Steps to Civilian Lunar Home Rule Authority - A White Paper

by Peter Kokh

1999 The Lunar Reclamation Society, Inc.

[Once "Enough People" are Living & Working in Space, on the Moon, or Mars, "the question" will no longer be so easily brushed aside.]

First published as a series of articles in issues #129, 130, 131 (October, November, December 1999) of Moon Miners Manifesto


Part I: Defining "Home Rule" for Settlers on the Space Frontier

A Preamble to the Discussion

Discussing the Political Future and possible Political Regimes under which settlements on the Moon or Mars, or in space itself can grow and thrive on the Space Frontier is a dangerous question. It would seem to be one big can of worms. This is one area in which emotion, temperament, and upbringing often have much more to do with our "worldviews" and expectations than does reason or thoughtful discourse. Any sort of consensus seems remote.

We space supporters come from all political persuasions. Not all of us are Republican, though those who are seem to think so. Not all of us are libertarian anarchists, though those who are seem to think so. Not all of us take it for granted that all of space should be annexed to the United States, new state by new state. But those who do seem to think so.

Once there is a critical mass of pioneers on the space frontier, they'll inevitably decide their own future, and the political conditions under which they will live.

I am sure that supporters, in Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal, of the opening of the New World of the Americas, took it for granted that their own national flags would rule forever. They were wrong, and the ultra-patriots amongst us need to take heed. Once (if ever, you sniff) there is a critical mass of pioneers on the space frontier, they will inevitably decide their own future, and the charters or constitutions under which they will live.

To American Patriots who would make the Moon, or a hemisphere of it, the 51st state, we need only remind them that this would make our own Founding Fathers, who fought so hard to free themselves from the British Crown, turn over in their graves. Nothing could be more UnAmerican at its core, than this so-called American solution.

But why, you ask, would governments on Earth put so much money into "colonies", if they knew that they would one day become free? First easy answer is that they are, fortunately for the settlers, too naive to realize this, or think it can be prevented by Enlightened Paternalism. But those who do take the long view will see this support as hopefully paying off in the creation of viable new markets and stable new trading partners that will benefit the homeland.

Whoa! Let's back up a bit! We may never get that far in space. Sure an outpost or too, and some industry, but enough people to make viable nations? We have enough of this ridiculously non-viable little island nation nonsense in the U.N. as it is!

Well, we broached the "ultimate solution" case of independence -- only to show the direction down which this discussion is meant to take the first halting steps. Let's leave for the future what only the future can decide. But that some sort of decision of this sort may someday be inevitable must be kept in mind, as we take first steps.


The First Step: Defining the Conditions, Stages, and Thresholds of Increasing Levels of Settlement Home Rule

Now there's a more pragmatic frame to the questions we propose to discuss - hopefully with considerable input from our readers - in the next issue or two (or however, long it takes) of Moon Miners' Manifesto.

What I am calling for is a discussion that will advance a consensus on what language should be included in a Civilian Enterprise-based Settlement Charter. I was in my twenties when the European "Colonies" in Africa and Asia achieved their independence. I was in England in 1960-1 when the British Home Secretary was charged by the government with coming up with intricate home rule arrangements that "protected" the European Settlers and guaranteed them a voice, even though they were most often a small minority. Some of the resulting agreements were most complex, anything but straight forward. I was a studious observer of it all. And to this day, I remain a firm believer that a horrendous amount of trouble and strife can be avoided by the up front design and adoption of Settlement Charters which spell out how "home rule" "will be automatically granted" in a "step by step fashion" "as listed thresholds" of economic and institutional development and of population and economic growth are reached. If these thresholds are never met, then so what. Everyone knows what the rules are, everyone agrees to them. Political uncertainty is greatly alleviated and in such a climate, economic investment and development, and individual and community planning and life-decisions can be best made.


Part II: The Home Rule Question


Origins of Civilian Rule & a Domestic Economy

First let us say that this discussion is not about the political evolution of "Company Town" settlements. Some see that as the logical, perhaps the only logical situation. I have seen company towns, and the overwhelming majority of them are not healthy places to live no matter how well maintained. It is important that we work to put in place a regime by which all towns are civilian. The best way to do this is by ensuring that towns are begun as multi-party joint ventures, in no one board room's pocket.

It would seem more of a stretch of imagination to believe that one and only one company will be all these things than to expect that opening the lunar frontier will be a synergistic affair between several. Even if there is a joint venture between several of the companies involved, there will also be subcontractors and then, Voil - a civilian situation.

If there is more than one company in town, individuals will have some bargaining power. It will be logical to create a civilian authority separate from any and all companies (not necessarily resistant to pressure) to maintain civil order and regulate the interactions of individuals, some employed here, some there. There would be a constable of sorts and a judicial administrator at least. Some decisions could be telejudicated from Earth, but that won't sit well for long. Even if civilian authorities are appointed by powers on Earth, once there services are needed on a regular basis, it is likely they will be living on the Moon and part of the settlement.

Civilian Authority is not necessarily Home Rule

This by itself is not quite "home rule" - in fact, civilian or not, authority may be quite colonial at first, not even consulting local residents, though that will inexorably invite trouble. The sponsoring national powers on Earth will have their agreed upon policies, (no marriages, no private ownership, etc.) many of them favoring the big companies involved. Resentment of one such policy or another may be the first seed of a drive for more resident responsive government. A resident advisory council is a cheap fix sure to be tried first. The recommendations of an advisory council can be ignored, or met with promises there is no intent to keep. The council would serve its purpose of allowing pioneers to vent off steam and frustrations. But it's a foot in the door.

From such beginnings there would seem to be many milestones on the road to "home rule"

While these are the obvious milestones, do not forget how important a factor a bureaucracy can be with life of its own, even in advanced independent democracies such as our own. It would be most efficient for companies to operate in a paperless fashion on the Moon, exporting all desk work electronically to "cheaper" help Earthside.

This saves people on the Moon for the more productive and constructive tasks and will accelerate the growth of the local economy instead of acting as a drag. But once the settlement is big enough to take over such chores, you can see that it might become an issue, not that local bureaucrats will prove to be anymore responsive and helpful than absentee ones.

What "Home Rule" is and isn't

Home Rule is not independence. The American states have more than home rule. They have sovereignty of a sort. But they are not each independent, they share independence. Puerto Rico has home rule. It can govern its own schools, decide what language will be the currency of public business, pass its own laws, do anything at all except print money and have a military or conduct foreign affairs.

In Robert A. Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and Ben Bova's "Millennium" early lunar outposts went straight for independence. Logically there are intermediate steps, and a steady progress from one through the next is in everyone's interest. Look at what happened to African and other colonies which were summarily freed without preparation and establishment of a sufficient set of local institutions.

The Critical Question

The question is this. Should this process be left to chance, perhaps in the hope it will never happen, or that the settlement will never amount to much? Or should we agree up front on an amendable course of progress with ever greater degrees of home rule granted as the settlement reached pre-agreed goals of population growth, economic and industrial diversification, effective self-sufficiency in education and health care, so many months stockpiles of critical reserves of parts, fuels, food, etc., such and such progress towards breakeven between exports and imports? We've seen untold strife in the 60's and since because of the lack of such pre-agreements. We need not make that mistake on the Moon, Mars or anywhere else.


Part III: A Pre-Settlement Charter for the Moon?



A Lunar Constitution is quite a ways down the road. What we are proposing is to prepare a trial "pre-settlement charter" for any prospective outpost that could conceivably become a full-fledged settlement, spelling out stages of "activation" by which "x" amount of growth and "y" steps of achievement will be rewarded by increasing degrees of local control.

Outposts will hopefully be in the plural. And if they are, they will be like seeds sown elsewhere. Some will fall on barren ground, fail to germinate or sprout, and become ghost towns. Others will sprout up but not flower. A few may self-propagate into full fledged settlements, even becoming real cities. Is this unrealistic? We think not.

Those who demand that lunar settlements justify their existence on the basis of "one product" before we consent to proceed further without the government holding our hand and picking up the tab, are proposing a test that has been demanded of no settlement before. [We think of Gordon Woodcock's pessimistic assessment of lunar industrial potential a few years back as well as of the NSS challenge for papers for ISDC 2000 which seems to buy into several unjustified and unmentioned assumptions. Engineers and lawyers make good money, not good economics.]

Ninety percent of any economy is domestic, powered by the production of goods and services for local consumption. Would it have made sense to hold up the ships bound for the Americas unless the would-be pioneers could first prove that they had one and only one product in mind that they could make in the New World and export back to England or Spain in enough quantity to earn shipment back to them of all their needs and supplies? That is the a priori test some would apply to any commercial for-profit lunar enterprise. It is best just to ignore it, not trying to prove what they cannot understand. Just do it.

Back to that ninety percent. Of the remaining exported sum of goods and services, another ninety percent will be to other space markets (not unlike U.S. to Canada and other North and South American nations as opposed to mother England). The lunar economy will grow apace with the economy in LEO and perhaps apace of efforts to tap asteroid resources and efforts to open the Martian Frontier. Only the combined space economy as a whole must pay its way with a positive trade balance with Earth. And in that equation, LEO is part of the space economy. With terracing and step by step industrial and commercial diversification, we see no reason why the Moon itself cannot someday support a population of hundreds of thousands, or more. In contrast, those who forget (or never learned) how economies are put together can only foresee highly subsidized outposts of a few dozen people at best. And the extent of their activism is to get "George" Government to pick up the tab.

Charters for a Plurality of Settlements

Already some will have realized that we must address two questions, not one.

My suggestion a few years back that independence was something that should be considered only for a multi-setllement frontier that by virtue of its plurality had put itself on the road to global occupation of the Moon or Mars was greeted with derision by Jim Davidson. But in the light of all the unviable island entities we have recently welcomed into the United Nations, is this an unreasonable standard?

It is much less likely that stand-alone lunar settlements could achieve economic self-sufficiency than a cooperative interdependent, intertrading association of settlements. That's just common sense.

In the ranks of space activism, we have always had a strong anarchist-libertarian constituency for whom space is attractive primarily because it opens up the possibility of just such a proliferation of small independent worldlet principalities thumbing their noses and right middle fingers at the rest of the universe and at economic reality. Historically, however, dictatorship becomes more likely in proportion to the economic absurdity involved. Big does not always mean tyranny. Small doesn't always guarantee freedom. The settlers will decide this issue for themselves. It is not ours to get hot and bothered about.

On Earth, "one world" and "one world government" are seen as the only rational option by some, and as the most diabolical of solutions by others. But here individual nations and tribes have history and inertia. On the Moon or Mars, where we are "starting over, starting fresh", and where the enemy may be off-planet rather than on, the pioneers will find themselves free to take a second, no baggage look.


Higher Goals and Economic Reality


Meanwhile it makes sense for us to encourage settlements and outposts to seek economic viability in association with one another, not separately. A properly defined and terraced (sequenced) set of milestones defined in a charter agreement will reach a level of demand that may be very difficult (though not impossible) for a solitary settlement to reach, but within the easier, timelier grasp of a cooperative association of settlements. Two examples:

That the settlement(s) will be both educationally and medically selfsufficient are reasonable standards for higher levels of "home rule" activation.

In todays world, which is getting ever more complex, it is estimated it takes a city of a quarter million people to produce 95% of its own needs. On the other hand, it is not necessary to produce all your own needs, only to produce enough to sell to earn the money with which to buy everything else.

It is reasonable for the sponsoring powers and agencies to demand attainment of a certain demonstrated level of sustainable economic viability, before agreeing to remove all supervision and oversight. Even today, many nations must surrender the exercise of certain sovereign prerogatives to meet the demands of World Bank lenders. Actually, "independence" is an illusion. As the economies of all nations continue to globalize, "inter"dependence is what we enjoy, whether we wish to admit it or not.


Back to the Question:

Do we begrudge the pioneers their political autonomy, fighting them every step of the way, thus forcing them to win their rights in a test of power, management-union style? Some, by temperament and prejudice, will prefer, counsel, and demand such a strategy in the hopes of securing financial self-interest as long as possible, delaying the inevitable..

OR, do we lay out a roadmap, locate the milestones, and declare the rewards of attaining each. If the proper role of government is to provide a fair set of rules and a level playing field on which all free persons can pursue "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" without further interference, then such "roadmap charters" with staged phases of automatic home rule activation fall within that enlightened mandate. Brainstorming the possible particulars, the forks in the roads, and what prerequisites must be met for each higher stage of home rule is a project in which I invite all interested readers to participate.

If we leave this to government, we guarantee a nonsensical result. Nothing rational can be produced when political compromise over non germane issues is the prevailing standard of agreement. That is why we have a shuttle that is less capable than it could be, and are getting a station of similar mongrel breed.

Nor is it in the proven area of demonstrated corporate talents to come up with such documents. This must be the work of a pioneering people. We who would prepare the way for the actual pioneers, are those pioneering people. We must do it, or it will not be done, with the chaos of anarchy the likely result.


A word to contrary minds

We have asked a question, and we know that many will answer in the negative. Those who identify with company management may tend to see the pioneers as employees and consider "home rule" measures as something they should have to bargain for in a test of wills and power. As one who has spent many years in industry, I feel that the arrogance of management is the principal demotivating cause of poor employee performance. The attitude is counter-productive from the start. But why argue if you are a mind-made-up proponent of the opposite view. Most pioneers may be "employees". But when it comes to civilian rights, it gets no one anywhere to reduce them to that. It solves nothing to start off with the same stupid "adversarial mentality" we find in management labor relations in this country.

Let them earn it, you say. I say so too. But then it is fair to preagree on what performance earns what rewards. If circumstances and situations change and show that the "schedule of progress" is unrealistic, too fast, too slow, too jerky, whatever, there should be a proper means of amending it.

In the past, in all situations of political process I know of, especially throughout the whole global decolonization period, every step had to be negotiated - or fought. There has always been a succession of regimes, of charters, of constitutions.

I suggest that this is neither necessary nor advisable. One charter could do it all if it is fully and clearly spelled out that these conditions being met, this would be the degree of home rule. Make more progress toward pre-agreed goals, get greater degrees of self government including the right to establish a bill of rights, a division of powers, and other features we normally relegate to a constitution.

Should the outpost never become more than that, no problem - it's all spelled out. Everyone knows the rules. If a settlement comes into its own and thrives and spreads beyond expectation, the charter provisions are in place to guide it. Revolutions of independence can be avoided. They cause a lot of damage that can take decades to undo.

The foregoing is just a generalized expression of the approach I think we need to take. There are a lot of unanswered questions. We can start identifying the questions, not trying to answer them right away. And I hope that many of you readers will get involved and help identify more questions, more problems, more possible approaches. Who knows maybe we can produce something.

We are not yet talking constitutions, nor yet discussing a Bill of Rights, nor the division of powers nor how the legislature be constituted - we can eventually propose and advise, leaving it to the pioneers to choose. What we are doing here is brain-storming presettlement charters that will govern the pioneers' political progress towards maturity.


Part IV: Self Sufficiency Test and Goals

We've already hinted at some not directly economic things that might be considered as bench marks of pioneer and frontier achievement "meriting increased home rule":


Part V: Balance of Trade Questions

The following additional items are vital because they affect the economic viability equation:


Part VI: A Bill of Rights for Space Frontier Communities


What can we take for granted?

No part of the U.S. Constitution seems more quintessential to our way of life than the "Bill of Rights". Yet actually, it was an afterthought. After the rest of the language of the Constitution had been drawn up and met with the framers consensus, all the questions about the structure of the government and the division of powers seemed to have been answered. Then it was noticed that the document did not address the relationship of citizens to one another or to the government. The absence of a statement on these rights was handled by a set of ten amendments. The Constitution with these first ten amendments was then voted on and approved as a package.

Lesson learned, framers of any space frontier constitution need to address individual rights in the same package as they attend to organizational matters and the division of jurisdictions and the schedule for achievement-triggered levels of autonomy. But it may not be so simple a matter of just tacking on our own Bill of Rights.

First of all, these present ten amendments have led to two centuries of legal squabbles about how literally or freely they must be interpreted. There will be many calls for rewriting them in language that is clearer about the intent in which they are to be each applied. We will bring up some of the points most in contention.

Secondly, some of the succeeding amendments further clarified individual rights. And Supreme Court interpretations have generally served to strengthen individual rights against those who were happier with those rights being unestablished.

More to the point, on the Space Frontier we will be dealing with the rights of people in a wholly new, unprecedented, and never imagined set of circumstances which arguably changes everything.

For the first time we will be talking about individuals who do not live in a pre-given world-wide life-sustaining biosphere. We will be talking about the rights of individuals living in artificially established and maintained mini-biospheres that are local in character, and outside of which, whether on hostile planetary surfaces, or in the void of space itself, life cannot be sustained. Such situations have never previously existed. Thus they have never been addressed. It is the writer's contention, that the "Space Frontier Condition" changes everything, to one extent or the other.

No government on Earth need guarantee, either in its constitution or in subsequent legislation, the right to air, water, sufficient heat so as not to freeze to death, and even food. Except in the most extreme weather, most people can survive out in the open for quite some time, even indefinitely. On the outside you will still find air to breath, water to drink and, if you know how to forage and/or hunt, food. The resourceful person can also find warmth. Put outside the airlock, without the provision of countermeasures, no one can long survive on the space frontier. We're all in it together, and our common humanity decrees we all have rights that it never occurred to anyone to define and guarantee.


"Lifeline Services"

On the space frontier the distinction between "indoors" and "outdoors" lists the options neither accurately nor completely. There is a great gray area which from one point of view is "outside" - at least outside individual private of public structures, and which from another point of view is "inside" - inside the biosphere containment hull, shell, dome, or whatever preserves the common life-sustaining barrier against the exterior vacuum or unbreathably thin and/or unbreathably composed alien atmosphere. Both inside and outside become ambiguous.

Nearly thirteen years ago, in MMM # 5, MAY '87, we introduced the term "middoors" for common spaces within the Biosphere containment shell as opposed to "indoor" spaces within private homes and private and wall-defined buildings, etc. Later, we introduced the word "out-vac" (modeled, of course, after the Australian word "outback") for the airless environment outside the biosphere airlocks. [On Mars we might substitute the word "out-gasp" :-) ]

Although I can think of a lot of people who'd be excluded by their "devil-take-the-hindmost-because-I-know-how-to-get-mine" mentality, it would seem to me that most reasonable people would come to agree that we must address three things:

an individual's right to remain within a biosphere, once he/she is in, with the burden of finding alternative residence possibly resting upon the biosphere's authorities

an individual's right to be homeless within a biosphere's common middoor spaces, with the burden of finding alternative residence possibly resting on the biosphere's authorities

an individual's right to basic life-sustaining utilities within a private residence whether or not he/she can afford to pay for them

Now we can discuss all we want where rights end and responsibilities begin. But we must never forget that we are not talking about Earth. We all strongly prefer to have only responsible, industrious, contributing citizens on the space frontier - no dead-weight, thank you. But we've all heard, and hopefully had the occasion to say with sincerity the humbling phrase "There, but for the Grace of God, go I!" While not all of us have ever been "down and out", we all know that someday we could be. On the space frontier that is a condition enormously more threatening. Unless we establish a regime of rights and responsibilities to address unfortunate circumstances.

Now a constitution might keep its language general and simply state that any individual has the right to remain within a settlement's biosphere pending the location of a non-life-threatening option; that any individual has status within the settlement's middoor commons without restriction to those having established indoor residences; that any individual has the right to minimal hook-up biospheric utility service to his/her place of residence. The P's and Q's and the crossing of the T's and dotting of the i's can be left to subsequent legislation. But here is a list of "life-sustaining' services and rights that I will throw out to get the discussion going: