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government subject to a relatively small ruling group indulging (consciously or subconsciously) their primeval urge to dominate others. Space colonies would offer excellent opportunities for this to happen because of the discipline needed to operate life-support systems and be cause of the high degree of control that can be maintained over communica tions and travel. A space colony so operated would resemble an island of prisoners and would not likely become a source of great joy for most of its inmates At any rate I see no chance for a true diversity of social systems unless local developments are restrained by effective outside control. This, however, implies government on the scale of the solar system and few people would be willing to call that a "small-scale gov ernment unit." Thus, in my view, the expectation of small government together with local diversity is unrealistic.

A large-scale. tolerant. concerned government is a necessity if the emergence of autocratic systems is to be avoided. Indeed, in the absence of big government the many local societies would develop essentially independently from each other. On purely statistical grounds, the emergence of many autocratic systems is to be expected. Colonies Would Fight Each Other

2. Plentiful Lands. Let us turn from the internal social organization of the to the relationships space colonies among them. Still assuming that space colonies are sovereign to the extent that nations are today (ie. that no large overall controls government them), let us ask the question: Is their relationship likely to be always harmonious?

O'Neill argues that these relationships would be peaceful because the habitable space territories, being extendable, would be practically limitless," and also because the use of atomic weapons in space is forbidden by an international treaty.

1. however, believe that violent conflicts would soon become likely. Let me enumerate a few of the many reasons for my belief.

Construction of a new space colony much would require several years, work and a great many resources. Occupation of a colony by force would be faster and cheaper, constituting an economic incentive for aggression. This reasoning is born out by past experi


when the colonists reached the New World, they did not just occupy themselves with peaceful labor or the contemplation of nature. They fought numerous battles. And not only with the Indians who understandably objected to their intrusion but also with each other-the Spanish with the Portuguese, the French with the English etc

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Many of them also fought within their own communities to such an extent that carrying arms became indispensible. Why did they behave in this manner? Because it was faster and cheaper to take the livestock and occupy the land and houses of others than to raise new animals, clear new land or build new houses. Yet they too had "unlimited" habitable areas at their disposal.

"We must assume that

most isolated space communities will, almost

certainly, eventually

develop some

non-democratic form of government."

Furthermore, competition for the most desirable raw materials (best location, highest quality, etc.) would result in raids on each other's installations and in counterraids, retaliations and general violence. Examples of such labor conflicts-between individuals. unions, and industrial companies as well as nations-are so numerous and well known as to render further exposition unnecessary

Continuing development would be inconceivable without some regulations governing such matters as radioactive and other waste disposal, traffic control, and perhaps even population growth. On the average. there is always a short-term economic advantage in violating such regulations; otherwise there would be no need to invent the regulations in the first place. Hence, the temptation to violate them and try to get away with it. Hence also the need to enforce the regulations through a penal system-yet another source of violence. An illustration of this phenomenon: It is generally agreed that our traffic laws are needed for the common good and are reasonable, yet all of us feel tempted occasionally to circumvent them.

Racial, Cultural Hostilities Will Trigger Aggression


Even more dangerous than the ecomotivations just mentioned could be the various psychological ones. Some individuals may try to destroy certain groups of people which they consider to be objectionable. This kind of intolerance is obviously alive and well. Recall, for example, the Nazi rise to power in a "culturally advanced" society like Germany's in the recent past. Or think of certain small East European countries which are notorious for ruthlessly trying to eliminate all national minorities living within their

borders: the motive cannot be economic. since the entire economy is state-controlled. The religious wars in Ireland and Lebanon and the intercultural strife in Cyprus also have long outgrown their economic origins.

Let us also remember the simple joy felt by many which comes from conquering others. It would be one of the rewards of aggression. And let us not forget those select few who would consider it their duty to lead the misguided masses of the solar system to greater

happiness-against their own will, of

need be Among the many tyrants (whose number, like the total population, can be assumed to double about every 35 years) there will likely be some who will run their space islands on the basis of black magic, voodoo, or various superstitions of their own invention. There will also be those to whom the Lord will reveal that He finds certain types of space colonies offensive and wishes them destroyed. A crazed ruler, acting on "God's orders, may set out to cleanse the solar system of this entire humanity of sinners and repopulate it with the surviving creatures of his own spaceship, a la Noah, but on a grander scale.

Need I go on? There is really no reason to anticipate harmony instead of conflict. On the contrary, the sources of potential conflict will remain plentiful, whether or not habitable areas can be expanded by spaceship construction. Conflict could not be prevented by material abundance, but only by a univers ally-felt deep respect and concern for all human beings. Such a feeling is insuffi ciently encouraged today. For its acceptance, a long-range cultural reorientation would have to occur, and that may take generations.

Conflicts would not be restricted to conventional warfare. True, we do have a treaty forbidding the use of "weapons of mass destruction" in outer space. However, the treaty does not define and al weapons of mass destruction. though it does require inspection of all installations on celestial bodies, it says nothing about stations or space colonies. in orbit. In any case, the moral force of this treaty, all by itself. is hardly likely to deter the greedy ones the bullies. the maniacs. the suicidal types. or the provarious champions of human liberation. gress. or rejuvenation. Every colony, as well as the Earth itself, would be in danger from outer space at all times. No matter how many problems we may have today, we can still look at the stars with fair assurance that they constitute no immediate threat to us. But with millions of space colonies roaming the solar system. life could degenerate into a series of preparations for and recoveries from attacks an updated version of the life

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Less crucial than such a moratorium, but nevertheless important, would be insuring that all space installations are built under international-or at least multinational-auspices. to prevent them from simply becoming space extensions of the industrially developed nations on Earth. This would decrease the probability of conflict, and may provide experience in how to embark on large projects cooperatively, rather than competitively.

There is no hope to realize either of the above two suggestions until the general public as well as governments understand the destructive potential of a full-scale space colonization program. Unfortunately, it may be too late when that finally happens. The appealing as pects of space colonization are immedi ately obvious: A growing number of diverse space habitats, flourishing and multiplying in harmony, aiding each other economically and culturally is a very appealing goal. Viewed superficially, space colonization appears to be a noble venture on the road to an expanding happy human race. by contrast, recognizing the potential for danger requires more careful thinking.

One lesson to be learned from the mistakes of recent decades is that the technical feasibility of something (whether it be babies or nuclear reac tors) does not. in itself, prove its desirability After technical feasibility has been demonstrated, the potential benefits and drawbacks should be carefully evaluated. No agency, no pressure group should be allowed to proceed selfishly, overriding the common good. Foresight and timely dialogue are essential, especially when the project in ques tion is of the size here contemplated.

Exterior view of a possible space habitat. If man undertakes a large-scale space coloniza-
tion program now, says author Paul Csonka, the result is likely to be "exportation on a cos
mic scale of oppression, suffering, and disorder-the very qualities which characterize
most human existence today"
Photo NASA

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