Space colonization and genetic engineering

Although Space colonization and genetic engineering are separate concepts and the creation of space habitats is perfectly possible without the use genetic engineering, we believe that genetic engineering is a key technology for the success of Space colonization. Continue reading Space colonization and genetic engineering

Space colonization and survivalism

One of the major arguments used by advocates of space colonization is the survivalist argument. This argument states that Space colonization is necessary to prevent the extinction of the human species. However, we of Republic of Langrangia do not endorse this particular argument.

Before we can continue, we should emphasis the distinction between the survivalist argument and the environmental  or demographic argument. The latter argument states that Space colonization is necessary to solve our ecological problems due to human population. By moving (large) parts of mankind into Outer Space we will reduce the pressure on Earth’s fragile ecosystem.

The existence of the human species on Earth is subject to several threats, such as supervolcanoes and asteroid impacts.  However the question is whether the extinction of our species in itself is a bad thing. According to the South-African philosopher David Benatar have people no duty to procreation because people who have never existed cannot be harmed by their non-existence (Benatar p. 30-40, 2006), subsequently the eventual extinction of homo sapiens as such cannot be not a bad thing.

Measures taken to protect human life shouldn’t be made for the sake of the prevention of human extinction, but only to save the lives of currently existing people. Since only a relatively small portion of humanity can be moved into Outer Space, Space colonization fails as a method to save people’s lives in case of an extinction event, in which billions will still die.

The survivalist argument is a particular weak argument for Space colonization. Although it might have a high emotional “value”, it is philosophically suspect. Therefore we believe that Space advocates should rely on arguments which emphasize the benefits of Space colonization for currently existing people.

References

Benatar, David 2006. Better Never to Have Been. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Pandeism as the core of future Spacer religion?

As you probably already know, Republic of Lagrangia endorses secularism. However this doesn’t prevent us from speculating what form the religion(s) of the future will take. Most prospective Space settlers or Spacers, will likely be quite scientifically mended and will therefore accept scientific facts like the big bang and evolution. However many people, even if they fully accept modern cosmology and biology, will still feel uncomfortable without some sense of divinity.

Many people make great difficulties with combining their acceptance of modern science with some kind of religion. One of these attempts has been made by Bernard Haisch in his book The God Theory. According to his theory, god created the universe by becoming the universe. Haisch’s theory is in fact a kind op pandeism, according to Wikipedia pandeism is:

Pandeism (or pan-deism) combines aspects of pantheism and deism. It holds that the creator of the universe actually became the universe, and so ceased to exist as a separate and conscious entity.[1][2][3] Pandeism is proposed to explain as to deism why God would create a universe and then abandon it,[4] and as to pantheism, the origin and purpose of the universe.

Since this theological position is fully compatible with modern science, pandeism might become popular among Spacers with religious inclination living in a highly secular society. Although pandeism in itself is no religion, it might help people to deal with their psychological need for some spirituality without giving up their believe in science.

Federalism and Space colonization

In his 1986 article  Philip Bosshardt argued:

We have seen that cultural divergence works against federation. Barring unforseen developments in relativistic physics, settlements will never be in instant communication with each other. Message flow may resemble more the speeds of royal message runners in the Persian and Incan empires, taking minutes if not hours to traverse the distances between settlements. Modern technological societies could scarely function without the ability to shift huge volumes of information nearly instantaneously; without up-to-date information on events in the “provinces,” no ruler of trans-Solar System empires is going to know if his directives are being carried out. And at the other end of the chain of command, local governors will be reluctant to cede power to a ruling body that cannot have very good knowledge of current conditions. (Bosshardt, 1986).

This passage makes it clear that Bosshardt is talking about trans-Solar System federations or empires. The size of the Solar System is simply to large to unite it under one single political entity. However, this is no argument against small and local space federations. In fact, it is likely that many future Space nation will be federal states.

What is federalism?

Like many political terms federalism has different meanings in different situations. In the United States of America, federalism is mostly used for the movement or ideology which favours a stronger position of the national government. But in other countries such as Belgium or Spain, federalism stands for the opposite idea: transferring power from the national government to sub-national governments.

If we say that Republic of Lagrangia endorses federalism, we mean that we favour the creation of a federal state or federation. A federation is a state based on the principle of shared sovereignty: on some issues the federal governments has exclusive authority, whilst other issues belong to the exclusive domain of the states. Typically foreign policy, defense and inter-state relation are under federal authority.

Why does this matter for space settlements?

Because of their nature, Space habitats will be the fundamental political units of Space society. Space settlements are, in a physical sense, closed systems. The residents of a Space habitat can if they wish relocate their territory. A luxury not available to the people of, say, Pennsylvania.

This fact has important consequences for inter-settlement politics. When, for instance, Colorado and Utah have an intense conflict with each other, they are nevertheless forced to deal with each other. If, however, two Space settlements has a similar dispute either habitat can decide to relocate away from the other.

Individual Space settlements enjoy a greater factual sovereignty than US states or even members of the European Union. However, many Space settlements will be rather small, having a population from a few thousand to several hundred thousands. Therefore many settlements will be dependent from each other. For economic reasons, most settlements will specialize in specific goods or services whilst importing other from other settlements.

Regulation required by inter-settlement trade will be among the primary reasons of creating a federation of Space habitats. Further small Space habitats will have difficulties with setting up a proper defense force, by uniting themselves they will be able to manage a proper military. Also by creating a federal government Space people can pursue a more effective foreign policy, especially in relation with terrestrial nations.

One or multiple Space federations?

A single Space federation is impracticable for the reasons given by Philip Bosshardt, the Solar System is simply too big. For these reason alone, there will be multiple federations each in a different part of our Solar System. However, distance is not the only reason for multiple federation.

Since different people have different political ideologies. Therefore different Space settlements will implement different political and social systems. Socialist settlements will most likely prefer to federate with other socialist settlements, whilst libertarian settlements will federate with other libertarians.

Why we still need cash

A few years ago economist Willem Buiter proposed to abolish cash money. He argues that with modern technology, such as debit cards, we do not need cash any longer and that only criminals have an interest in maintaining cash. Although he might be right, Buiter overlooks one key aspect.

The problem with electronic systems is that they vulnerable for Solar flares, a sudden outburst of charged particles from the Sun. The nasty thing with Solar flares is their capacity to destroy electronic equipment. So if your computer is hit by such flare, all your data will be lost for ever.

From RationalWiki we have the following quote regarding bitcoins:

There is also the matter of built-in deflation. As more and more bitcoins get mined, it requires more and more processing power to mine new ones. Also, if your wallet file is deleted, your bitcoins are gone for good.

So if a Solar flare hits the earth or a Space habitat, and all computers are robbed of their data, a cashless economy will lose all its money. However, electromagnetic storms cannot destroy cash, therefore it would be wise to keep at least a part of our money in the form of cash.

Space colonization and vegetarianism

In a previous post we critically reviewed Elon Musk’s Mars colony plans and we mostly destroyed his idea. However, there is one good aspect to Musk’s plan. According to this article, Musk’s colony would be an all-vegetarian society. The question is, of course, why does Elon Musk want a vegetarians-only? [For the purpose of this post we will consider vegans as a subcategory of vegetarians.] Continue reading Space colonization and vegetarianism

On the need for a secular, liberal and humanist Republic

In this post we will defend the case for the establishment of a secular, liberal and humanist Republic. We believe the establishment of such state is necessary, but it is almost impossible to create such state on earth.

What is secularism?

First we should explain what secularism is. Unlike what some religious motivated demagogues pretend, secularism is not about prohibiting religion in all aspects of life. The real meaning of secularism is the separation of religion and politics. Secularists believes that religion is a matter for one’s own conscience, whilst politics is about public affairs.

What is liberalism?

Classical liberalism is the tradition within political philosophy which advocates a limited government, especially by imposing constitutional restrictions on the scope of permitted governmental actions. Individual liberty is restricted only by the liberty of other persons.

What is humanism?

Humanism is the world view that humans and humanity are the cornerstone of both society and ethics. Human life is not a mean but an end in itself, therefore both society and ethics should be based on their dedication to human dignity. Humanism can be either religious or secular.

Why a secular liberal and humanist Republic?

Currently there are no states in the world that enshrines the principles of secularism, liberalism and humanism. Many societies have religious inspired laws or are giving a special status to religion. Even in nominal secular societies, such the USA, religious groups are able to influence public policy even if they are an minority.

In order to protect the legacy of the Enlightenment, it is necessary that secular, liberal humanists will unite to form a new society, which explicitly based on these values. Once such society is established all immigrants and public officials has to sign a pledge to uphold these values.