Thursday, January 31, 2008

Further thoughts on why the Lunar revolution failed

Phil made a good point in class. The revolutionaries weren't looking to change anything about the people in Luna. Social relations would go on as they were and everything should have technically been fine. However, the lunar citizens did not keep to their libertarian ways. I think there a number of reasons for this.

People were not used to doing things without a central authority. Yes they managed to run things without courts or laws. But it’s important to remember that the Authority provided most essential functions and coordinated them with supercomputer efficiency. Everyone was used to controlling their own little plot, but no one dealt with anything outside of that realm. When the Lunar Authority was eliminated, the citizenry was not ready to replace the authority with something more in line with their beliefs. Rather they fell back on what they knew, a centralized entity that would run things for them. Instead of eliminating government altogether, they created a substitute government to take its place.

Secondly the Lunar spirit was not conducive to continuing a revolution. Its essential anti social nature made it so that most Loonies kept to themselves. They did not want to attend to matters of organization and social coordination. As a result, those interested in building social organization were the busy bodies, those most likely to build a bureaucratic state. Much like the Authority, Loonies would do their own thing and cheat the new state on their own. None of them would ever form associations to preempt regulations, as Loonie society is individualistic and reactionary. Not in the right wing reactionary sense, but in the sense that Loonies don't usually take proactive steps towards movement building. They wait for a law and then react to it. This puts them at an inherent disadvantage that they can never recover from.

The most important reason has to be the Lunar economy itself. Anarcho capitalism does not exist long term. Sooner or later commercial interests will gain enough strength and coalesce enough, that they can begin enforcing laws of their own. The rise of "big government" was partially to provide for the social democratic contract with labor. But big government is primarily a by product of big capitalism. As companies get larger and more powerful, they stamp out competition via market measures and governmental regulation. In order to stay profitable, big capitalism needs big government to provide it with infrastructure and welfare. A good example of this is the highway system. Corporations never paid a user fee to use the interstate system, but corporations are its greatest beneficiaries. The highway system facilitates cheap trucking based transport that makes companies like Wal-Mart possible.

Eventually the settlers on the moon would begin to be displaced from their farms to make way for industrial production and centralized agriculture. Similar to the enclosure movement in England, we would see the government and big business colluding to rid the farmers of their land, through a combination of market and government regulations. Dispossessed of their land, the lunar colonists would flock to new factories to provide labor at cut rate wages. Without their financial independence, the Loonies would put up little resistance as the state became even more powerful.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

I think Andrew makes an interesting point in this post by saying that revolution was not in the nature of the people of Luna. As I was reading the first part of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I kept thinking along the same lines, that the revolution almost had to be forced upon the general population of Luna. It seemed that they were so focused on their family units more so than the greater Luna cause. This point made the revolution, in my opinion, seem slightly less urgent and less dramatic than if the Loonies had been more forceful about achieivng independence and having a revolution.