Another interesting video on YouTube from the same person as the previous post:
While surfing on YouTube I found this excellent video:
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. Pandeism is proposed to explain as to deism why God would create a universe and then abandon it, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
We have updated our Reader’s Guide, our index of important posts on our blog. In the coming weeks, we plan to do more updates to it.
This post is based on a presentation I gave as part of an undergraduate course on Modern Political Philosophy.
Crime and punishment is a subject which should be taken into account by Space colonists. If one thing is certain, there will be crime and criminals in any future Space settlement. Therefore we should consider how to deal with issues of criminal law. However, in this post we will not pursue what act should be considered as crime, only that we believe that the harm principle should be used to construe crimes .
An important question is whether we should use imprisonment as a punishment. Although the modern prisons system has been invented in the 18th century as a more civilized punishment, it has been controversial ever since. The prison reform movement is in fact as old as the institution itself.
American professor of criminal justice Peter Moskos argues :
For most of the past two centuries, at least in so-called civilized societies, the ideal of punishment has been replaced by the hope of rehabilitation. The American penitentiary system was invented to replace punishment with “cure.” Prisons were built around the noble ideas of rehabilitation. In society, at least in liberal society, we’re supposed to be above punishment, as if punishment were somehow beneath us. The fact that prisons proved both inhumane and miserably ineffective did little to deter the utopian enthusiasm of those reformers who wished to abolish punishment.
Incarceration, for adults as well as children, does little but make people more criminal. Alas, so successful were the “progressive” reformers of the past two centuries that today we don’t have a system designed for punishment. Certainly released prisoners need help with life—jobs, housing, health care—but what they don’t need is a failed concept of “rehabilitation.” Prisons today have all but abandoned rehabilitative ideals—which isn’t such a bad thing if one sees the notion as nothing more than paternalistic hogwash. All that is left is punishment, and we certainly could punish in a way that is much cheaper, honest, and even more humane.
As an alternative Moskos make the following proposal in his book In defense of flogging :
I propose we give convicts the choice of the lash at the rate of two lashes per year of incarceration. One cannot reasonably argue that merely offering this choice is somehow cruel, especially when the status quo of incarceration remains an option. Prison means losing a part of your life and everything you care for. Compared with this, flogging is just a few very painful strokes on the backside. And it’s over in a few minutes. Often, and often very quickly, those who said flogging is too cruel to even consider suddenly say that flogging isn’t cruel enough. Personally, I believe that literally ripping skin from the human body is cruel. Even Singapore limits the lash to 24 strokes out of concern for the criminal’s survival. Now, flogging may be too harsh, or it may be too soft, but it really can’t be both.
Because not only does incarceration not “cure” criminality, in many ways it makes it worse. From behind bars, prisoners can’t be parents, hold jobs, maintain relationships, or take care of their elders. Their spouse suffers. Their children suffer. And because of this, in the long run, we all suffer. Because one stint in prison so often leads to another, millions have come to alternate between incarceration and freedom while their families and communities suffer the economic, social, and political consequences of their absence.
The benefits of optional flogging as an alternative punishment for prison are clear, both for the criminal as for society. The life of the convict is not destroyed as is the case with years of imprisonment, but is still punished for his crimes. For society the main benefit is the reduced costs of administering justice.
Of course, Peter Moskos realizes that some criminals should be locked up, although this is not for the sake of punishment upon the criminal, but in order to protect society against the most dangerous criminals. Moskos further argues that optional flogging can and should be used in combination with restorative justice.
Video interviews with Peter Moskos:
In Defense Of Flogging As Alternative To Prison (CNN, 4.18 min)
In Defense of Flogging: Controversy Over Prisons and Punishment (PBS Newshour, 6.15 min)
 We see the harm principle as a rule of thumb rather than as an absolute rule. We acknowledge that this principle will not work in some circumstances, however we believe it is appropriate as a general rule.
 Peter Moskos, In defense of flogging in The Chronicle Review, April 24, 2011. (Visited on April 6, 2013).
 See previous note.
The Lagrangian Republican Association promotes the establishment of an independent and sovereign republic, which is based on the principles classical republicanism and classical liberalism. With classical liberalism we mean the tradition in political theory based on the works of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. In this post I will discuss Smith’s vision on the proper functions of government. Continue reading Adam Smith on the functions of government