Friday, January 16, 2004

A case for privatized space exploration and exploration in General!

In 1893, FREDERICK JACKSON TURNER, then a young professor, as part of an address to the American Historical Association, announced that according to the 1890 census the frontier was now closed; there was no longer a clear line beyond which settlement had not begun. Turner then explained the effect of the closed area of open land on the nation for the preceding century.

According to Turner, the frontier had been the most important factor in shaping a distinctly American character and in differentiating America from Europe. The frontier took the settler with his European dress and manner and "stripped off the garments of civilization "The outcome," according to Turner, "is not the old Europe."(ever wonder where Rumsfeld got that phrase?) It is a "new product that is American.". He believed that as Americans moved West, they adapted to the circumstances that confronted them. As a result of this adaptation, the new American was more democratic, less authoritarian, and less class conscious compared to the old European. These values were exported back across the Mississippi, to the largely still European East. The result was an American character that came from the frontier and became the trademark for the nation.

The new frontier is and has been for quite some time, space. Extraterrestrial exploration can have the same effect on society as the US expansion did on American culture. This time, given the globalization of Earth's society, the effect on society will be felt throughout the planet. Nobody knows what societal changes will result from interstellar travel, but it certainly could be an improvement!

As much as Liberals often tick me off, they have brought a beneficial element to American society. Like Winston Churchill once said, "a Man who is conservative at 20 has no heart, a man who is liberal at 40 has no mind." Liberals gave America it's heart, an element that has prevented us from falling into the trap of authoritarianism that many liberal democracies have fallen into. And the main source of our ever growing "heart", according to Turner, was the experiences of Western expansion.

Man is a creature of ever growing boundaries. With the conquering of each boundary, man adapts according to his previous struggle. Space exploration is certainly one of the greatest struggles that man can face, but the benefits that can become of such a struggle are immeasurable. Much like the technological benefits that were realized from our first voyage to the moon, the benefits of establishing a permanent settlement on the Moon and trekking to Mars are beyond imagination. These Benefits must be realized, whether it is from NASA, another foreign government, or private industry. For 30 years NASA has circled endlessly around the Earth with no more vision than an old lady stuck in a revolving door. This vicious circle must be stopped before total support for manned space exploration degrades to such a low level, that even the greatest visionary can not revive a cynical nation's former wonderment of exploration. We owe it to the people of this country and to the world to push forward and lead the way as Americans always have.