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The galactic dictatorship depicted in Star Wars. Is dictatorship a likely political power structure for a future Space Colony on say the Moon or Mars?

What Would the Political System of a Mars, Moon or Venus Society Be?

Or why it is NOT going to be a military dictatorship or a libertarian heaven

Whenever I read discussions of what a space colony on say Mars will be like, I’ve noticed that people tend to form two different camps:

  1. A Military Dictatorship as a consequence of the dire consequences of the delicate balance any space colony will exist in. A single individual can very easily kill everybody in a space colony through reckless behavior.
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American rugged individuals, who forge their own destiny depending on nobody else. Is this really a good analogy for a future Martian society?

Why the Colonization of America is a Poor Analogy

A lot of the discussion of this topic online is of course dominated by Americans in large part because they makeup the bulk of the english speaking internet population. It colors the discussion by the uniquely American cultural experience and history.

Golden Age Netherlands as an Analogy for a Space Colony

A space base will likely be made up of several pressurized domes or habitats where people live. Should the wall breach or puncture at any point on such a dome it will yield disaster for anybody inside.

Polders and Pressurized Habitats

Let me explain what a polder is and how we can relate it to a pressurized space habitat.

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Different stages of how a dutch polder gets created.
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How a Polder is managed. Ditches called Sloots collect water seeping in from below due to outside pressure and pumps it out.
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Political Developments Caused By Polders

People have claimed that the precarious situation of life in a pressured habitat on the Moon or Mars would lead to a dictatorship. That suggest that inside dutch polders we should have seen the development of dictatorships. After all if somebody failed to maintain their part the dike everybody would drown. Yet the exact opposite happened.

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Illustration of a Norse Thing. A sort of legal assembly in Viking society.

Power Structures: Viking Age Norway vs Space Colonies

An important question to ask in any society, is who is enforcing the laws? If one is imagining a Space Colony dictatorship, one has to be able to ask how this rule is maintained.

How Representative is Viking Society of societies with weak Central Power

A counter point to my analysis might be that Viking society was a historical anomaly. However if we look at other “uncivilized” societies they all tended to be quite egalitarian and not function like brutal dictatorships. We can see this with Inuits in arctic regions, native Americans, Mongols, Goths, Huns and many other people. They all seemed to have arrangements with a lot of similarities to the Thing.

Why a Space Colony Economy will Not be Libertarian

In Andy Weir’s Artemis, we encounter a moon base which function in a lot of ways as a libertarian tourist island. The main character Jazz, is essentially sleeping on the street when she gets kicked out by her father. There does not seem to be any sort of public service taking care of people or helping them.

How a Capitalist Economy Could Emerge on Mars

I think both libertarians and socialist often have a bit unrealistic ideas of what society can and will turn into. Not everything can be capitalist in nature. On a smaller level, within a family or tribe and even to some extent within a company things operate closer to communism or socialism than capitalism. The problem with communism as a political ideology, was to believe what functioned at a small scale to scale up to a society with millions of people. A communal approach to society collapse when people no longer know each other well and care directly for each other.


My proposition is that Space Colonies are unlikely to develop into something looking like military dictatorship because looking at historical examples of societies living under extreme conditions such as the Dutch inside polders produced highly democratic societies.

Next, Settlement Patterns of Space Colonies

This story does touch upon another interesting topic I plan to address later. How exactly will another planet get colonized? Will there be just one large colony that just expands and expands with more settlers? Or will there be multiple separate colonies run independently?

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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