Human Society Needs Another Frontier, Now

  • by Gitabushi

A few days ago I wrote an article about needing a frontier.  I was mainly thinking about it from the angle of liberty. But the more I thought about it, the more aspects of needing a frontier occurred to me.

Mooncolony
Depiction of a Moon Colony by NASA/SAIC/Pat Rawlings, via Wikipedia Commons

We need a frontier because as civilization grows, society calcifies.  Systems are put in place to add predictability and safety for the benefit of the middle class, but they systems are also reinforcing: if you are in the Elite, it is easy to tweak the system so that your children and future descendants remain in the Elite.  If you are among the poor or poorly educated, you are likely to remain poor or poorly educated, because the system that rewards middle class skills and insulates the Elites from challengers simultaneously (and inadvertently) builds roadblocks from the poor/poorly educated from recognizing the value of the work needed to gain middle class skills.

A civilized society without a frontier is a society where if you do the right things, at the right time, in the right way, you should end up with the level of comfort and wealth you want.  The problem is that once the system of achieving that broadly-acceptable level of wealth and comfort are identified, everyone follows that system, and not everyone can achieve it. Those left behind grow resentful that they did everything they were told and didn’t get their promised reward. Those who did obtain their reward have little sympathy for those they competed against.  And the Elite, insulated by the insider connections necessary to become Elite, don’t give a crap.  They farm the middle class for their wealth and assuage their guilt by dropping crumbs to the lowest economic class while simultaneously haranguing the middle class for not giving up identical objective amounts to help the poor.

Or look at it from an intelligence perspective.

Simply put, someone with 120 IQ is going to be able to recognize the more subtle requirements of a system of success than someone with 100 IQ. So the marginally intelligent get ahead with less effort than the average intelligent.  Then those with 80 IQ, just as numerous as those with 120 IQ, have a significantly greater uphill slope to battle up just to do as well as someone with average intelligence.

Is it any wonder they feel resentment?

The American Dream is that if you work hard, delay gratification, and make decently-good decisions, you will live in comfort and relative wealth, and be relatively free from worry.

Just a little over a generation ago, this dream was achieved by uneducated factory workers making an hourly wage.

Now many families have to have both mother and father work just to make ends meet, and in the midst of fabulous material wealth, they justifiably have to fear whether they can afford to educate their children to reach the same levels of success, or whether they can afford relatively basic health care.

But in a frontier, you don’t need education.  You don’t need connections.  You merely need to be willing to risk, and willing to work.

In a frontier, the conservative principles of hard work, good decisions, and delayed gratification really *do* pay off. Frontiers create First Generation Elite: people who went into the frontier when risk was greatest, worked hard, and made it bit.

In a frontier, society isn’t calcified.  To survive in a frontier, you can’t just sit back and wait for the govt to take care of you, you have to learn to make good decisions, or you fail, or even die.

Okay, this stupid thing is all first draft, so I realize I’m not presenting this in a very logical or organized manner.

The point is that a Frontier absorbs and rewards labor that gets left behind in a non-frontier society.  It rewards those willing to risk, rather than rewarding the risk-averse like a non-frontier society does. A frontier literally teaches the sorts of skills and attitudes necessary for a strong, healthy society of strong, determined, and ambitious people.  A frontier doesn’t just allow people to choose the level of government intervention in daily lives they prefer, it increases overall liberty in general.  A frontier stimulates innovation, diligence, hard work, self-sacrifice.  It provides an environment that values *all* human strengths, not just the ones that a calcified bureaucratic society prizes.

One thing I’ve noted before is how the Left sees humans as liabilities: people have to be given jobs, people need to be shielded from difficult truths, etc.  The Right sees people as assets: ingenious, hard working, mature enough to handle bad news and requiring bad news to be able to make good decisions, etc.

The thing is, maybe the Left creates and strengthens the type of bureaucratic, urbanized system where people are liabilities.

A frontier lets liabilities become assets once again.

We need New Frontiers.

Explore the ocean.
Colonize the moon.
Terraform Mars.
Launch generation ships for the nearest Earth-like solar systems.
NOW!

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6 thoughts on “Human Society Needs Another Frontier, Now

      1. Weird. Gotta reply to myself to reply to you. Hope it lines up right.

        In any case, Douglas Adams had a good suggestion for this. You gotta tell the Leftists and Telephone Sanitizers that our first generation ship *must* be diverse, and Look Like The World in skin color/gender. They’ll naturally ignore intellectual diversity and self-select for Leftist Group Think. A few iterations of that, and we’ll be rid of most of them. For now. The urge to make the world conform to a Ruler & Ruled paradigm probably springs eternal among all populations.

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  1. Love the sentiment, and maybe you could make a frontier society for a few, but I don’t think you could ever move enough of the planet’s population to have any impact on society down here.

    You’ve got to get each person, and everything they need to survive in a closed environment, out of the gravity well. While you were doing that, fifty more children were born.

    Our best bet right now would be to get serious about global warming, and colonize Antarctica.

    I have a few ideas as to how things might work on the oceans’ continental shelves, but it would require a lot of up-front infrastructure, which I don’t think you could do privately unless you had the promise of scarce mineral exploitation.

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    1. Right, the ocean may be the next best frontier.

      But I think the *existence* of a frontier makes a significant difference, even if everyone can’t go. I’d like a chance to test that theory…

      …And if we get a frontier, I think we’ll find a way to make it cheaper to get mass (and masses of people) to orbit. Enough to actually let anyone go who wants to go. Eventually.

      Liked by 1 person

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