Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Sons of Martian Liberty

I never knew there was such a thing as the Outer Space Treaty, but apparently its implications and limitations are on the minds of David Kopel and Glenn Reynolds. They mention that the treaty's second article essentially forbids any nation from claiming the moon or parts of any other celestial object as their own. The U.S., for example, has agreed it can never claim sovereignty over Mars, even if we're the first nation to settle there. This would seem to also effectively limits private individuals or corporations from making similar claims, though Kopel and Reynolds argue that a home government could defend Martian property claims of its citizens without violating the treaty. Better yet, the future yeomen of Mars would form their own provisional government and be able to pick and choose which nation, if any, to associate themselves with politically. The concept raises interesting questions about the ultimate source of governmental authority and how future men and women might choose to assemble a new political system outside of the influences and pressures of earth - ideas explored entertainingly by novelist Kim Stanley Robinson in the book Red Mars and it's sequels.


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