Author Topic: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars  (Read 13932 times)

Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #60 on: 12/27/2017 04:38 PM »
I suspect you didn't read ENOUGH Heinlein, actually. Or didn't pay attention.

“Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.”
>
"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

      Unfortunately, the number of people that will be colonizing Mars will likely have a number of "Rugged Individualists" amongst them, thus, likely skewing any sort of direct democracy towards a more personally biased point of view.

      Something along the lines of Heinlein's government in "Starship Troopers", may actually be more appropriate in this sort of environment, requiring a minimum of one to two Martian Years of "service to the public" before they earn the right to vote.  This would also act to allow newcomers time to acclimate themselves to the governmental and social structure as well as the realities of colonial life, prior to the ultimate commitment to being a martian.  Further; this would also allow time to evaluate a colonist on Mars, prior to the next Earth Bound departure, upon which any persons deemed unsuitable, could be shipped back to Earth.

     Overall, it is likely that at least one to two Martian Years would be needed in the first place, simply to determine if the person in question is even completely psychologically suited for to live in such an environment.  While testing on Earth could weed out most of the least suited, one cannot be certain of how a person will react in such a self contained environment for years on end, until actually in such a situation.  As such, the judgement of a person during this early time would likely be questionable at best, and potentially catastrophic at worst.  Thus; the acclimatization period of a couple of Mars years should be enough to allow people to find out how things actually work in the colony as well as what the true issues would be.

      Overall though, a direct democracy that is applied to policy and that sort of thing, could work, but for major decisions that could causer harm or terminate the lives of everyone, or even a large portion of the colony, should be made by a small representative group.
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Offline wes_wilson

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #61 on: 12/27/2017 05:28 PM »
Love this thread, one of the exciting things about mankind truly moving to the stars is experimentation with new government again (which has largely ended on earth with everything colonized). 

I agree with some of the upthread comments that the best historical fit might be the company town.  But I think the distance of Mars and the inability to get to/from Mars except through the "company" requires some level of protection stronger than mere corporate oversight or HOA type management because there will be no recourse to Courts, arbiters, or other traditional forms of dispute resolution.  There has to be some local government including rule making, executive, and enforcement from the very start.

Elon's spoken before about the necessity of a universal basic income and no where is that more required than a place where you literally can't live without management (government/corporation/hoa/etc) providing air, water, food, and housing. 

Probably veering a bit from direct democracy into constitutional or charter issues; but they're related.  There could be degrees of decision making that are done differently such as constitutional absolutes (like UBI); representative issues; and direct issues where democracy or representation acts at different levels.  Just because most Earth governments have a single approach to legislating doesn't mean it has to be that way. 

I'd propose three levels of democracy
Constitutional (UBI, Defense, Environmental/Terraforming)
- Changed only by super majorities (80%) of either representative or direct votes.

Representative (City planning, supplies, expansion, interactions with other colonies)
- Representative (simple majority) with direct veto (75%)

Direct (People Matters - Traditionally called police powers in states)
- Drugs, social morals, torts, crimes, family, etc (75%)

Maybe a constitutional issues for Mars thread would be fun?

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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #62 on: 12/27/2017 07:15 PM »
“Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.”
>
"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
People do love to quote Starship Troopers (written in the early 50's) but quite a number of Heinleins short stories, novellas and novels have political strains in them (although I often wonder how many have read it or just quote the Paul verHoven film. He never actually read it. He found it unreadable. He left the job to the writer.

"Magic Inc" is a masterclass in the foisting of unwanted legislation on the electorate (it's methods are still in use today in the US, but that's OT for this thread).
"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (from the late 60's) of course with the Moon as a deportation-for-life-penal-colony seeking its freedom (and the methods they use to achieve it) also expound Dr Heinleins tactical approach to the problem.
"Farnhams Freehold" discusses some of the issues surviving the end of the world and the aftermath.

With specific reference to Mars perhaps  Double Star would be most appropriate

Not forgetting (given this audience) "Space Cadet"  :) , although the consequences of such service are better spelt out in the short story "The Long Watch."

But if you want to read Heinlein as himself discussing how to make things happen, and how things happen in government you'd have to go with  this.

TL:DR. "And they all lived happily ever after" is the ending to a fairly story.  Heinlein believed IRL "happy endings" (for whatever your definition of "happy" is) take a great of work to make happen. A belief that "The meek shall inherit the Earth" will lead you to inherit about a 6 foot long plot of it. 
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Offline DanielW

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #63 on: 12/27/2017 07:25 PM »
I would not advocate it, but block-chain based smart contracts as a constitution is an interesting thought experiment. It could cover how legislation is brought forward and voted on as well as assigning authority to enforce.

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #64 on: 12/28/2017 02:42 AM »
History has shown that a benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient, (king, emperor, or such).  However, once they die the empire or country is thrown into problems.  The next leader may be weak or evil.  A pure democracy can be hard to do for a large number of people because of having a multitude of things that would have to be voted on.  To much productive time wasted, thus a representative government. 

Like someone said, a small number of people, pure democracy will work.  Large number of people, it has to evolve into a representative government.  Then you will need a court/judges system, an executive system for enforcing laws passed, and a legislative system for passing laws.  Only thing that really works for a majority of people. 

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #65 on: 12/28/2017 04:02 AM »
A Mars colony will be the most despotic dictatorship ever. With any luck, it will be a benevolent despotic dictatorship, but it will be a dictatorship, nonetheless. This is a result of not being able to survive a nude walkabout for even 3 minutes. Everything it takes to survive beyond a few minutes will have to be, at least initially, imported from Earth. Returning to Earth is at the colonial agency's discretion, as is everything else. The colonial agency will have absolute life-or-death power over every person on Mars. Even a unanimous vote could be completely overturned in a matter of minutes (all ventilation, power and water shut off until populace changes its mind, for example).

There can be no true freedom in any environment where the discontent cannot walk nude over the hill with their hand raised flipping the bird to the government they left behind, living off the land using only their wits and hands.

Note, I am NOT predicting that Elon will grow a god complex and use Mars as his personal slave plantation. Just pointing out that based on Earthly experiences, Mars will be a precarious location vis-a-vis personal freedom.

I disagree and in fact dictatorship like rule must be avoided at a all costs as they always end in failure.
A solution to avoid this would be to make sure things are decentralized and everyone owns a piece of the systems needed for life support.
Every section of the colony has it's own air and water recycling facilities or at the very least large buffer of several weeks.
That way you don't get a situation like in Total Recall where a central authority could turn off the air and force people into compliance.

You won't survive more than a hour or so at the most walking around nude outside during the dead of winter in Iceland or Norway these are not dictatorships.
« Last Edit: 12/28/2017 04:18 AM by Patchouli »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #66 on: 12/28/2017 04:08 AM »
Heinlein is NOT a good template to use. He had some strong authoritarian and militaristic tendencies. His pro-militarism stance is in spite of, and maybe because of the fact that although he joined the military, he was only in for a few years and never went to war.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #67 on: 12/28/2017 07:12 AM »
Heinlein is NOT a good template to use. He had some strong authoritarian and militaristic tendencies. His pro-militarism stance is in spite of, and maybe because of the fact that although he joined the military, he was only in for a few years and never went to war.
Indeed, although he did run a campaign the California governership  :(

Real "life on Mars" will not be like "Life on Mars," the show about a cop who wakes up back in the 70's :)

Or indeed any other work of fiction.

What did Kim Stanley Robinson propose?
Every section of the colony has it's own air and water recycling facilities or at the very least large buffer of several weeks.
That way you don't get a situation like in Total Recall where a central authority could turn off the air and force people into compliance.
Unfortunately building such an architecture is likely more expensive than centralized (and centrally controlled) facilities, so unlikely to be done without other reasons other than "To stop a hypothetical Troskyist coup d'etat," when Trotsky took over the water works, the power plant and the telephone exchange while Lenin was busy trying to incite workers to armed revolution.
Quote from: Patchouli
You won't survive more than a hour or so at the most walking around nude outside during the dead of winter in Iceland or Norway these are not dictatorships.
Which is a good point. 
Why they are not might be another.

History has shown that a benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient, (king, emperor, or such).  However, once they die the empire or country is thrown into problems.  The next leader may be weak or evil. 
The poster child for this would be  the (former) Yugoslavia. 6 states with 4 languages, 2 alphabets and 2 major religions.

Which self destructed in quite a spectacular fashion after the Boss died.
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Online MikeAtkinson

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #68 on: 12/28/2017 08:27 AM »
History has shown that a benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient, (king, emperor, or such).

War economies are the most efficient, look at the incredible production in the 2nd world war from all sides and political systems.

Not that I'm advocating a war economy, there needs to be an existential threat and it would probably be unsustainable on timescales of a decade or more.

Online MikeAtkinson

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #69 on: 12/28/2017 08:35 AM »
What the appropriate form of government depends on the size of the martian population and how it is distributed about Mars.

10,000 people in a single settlement would require a different governmental structure than 10,000,000 in many different settlements spread over Mars.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #70 on: 12/28/2017 11:51 AM »
History has shown that a benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient, (king, emperor, or such).

War economies are the most efficient, look at the incredible production in the 2nd world war from all sides and political systems.

Not that I'm advocating a war economy, there needs to be an existential threat and it would probably be unsustainable on timescales of a decade or more.

Same idea... something has to focus attention and energy to achieving vital goals.  Cutting to the chase, so to speak.  Living on the Mars surface will do that.
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Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #71 on: 12/28/2017 12:10 PM »
On Earth, anyone advocating direct democracy must be insane. The majority of the population is not informed, does not care, and, if pushed, will vote for those who shout the loudest. Thereby usually making decisions that only make things worse for themselves. See recent elections and referenda in the Western world if you needed any evidence. If anything, we need fewer decisions taken by the population. That is why we have a representative democracy. To moderate the base tendencies of large portions of the population into something that resembles sensible policy.

Now, early Mars would may be a different case. Smaller population, vastly higher average education level. It might work. The only way it could work though, is to have voting made mandatory, so the votes can't be hijacked by smaller interest groups. Then again, we all know what happens when you make something mandatory, people will start to resent doing it.

Still think the best start off government is the one which has essentially ruled all small starter settlements in history, a benevolent communist dictatorship. Resources must be shared, capitalism won't work in a small closed system.
« Last Edit: 12/28/2017 12:11 PM by Welsh Dragon »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #72 on: 12/28/2017 04:38 PM »
What I'd suggest early on is democratic socialism in that most stuff is collectively owned but that everyone has a say and all officials are elected and serve a limited term.
There would be some limited capitalism.
Think maybe like living in an eco village or arcology like Arcosanti.
In theory this could be evolved to a semi direct democracy something similar to the that in Switzerland or even a republic like in Finland as the colony grows.
« Last Edit: 12/28/2017 04:51 PM by Patchouli »

Offline AncientU

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #73 on: 12/28/2017 08:43 PM »
What I'd suggest early on is democratic socialism in that most stuff is collectively owned but that everyone has a say and all officials are elected and serve a limited term.
There would be some limited capitalism.
Think maybe like living in an eco village or arcology like Arcosanti.
In theory this could be evolved to a semi direct democracy something similar to the that in Switzerland or even a republic like in Finland as the colony grows.

I think the beginnings of real settlement (beyond expeditionary outposts created by public and/or private initiative) will be when private ownership of 'stuff' begins.  Collectivism is antithetical to the US essence and certainly Musk's way of thinking, IMO.
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Online spacenut

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #74 on: 12/29/2017 02:36 AM »
Democratic socialism won't work in the long run.  It stagnates everything.  Musk, a private owner, is doing more than collective NASA in a shorter period of time.  Like it was said, collectivism doesn't bode well with Americans. 

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #75 on: 12/29/2017 03:06 AM »


I think the beginnings of real settlement (beyond expeditionary outposts created by public and/or private initiative) will be when private ownership of 'stuff' begins.  Collectivism is antithetical to the US essence and certainly Musk's way of thinking, IMO.
It's not necessarily anti ethical to the US essence as collectives and communes do exist within the US.
It's pretty much a necessity for a small autonomous society.
« Last Edit: 12/29/2017 03:15 AM by Patchouli »

Offline Exastro

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #76 on: 12/29/2017 03:43 AM »
Quote
It's not necessarily anti ethical to the US essence as collectives and communes do exist within the US.
It's pretty much a necessity for a small autonomous society.

IIRC, the American experience with collectivism has been almost uniformly disastrous.  Most notably, the Pilgrims at Plymouth nearly wiped themselves out by collectivizing agriculture at a time when they were a small colony living on the edge of starvation.  Roughly half of them died of starvation and diseases caused by it before they abandoned collective agriculture and started allowing families to keep the produce of their own labor. 

See also early Communist China and many other experiments associated with Communism.

The lesson seems to be that the impulse to respond to the harshness of a frontier by exerting tight control over individuals' labor is a road to deadly failure.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #77 on: 12/29/2017 07:48 AM »

IIRC, the American experience with collectivism has been almost uniformly disastrous.  Most notably, the Pilgrims at Plymouth nearly wiped themselves out by collectivizing agriculture at a time when they were a small colony living on the edge of starvation.  Roughly half of them died of starvation and diseases caused by it before they abandoned collective agriculture and started allowing families to keep the produce of their own labor. 

See also early Communist China and many other experiments associated with Communism.

The lesson seems to be that the impulse to respond to the harshness of a frontier by exerting tight control over individuals' labor is a road to deadly failure.
Well that's not the true story the real one is more complex.
The Pilgrims did hold their land in common course but in interest of realizing a profit sooner to pay back the debt to the company that funded their trip.
They were more like investors in a company than a commune and the system was intended to be temporary.
The main reason for the early hardship is they landed in autumn and many of the colonists had become ill during the voyage.
They held the first Thanksgiving in 1621 but did not abandon common course until 1623.
If food was scarce they would not have had 3 day celebration of of sport and feast and instead would have carefully rationed the harvest.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/weekinreview/21zernike.html

As for China they dismantled an existing system of small farms to make large Soviet style collectives up rooting existing means of distribution.
People were pushed off their land and traditional farming methods were abandoned for modern mechanized farming techniques.

Of course I'm not advocating full socialism for Mars but making the stuff needed for life support common property.

« Last Edit: 12/29/2017 06:09 PM by Patchouli »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #78 on: 12/29/2017 10:16 AM »
Quote
It's not necessarily anti ethical to the US essence as collectives and communes do exist within the US.
It's pretty much a necessity for a small autonomous society.

IIRC, the American experience with collectivism has been almost uniformly disastrous.  Most notably, the Pilgrims at Plymouth nearly wiped themselves out by collectivizing agriculture at a time when they were a small colony living on the edge of starvation.  Roughly half of them died of starvation and diseases caused by it before they abandoned collective agriculture and started allowing families to keep the produce of their own labor. 

See also early Communist China and many other experiments associated with Communism.

The lesson seems to be that the impulse to respond to the harshness of a frontier by exerting tight control over individuals' labor is a road to deadly failure.
However, the Nordic countries (just about the closest analogue to the Martian environment) are uniformly social democracies, mixed economies, i.e. Capitalist economic core with large socialist safety nets. There's a high degree of cooperation, not the caricature of libertarian individualism nor the strict, authoritarian communism or fascism of Soviet Union, the Axis Powers, or even the wartime Allied powers.

Iceland as a model may work fairly well. Key is building a common culture, I think, ala Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy.
« Last Edit: 12/29/2017 10:17 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline chalz

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Re: Elon Musk: Direct Democracy on Mars
« Reply #79 on: 12/29/2017 11:31 AM »
Everything it takes to survive beyond a few minutes will have to be, at least initially, imported from Earth. Returning to Earth is at the colonial agency's discretion, as is everything else. The colonial agency will have absolute life-or-death power over every person on Mars. Even a unanimous vote could be completely overturned in a matter of minutes (all ventilation, power and water shut off until populace changes its mind, for example).
This point is going to end up being behind everything. No matter what social organisation goes on if it can be undone at a moments notice by an individual then it is not going to last.

The American founders spent a lot of effort trying to make the political system intrinsically democratic. You can't be despotic without first being voted to be so. If Martians want to make their system intrinsically democratic they will have to include the physical environment too. It must be made impossible for an individual to destroy the colony. The design, construction, software must all be aware of the extra goal of only allowing the wishes of the majority.

This will mean inefficiency and overhead in construction and function. But that is what a democracy(and capitalism) is: inefficient in service to a goal.

So the talk of benevolent dictatorship and having a crew mentality is going to be unavoidable because in the beginning that will be what the technology embodies. Democracy starts in the design phase or it won't be available. I'm thinking it will be centuries before our moral and technical abilities are up to the task. But democracy has been a long march and so will this.