Michel Foucault takes a trip to Mars (cont'd)
I think there is a fundamental disconnect between the space utopias of the capitalist space colonialists and the space utopias of the average fan/enthusiast/dreamers. There is a big difference in perception of time and realistic change in technology.
The space panopticon of monitoring and the dependence on the machine and the surrender to the system of power and control are very much real, in the short term. Barring some transformational technology actual space colonization will be cramped, smelly, medically horrible and subject to the eugenical and controlling whims of the SpaceBros, to be sure.
But the average enthusiast ignores that phase of space utopia history [which is likely to be the only phase for centuries or millennia or forever]. Instead, they envision their role in the space utopia as fundamentally different and occurring after that initial phase of sitting in a cold Martian hut or the tedium of being a cook or mushroom farmer at the L5 colony. Ignoring that dreary reality, they think they and their descendants will be the Belters from the Expanse, anarchist communes with their own ships and fusion drives. They think that they will be the freedom fighter Maquis captain or wandering space archeologist adventurer, not the quasi-military lower-decker stuck cleaning the shuttlecraft toilets on a Federation starship. *They* will certainly be Han Solo, not some Empire bureaucrat stuck in a cubicle.
All of those visions of the future require some magical technical advancement - the fusion drive, warp travel/replicators, or magical hyperspace drives and droids and the like. I think that there is just a fundamental misunderstanding of the future and the likliehood of technological change on the part of the average person. The average person thinks of space and dreams that they will be the main character in a world with no practical limitations on travel/vehicle ownership/resources, but really they would be the NPC toiling in the space factory.
The SpaceBros, in a way, think the same thing, but envision themselves achieving main character status in the near term. They will have the nice moon suite with the windows and the private room on the Mars shuttles. They will have the shielding and the clean water that the NPCs prepared for them. They will replicate their life in a California estate but in SPACE, farther from those pesky poors they see when the limo driver takes them to the airport. They won't have to see the support system.
The odd thing is that both groups can actually achieve their dreams here on earth. The SpaceBro can get the fancy yacht and float in the Pacific or Mediterranean in air conditioned comfort. Or maybe head to their New Zealand Bunker and live the life of the space colonist, but with simpler toilets. The poor space-grunt can get a shaggy dog and a a truck and smuggle drugs, living that Han Solo life, or maybe head to Ukraine to join a rag-tag band of freedom fighters and fight The Empire. Nothing is stopping some would-be beltalowda from getting an RV or sailboat and starting a mobile anarchist commune doing iterant mining and construction work.
I'm really enjoying these articles, but have grown increasingly hostile to Foucault. The appeal of Discipline and Punish relied on the implicit assumption, very prevalent in 1970, that a radical and positive libertarianism, including, for example, the abolition of criminal justice systems, was a real and current possibility. As that failed, Foucault gravitated towards ordinary US-style propertarianism, of the kind popularised by the Chicago School in Economics.
Although Foucault has been widely used in feminist theory, he didn't really tackle the partriarchy or specifically gendered power. And until completely artificial reproduction is possible, the population of space is going to involve women and women's bodies. I would love to see your thoughts on this.
I've enjoyed your commentary since I found you on Space Karen's cesspool and have enjoyed this. I hope all is well! Looking forward hopefully reading more on this topic.
Thank you for deconstructing so brilliantly the sick, sick enterprise of Mars colonization fantasies.
"Instruction" kind of implies coercion, since if the student disagrees, the teacher is still "right".
Pretty funny that you can't seem to have Utopia without coercion - and coercion is the killer of Utopia for the coerced.
Advocates of pioneering often have to offer Utopia as the inducement, since pioneering is very hard and dangerous. Some Space Colonization novels have the negative inducement that life on Earth (at least for the pioneers) has become intolerable.
Since the Utopia thing is going to be debunked pretty readily (Manu can do it here with tabletop exercises), our best fight against waste on space colonization is to make life here on Earth at least tolerable.