In the course of reading Hartz's The Liberal Tradition in America, I found this interesting quote by Veblen:
It was the fortune of the American people to have taken their point of departure from the European situation when the system of Natural Liberty was still 'obvious and simple,' [while other colonial enterprises] have had their institutional point of departure blurred with a scattering of the holdovers that were brought in again by the return wave of reaction in Europe, as well as by these later-come stirrings of radical discontent that have questioned the eternal fitness of the sytem of Natural Liberty itself.In other words, that U.S. was settled and founded in a particular historical age when Europeans were naively impressed enough with liberalism to make it the founding principle of a new nation. (Hartz's thesis is that America basically left behind feudalism and thus missed out on conservatism, socialism, fascism, and all the rest of the European nightmare by maintaining the hegemony of is founding liberalism.)
This made me think about the (admittedly fanciful) possibility of the same phenomenon in the science fiction future: if we humans eventually send out colonies into space (whether to other planets or even just orbiting settlements), what founding ideologies will they take with them? A lot of the analysis of why America turned out the way it did centers on its first colonists - settlers of disproportionately middle classes, particular religious beliefs ("city upon a hill," etc.) - who were not representative of the home population. Would the same thing happen in the future? What ideologies will settlers take and leave behind?
Things to consider:
- The putative "end of history", or nonexistence thereof
- Will space colonization be dominated by the West?
- Genetic engineering
- Expense of space travel (i.e., will emigrants be middle-class or super-rich?)