Relations between Earth economics, Space economics, response to a discussion.

  •  It is a response to a conversation on FB, and the conversation will be below. Main four points are as a premise.

1>At that point a major war can break out because you need resources that are controlled by someone else.

2> But the global economy is no more there.
3> You can’t wait for amazon prime to deliver a wrench from Earth when you are hopping around Pluto.
4>But the costs of having such a protected closed economy, in my opinion, would always be higher than simply trading on the world market.
(1) is the reason to think about resources in space in terms which are different than on earth for those resource sources. That’s why I oppose ownership of celestial bodies in the sense we are used here and in the sense, different space miner advocates from the public usually mention as the great obstacle for companies to invest. Companies better to find the way to change and adapt to the situation and to the difference – it can be done, and it should be done. Also, it is one the reason why I’m not in favor to make global legislation on the topic – it is easy to introduce a law which consequences we do not fully understand but it is harder to roll law back.
(2) for a reason of (3) – it ends probably resource hauling part of an economy, and it maybe ends most of the goods hauling part of it too. But it does not end everything. Digital part of it begins to be more important. And there are a lot of services and goods we can transmit digitally – results of scientific work, results of R&D, improvements, software, a technology of production of goods. That is one of the reasons for me being in favor of techtree thing
More complex our technologies begin to be more resources it needs – do notice that science was less about borders even in time of cold war. And extending that attitude to from science to technologies which make those good possible would be quite a nice thing. Different implementations are possible. But be sure small groups like even 20 million people, they can’t keep up with the development of the whole science technology body, compared to the collective effort of a bigger group. And if they wish to keep themselves relevant they need to be a part of that collective effort, assuming the implementation of that effort is efficient enough.
If one enjoys group more than 20 million there probably was no point to leaving the earth or something like that. Smaller and potentially more tuned to ones needs a group a million a 100’000 they just not capable to keep up even with a portion of science tech development, to do it alone with speeds of a collective.
so potentially technology and science can be a core and a form of a loose glue to keep them in some discourse and coherence besides we are humans thing.
I think a big difference of our time is an exchange of information. I mean person to person interaction. People all over the world do create a network of connections which is independent of policies of their countries or the borders of their countries. That’s why we need to extend the internet to all places, that’s why eliminating language barrier is important and all technologies which help to accomplish that are important. Sure current network of such connections is quite thin(maybe) but Internet content by itself is a product of collective efforts of billion people, and I’m not sure those who use it ready to lose it as result of some global sht happening. And be sure 20 million people intranet will not be the same, one billion yeah, kinda maybe, hm but will it be more interesting if there are no things of different cultures? I do not think so.
(4) you mix two things – economy in space and space-earth relations and earth internal economy.
There is a triangle of relations (space-space, space-earth, earth-earth) and the triangle is different in its details at different periods of development. micro space(as today – 6 humans on orbit), mili space (let’s say 6000 of people), space (let’s say 6 million people), kilo space (6 billion people), mega space (you guessed it 6 trillion people) etc.
Starting from space the triangle may begin to be visible, have bi-directional relations of all 3 pairs.
Prior that, even special cases tech seed stuff, asteroid miners, mars colony etc whatever people do advocate today, it all will have deep roots on earth, and will be 100% dependent from it and it is the situation you describe.
And considering that only handful of nations and nation/county blocks/associations and handfull not existing groups of people can lead to the mili space and special cases – the overall situation won’t change too much. Blocks still work for influence on others etc. yes,it will lead to changes, but it won’t close the market and make everyone isolated in that sense. it may hit resource part of it – but it still one of the triad as for today.(resource, products, technology)
A space stage, because of differences between space and a planet – the stage can easily cover all resource needs of the planet (as they are for today) in energy or materials and it will be a fraction of that space stage capabilities.(no all implementations but some special cases definitely can do that, mars colonies will have to suck)
Roots with the planets can begin to erode at that stage, and not all conflict situation can be solved on the earth. But there still a big lever on both sides – resources on one side, technologies and development of them, education – on another side. There can be a bi-directional exchange – and there is a potential for everyone to be more or less happy.
it is quite an important period in the development of the situation and space people have to play their cards right to avoid problems in the future. They should fill the gaps in technologies they have, they should lift more people, they should spend their time on education and decreasing any dependence on manual labor for basic needs, goods production, foodstuff etc of that matter.
Space resources are big, and exhausting them at that stage is not a problem, but earth demand thurst for them is not limitless (energy may or may not stay, depends on the timeframe and how far in the future or in the past fusion is). Because it makes sense to recycle things if you do not spend efforts on mining them, it will be a good replacement for mining.(and that is a good aspect for earth in the delivering the resources)
So at that stage, it needs to not repeat the errors of ex-resource colonies and invest everything(as much as possible) in the future of themselves. I think it is hard to screw that part, because key elements are quite simple, and basically what you need is more people and educating those people. Recycling carbon, and delivering of goods will be more expensive than production for 80-90% of stuff. – so all other incentives will be quite obvious for everyone even if it happens we build space lift in the time or other things of that nature. With current electricity prices, it is $1.7 per kg with 100% efficient $0.1/kW delivery cost(no waste, not operational costs, no capital investments) And I guess those solutions won’t be brought in to existence until the end of space phase and begin of kilo space, so most of the time we probably will stick with reusable stuff and most important reactive propulsion and it is about 2 orders magnitude more pricey(in a good case scenario).
Kilo space stage – it basically a beginning to space-space interaction outweighing space-earth pair and a begins to humiliate earth and dwarf it in every other aspect. There is still a time for late Joe to get their piece of the pie, and earth has not to fuckup that if it wishes to stay relevant.
And market on earth will have a window to a market in space.
And they’re still hard to close the local market on earth – there is an option to interact with space market, and not the time when a billion’s size space habs are not possible and the incentive to have a big conglomerate won’t be so strong to join few billions in one system. So everyone will have incentives for interaction for different reasons.
Sure there always places to screw up, but everything seems to be quite straightforward, and I do not see market isolation and self-sufficiency as a problem in those stages.
Conversation itself:

For the “inter-democracy nonaggression hypothesis” to work you need interconnected societies/states/groups. If you depends on others, and others depends on you, it’s more easy to find a way to coexists. 

Actually I’m worried that once we colonize space we’ll see the 1870 scenario once again with the consequences of the Long Depression: nationalism, protectionim, new-imperialism.

This is one of the biggest factors that has led to the Iww and of course to the aftermaths of the ‘900.


That’s all worked out fine till now, yet there are these nationalistic forces that are attempting to drive us back to those times in the current run of politics.

Evan Sveum untill now we didn’t had any actual autarchy. Fascist Italy (that was something like today North Korea) tried to do it, it failed. Even North Korea depends on foreign trade (they sell coal in big quantities). But as NK, Eritrea, fascist Italy and so on has demonstrated: autarchy only brings you misery. I can assure you that here people still remember how bad was the sintetic coffee that we used to produce. I mean…like a hot, steamy cup of liquid shit.

But once you start colonize space you have one thing: ever expanding borders with potential infinite resources. You have the ability to become a self-sufficient state…but now you can do it with some kind of prosperity.

This is what happened in 1870. The major super powers started a trade war because the industrial revolution reduced prices of many orders of magnitude. For example France helped Italy to be unified in the ’60. But in the ’70 we started a war. In the ’80 France invaded Tunisia, that was regarded as an italian protectorate.

The trade wars in fact led to the need to find new markets for resources and to sell stuff. Becase now you have closed borders due to the tariffs. So if your products can penetrate the borders of you state…you borders need simply to be enlarged.

Without the Long Depression you didn’t had the british colonization of India. The scramble for Africa. The japanese invasion of Korea an China. Etc…

The space-scenario would see the same issue. Initially a great prosperity. Why importing copper from Zambia when have that nice asteroid mine “runned by our people, the best people”. Ok, let’s protect our jobs: a tariff on copper. And Chile, a major copper exporter: “fuck you, i’ll put a tariff on everything you sell here”. And so on and so on.

Untill the solar system, like Africa and Asia in the 1800-1900, is completely filled of projections of the major powers.

At that point we’ll see a big difference: the equivalent of Iww will not eventually explode. Because the places that you can colonize on Earth are finite. In space no.

We just need to see if we will ever reach a point were those closed space empires can coexist and eventually going interstellar. Or if we will reach a bottom. At that point a major war can broke out because you need resources that are controlled by someone else.

I understand what you mean, and i don’t think it’ll ever get crazy in the developed world again in the same way, but for example in the US right now, lots of nationalistic fervor, intentionally attempting to take us back to the old days, of the cold war at least(paranoia & conspiracy), and attempting to undermine the global movement. They don’t realize that globalism is good for cooperation and non-aggression…or They do and that’s their goal.

Evan Sveum indeed. Your president can blame China, the EU and so on as much he want. But your companies needs those markets. It’s just rethorics for the sake of some votes. We have those kind of people here too. 

But imagine that you could push that “BLOCK TRADE” red button, send some appalachians unemployed guy to mine an asteroid…and actually don’t have a contraction of your own lifestyle. It could temping, right? 

Why I should send my money elsewhere if I can have a closed economy? And remember, the whole premise of space colonization is the closed economy. You can’t wait for amazon prime to deliever a wrench from Earth when you are hopping around Pluto.


Blockchain currency might make that closed system irrelevant if you can still guarantee money even from your McDonalds at Pluto station to the headquarters on Earth. Of course you can’t deliver but you can still open a franchise! 

Just picture it, McDs, over one trillion served. ..

Evan Sveum yes, you can have a franchise. But you need autorizations and so on. For example Italy is a free country like every other country of the West. But we have seen a movement to block the opening of new kebab shops and fast foods in our historical city centers. Because they are perceived as a violation of our heritage. It’s not hard to use regulations to block any kind of global economy movement. The only thing that leave open the world market is the need for things we don’t have.

Very true, the reason why blockchain might be disruptive to blocking is that it doesn’t rely on government or banking institutions very much. I can see ways to get around that for a government but it seems at least the first colonies may be able to remain independent of interference.

Very interesting discussion by the way, you have great points!

I don’t think that blocking kebabs in the historical centers can be scaled to blocking everything global🙂 Global trends win because they are more effective, not because they are evil.

Konstantin Sokerin i guess i didn’t explained my point. What i’m saying is that if you develop the techs to have closed economies, you could see states accepting to develop an autarchic economy. 

Of course this can be true only if importing raw materials from space colonies has a lower price than importing from another country. 

At that point there is nothing you can do to surpass that tariff walls. Every statesbecomes an island. Yes, you can open a franchise, or use blockchain to do stuff. But the global economy is no more there.

This reminds me of the marxist view on imperialism. Like the desire to control the whole chain from market of resources to market of distribution leads to world wars as the means to challenge the control of the markets. It is mitigated I guess, theoretically by comparative advantage doctrine, practically by free trade zones and politically by understanding that interdependency reduces the ability and incentive to go to war.


Though it is probably true, that there is a possibility for autarchy even without space exploration, on the long run such autarchy will fall behind in technology. One nation can’t outcompete a combined effort of many nations in research and development and freedoms, like 4 EU freedoms give advantage for development and economic growth. 
On the other hand, there is some suspicion, we just cannot frame our politics and governance without the concept of an enemy. So, the world may remain divided into political and economic blocks just because it allows greater stability of the national/local political systems.



>”we just cannot frame our politics and governance without the concept of an enemy” 

I agree on this point. But being aware of this we could try to seek an immaterial enemy. For example “aging is the enemy”. Yes I know, I’m going full Star Trek in this.

But as I already said some weeks ago: I find the notion of the cold war like sci-fi scenario where an united Earth is against Mars as pretty dumb.

While we could see in the future the rise of a global civilization. Take for example the fact that we are having a discussion from pretty different backgrounds. It will be very hard to have a united goverment. Blocks with different interests will always be there.

The scenario that I was trying to imagine is pretty improbable in my opinion. But the autarchic space empire is the only scenario where i can see the protectionism working out.

But the costs of having such a protected closed economy in my opinion would always be higher than simply trading on the world market.


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