Martian Law
February 7, 2003 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Martian Law: From the Cato Institute comes this paper exploring the best choices for law on the red planet when colonization occurs.

Mars is a case of what political theorists would call a perfect state of nature. No one lives on Mars. No one currently has legal title to any part of Mars. On what basis then can Mars be exploited by individuals or consortia?

Of course, Kim Stanley Robinson has already explored this subject in his ground-breaking Martian trilogy.
posted by jdroth (10 comments total)
I know Ed Hudgins (who wrote the linked paper) reasonably well. I used to work with him at Cato. I remember two years ago he showed up to a Halloween party in an amazing and intricately constructed homemade Darth Vader costume.

You can't make stuff like this up.

Incidentally, Ed has edited a new book on space policy.
posted by pjdoland at 8:56 AM on February 7, 2003

Greg Bear's novel Moving Mars also deals with this subject. And I heartily recommend the KSR triology, which is pretty much as good as epic sci-fi gets.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:57 AM on February 7, 2003

I dub thee Sir Phobos: Knight of Mars, Beater of Ass!

(don't worry about being confused, this post had nothing to do with the link...)
posted by stifford at 8:59 AM on February 7, 2003

My wife and I love KSR's Mars trilogy.

Our favorite legal concept from the books is this: each person is allowed to have three-quarters of a child. Thus, each couple can legally produce one-and-a-half children.

What happens to the left over half a child?

It can be bought or sold on the open market. If a couple only wants one child, they sell their other half to another couple that wants two children. Or, if the couple's union splits, they each still have one-quarter of a child remaining so that they can join with another person who still has their original three-quarters of a child, yielding another full child.

Interesting concept.

(Incidentally, this legal construct was introduced in order to cope with potential overpopulation. The novel introduces a longevity drug that extends lifespans by many, many decades.)
posted by jdroth at 9:10 AM on February 7, 2003

Cool stuff! And thanks for linking to my article on Martian colonization (a bit old, but still good). If any of you guys are interested in Mars discussion, please check out the New Mars forums I run.
posted by adrianhon at 11:25 AM on February 7, 2003

I like the article's take on the law of the sea, characterising one of its clauses as follows:
Worst of all, some of the fruits of their efforts will be taken from them by their own governments and distributed to the governments of non-coastal countries. Thus, for example, Saddam Hussein and the dictators in Africa and other countries would profit from the productive efforts of free men and women.
Pure spin, and just silly. You may disagree with the clause, but to do so on that basis is childish. It's as if people who opposed giving women the vote were to say "If you give the vote to women, you give it all women, including harlots, adulteresses and impious women of the worst kind! How can you be in favor of giving the vote to people like that?"

This sort of thing really lowers the whole article a notch. A bad law is not a bad law because some of the class who benefit from it might turn out to be people you dislike for unrelated reasons.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:31 PM on February 7, 2003

The most likely result of colonization of mars, law-wise, is first-come, first-served, just like the european colonization of the Americas (without any indigeous people).
posted by mr. man at 4:34 PM on February 7, 2003

Cheers for your self-link, Adrianhon - Not only are your forums a great read, but the site's damn thorough! I've got hours of Mars nerd reading here!
posted by channey at 6:36 PM on February 7, 2003

Link from Cato institute on MeFi....head....exploding.....
posted by lazaruslong at 6:55 PM on February 7, 2003

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