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Who Should Govern Mars? Building the Case for a Sovereign Mars

written by Clement Walsh on August 21, 2002 | contact me
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Mars and Earth.
Mars and Earth.
Credit: Unknown
In August 2002, the fifth international Mars Society Conference was held in Boulder Colorado. The annual event attracted several hundred percipients from the US and many other countries. Among the various topics discussed and debated, was the especially significant question of who should govern Mars. While it may appear that the subject of governance for Mars is far in the future and not of great importance, it should not simply be brushed under the rug. This is especially true given the fact that attitudes and opinions formed and held today about what kind of governance/government Mars ought to be under or install, will have an enormous effect in determining the final type of rule that Humans will institute for or on the Red Planet.

At the conference three main positions were advocated and the arguments centered on the pros and cons of each. The three perceptions taken were as follows:

1. The Red White and Blue stance. This entails a government on Mars more or less controlled from Earth via the United States government.
2. The Pale Blue view. This outlook necessitates the government on Mars being under United Nations control, modeled after the UN or both.
3. The Sovereign Mars standpoint. This position calls for the Martian civilization to be self-governing, responsible and make decisions by Martians for Martians.

For the sake of neatness and the ease of the reader, the author will discuss the three different forms of governance promoted in the order in which they appear above.

While "Proposition 1" at first glance by an American or even non-American citizen for that matter, may appear to have nothing fundamentally wrong with it, a closer look brings into scrutiny the complexity, difficulty and unwise means of trying to "govern from afar."

If history is any teacher, then the numerous examples of unsuccessful governance by distance, ought to be proof enough of the misleading notion that a colony on one continent can be effectively governed from another, let alone a different planet which resides at a distance of anywhere from several tens to several hundred million kilometers.

The proponents of such a governance scheme may point out the successful Apollo moon missions and the then-planed lunar manned bases, orbiting stations and subsequent American governmental involvement in those endeavors, as sufficient evidence of the supposed superiority of this approach.

However, they probably failed to mention that even before and as the triumph of Apollo was taking place, the American government was becoming a increasingly bureaucratic and regulatory monster, the combined effect on the national space program resulted in massive stagnation and loss of incentive drive, that continues to this day. The American government today is radically different and displays nothing of the greatness and respect it once claimed. Today's American political establishment in Washington D.C., is as far removed from the type of American government under John F. Kennedy in 1961, as the Founding Fathers were in 1776 from the English crown they eventually succeeded from.

While the proposal envisioned by the Red, White and Blue crowd may have been a valid one some 40 years ago, it no longer represents a logical form of governance in the opening of a frontier environment on Mars. Indeed, the very presence of the American government playing the role of excessive regulator and the consequent delays and frustration that result, is exactly why everyone from businessmen, scientists, engineers, explorers, entrepreneurs, innovators, intellectuals, visionaries, futurists, technologists, Humanists, pursuers of freedom, true statesmen and the "common Joe" will want, not only to go to Mars, but to be free in their pursuits and endeavors once there.

We now come upon the second proposal, that of UN governance. The prospect of an openly socialist, total control, one-world governmental scheme, such as the UN, running everyday life on Mars is laughable at best and downright treacherous at worst. If the idea of American governance of Mars is flawed, the UN scheme is an initiative of several magnitudes worse. There are several issues of concern regarding UN custodianship of Mars and to a larger extent, space development in general. Besides the promotion of the UN as a peace-loving well-meaning body by its advocates, the UN has and continues to display a staggering capability for harboring and fostering militant anti-progressive, indeed anti-space exploration ideas, groups and campaigns. Chief among the persecutors of progress that have found a warm home in the UN, are the various radical environmental groups, known as Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's), who have taken their radical street theater everywhere from the forests of Washington State to the campuses of the nation's universities. This wide scale use of NGO's has in no small way, helped to develop anti-progress mindsets in literally millions of young people around the world.

The United Nation's "Big Green Machine" includes such radical environmental proposals as the World Heritage Convention, Agenda 21 and the Wildlands Project, the latter, calls for the "re-wilding" of half the U.S. land area. These socialist schemes are nothing less then instruments that reflect the UN's ongoing drive to destroy property rights and progress in general. As can be imaged, for early Mars colonists a key factor for traveling to Mars will be private land rights, for the individual, business and corporation. The UN has demonstrated time and again it's hostility towards private land ownership and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the UN favors the pro-Marxist technique of the abolition of private property. While the author does not have the time and space for further detail and decision of the above mentioned UN environmental proposals, the bottom line is that the groups and proposals supported and disseminated by the world body, would be just as tenaciously opposed to the Human development of Antarctica as they would be to the colonization of Mars-and for the same reasons. On a side note, it is interesting to observe that the UN exercises jurisdiction over Antarctica. The UN is also the quarters for many social agitation groups and organizations, which constantly focus on small trivial issues here on Earth that are most often unsolvable. As any student of history can see, once a civilization begins to intently focus on its own internal problems, it quickly losses drive and ambition. In addition to centering on inconsequential problems and blowing them grossly out of proportion, these groups are also in the business of alarmism, e.g. "environmental catastrophe is going to soon end the world and life as we know it."

In a nutshell, the UN is a leader in propagating and creating methods of anti-development, anti-improvement and retaining the status quo. Everything from the 1967 International Space Treaty to the Wildlands Project is a roadblock to real Human progress and development as a species. And, of as is to be expected, the UN reserves for itself the right to negate any right it "gives" in the Universal Declaration of Human rights, by simply passing a law. This is not the type of government that should be on Mars.

We now turn our attention to the third plan of Mars governance, that of a Sovereign Martian State. While the first manned missions of exploration and establishment of Mars bases and settlements, will be untaken by the country that funds the initial operation (most likely the U.S.), it will quickly become apparent that important decisions are best made by those working and operating directly on the surface of Mars. One excellent illustration of the wisdom pertaining to decisions being made in the field vs. evaluations at a far away office, can be found in what occurred during the Vietnam War, where aircraft on the tarmac had just been fully fueled, loaded and readied for a sortie with one type of ordnance only to be told by some strategist, no doubt connected to politicians in Washington, that the armament would now have to be changed out for a different type of mission.

This is not to say that such a drastic measure would occur between mission planners on Earth and crews on Mars, but from the time that the first Human step is taken on Mars, there will be a growing attitude of wishing to make independent choices and autonomous decisions. After several years, if full-scale colonization is in effect, there will be increased tension between the decision makers on Earth and the colonists on Mars. Much like the story of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, the lure and desire for self-governance by the colonists for themselves by themselves, will be very tempting indeed.

As stated earlier, many people from many different walks of life, will wish to leave Earth for Mars to escape the increasingly hostile atmosphere that Earth governments will display towards freedom and personal liberty.

Exactly what type of government the colonists decide upon may make or break the attractiveness of buying a one-way ticket to Mars.

If the government on Mars institutes a system that provides less restraint and encouragement of personal responsibility and self-determination, the greater the appeal will be to prospective colonists on Earth. Likewise, with such incentive serving as a motivating factor, the newly formed Mars government will magnetize people of a higher caliber and character. On the other hand, a Mars government that caters only to the very wealthy, famous or otherwise elite persons and is dictatorial in nature will not hold a position of high regard in the minds of Earthlings.

Additionally, since labor on Mars will be at a premium and remain so for a long time, it will be important how the government views issues concerning the small and fragile Mars economy. If the government on Mars takes an approach of wage and price controls, such as today's American economy does, which is controlled through the Federal Reserve Bank, the results could be disastrous. A better proposal would be to have true free trade and a free market economy environment, unhindered and unbound by the powers and constraints of an elite private organization meddling in the affairs of everyday transactions and business.

Concerning what kind of government the colonists will establish, if they are wise and discerning they will look to history for guidance and will take the best of proven, successful governments instituted on Earth and incorporate them into a Sovereign Martian State. While the American Founding Fathers studied and admired the Greek democracy and the Roman republic, they realized that these types of government were still lacking and added what they thought best to create what many observers have agreed is the most successful form of government. This form of government is called a Constitutional Republic and with it's vigilant system of checks and balances, the American version has withstood over two hundred years of what has probably been one the most tumultuous three centuries in Human history. Following the example of the American Founding Fathers, it may be realized by framers of the Martian government, that a form of government such as a Constitutional Republic is highly desired. Indeed, provided that a Constitutional Republic is reduplicated on Mars with only minor changes that suit what provisions may exist on there, this form of government will represent not only an appropriate step in the right direction, but also a framework of government that works to protect basic Human rights but remains restrained and resilient at the same time.

Looking at Mars and its eventual colonization by Humans in a broader scope, it should be realized by the reader that this feat is more then just another uniform example of Human migration to a new place. We are talking about a whole new world and an entirely new branch of Human civilization. In time the children and great-grand children of the first colonists will grow far removed from the customs of this Earth. They will develop their own unique forms of culture, tradition, music, politics, art, architecture, technology and religion. Indeed, everything from calendars to physical appearance will be different on Mars then on Earth.

Supplementary, the inhabits of Mars may very well quickly grow tried of the strong and never-ending chorus of voices coming form Earth, each one clamoring to impose it's own preferences and renderings of 21st century ethics upon a brave, proud and new branch of Human civilization. If this situation faces the colonists, it will be clearly in error of Earth from a colonist point of view, as the majority of the populace on the Old World called Earth will not be in an accurate position to engage in playing the role of judge over the New World that will be Mars.

Indeed, because a frontier environment will exist on Mars, the actuality of the situation may well be analogous to that of the Old World vs. the New World during the colonization of the latter. While collectivist Europe languished in it's already conquered areas and drooped with fatigue from wars and entanglements, the New World despite the hardships facing it, was thriving in the challenges and stimulus that the frontier environment presented to those brave souls that eventually, through fortitude and steadfastness, tamed an entire hemisphere. Undeniably, in time, the New World surpassed that of the Old and bloomed to showed its superiority in less than 500 years. Whereas, the Old World had existed in an area that had been tamed for many centuries, the New World successfully went from wild, to civilized, to advanced and finally, highly progressive in nature.

Undoubtedly, it is the frontier environment in which a Mars government will play a most significant role in Martian life, society and development, the aspects of which should be carefully looked into and debated before being chosen. Thus it is very important that the future colonists on Mars not be held prisoners on their own world by a power on Earth that will know next to little or nothing about everyday real life conditions existing on Mars at the time. Therefore, when it comes to an issue as weighty as the one of government on Mars, the time for such discussion can never begin too early to start building the case for Martian Sovereignty.

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