by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The colonization of the solar system and the creation of new societies on new worlds is likely going to be the most fundamental problem dominating the rest of human history. If we go to Mars, to the asteroids, to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and then beyond to the stars, we shall, in each of these places, be building new societies as we spread life throughout the universe. In this effort, we are going to repeatedly be faced with the same problems faced by the British settlers who established colonies along the eastern coast of North America in the 1600s.
We should pay attention to the lessons they learned.
First, we must recognize that there are many factors, basic to human nature, that make for a healthy society and cannot be avoided. The lessons of the North American colonies illustrate those factors quite starkly, especially if we compare the very successful northern colonies with the failed southern colonies.
It is essential that a new space colony have a good and clear legal system that interferes with the freedom of individuals and families as little as possible. This does not mean that there should be no laws, but that laws at the time of founding should be clear and allow for the new citizens to maximize not only their own personal ambitions but their own personal wealth.
With this in mind, the laws must allow for private property that will encourage settlers to work hard for their own gain. This was a lesson learned in both Virginia and in New England in the first years of colonization. Both colonies at first pooled the ownership of all land and property into a single corporation for which everyone worked, and with all profits equally shared. In both Virginia and New England, this collectivist arrangement ended in unmitigated failure, leading to bankruptcy and starvation.