Thursday, 28 February 2013

Asteroid Economics

 In the Asteroid Republic of Poul Anderson's Tales Of The Flying Mountains (New York, 1984):

" '...the government is committed to noninterference in private enterprise; most transactions are not a matter of public record.' " (p. 279)

Thus, fraud and theft that could well have sabotaged the first interstellar spaceship might have gone undetected.

Can the asteroid economy:

avoid a boom-slump cycle;
continue to employ the skills of all the asterites;
continue to raise standards of living across the Belt and back on Earth;
avoid further wars?

If so, then it will indeed be one version of "Utopia" (p. 271). Our present global economic system generates vast wealth but also concentrates it in fewer hands, thus paradoxically generating both wealth and poverty, production and destruction, simultaneously. Starvation coexists with technological warfare. Can this system resolve its internal contradictions simply by moving into space? I think not but would welcome the opportunity for mankind to answer this question either way in practice instead of just in the pages of speculative fiction.

We need some self-sustaining space colonies in case destruction overcomes production on Earth, or indeed in case a comet or asteroid sends us the way of the dinosaurs. Any organised society, whether on or off Earth, is preferable to barbarism or extinction. I say "any organised society" because even a despotism, which is certainly not advocated either by Anderson or by me, would eventually fall or be overthrown.

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