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Dear Mr. Musk: Before starting your own Utopia, perhaps you should take a look at history?

New Harmony, Indiana was the site of two utopian experiments. The beauty of the town is intact, thanks to a sweet old lady with oil money to spend. But the experiments were distinct failures.

From the History Trekker: If colonizing Mars can save humanity, why can’t you apply those same principles at home and save more people?

THERE’S A LOT OF TALK going on about the need to colonize Mars, specifically, to ensure the survival of the human species.

For your plan to succeed you must transform human nature, persuade people to put aside greed and prejudice, sacrifice for the common good, and devise an education system that convinces people to accept science over deeply held beliefs. In short, you must do what we’ve failed to do here, which according to you and others will lead to our extinction.

And the people who will form this colony are chosen based on who can afford it, which are the same people who are leading us to destruction here on earth.

Take a look at history and you’ll find countless examples of societies hurtling towards oblivion. They never solved these problem and faded away. Those that came after didn’t learn from their mistakes.

If you can devise a society like that on another planet, why aren’t you working harder to do it here? And save humanity?

Because in this country, the government is cutting investment in concrete steps that will help protect our environment, and instead investing in your plan to abandon it.

Why? Because it’s not in our economic best interest. Lives in other countries are less valuable than good paying jobs in the U.S. It’s bullshit and we both know that. But it’s what we’re sold.

Are you running away from humanity, trying to create a colony of like minded individuals, where dissent and disagreement is less likely? It’s a fair experiment certainly, but not one our government should be investing in while walking back the steps we’ve taken to preserve life.

“Because in this country, the government is cutting investment in things that will help save the planet, and instead investing in your plan to abandon it.”

The Earth is our home. It’s the only place in the known universe where life as we know it developed. It’s the only planet we know of that has all the elements necessary to sustain life. Even in a damaged state, it would have more to offer than Mars.

The prevailing wisdom behind these scenarios is that the air on Earth will become unbreathable, crops won’t grow, temperatures will be too hot, civilization will collapse. So we need to go to Mars? Where there already is no air to breathe, no water to drink, where crops won’t grow and temperatures are impossible to sustain life?

If you can do it there, why not here? Why not save ten million lives, instead of a million? Isn’t humanity about being humane?

You speak of your idea as a backup plan, but you have marketing dollars. Your ideas are sucking the air out of those who would fight to preserve our planet, along with research dollars. Why not join them and put your focus on solving our problems here first, before abandoning the human race to the doom you say is inevitable?

Barring something like an astroid strike (which would be just as likely on Mars), life won’t disappear overnight. It might take years, it might take generations. Realization will be incremental.

“If you can do it there, why not here? Why not save ten million lives, instead of a million? Isn’t humanity about being humane?”

If we can colonize Mars by living underground, wouldn’t it be easier here? Less expensive and with more lives saved? If we can colonize space, why not the bottom of the ocean?

Why the focus on Mars? Can it be that your company sells rocket ships? When you first started your endeavor you spoke of it as our destiny. Now you’ve embraced the fear mongering of those proclaiming our planet doomed. Was your inspirational speech not effective enough to attract investors?

You give the price of getting to Mars for a person. But how much will it cost to live there? Will anyone but the very rich, or those sponsored by the very rich be able to pay your fee? Because your company will own the infrastructure, the housing, the food. You are the company store.

Where are the details about society, about governance and laws? Why should we put the future of the human race, why should we invest in your vision, when what would doom your plan you don’t even discuss? Have you not thought about it, or is the reality too grim and unacceptable to people to talk about?

Plans are drawn up for the ships, for housing, for almost everything except the one thing humanity needs, which lacks all specifics in your plans. How will the people be governed?

Because after all, if we doom ourselves, it’s because we couldn’t govern ourselves.

Your plan is doomed to fail, not because of the technological hurdles. Instead it will fail because you’re sending humans, with all the problems which leads to our destruction, into space, where even the smallest failure means catastrophe. Until you solve the problems of our society – of individual greed over the common good, of a lack of empathy and compassion and a failure of our educational system, it won’t work.

It could even be argued that due to the price tag of escaping earth, you’re sending the worst among us up there to ensure our survival. You’re proposing a plan which failed before, many times, here on Earth. Where life is easier to sustain.

AT LEAST TILL THE COLONY IS SELF SUSTAINING, it’s run by the corporation, rather than the people. You’ve compared your plan to bringing the railroads to California, an apt comparison. But really, how did that turn out? A boon for the railroads, a windfall for the investors. But for the common man it didn’t typically work out so well. For the native Americans it was a holocaust. For the environment a disaster.

Is that really progress? Or is it regression?

You’ve stated that you envision a direct democracy, but is that how your companies work? What happens if people become convinced of an idea that will bring about their doom? In a direct democracy, there is no recourse. It’s winner take all.

What if the survival of the colony depends on all women of child bearing age being required to breed? What if that gets 60 percent of the vote and becomes law? How would you enforce that?

If mankind destroys itself, won’t it be destroyed by commerce? By business? By man’s innate greed which trumps even our responsibility to keep life possible here on our home planet? What is your plan for reducing greed? For increasing compassion. For sacrifice in the name of a better society?

Because without answering the question of how we govern ourselves, history shows your plan will fail. Who will people work for? Will people own their residence, or rent from the company? Will the jobs be free enterprise, or in service of the company? Who will own the land, the food, the water?

Make no mistake about it, till it becomes self sustaining, this is a company colony, a company store. We know how those work out. They tend to fail when the people get tired of toeing the company line.

“Because without answering the question of how we govern ourselves, history shows your plan will fail.”

Bringing the railroad was a brutal business to much of the population. At least those people had the option of moving further away. That’s not possible in your society. You can’t start a homestead on Mars.

What happens when the colony decides “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more?”

What will be their recourse? Will they have a recourse? Will they have a say in how they’re governed, or will there be a board of directors making the big decisions, leaving the smaller ones to the plebeians? How will dissent be handled? Can the richest among us, the most well educated among us, be counted on to simply accept they were out voted and capitulate?

Have you read the newspapers lately? People aren’t like that.

The colony will be front loaded by those able to afford a ticket. The British found out how that worked in North America. It didn’t. They lords ended up eating each other in Jamestown.

Even if it’s not the richest up there, it will be their representatives. There will be enough cash floating around to sway a direct democracy, just as you can a representative one.

For those unable to afford a ticket, you’re already floating the idea of corporate sponsors. Will they be required to wear logos on their jackets?

Pardon my skepticism, but our country was just taken in by a businessman with big plans, short on specifics. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

IF EDUCATION IS THE ANSWER, how come the most educated people in the world can’t devise an education system where something as simple as climate change can be deemed real or important enough to take action? Wouldn’t that be a better focus for your efforts, to save more lives here?

If coming together as a society in the name of reason is humanity’s destiny, how do you explain Brexit? That’s what you get with the popular vote. Division.

If there is a system which allows us to govern ourselves in an enlightened way – to put the needs of the whole above the individual – why not let us in on it, so we can start now, and perhaps save the planet? Or at least the EU?

What will be the test of enlightenment that makes a person a candidate for the colony? Or is acceptance based on ability to pay alone? Harmony is essential, because what you’re talking about is a utopia. That’s been tried many times.

New Harmony, Indiana – the site of two utopian experiments is a thirty minute drive from here. The first was based on religion, and it failed. The second was based on science and education. It failed too. A wealthy benefactor and oil money saved the town’s beauty, but it couldn’t save their school.

The Harmonist Granary, leftover from the original utopian experiment in New Harmony, Indiana

Socialism didn’t save society. Capitalism only saves those with capital – as does your plan. Capitalism means some people prosper while others do the hard work. That brings resentment and want, and that brings disagreement. That requires enforcement. Who are the enforcers? Who decides the punishment? What are the checks and balances?

Without solving these problems, you haven’t solved the problem of humanity’s extinction. You’ve simply taken a bunch of people on a ride where even the smallest mistake means a loss of the colony. It tends to happen any time we’ve tried to colonize any new world. Why would Mars be different?

YOU’RE PUTTING YOUR MONEY ON SPACE. Your plans could easily be put to use here on earth, to save more people if doomsday does come. The time for that is now, just as you think the time is now to start planning our escape. The need is greater here on Earth for your ingenuity, and your wealth, than up in space. More lives, and our planet is at risk.

I don’t have the $200,000, and it’s likely my kid won’t either. Your idea takes the richest among us to safety and abandons our home to its destruction.

So fuck you too.

A colony of like minded people, founded by businessmen and ruled by a corporation doesn’t sound like humanity to me. It sounds like the worst instincts of people, that which according to your train of thought, will be the downfall of life on earth.

And yet our tax dollars are flowing into your company to make your plan a reality. How is that any better than any other corporate bailout that might boost a segment of the economy, but still not address the common good?

As it turns out, we might find that getting to Mars, learning to sustain ourselves and building the colony might be the easiest part. Because if we don’t solve our problems of life on earth, life in space will fare no better.

And if you can solve that problem, if you’re really doing this for a love of humanity, shouldn’t you be putting your efforts into saving our planet?

Because if we doom our planet, we don’t deserve another chance.

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  • Jonathan Kruk July 3, 2017, 2:25 pm

    Recently, while preparing for a performance program on the Erie Canal, I discovered Joseph Smith took inspiration from traveling that man-made waterway. It took him to the prophet Moroni, prompting his “Book of Mormon.” Apparently, we may soon have to contend with an equally distopian view in the coming “Book of Mars-Musk.”

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