Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

History Unplugged – The Age of Discovery 2.0: Episode 6

Episode six of the six part series, The Age of Discovery 2.0, from the podcast, History Unplugged, is now available here.

On this episode Scott Rank interviews Ram Jakhu, an associate professor at McGill University and a researcher on international space law. From the show summary:

The British East India Company is perhaps the most powerful corporation in history. It was larger than several nations and acted as emperor of the Indian subcontinent, commanding a private army of 260,000 soldiers (twice the size of the British Army at the time). The East India Company controlled trade between Britain and India, China, and Persia, reaping enormous profits, flooding Europe with tea, cotton, and spices. Investors earned returns of 30 percent or more.

With SpaceX building reusable rockets and drawing up plans to colonize Mars, could we be seeing a new British East India Company for the 21st century? The idea isn’t that far-fetched. In the terms of service for its Starlink satellite internet, one clause reads the following: “For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.”


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  • wayne

    A repeat from me on this topic (exploration et al) but informative. (but lengthy and all over the map, Lex has detailed show-notes, so you can quickly decide what is of interest and what isn’t.)

    In part, (and very loosely paraphrasing) Stephenson puts forth his belief that there isn’t really an economic-case to be made for Mars, but rather it’s in the realm of a religious-type adventure. (Not that it is a religion, but it’s that sort of experience.)

    Neal Stephenson: Sci-Fi, Space, Aliens, AI, VR & the Future of Humanity
    Lex Fridman Podcast #240 (Nov 11, 2021)

    “Neal Stephenson is a sci-fi writer, former Chief Futurist at Magic Leap, and first employee of Blue Origin.” (I am not familiar with this guy, educational purposes only.)

  • Localfluff

    The British Empire knew exactly what it was doing. And their “colonized” countries have been much better off since than before the British fleet was sighted.

    Queen Victoria has summoned her generals. Hugs with arms stretched out on the enormous slowly turning Earth Globe in Buckingham Palace. Kisses it. Says:
    “-Myyy world.”
    Then She turns to the generals assembled behind her:
    “- My Admirals have painted all of the seas in British Naval Blue. But YOU have only painted a quarter of its land territories in my favourite color, British Bloody Pink! Why are you failing me!?”

    (No. That wasn’t really her attitude. She mainly just cared for her beloved husband Prince Albert. But it was the responsibility of the politicians in Parliament at the time. Which was for a very long time.)

  • James Street

    Ram Jakhu lost me when he spoke glowingly about his complete trust in the Outer Space Treaty.

    I work at a small tech company with developers from around the world, but mostly from India. People from a lot of countries are difficult to work with because of cultural differences, but people from India are almost as easy to work with as Americans and are excellent coders. I wonder if this is because they built on and didn’t completely reject the culture developed under British rule.

    What the godless Chicom commies are doing today is worse than the East India company. They give corrupt dictators of 3rd world countries billions of dollars for “infrastructure projects” the Chinese will build, with the 3rd world country’s natural resources as collateral. The dictators flee to Monte Carlo with the cash and China seizes the natural resources (as planned). I was talking to a missionary to Africa and he said Chinese has replaced English as the secondary language.

  • The history of the East India company is very dark. It was a brutal, exploitative company that did enormous damage and experienced serious financial problems that required bailouts. One of those efforts involving tea helped to spark the American Revolution. Efforts to bail it out As the podcast points out, this is a very different time. Still, it’s not a good model for settling space in that absolute power is a corruptive force whether it’s in the hands of government or private entities.

  • Edward

    I think that Ram Jakhu is incorrect in a few ways, around fifteen minutes into his discussion. The United States is not a nation that likes to have colonies or to demand that territories remain territories against their will. A Mars colony will not be as subject to U.S. jurisdiction as Jakhu suggested.

    Second, Elon Musk has not suggested that a martian colony would be a utopia or a utopian society or culture.

    SpaceX is not saying that it will own Mars, and may not be saying that it would even own the colony. Ownership of devices or equipment on Mars, the Moon, or other locations in space does not violate the Outer Space Treaty or the international laws of the sea; but declaring all of Mars to belong to the first colony probably would. To declare ownership of all Mars would necessarily discourage other colonies, as they would not have the same rights as the first colony, and the first colony would be declaring sovereignty over all future colonists rather than only over itself. This overreach is hardly an American philosophy, and it would align more with King George’s tyrannical rule and has been detested by Americans ever since.

    I cannot find where SpaceX declared that international law does not apply to Mars, but I have found where the colonists will consider it a free planet that makes its own laws. Declaring Mars as a free planet is not a denial of the rule of law but is an acknowledgement that laws are important and that many or most should be local. This is constant with the Declaration of Independence of the American colonies. These American colonies were upset about many of the ways that the motherland was interfering with their lives, laws, and commerce. A popular philosophy of the time was that people were imbued with the rights to life, liberty, and property. When writing the Declaration of Independence, the desire to end slavery forced a change of the right to property (which slave owners would have used to justify slavery) to the more generalized concept of pursuit of happiness, and this has affected U.S. culture in ways different from many other cultures.

    America has never forced itself onto other territories. It has allowed territories to choose whether or not to become independent nations, as the Philippines did, to become states, as all the next 37 states did, or to remain territories of the U.S., as Puerto Rico continues to do. Because of its experience with King George, the U.S. has been loathe to be seen as owning captive colonies. How does this American philosophy apply to Martian colonies? Why wouldn’t it also be allowed to become politically independent?

    For the U.S. to demand that its own laws apply to Mars is just as tyrannical as King George forcing his will onto the American colonists. It is just as tyrannical as forcing national laws onto every state, county, and town of the United States. Local communities have different needs and problems, and some laws that are appropriate for some regions are not appropriate for others. This has long been recognized and accommodated, but we now have tyrants who are willing to act more like King George, forcing inappropriate laws and mandates onto all, whether or not it is good for us.

    However, the discussion has been very enlightening as to how the world sees the United States. If earthlings would be upset that Martian colonists thought they should not be subject strictly to American laws, then it is believable that the Old World citizens thought that King Georg’s laws should also apply to all his colonies, no matter the local situations. If King George would not allow some American colonies to outlaw slavery (the very first grievance in the Declaration of Independence), then slavery would be legal in all the colonies.

    Once the Declaration of Independence was signed, Vermont outright outlawed slavery, in 1777. By the way, since homelessness could be fatal on Mars, what would or should earthlings do if the Martians conclude that slavery was the best way of assuring that the homeless are properly cared for?

    In talking to family as we gather for Thanksgiving (U.S., not Canada) (by the way, to show the advantages of government control: the cargo ships are literally queued up to the south of LA and Long Beach harbors for miles, past Huntington Beach, somewhere around 80 or 90 of them), my sister-in-law expressed the opinion that if the Martian colonists are representatives of the U.S. then it is only fair that they obey U.S. law. Others believed that the Martians should be allowed their own laws, especially since they live in such a different environment.

    Why do earthlings have the right to pursue happiness but Martians do not? Won’t some people go to Mars in order to get away from Earth’s tyranny and in order to find the liberty to live their own happy lives? Was not this the reason many came to the America’s? It certainly was the reason for the Pilgrims. Why cannot the Martians try new ways and new methods that require different laws, just as the Pilgrims had done — with enlightening lessons learned.

    Why shouldn’t each Martian colony be sovereign? Are earthlings going to engage in Colonialism again through the imposition of their own laws, needs, and desires to the exclusion of those of the Martians? How do the Martians live in liberty if they are forced to obey the earthlings’ law?

    Of coarse, these are some of the questions that this series of podcasts is intended to explore.

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