family.

This problem of inertia may make Mars the ideal opportunity to establish anarchy as a system of government. It would also be best established and developed with a small population ideally suited to a society involving the maximum amount of cooperation between empowered individuals.

Thanks, Josh for providing the link. I intend to forward it to quite a few of my friends as a basis for discussion.

Joel McKinnon
http://www.chooseyourworld.com/mars

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#8 2001-12-28 22:00:27

Alexander Sheppard
Member
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: The Doctrine of Expansion

www.marsanarchy.org

I think that it is probably a bad idea to try to press total anarchy on Mars. The reason is that anarchy must be a slow transition. You are not going to take people adapted to a modern welfare state and then suddenly pop them into an anarchistic state and not expect people to get scared and start a government. No, a better idea would be to try to create an anti-capitalist, libertarian Mars. By adjusting Martian colonists to libertaria, you allow the older generations a smaller transition to adapt to, and the younger generations more leg room in which to push toward a real anarchy. We aren't stopping the colonization at Mars, remember. Once even ecopoesis (the transition to a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere) is complete, Mars will no longer be the edge of the frontier. That status will have engulfed the outer asteroid belt and the Jovian system, and possibly more. And because Mars is a frontier based civilization anyway, Mars is likely to pursue its own colonization interests once it is capable of doing so. What that means is this: a libertarian Mars will have the chance of creating real anarchistic societies in the outer solar system.

Rome was not built in a day: niether will a state of anarchy.

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