Category Archives: space colonization and politics

Machiavelli’s Discourses and Space Settlements – part 1

Preliminary remarks

The Discourses of Niccolò Machiavelli consists of three books, which each are divided into paragraphs. In our discussion of The Discourses we will use a Roman numeral to indicate the book and an Arabic numeral for the paragraph, so in this part we will discuss paragraph I-1. Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses and Space Settlements – part 1

Machiavelli’s Discourses and Space Settlements

Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, hereafter “The Discourses“, are the most elaborate statement of classical republican thought. Ever since republican philosophers, such as Hannah Arendt, have been influenced by The Discourses. In fact it is hard, if not impossible, to define and discuss classical republican theory without referring to Machiavelli’s magnus opus. Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses and Space Settlements

On restrictions of foreign ownership of real estate

Several countries have legal restrictions on the ownership of real estate by non-resident foreigners, i.e. people who primarily live abroad. Various motivations exist for such restrictions, including irrational ones like blatant xenophobia. Continue reading On restrictions of foreign ownership of real estate

The Inter-Settlement Exchange System

Recently we proposed the Stella – a commodity basket backed currency – as a tool the facilitate the trade among space settlements. In this post we will further explore the use of the Stella as a reference currency.

Continue reading The Inter-Settlement Exchange System

Emphyteusis

Emphyteusis is a type of land lease that exist in many civil law jurisdictions. Technically emphyteusis is a so-called real right, which means that it can be sold, inherited or mortgaged by the lessee. Basically the lessee can act as if he were they landowner, while the legal owner is for the duration of the lease deprived of the enjoyment of his property, hence he is referred to as “bare owner”. Continue reading Emphyteusis

The polis and its colonies

In classical Greece the fundamental social unit was the polis, often mistakenly referred to as city-states. Unlike modern Greece, ancient Greece was not a unitary nation-state, but consisted of independent communities. These communities or poleis had typically a very limited territory as well a population of only a few thousand inhabitants.

Continue reading The polis and its colonies

Pigouvian subsidies

In the previous post we discussed pigouvian taxes as a possible method to reduce negative externalities. We originally intended to title that post “Pigouvian taxes & subsidies”. For reasons of limited time we decided to split that post in two parts and discuss pigouvian subsidies in another installment.

Whereas pigouvian taxes are meant to discourage causing negative externalities, a pigouvian subsidy would be a reward for creating positive externalities. To recap: an externality is an unintended consequence upon third parties caused by one’s action. A positive externality means that there’s a benefit for third party.

However, by definition people cannot be excluded from enjoying a positive externality, and hence they cannot be charged effectively for their consumption. Consequently there is little incentive for private entrepreneurs to produce such externalities, though society at large would gain from it. Therefore the production of positive externalities is often in under-supply.

One way to counter this, is that the government would create an incentive for creating positive externalities by offering monetary rewards. Though entrepreneurs cannot still charge their “consumer”, they get at least an opportunity to make money from their activities. Needless to say some checks should be implemented to prevent abuse of such subsidies.

A pigouvian tax might, maybe surprisingly, also reduce negative externalities. If a certain good can be produced in two ways, A and B, and one is cheap for a business but has a lot of negative externalities, while the second method is more expensive but has much less negative externalities. In this scenario the government could either tax A or subsidies B. If it would subsidies B, the costs of method B will be lower and if the subsidy is sufficient B will be less expensive than A.

Pigouvian taxes and subsidies are just two tools among many, to regulate externalities. What tool is most appropriate should be decided upon a case-by-case base.

Foreign policy doctrine

A few years ago I wrote the following memo, which outlines foreign policy. You should compare the doctrine below with the post on Space Settlements and foreign policy. As you will see, the memo does not contain an elaboration on the third principle, but from the context its understanding can be deduced.

The foreign policy of the Humanist Republic of Mordan is based on the following three principles:

I The peaceful coexistence of different cultures, political ideologies and forms of society

II Non-interventionism and strict neutrality

III National Sovereignty is unconditional and nonnegotiable as long the peaceful coexistence among nations is not endangered

These principles have to be understood as complementary to each other, rather than as three stand alone rules. Their unity is the fundamental base of our foreign policy.

The idea behind these principles is the proposition that the primary responsibility of any government are its own citizens. From this very essential proposition it follows that no government should adopt a foreign policy, which unnecessarily risks the lives and security of its citizens, such as by provoking aggression of foreign powers.

Every nation has the right to determine how to organize its own society, so do we. But if we want to organize our society the way we want, we should acknowledge this right to other nations. By accepting differences among societies, we create a base for peaceful coexistence.

The second principle logically follows from the first, the peaceful coexistence among nations cannot be realized if we should interfere with the internal affairs of other nations, and at the other hand our own nation cannot allow any interference by any foreign power in our very own affairs. And there is no general reason for us to interfere with conflicts among other nations, as long as those conflicts are not directly affecting our own interests. Therefore our country should abstain of choosing sides in transnational conflicts which do not directly affect our country.

How to combat racism

On the website of The Guardian we found this important article. According to this article white people become less racial prejudiced when they move to ethnically diverse areas, as result of witnessing positive interactions between people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.There are no a priori reasons to assume the same is true for people of different racial groups.

This study is relevant for the governments of Space Settlements. They could reduce racial prejudices in their societies by careful allocation of residencies to settlers in order to create ethnically diverse neighbourhoods, and to prevent the creation of “china-towns”.

Space settlements can do so by introducing quotas which state that no more than a certain percentage, for example 15%, of the population of a certain neighbourhood can be of the same ethnicity. Further the government of a Space Settlement could use lottery to assign residencies to its immigrants. This will result in neighbourhoods which are representative for the whole population of the settlement.

The Case for Dualism

Among the most important powers sovereign states have is the authority to establish treaties with other states. A treaty is essentially a contract between sovereign states, and as such states are obliged to confirm to the treaties they have agreed upon, or in Latin pacta sunt servandaThough states are bound by their treaties, the legal effect of treaties on the citizens of a state is much less clear.

There are basically two systems of how treaties interact with national law: monism and dualism. In countries which use a monist system, treaties become part of domestic law immediately after a treaty has been ratified by that state, this is called direct effect. On the other hand in dualist countries, a treaty has to be translated into domestic law before it can be invoked by or used against citizens.

States have the freedom to choose which system they will use, and usually this is determined by the national constitution. The question which now arises, is whether Space Settlements should choose either monism or dualism. In this post we will argue in favour of dualism.

In many nominally democratic countries which use the monist system, governments repeatedly use treaties to circumvent domestic democratic procedures. This because international treaties prevail above domestic laws, and because negotiating treaties is usually a prerogative of the executive and hence the legislature can only vote for or against the ratification of the resultant treaty. It’s quite clear that this leaves room for abuse.

Too often governments include clauses in treaties, of which they later claim were “forced” to accept such clauses. Given the secrecy in which such negotiations take place, it’s often impossible for legislatures and citizens impossible to check such claims. This creates opportunity for governments to push unpopular measures.

Though dualist countries could use the same strategy, but it would less effective since treaties in these countries cannot be enforced in courts unless translated into domestic law. Further the translation process has to follow ordinary legislative procedures, gives a greater role for legislatures, courts and citizens. Consequently governments are less able to use treaties as scapegoats.

A second benefit of dualism is that enhances the negotiating position of the nation’s government. When other governments propose an unfavorable clause, the government can simply state that such clause would not make it into domestic law. The other governments would not be likely to face such a failure, and are most likely to either drop the clause altogether or to soften it.

In line with our preference for a generally non-interventionist foreign policy, we recommend that Space Settlements should be reserved to make treaties in the first place, and to strengthen their independence they should implement a dualist system.