L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 148, November 19, 2001
Those Gallant Young Men of Space Command: Part One
by Keith Shugarts
Special to TLE
I originally wrote this as a letter to the editor back in May but considering L. Neil's article Thirty Two Stupid Years I thought that I would bring it back and rework it to cover a slightly broader scope.
Our good General-King George III wishes to place in space and upon our soil a series of contraptions that will protect the sacred soil of the United States and those countries that cravenly seek shelter under the benevolent umbrella of this missile defense shield. Whilst this may mean profit for those companies that have applied themselves liberally with sealant and mortar to the teat of the government behemoth, it could mean a dark day for the eventual commercialization of space and the freedom of the individuals of Earth.
This billion dollar umbrella would allow the United States government unilateral control over nearly any launch from the surface of the planet and effectively give it a choke point and hegemony over near space that could allow the United States government to expand control to future inter and extra-stellar commerce much like the British had when the have naval bases in Hong Kong, Singapore, the Caribbean, and Gibraltar. These bases allowed British naval power to influence the local commerce and put any trader or merchant within the scope, and influence of British power and control.
So why do I take the leap from umbrella to choke point?
I ask you indulgence for a moment. Transport yourself some years from now when an audacious entrepreneur is able to acquire from the former Soviet the rights to launch a vehicle into space to begin mining the asteroid belt that exists a "short" distance from earth and is possessed of what could be imaginably a very rich supply of very pure alloys (not to mention Carbonaceous Chondrite) and Emerson Ngus. We have seen how NASA reacted to the selling of a seat by the Russians to a "space tourist"; just imagine the uproar that will come about when a private individual wishes to launch a privately owned space vehicle into space. The apoplexy experience by the governments of the world would send ripples throughout the international community like Rush Limbaugh doing a cannonball into a pool of Jell-O. The UN would claim that space cannot be bought and sold but owned by all and therefore demand that the entrepreneur stop this foolish endeavor. Or imagine if you will, an entrepreneur wanted to set up a "resort" on the Moon or Mars. The United States would then used the threat of shooting down this maverick's rocket before he would be able to liftoff to stop the "exploitation" of space - at least the "exploitation" of space by individuals instead of governments and kings.
If the United States government is able to control space commerce through the dictates and whims accorded it by the creation of this benevolent umbrella would it not be out of the realm of possibility to consider that a tariff or "space tax" might be placed on those wishing to do business outside of the protective confines of mother Earth. That a space-borne alphabet soup of agencies would spring up and require that all space traffic have to stop and be inspected before entering Earth's atmosphere and liable to have to meet certain regulations and standards applied by such agencies. Regulatory agencies would then, financed by these tariffs and taxes, be able to themselves travel to the asteroid to make sure that those operating are doing so within the regulations that these agencies have imposed and enforced.
Even of greater concern is the desire of this planets government to keep the fuel of their engine of power - that being the individual. Due to the growth in power of the world governments, the status quo has become nearly a fanatical devotion. In order to maintain that, individuals must be kept where they are and not allowed the freedom of mobility. Where the status quo is not practiced or adhered to - i.e. Afghanistan - expect to see swift imposition of it through intermediaries.
Space promises the ultimate in freedom with its nearly infinite space an individual can truly understand the words freedom and liberty. The greedy grasping hand of government becomes impotent against the vastness of space.
The New World offered space to individuals back in the 18th century. A space for individuals to flee who were seeking their own way, not a way imposed on them by a government. Technology had not resolved yet into a force that was able to compell devotion and obedience over great distances. The government's reach only extended as far as rudimentary technology would allow. In time, even the vastness of that space was consumed not by individuals seeking freedom and liberty but the same sort of people who inhabited the hills and valleys of Europe and gave liege to their government protectors. The people who believe more in giving themselves over to the control of the government than to be ruled by the self and of the individual - never more so evident than now when those claiming the non-existant distinction of liberal and conservative both call on the government to solve their problems.
Space cannot be consumed and controlled like that because it offers the greatest ability to vote with ones feet and the government fears that. The government fears what it cannot control because the government is made up of people (not individuals mind you because individuals cannot exist for long within the group-think of the government) who exist for power, dominion, and control over others. When that power is lost, diminished, or threatened, the government acts to resestablish its control. A good example of this is the recent acts by the government in the wake of Sept. 11. Not only is the government relying on old methods of control, but it has passed new methods of control as well as asserting its right to aggression to quell the threat against it. The freedom that space would allow individuals threatens the very core of government and that is power and control. All governments, no matter their claims of benevolence, assert control and power over individuals.
The missile defense system allows more the just the confiscation of more of our tax money and individual freedom. By allowing the United States government to begin gaining hegemony over near space and provides the government with the ability in the future to choke off or control interstellar commerce and contain to the prisonEarth the fuel for the engine of governments power, individuals.
Will there be a Cosmos Liberum, or Cosmos Ordinatio?