Dissident Outlet Or Brain Drain?

What happens when more people have the opportunity to immigrate to space? What does it look like when oppressed communities once again have a new world to escape to? Will this herald a new era of rigidly homogeneous cultures? Or will earthly countries just hemorrhage their best and brightest to these new frontiers? Lets see what it looks like for Kim in one of these futures.

The Fun Part

March 19, 2073
Lunar Landing Zone 4; 95th Enclave

Today is a pretty good day Kim decided. After all it was her birthday. Well not like the day she was evicted from her mother’s womb. But the day she had first stepped off the lunar cycler shuttle onto the 95th Enclave. The 95th was a Lutheran colony, only two years old when Kim first arrived, but one of the dozens of niche colonies springing up all over the moon.

Today Kim and the 32 other Lutherans who had arrived with her would have their true birthday party. It was one of the twice-monthly ceremonies held for whomever had arrived on one of the two lunar cyclers rotating between Earth and the moon.

It was the only two days a month when everyone got actual fresh food for the whole meal, instead of that vat grown meat and nutrient paste. It really was a big deal. Not that it shouldn’t Kim thought. When she was growing up her parents treated her day of baptism as just as important as her ‘real’ birthday. So doing something similar here didn’t seem that odd.

What was a little odd was how quickly the Lutheran church back on earth seemed to be dying though. When Kim left just two years ago, there were almost a dozen Lutheran churches in her hometown of Minneapolis. But now there were only 3. That seemed to make the sense of urgency to get the 95th ready to support other faithful that much more potent.

After all, if the church was going to be persecuted into oblivion back on Earth, than it was up to the faithful to prepare a safe place for those chosen of God. Then one day, God willing, the church could return to its birthplace on Earth, and spread the gospel to the lost and dying.

The Real Deal

Ok ok ok, a little strange right? Why is there a Lutheran colony on the moon, and why am I suggesting the Lutherans are going to be persecuted in America sometime in the next 60 years? First off – this has nothing to do with the actual Lutheran denomination of Christianity. They are just an easy thing to write about because there is a Lutheran church across the street from where my kids live.

Second off – the point is that there is always going to be a group, whether religious, ethnic, ideological or something else, that is outside the mainstream. Regardless of how accommodating the mainstream is, the outsiders will feel they are in danger of disappearing. This becomes doubly true if the outsiders are being repressed.

Right now, for one of the first times in history there isn’t anywhere on Earth for these groups to resettle if their home doesn’t want them. There is no frontier, no colony, no ‘extra’ space for these people to be put to get them out of sight and mind. As the cost to get to orbit decreases this dynamic will shift. All of a sudden the most effective punishment in history (banishment) becomes a viable option for governments, organizations, and groups.

These groups will also have somewhere to go on their own if they want to maintain their culture, customs, beliefs and/or practices. This has the potential to create a future where conflict between disparate groups actually decreases as the most hard-line believers move to homogeneous off-world enclaves.

Historical Precedent?

One historical precedent for this possible future is the Puritan emigration from England to New England in the 1600s. This ‘great migration’ provided both the foundation of New England’s culture, and eliminated a large, if not the largest opposition group to mainstream Catholicism/Protestantism in England.

Most of the Puritans came from the eastern counties of England, and they tended to be tradesmen or skilled craftsmen rather than farmers, as tradesmen and craftsmen tended to be more highly educated than was usual for the time. They were also affluent enough to be able to afford to pay for their own passage, and migrated in small, nuclear families, or as single men.

Once in the New World, the Puritans ensured complete adherence to their ideology through an aggressive enforcement system, which saw offenders banished. In many cases, the system the Puritans set up in their new colonies was more oppressive than the ones their fled from.

Despite this, there have been some who credit the migration of groups like the Puritans with stabilizing England and the European continent after generations of religiously motivated wars. No longer were rival religious groups competing for land and resources, allowing governments to consolidate their power, allowing the ideas of the Enlightenment to spread, and ultimately setting the conditions for the first Industrial Reformation, transforming the world.

Yea, but what about space?

For at least the next 50 years, the people who go to space will have to be skilled enough to improvise, adapt, and innovate just to survive. This new frontier will be less Survivor, and more Naked and Afraid. Because of this, we are likely to see emigration from Earth which looks similar to what happened with the Puritans.

There will no doubt be a swift movement of highly educated, intelligence and skilled people to new colonies. However it is unlikely that all the smarties are headed away from earth. Indeed, it is more likely that oppressed communities, and the governments doing the oppressing will view space as a tantalizing opportunity. No longer would China have to expend the resources to monitor and reform millions of dissidents, they could just be exiled to an easily manageable asteroid, or other such outpost.

Similarly, white nationalists, Antifa, or even people who just want Game of Thrones to have a different ending, will be free to create their version of paradise on these new worlds. The smartest, most affluent and skilled of these groups are likely to pioneer new, utopian colonies, simultaneously depriving earthbound dissidents of leadership, and opening new opportunities for these groups to flourish.

Next Time

Social change, and the export of dissidents may not be the most exciting topic. So over the next couple posts we will look at what ways augmented reality will play a role in the future of humanity in space, and what time is it out there.

Until then – be sure to catch up on old posts, such as the first orbital fashion show, or the nicest way to ride to Mars (it also will probably end up being the cheapest too).

If you want to hear a story about something specific or if you want me to come give a talk, customized to your organization, modeled on like one of these posts feel free to shoot me a note using the form below.

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