Space colonization, a practical question (or more)

I’ve been reading about the topic of space colonization lately. With the different private and government entities all stating different goals and strategies for getting people to the Moon and Mars, I’ve seen a great focus on the technical and financial sides of things. I’ve even seen some focus on the psychological side of this kind of endeavor: could humans withstand the sheer boredom of the long voyage, and maintain enough mental discipline to arrive safely and live harmoniously on the Red Planet? These types of questions address whether or not it is possible for us to establish ourselves on some other planet.

What about questions dealing with whether or not it is even worth it to try? With all the talks about colonizing in outer space, I’m wondering about where the governments will fit in with regards to the colonists and their lives ‘abroad?’ What about colonists sent up via private organizations: might a private organization one day be able to establish a colony on some celestial body, and claim territory in its own name? Would that mean said organization would remain private here on Earth, but become a government in outer space? How would conflicting viewpoints on this matter be resolved? After all the years we’ve been on this planet, we are still squabbling about borders and resources here; and from our primary presence in space – namely Earth orbit – we have already made quite a horrific mess of junk and debris … how would this differ when taken to the interplanetary level?

Would we extend our current social and political chaos to the stars, so to speak; or would we say that in outer space, we would have the opportunity to start over from scratch, to build a socio-political structure from the ground up, that adapts to the needs of the colonists more readily than Earth-based traditions? What would the answer to that reflect about our societies and our ways of dealing with ourselves and one another? Would it be wiser to try to start from scratch somewhere else; or would it make more sense to attain mastery of ourselves, while still mostly contained here on this planet, before seriously venturing forth elsewhere?

Essentially, in deciding that it’s worth it to try to establish a colony on some other planet, are we saying that it is worthwhile to pour untold amounts of time, energy, money, and political and organizational process into starting life somewhere beyond Earth without having made the untold amounts of time, energy, money and political and organizational process already expended for life here on Earth first work? Doing this simply because it’s something we can do seems kind of lame to me – I haven’t seen enough compelling arguments demonstrating our need to colonize beyond Earth because it’s what we should do.

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