ASI W9800178r1.0

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#89 October 1995

Section the Artemis Data Book

The PHILOSOPHIES of Lunar Settlers

Bryce Walden

[Note: This essay resulted from an exchange of opinion posts to among those interested in the Artemis Project -- a commercial manned base on the Moon.]

"The human race will become a permanent presence in space when economic market forces drive us there." Well, yes, that's one way. But "economic forces" are just one of the possible motivations. For example, many American colonists left their homes and businesses in the Old World not because there was so much money to be made by going to America, but because they had philosophical or religious differences with their neighbors and found it more comfortable to leave, or even got kicked out by their neighbors! (I have a little list. . . .) See below for more on minorities in a democracy.

Another motivating force to get people off the planet is fear. This was the motivating force behind Apollo, to display superior strength and skill to our feared opponent in the Cold War. For you ethologists, we would call this a kind of "posturing," engaging in postures demonstrating fighting or defensive skill without actually fighting. As such, a largely symbolic effort with no infrastructure development in space would satisfy the need. When that goal was achieved, its scaffolding collapsed and we had to start all over again with the Shuttle, and now, finally (maybe), a space station. The entire DOD space program is, of course, based on fear.

Fear of cosmic catastrophe could drive us offworld, no matter how uneconomical it appeared to be at the time. In that case, economics would follow settlement, not the other way around. This approach has the added attraction that a meaningful goal would be to develop a completely self-sustaining and reproducing society off the Earth. Anything less would not alleviate the fear that a cosmic catastrophe could wipe out humankind by destroying the environment of one planet.

As an engineering student myself, I can heartily sympathize with the advice to "Just Do It," build that hardware, and let the philosophy slide for some comfortable viddyside chat in Craterville. Alas, as Cheryl Lynn York () pointed out, "The philosophical question needs to be addressed." This came home to me when, to save a post on the subject, I telegraphed the filename to "Do, Then Think." When put this way, most of us would feel it is a bad idea. Just as we would not build a spaceship or a lunar base without a plan, we should not build a community without a plan.

The history of engineered communities is by and large a failure, however. Tightly engineered plans, such as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, sooner or later failed. There was also a serious failure of democracy in those countries. Nazi Germany should be a lesson in what can go wrong in a democracy (a situation said to be largely driven by economics, by the way). A good deal of the U.S. Constitution empowers individuals and minority groups to prevail against the greater voting power of the majority. The majority does not always win in a successful, free society. Part of freedom is the maintenance and sustenance of diversity.

If we don't address philosophical issues both in the beginning and during development, as they come up, we invite the development of social systems which we personally might not like or might even find abhorrent.

All we wanted to do was go into space! But just as this new environment has forced us to grapple with new structures of matter and new ways of doing things, so it must spur us to better and more rational social planning. Ignoring this issue does not mean it isn't there.

Cheryl asks, "What does satisfy you as a next step? Satisfaction is a philosophical issue, like it or not."

Psychology says to reward desired behavior. We need to establish a number of goals, many of which are achievable today, or within hours or a few years. Achieving goals rewards members of the organization, and helps everyone feel that progress is being made. Goals must be both achievable and objectively definable.

"Satisfaction" does not represent a well-definable goal to me; it is too idiosyncratic, and Cheryl wanted to know what goal would satisfy, not to suggest that satisfaction was itself the goal. I like Ian Strock's idea that "satisfaction can only be achieved along the way--it is not a goal in itself."

The "goal" to be "satisfied" in the old L5 Society was simple and clear: to disband at a big party for all members on the first colony, presumably at L5, that could hold us all. Having simple and clear goals is a good idea. But that particular goal was so far in the future, and so difficult to achieve, that the greater experience people had with the organization was disappointment at never even coming close to achieving that goal. Although it was a good, simple goal, it wasn't enough. The means of achieving their goal was out of the hands of the members. They themselves could not achieve that goal. In a monkey experiment, this proved to be a great generator of ulcers in the monkey.

Contents of this Issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto

Artemis Project Artemis Society Artemis Data Book FAQ Reference Mission Catalog

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