Here is your chance to become a dictator

December 7, 2011

Political Theory


NASA has recently discovered a planet that could have an environment that is stable for human life, and may have water on its surface.  The planet has been named “Kepler-22b”.

Naturally, it led me to think about humans living on that planet, and how a society would be implemented.  We would be starting from scratch, from the “state of nature”.  There are many possibilities on what type of governance, if any at all, this planet could have.

If you were in charge of handling the creation of a human society on this new planet, what would your form of governance look like?  Lockean?  Marxist?  Anarchy?  A mix of multiple philosophies?  For this scenario, assume that there are roughly 500,000 people on the planet, who have no preconceived notions of governance.  Consider them a “blank slate” of people.

I would attempt to style the governance around Locke’s ideals, much like the original intent of the Founding Fathers when they constructed our Constitution.  Personal liberties would flourish, and the government’s only function would be to ensure the protection of these liberties.  I would also take aspects from two famous economists, Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard.  Von Mises and Rothbard are proponents of Austrian economics, which is a very “hands off” way of handling the economy.  With only 500,000 people, the less government intervention in the economy the better.  This would create the best environment for innovation, which is what a new society would greatly need.

Here’s a video of Thomas Woods, another famous Austrian economist, explaining his views on economic (Austrian) theory.

I don’t feel a Marxist theory would be a good fit for a new society, as there would be very little resources and structure to build a dominant central government off of.  I also disagree with Hobbes’ theory on the state of nature.  I feel that in a brand new setting such as this one, people would for the most part set aside their attempts for personal gain in order to establish the society for the greater good.  They would recognize that by doing what is best for the new planet, they themselves will benefit more than if they only provided for themselves.  It also helps that it is a relatively small group of people on the planet.  If there were greater numbers, like 2 billion people, then there would be less collective cooperation due to the sheer amount of people.

I definitely don’t believe that a purely anarchist society would be successful, as there needs to be some kind of central authority to maintain order, just not too much of an authority.

To summarize, I would definitely try to implement a Lockean form of government, with limited government intervention in the economy to promote innovation, and the protection of individual rights.

Kepler-22b is in your hands.  What would you do?

*Edited 12/7 at 7:30 PM

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6 Comments on “Here is your chance to become a dictator”

  1. tyhughes2014 Says:

    When you say that you would start a new society and government from scratch, are you implying that the citizens you rule would be brought over from Earth or are you implying that these individuals would be new to the idea of society (people already on the planet or babies from Earth, perhaps). This may seem like a dumb question, but I feel like individuals who already have a sense of what society looks like would be very resistant to adopting a form of society and government that you choose.

    For example, if you brought a wide variety of US citizens with you to the new planet, I feel that these individuals would want to adopt a form of society and government that closely resembles what we currently have in the United States. Although we argue about many issues in the United States and may seem to be in a state of gridlock and dysfunction, in reality we are a very stable nation. A overwhelming majority have faith in the foundation on which this country was built and do not disagree with our form of democracy or the Constitution, for example. When you say that you would adopt a government based off Locke’s ideals, I think you would be successful with the United States population as long as you don’t make too radical of changes.

    On the other side of the coin let’s consider the citizens of North Korea. I feel that if you dropped the North Korean population on the planet with you, they would be extremely resistant of your changes. These individuals do not know what a government based on Locke’s ideals looks like. Not only have they not lived under this form of government, they may not have even been able to fathom what such a form of government would be like. Your new form of government would be extremely foreign to them and their uncertainty may prove to be a challenge.

    Finally, I believe your best chance at success would be to raise young children on this planet before they become accustomed to a particular form of society. They would be willing to try out whatever form of government you choose and likely would not complain (unless their basic needs are not met).

    I believe that the individuals being ruled on this new planet would be crucial piece of information to know before determining what form of government and society is established.

  2. Austin Telling Says:

    Your concerns are valid, I was more or less assuming that these people would be a “blank slate”, with no preconceived notions of governance. I forgot to mention that in the original post.

    I’ve edited the post to clarify the information.

    Thanks.

  3. bmazus Says:

    First off this is a pretty cool post and I enjoyed reading it. If I were given the opportunity to essentially create my own form of government from scratch I would not veer far off the path you have chosen. I am an American, and I believe that the pillars upon which our country and government are based upon are brilliant. I have always been of the belief that retaining ones natural rights is essential to a community’s success. While I agree with your ideas for the most part I certainly believe that your proposed form of government may lead to some issues and may have some inefficiencies.
    First off, who is to say that people will not want to split up and fend for themselves? Also what if a great leader emerges out of this group and the majority believes it is the best decision to follow them? The idea of democracy is a fairly recent phenomenon in human history and I do not believe this “clean slate” of people will necessarily pick up the idea so quickly. An individual’s first inclination is to do what is best for themselves, and in your proposed society people will certainly have to make sacrifices and give up things they are not willing to give up. Hey, hopefully we colonize it one day and get to see what happens.

  4. djavolio8 Says:

    I think a government that revolves around the ideas of Hobbes would be most effective in the short term. Then, as time passes, I agree with you in that a government revolving around Locke’s ideals would be best. At first I think a strong government is important because it effectively establishes what one can and cannot do. Furthermore, it symbolizes that everyone has someone to answer to, and in a situation where the state of nature is the previous form of government that is important.

    Once a strong set of rules has been established by the government and enforced on the people, the people will have a greater respect and understanding of freedom. This has been the case in the vast majority of countries. The people are ruled until they have been prepared to have more freedoms, at which point governments are reluctant to give back that power. But, by going in with the understanding that a Hobbesian government would slowly turn into a more free one, a society on Kepler 22-b could very well resemble what we see in our own nation today.

  5. mjgeis Says:

    I thought this was a brilliant post. I was extremely excited when I read the article about Kepler-22b (because I am a nerd like that) and I think the way you have used it in this post is fascinating. I agree that, at least to give the economy time to develop, there should be very little government intervention at first. However, I don’t think that Lockeian ideals could be put into use immediately. I think that something with a slightly more aggressive government would be the best way to get the “blank-slate” people used to being governed. You could almost think of it as a batter swinging his bat with weights attached before stepping up to the plate. He gets used to the burden of the extra weight so that when he is swinging just the bat, he can feel the relief and swing faster. The people would have to get used to the stronger government in order to properly function over something that allows them to have access to their rights. Otherwise, you may find that the people heavily abuse their government-sanctioned freedoms.

  6. kaitlinlapka Says:

    Interesting! I had not heard about Kepler 22-B, but your ideas seem sound. I feel like I’m biased about how our world has turned out though and so can’t appropriately say how I would structure the government and people of this new planet. Also, I think that the new world would be entirely different than our own, in it’s make-up, it’s life forms and so on so I couldn’t even apply arguments and ideas we have learned throughout the semester. However, if this planet was like a double of our own and I had the chance to structure it myself, I would agree with you. I think the Locke approach w would be best. Intersting use of new ideas though!

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