First Contact, libertarianism, and astropolitics

Permit me to speculate.

Earth is currently composed of 193 or 195 states, depending on who you ask. There are several more states that have an ambiguous status within the world order. Of these states, dozens have bureaucracies dedicated to scientific research in outer space.

Now suppose there is life on a planet close to ours, say on Proxima centauri b, and suppose further that the life there harbors an intelligence that mirrors our own.

How many countries would be on Proxima centauri b? Given how difficult it has been here on Earth to establish global dominance, I have to assume that the same difficulties face other extraterrestrial life in nearby star systems. I assume this because if they haven’t been able to contact us, or are unable to contact us, they are likely on the same playing field as us when it comes to intelligence.

What if the United States or its much more libertarian successor, the Federation of Free States, allies with a country on Proxima centauri b, while China allies itself with another country on proxima centauri b and Russia allies itself with a third Centaurian country?

I think this would be the most realistic scenario for First Contact. If there are species out there with higher intelligence and better technology, I don’t think they would even bother with us or with the Centaurians, not even if they needed our help. Would we, as humans, ask for the help of baboons if we were stranded in the desert with a broken arm? Have we ever thought it necessary to eliminate another species simply because it existed or even because it might pose a future threat? I think those of us who can achieve the same type of reasoning based on the same limited cognitive ability of our brains will be brought together in our section of the Milky Way.

Basically, I think when First Contact happens, it will be the same ol’ geopolitics playing out, but instead of being geopolitics it will be astropolitics. All the more reason for libertarians to eschew unilateralism in favor of federation.

Cixin Lui’s trilogy has been on my mind, as has Neill Blomkamp’s short film Rakka.

Nightcap

  1. China’s three-body problem Niall Ferguson, Jewish World Review
  2. The perplexing case of indigenous art Morgan Meis, the Easel
  3. Can Pakistan mediate between the US and Iran? Adam Weinstein, War on the Rocks
  4. On “terrorism” as a toxic term Vicente Medina, Policy of Truth

Nightcap

  1. Do the ends justify the means? Scott Sumner, EconLog
  2. Is a Catholic schism on the way? Bruce Clark, Erasmus
  3. Gandhi’s many enemies Faisal Devji, India Today
  4. Nationalism, sci-fi, and Chinese culture Layne Vandenberg, Diplomat

Nightcap

  1. The US does not have a hukou system. We have zoning. And border controls.” Scott Sumner, EconLog
  2. We prefer bad decisions taken by humans to good ones taken by machines.” Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
  3. How the Fed might more perfectly fulfill its mandate” George Selgin, Alt-M
  4. If I were in charge of Facebook, I would run it very differently.” Arnold Kling, askblog

RCH: “10 Worst Space Disasters in History”

My latest at RealClearHistory:

When I think about space disasters, I am reminded of the space battle between Earth and Trisolaris in Liu Cixin’s fantastic sci-fi novel. Stay with me here. Liu Cixin’s Dark Forest novel needs to be read. In the novel, humans make contact with a nearby alien civilization, who proceed to make plans to invade earth, wipe out its human population, and re-populate it with themselves. The first battle between Earth’s space forces and the would-be invaders ends badly for Earth, as thousands of space warships are destroyed in a matter minutes by a Trisolaran probe. The novel brings up an uncomfortable theory that humans have been all-too-willing to neglect: what if the universe is a hostile, deadly place instead of a curious one?

Please, read the rest.