Friday, May 13, 2016

The Case for Space

The Case for Space

The case for space colonization is simple to make. It consists of three main elements. These are taken from the basic rules of survival as we see them operational in biology, market economics, and fundamental physics. These can each be expressed by reference to a common pop-cultural phrase, idiom, or maxim:

1. Expand or die.
2. Diversify your investments.
3. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
The first element is the well-known maxim of business, "Expand or die," and in some form is recognized also by biologists, religions, syndicates, organizations, and cultural phenomena - if history is any guide, and history is perhaps our best guide. This maxim means that a thriving, living organism can be a metaphor for any healthy construct. Humanity as a species is such a construct. We can be seen as a collective will to survival, and the surest way to ensure our survival on a species-wide level is to expand into the environment in which we find ourselves. This is the solar system in the immediate sense, and not merely this planet.

Eventually, this will to survival must be rationally channeled by a species, or else it faces the very real possibility of extinction due to its own over-competitive impulses. Run amok, the forces of narcissism, obsessive compulsions, insecurity, and uncertainty are enough to produce an excess of predatory personalities whose proliferation of cultures of sometimes deadly competition will drown the species in blood and blast the planet into radioactive ash. While it is common to speculate that human society has at last evolved beyond the essential cycles of history known to almost every culture group on this planet in one metaphorical form or another, that point of view is precisely that - speculation only. The far more reasonable view is that we are just as susceptible to such cycles as were the people of the past.

The cycle of human civilized expansion has to date been marked by fundamental instability, punctuated by sometimes seemingly random collapse. Most cultures have at one time or another been subjected to slavery, conquest, warfare, natural disaster, calamity, plague, economic deprivation, and so forth. To pretend that this has been a mono-directional phenomena of exploitation by a particular group as against one or a group of others is to ignore the lessons not only of history, but also of abject and extant reality, observable upon close inspection of any society - be it a macrocultural or microcultural context.

To ensure continued and continuing survival, systems must expand. This is how they secure new resources as old sources of the same become depleted. The need to break new ground also helps drive a spirit of openness and hope, and motivates a frontier attitude and outlook defined by optimism and a "can-do" mentality. The examples of this phenomenon are numerous in history and will be discussed elsewhere.

The second element is the time honored, "Diversify your investments." This is an absolutely essential and obvious truth - the wider the basis from which you may draw income - on a planetary level, simply, "resources" - the more secure the flow of those resources are into your coffers. This is because a diversification of resources necessitates a web instead of a linear supply "chain." The resource web exists in a four-dimensional space time cube - a region of space from which supplies are acquired and through which they are transitted. Business no longer takes place on what is fundamentally a two-dimensional map. It is literally expanding out in all directions.

Operations so distributed translate in real terms to profound - maybe even exponential - increases in profits. Our current psychosocial and socioeconomic models do not permit this kind of inflow of resources into the planetary economy without great upset and upheaval. The fundamental beliefs of capitalists and socialists would be stretched to the breaking point if a second-scale economy of this sort were created under strictly competitive, traditionalist terms.

But we need not embrace old fantasies when concerning ourselves with the primary focus of any intelligent biological organism. We must survive, and to do that, we must have multiple sources from which to draw the three basic suvival needs of humans facing any sort of frontier wilderness, on Earth or off-world. These are:

1. Sustenance
2. Production
3. Energy
We struggle on this planet to distribute food to all who are in need, and many point to such a reality as mitigating strongly against any global scale space colonization and development ventures. But this is neither a realistic point of view, nor does it take into account that the reason for much of the injustice we endure in the present day and have seen throughout history arises out of an inability to cooperate with one another. Opinions and attitudes heavily impact human political and social interactions.

But each and every example of a human community in existence today needs food, some sort of production to meet material needs, and some sort of energy production to support and drive manufacture, transport & transit, as well as food planting, harvest, preparation, and distribution. The more concentrated the supply of resources, the more susceptible it is to damage, decrease, or obliteration. If we produce food on the moon, and energy as well; if we move polluting industries and operations off-world, we can diversify our investments and help to multiply and secure our supply lines. These lines may intersect and interconnect generally, and create the secure web of four-dimensional resource chains. Obviously, the larger and more interconnected the system, the greater the opportunities for exchange and bargaining of goods, services, risk, and securitization.

The third element, "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket," appears here at first blush to be a redundancy. But it is nothing of the sort. Here, we mean not eggs, but rather people. And we mean not basket, but rather world.

Human beings understandably think of the planetary environment as a general rule. This is the basic totality with which most of us cope. But we are capable of more and if we intend to survive we have to immediately transition our thinking from a purely planetary orientation to a realistic cosmic orientation. The point in our history at which this became painfully obvious and therefore critical is when human beings first walked on the moon. This accomplishment transformed the whole nature of the human condition.

Because we had at last breached the surly bonds of Earth and touched the heavens, we were capable of something more than our prior thought had admitted of. No greater call can exist for us than to continue on from where this point in time opened a portal to a greater future. Before it, there was but one world on which we might live and prosper. After Neil Armstrong put his boots on the moon, there were forever two such worlds.

But the truth of this drive for space colonization transcends poetry to come back round to pragmatic realities agate hard in their certainty, and able to cut better than any diamond in the perfection of their logic.

If we remain bound to one world, we are subject to the very real probability of planetary disasters with which we cannot cope. Our capacity for adaptation is considerable, but it is not without limits both apparent and not lacking for historical precedent. The theory of how the dinosaurs were driven to extinction is just that - an evidence supported construct that appears correct but remains subject to review - but it is persuasive. A massive asteroid, or even one not so huge, can so upset the equilibrium of the environment as to crush down our cities and drown our nations. We could be wiped from the face of the earth by a variety of forces within the space of less than a day. We could be like ants displaced by a garden hose wielded by an unruly child. We are at the mercy of a universe we do not understand, and we should take the most obvious and most evolutionarily tested and tried methods we know of to enhance our chances of survival.

This is not a change in our thinking that will occur without conscious effort, and it is not a change in our perception of reality that can come without a dedicated movement focused upon fostering this type of thinking and spreading it to others. The truth is that without an extra-planetary presence, the continuation of our species is severely limited. We have the right and drive of all organisms to survive, and like all successful organisms, we must live in more than one range if we are to enhance our chances of avoiding extinction-level events.

As can be seen from this simple and direct perusal of the fundamental and underlying forces that force us to colonize space, the idea of remaining focused on purely local concerns involves a near-sightedness our species can ill-afford. Whether we draw upon the religious notion of a divine commandment to "be fruitful, and multiply," or a biological and evolutionary imperative for all organisms to grow and change and test their will against the challenges of the universe, it is our right and duty to continue the struggle for survival that our ancestors passed onto us.

We owe it to our descendants.

We must thrive, and to do that, we must rise. Humanity must unify, and for this reason, I am a unificationist. But I am not in favor of any global governmental scheme I have read, nor of any organized attempt at global government that can be seen on the horizon currently. There is in fact in this world an obvious technoligarchy forming - no conspiratorial shadow government of internet mythos, but a real order of the investor class that has or soon will possess the powers necessary to rule us all.

Such eras have come and gone in human history - times in which social and environmental conditions, culture, technology, and education have conspired to subject the masses to the whims of the elite and select. These times occur whenever the technological balance shifts economic and political forces in the favor of these oligarchs. Such individuals exist because of the inherence of wealth in the hands of the fortunate, the bold, the capable, and the quick-witted. But the continued inherence of wealth in the power of the few creates a tension that our species cannot long bear.

If we continue to run the same cycles, the same simulation, time and again, we will eventually reach a crescendo in which our technological capacity for violence outpaces our societal capacity for cohesion. One or another of our dark age disintegrations - admittedly less severe as to loss of communication and trade, but still contentious and chaotic in the extreme, over time - will lead to a military exchange that destroys humanity's prospects for survival permanently.

We can break out of this cycle by focusing on reality instead of on the internalized fantasies that our species has come to depend upon as abstract tools for limiting and mitigating our violent and emotional impulses. But we have begun to see that these too may be transcended by an intelligent and intentioned redesign of our global outlook. We can see as one people that we inhabit a planet in space, and that we share together, each of us - individuals and communities - in a collective common cause: we can survive together, we can thrive together, by cooperating to colonize our solar system. We can begin this process by making our own moon a productive and profitable enterprise, and sharing a great bulk of that profit with the whole world in the form of health and wellness programs, education, training, housing, nutritious food and clean water, and widespread electrical power grids.

There is a cynical and backward "old way" by which this might be done, involving a mercantilist, colonialist era of exploitation and probably a fair amount of brutal repression. For many people around the world, this would mean that nothing had yet changed, as nothing has changed for them for centuries. But in the face of this kind of cynical and cold tyranny of the past, we must ask the most important question of all: why permit this system to endure?

The earth was never made to be a prison or an asylum. It was never meant to be a zoo or a preserve. The earth is a kind of naturally occuring laboratory, and if the patterns of this world and the mathematics and physics with which we can describe so much of the myriad brilliance of function that surrounds us are any indication, this is not the only such laboratory. A thinking and a betting person may not always be one in the same, but when they are, you can be sure that individual will reckon 9 times out of 10 that we are not alone in this universe. It is too vast, and life as we know it is too tenacious. The conditions we experience here are being experienced elsewhere. Someone somewhere very far away is looking at your star even as you look at hers.