Autarky

Autarky or self-sufficiency [not to be confused with autocracy] is in economics the situation in which a country is independent of the importation of foreign goods. In the past several groups have aimed to achieve autarky. The primary reason for doing so is to reinforce national sovereignty. The less one depends on the supply of others, the less vulnerable one is for outside pressure.

On Earth achieving autarky is often problematic. Resources are concentrated at certain locations, and different resources are found at different locations. Hence there are only a few countries, such as Russia or the USA, could reasonably achieve autarky. But even such countries rarely aim at autarky.

In practice autarky is associated with high costs. For instance one could cultivate tropical fruits in North Scandinavia by using greenhouses, but it would be less expensive to grow them in tropic countries and then to ship them to Scandinavia. Further some resources could be mined more easily in certain areas than in others. Also labour costs vary among different nations, which makes it attractive to produce stuff abroad.

For space settlements, however, is both necessary and desirable. Launching spacecrafts with supplies from Earth is an expensive affair, and should be kept to the absolute minimum. [Sending goods to Earth from Space Settlements is far less expensive, however.]

Our Solar System has a wide abundance of mineral resources. As pointed out by John Lewis, a medium-sized asteroid could easily contain more resources than anything mined by humanity in all of history (Lewis, p. 112). Space settlements will be located in the neighborhood of celestial resources, such as the Asteroid Belt or in the neighborhood of Trojan asteroids.

Developments as in-situ resource utilization and 3D-printing will help Space Settlers to produce whatever they need without having to rely on terrestrial supplies. 3D-printing also adds a new dimension to open source. Space settlers would profit from sharing their blueprints with each other.

Autarky is also desirable for Space Settlements. By being less dependent from external suppliers, Space Settlers are less vulnerable to pressure from the outside world to comply with their standards. This in particular of importance for those Space Settlements which want to implement a wide range of social, economic or political reforms which are not accepted by the global community.

Together with non-interventionism, autarky should be the pillar of the foreign policy of Space Settlements. But in order to achieve autarky, an active government policy is required. First of all there is a need for domestic businesses with the capacity to produce all kind of goods.

The government could achieve this target either be establishing businesses on its own or to invest in private businesses. In the latter case we would favour that the government should invest in worker cooperatives. Further the state-owned businesses will be [partially] privatized after a period of time, with the intend that their employees will become shareholders.

In order to manage these investments, we propose the creation of the Republic of Mordan Domestic Development Fund. This fund will be able to make decisions with a large degree of independence from the government. Financially this fund will be supported from the revenues from the export of mineral resources.

References

Lewis, John S. Mining the Sky. Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets and Planets. Basic Books, New York 1996.

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2 thoughts on “Autarky”

  1. You continue to amaze me my friend by the depths you have undertaken in this endeavor. Very informative posts and you always have something new to share

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