“I wrote an article trying to apply John Locke’s principles of property to something like Mars. His basic principle is that if you mix your labour with a natural resource then you own the result. It’s the same moral principle that Ayn Rand identified that you have a right to the product of your productive effort.
So if you go to Mars, and you start making a bit of Martian land valuable and turning that natural desert into something productive like a city or a mining operation, then you should own that. That doesn’t mean that reaching Mars means you own the entire planet, it just means you own the bit of it that you made useful.“
Today’s podcast was one of my favourite interviews from our recent trip to LibertyCon in Lisbon during which I was fortunate enough to get time to speak with Thomas Walker Werth.
During our conversation we take a deep dive into the reality of what it’s actually like planning a town as well as making some predictions about the prospect of designing places to live in outer space, particularly Mars. Thomas has uniquely informed opinions on the morality and practice of governance in these future frontiers which, prior to our conversation was not something I had ever thought about.
Other topics covered include: New urbanism, 15 minute cities, post modernism, flying cars, environmentalism, collectivism and we discuss the role that Elon Musk might play in the future of alternative governance models.
I loved this conversation. Full of facts and figures and intelligent observations. I feel as if I learnt alot and I hope that you too will get to take away as much as I did.
Enjoy the conversation.
Automatically Generated Summary
Section Overview: The host introduces the podcast and previews the upcoming interview with Thomas Walker-Worth.
- 00:10 Timothy Allen introduces himself as the host of the Free Cities Podcast.
- 00:22 Timothy previews his interview with Thomas Walker-Worth, an associate editor at Objective Standard and former town planner in the UK.
01:18 Interview Overview
Section Overview: Timothy provides an overview of his conversation with Thomas Walker-Worth, including topics such as planning towns, designing places to live in outer space, new urbanism, 15-minute cities, post-modernism, flying cars, environmentalism, collectivism and Elon Musk’s role in alternative governance models.
- 00:54 Timothy previews the topics covered in his conversation with Thomas Walker-Worth.
- 01:18 The conversation covers a range of topics including planning towns, designing places to live in outer space, new urbanism, 15-minute cities, post-modernism, flying cars, environmentalism and collectivism.
- 01:43 Elon Musk’s potential role in alternative governance models is also discussed.
02:08 Interview with Thomas Walker-Worth
Section Overview: Timothy interviews Thomas Walker-Worth about his background and career path before delving into various topics related to city planning and governance.
Background and Career Path
- 02:40 Timothy asks Thomas about his background and career path.
- 03:00 Thomas discusses how he studied music production before eventually becoming a town planner.
- 03:17 Thomas also shares his interest in railways and train travel.
City Planning and Governance
- 03:50 Timothy and Thomas discuss the reality of planning towns, including the challenges involved.
- 04:10 The conversation then shifts to designing places to live in outer space, with Thomas sharing his unique perspective on the morality and practice of governance in these future frontiers.
- 04:57 Other topics covered include new urbanism, 15-minute cities, post-modernism, flying cars, environmentalism and collectivism.
- 05:33 The potential role of Elon Musk in alternative governance models is also discussed.
Section Overview: Timothy concludes the podcast by thanking Thomas for his time and insights.
- 05:48 Timothy thanks Thomas for his time and insights.
06:28 The Restoration of a Derelict Hotel
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about the restoration of a derelict hotel and how it has been turned into an impressive building.
- The atrium was still in good condition, but the rest of the hotel was derelict.
- The hotel has now been restored and looks impressive.
06:43 From Music to Urban Planning
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about their transition from studying music to working as an urban planning consultant.
Hating Academic Attitude to Music
- Started doing a PhD in music but quickly realized they hated it.
- Hated academic attitude towards music which was very superior.
Transition to Urban Planning
- Got into Ayn Rand’s ideas and decided to drop out of PhD program.
- Worked as an urban planning consultant for Parish councils for several years.
- Had a strong interest in urban planning growing up in Milton Keynes.
07:37 Ein Rand’s Philosophy and Urban Planning
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how Ayn Rand’s philosophy influenced their approach to urban planning.
Respect for Landowners’ Rights
- Respects landowners’ right to develop their land as they see fit.
- Generally resists efforts by local authorities to restrict and control development.
High Street Zoning Laws in UK
- Wrote a paper for Adam Smith Institute about restrictive zoning laws in UK.
- Zoning laws are one-size-fits-all and set by national planning policy framework.
Effect on Urban Planning Approach
- Encouraged developers to make developments more interesting and attractive.
- Influenced parish councils’ planning responses to be more pro-development.
- Encouraged a more positive attitude towards taller buildings in Milton Keynes.
10:15 Garden City Principles and Milton Keynes
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about the garden city principles that influenced the design of Milton Keynes.
Garden City Principles
- Built on Ebenezer Howard’s principles of garden cities.
- Combines housing and countryside into an environment where you have a bit of both.
Parkland and Trees in Milton Keynes
- Lots of parkland and trees in Milton Keynes.
- Central Milton Keys was supposed to be mostly trees with buildings spread in between them.
Move Towards High-Rise City Center
- Trying to move towards a high-rise city center like American cities.
- Concentrating density in the center to retain parkland and green space elsewhere.
The speaker discusses their transition from studying music to working as an urban planning consultant. They talk about how Ayn Rand’s philosophy influenced their approach to urban planning, particularly with respect to respecting landowners’ rights and encouraging pro-development attitudes. The speaker also discusses the garden city principles that influenced the design of Milton Keynes, including lots of parkland and trees, but also a move towards a high-rise city center.
11:43 The Design of Milton Keynes
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the design principles behind Milton Keynes and how it differs from other planned towns like Stevenage and Harlow.
Principles of Freedom of Movement
- 11:43 Milton Keynes was designed on the principle of freedom of movement.
- The grid system and fast roads were laid out to enable everyone to get everywhere easily and quickly.
- The planning regime was less rigid than in other towns like Stevenage and Harlow, which tried to dictate where people should live, work, and shop.
- This approach allowed for more adaptability in case things needed to be moved around.
Issues with Rigid Planning Regimes
- 12:17 In places like Harlow, giant pedestrian plazas were built on first-floor levels with shops around them. However, nobody wanted to open a shop there because it wasn’t on the way to anywhere.
- Improvised shopping areas outside these plazas sprung up later because people needed shops.
- Plans in such towns never came to fruition because they had a top-down mindset that didn’t account for human unpredictability.
13:23 15-Minute Cities
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about the concept of 15-minute cities and why they have become popular recently.
Building Services Near Housing
- 13:23 Building services near housing has been a legitimate concept in urban planning for decades.
- It involves having shops and services within easy reach of homes so that people can walk to them.
- Milton Keynes was built with this concept in mind as it has a local center in every estate.
Issues with Restricting Movement
- 13:56 The problem with the 15-minute city concept is that it restricts people from going further.
- Designing a housing estate with shops and schools within walking distance is sensible, but not allowing people to drive to the next estate for something else is not.
- Restricting movement can harm people’s quality of life and choke up the economy.
Climate Change and Quality of Life
- 14:43 The speaker doesn’t believe that there is an imminent climate crisis.
- While climate change is a real thing, reducing people’s quality of life in the name of slightly reducing carbon emissions isn’t valid.
- Politicians use policies like 15-minute cities to look like they care about reducing carbon emissions rather than achieving any real outcome.
16:08 Centrally Planned Cities
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how centrally planned cities like Milton Keynes never seem to look or feel good.
Issues with Centrally Planned Cities
- 16:08 Centrally planned cities never seem to look or feel good.
- Concrete parts of towns built all at once tend to have a uniformity that makes them unappealing.
- Bristol has concrete parts that make you feel like there are drunk people around.
16:45 The Importance of Natural Evolution in Town Planning
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss the importance of natural evolution in town planning and how it can lead to more inviting and beautiful communities. They also touch on the flaws of centrally planned towns like Milton Keynes.
The Beauty of Slow Evolution
- 16:45 Successful towns evolve slowly over time, which leads to a more inviting community.
- 17:28 Centrally planned towns like Milton Keynes lack beauty and are not as inviting as naturally evolved ones.
- 17:45 Suburbs with leafy parks and lakes tend to be more beautiful than city centers with uninspiring buildings.
Flaws of Centrally Planned Towns
- 17:28 Milton Keynes lacks beauty in its city center due to central planning.
- 19:27 New Towns were designed with post-modern thinking about architecture and living, resulting in a lack of beauty.
Examples of Beautifully Planned Developments
- 18:52 Edinburgh Newtown, Washington DC, and Poundbury are examples of stunning planned developments.
- 19:09 Private developers who have a passion for creating beautiful communities can create better projects than planning academics.
20:05 Current Mindset in Architecture
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss the current mindset in architecture that favors new urbanism and anti-beauty designs. They also touch on how local authorities often force their ideas onto private developers.
New Urbanism vs. Grand Designs
- 20:05 New urbanism favors human-scale designs without grand or impressive features.
- 20:24 Anti-beauty designs feature mismatched windows, jagged lines, and clashing colors.
Local Authorities and Private Developers
- 21:02 Local authorities often force their ideas onto private developers, resulting in ridiculous requirements like building additions that obviously look like additions.
- 21:33 People in positions of authority often think they have the right to tell others how to do things, resulting in terrible ideas being forced on everyone else.
22:07 Post-Modernism and Architecture
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses post-modernism and its impact on architecture. He explains how post-modernism is a rejection of the Enlightenment and how it led to the creation of what he calls “sociopathic buildings.”
Post-Modernism’s Rejection of Beauty and Harmony
- 22:49 Post-modernism was an intentional rejection of beauty, harmony, and humanity.
- 23:11 The Enlightenment was all about improving human life, but post-modernism rejects this idea.
- 23:30 This rejection starts with philosophers like Emmanuel Kant and Hegel and gets cashed out by people in music like Schopenhauer, Stockhausen, John Cage, and architects like Obesier.
Impact on Architecture
- 23:50 The rejection of beauty led to the creation of oppressive buildings that are not designed for human comfort or practicality.
- 24:28 There was a period in the 80s and 90s where architecture backed away from post-modernism but has since returned to it.
- 24:51 Good architecture should be designed for its purpose practically and functionally while also looking good for its purpose.
- 25:28 When every building follows the same handbook motivated by rejecting old styles instead of diversity, you get a cookie-cutter situation.
Validity of Post-Modern Look
- 26:05 Modern architecture has validity in designing buildings practically before worrying about whether they are pretty or not.
- 26:47 What’s invalid is the specific philosophy of post-modernism that rejects beauty and humanity as wicked anti-human philosophy.
- 27:07 It’s fine if someone wants to do that with their land, but it should not be imposed on society.
27:21 Oppressive Places and Post-Modernism
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses how oppressive centrally governed places tend to veer towards post-modernism.
Oppressive Places and Post-Modernism
- 27:21 The speaker describes post-modern music as sounding oppressive.
- 27:40 It’s no coincidence that oppressive centrally governed places tend to veer towards post-modernism.
27:59 The Distortion Effect of Government Funding
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses how government funding can lead to a distortion effect where money flows in directions where it wouldn’t naturally flow.
The Problem with Government Funding
- 27:59 Arts councils funding often leads to wacky avant-garde films that few people want to watch.
- 28:15 Government takes wealth by force from people and decides what to do with it, leading to a distortion effect.
- 28:46 Forcing things to go in a certain direction goes against natural human behavior and doesn’t produce the best outcomes.
29:25 Designing a Private City
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about designing a private city and the importance of not imposing one’s own ideas on others.
Avoid Imposing Personal Ideas
- 29:25 It’s easy for planning enthusiasts to design something they think looks cool but may not work for those who live there.
- 29:57 A misguided idea is trying to plan everything from a top-down view as if looking down from space.
- 30:14 Building basic infrastructure and letting people develop around it is better than imposing personal ideas.
Let Experts Handle Specific Areas
- 32:08 As an infrastructure operator, put in some initial infrastructure but let experts handle housing and business development.
- 32:26 Planners know how to build transportation systems but need retail or housing experts for specific areas.
32:58 Infrastructure First
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the benefits of building infrastructure first and letting housing grow around it. He cites examples from London and talks about how this approach can lead to more sustainable cities.
Benefits of Infrastructure-First Approach
- 33:15 The Metropolitan Railway built its line out into the middle of nowhere and then started building housing or invited people to build housing around their new railway stations to generate revenue for the railway.
- 33:28 This approach is called Metro land, which leads to very nice housing in that area.
- 33:50 The best way to design cities is by providing infrastructure first and then letting the housing grow around it.
- 35:14 Retail, office transportation, and housing will all naturally congregate towards each other for economic reasons.
American Model of Shopping Centers
- 34:21 The American model of shopping centers is not a natural product of the free market but a natural product of American zoning laws.
- 34:55 Zoning laws force developers to not monetize their land besides just sticking housing all over it.
- 35:32 A retail operator is going to want to be near the people who are going to use their service.
35:51 Centrally Planned Cities
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about centrally planned cities throughout history. He discusses whether they have been successful or not and gives examples from Roman times up until today.
History of Centrally Planned Cities
- 36:05 Winchelsea on the south coast was built in the 12th century on a grid pattern which is a little plant town Edinburgh as I mentioned earlier has a large plan section.
- 36:25 It’s difficult to look at a Roman city and say did this work or not because the Roman society and economy was utterly different from ours.
- 37:01 American cities were largely planned, but they were much more successful up until the interwar period when zoning laws start to come into effect than they have been since.
Success of Centrally Planned Cities
- 37:19 American cities in the 1890s 1910s are beautiful, busy, functioning with great transit systems, really active centers with lots of retail and interesting activity going on.
- 37:37 Today, many American cities’ centers are bleak environments with large amounts of surface parking because that’s the only thing that landowners can do with their land.
38:12 Robert Moses and the Impact of Central Planning on Transportation
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the impact of central planning on transportation, using Robert Moses as an example. He also explores whether this kind of centrally planned problem is a novel thing or a result of new technologies.
The Impact of Robert Moses’ Urban Planning in New York
- 38:12Robert Moses was an urban planner in New York in the 1950s who believed that everyone should use cars and saw his position as a means to implement his vision of a New York full of highways.
- 38:30Moses bulldozed large chunks of Brooklyn and Queens to build highways and pushed streetcars and trains out of business.
- This kind of mentality existed in Britain as well but was more prevalent in the United States, leading to decimation in city areas.
The Role of Technology in Transportation Innovation
- 39:14The speaker believes that technology does not destroy things; people with power tend to destroy things.
- 39:51Roads froze innovation in transportation because there has been no significant innovation since freeways were invented by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.
- There has been no successor to the big freeway as a way of traveling, which disincentivizes innovating other new solutions such as maglev or hyperloop.
The Distorted Market for Transportation
- 40:44Government road building created an unnatural road network that completely disincentivizes innovating other new solutions for transportation.
- There is no incentive to innovate local air travel like vertical takeoff and landing because there are giant roads everywhere, creating a distorted market.
- In a free market, your car would only be freedom to go where there happens to be a road available for you to go.
The Frozen Innovation in Transportation
- 41:50Regulation and the restrictions on the economy that the government causes have frozen innovation in place, leaving us with a 1950s solution to transportation.
- There has been no significant improvement in aircraft design since the 1960s, and we still fly around in basically the same jets we were flying around in during that time.
- Road design has done the same thing, completely grinding to a halt.
Future of Transportation
- 42:50The speaker questions whether flying cars will happen and believes they would have happened a long time ago if we had a freer society.
- Flying cars existed as a viable technology since the 1960s but did not happen because of government-run air traffic control.
43:43 Environmentalism and Innovation
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses how environmental restrictions limit innovation in flying and how there is resistance to any solution that increases the amount of flying people do due to the environmentalist attitude of protecting unspoiled nature.
Environmental Restrictions on Flying
- 43:43 The moment is limited by environmental restrictions.
- 44:01 There is enormous resistance to innovating new forms of flying or any solution that increases the amount of flying people do because of the environmentalist attitude.
- 44:18 The idea that we should restrict our lives to protect a world that nobody would be there to see if we weren’t here is upside down.
Personal Views on Wilderness Preservation
- 44:41 The speaker has sympathy with the argument for protecting wilderness but recognizes that it’s a personal thing.
- 45:00 Untouched places are being developed for wind farms and solar farms, which can be annoying for those who live in these areas.
- 45:19 The speaker values wilderness because it gives them an intense feeling of wellness, but recognizes they are in a minority.
46:03 Moral Value and Rational Beings
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses their views on moral value coming from rational beings like humans. They also talk about how recognizing this doesn’t mean humans are at the center of the universe.
Moral Value and Rational Beings
- 46:03 Moral value comes from rational beings like humans because they are conscious and aware.
- 46:19 Recognizing moral value coming from rational beings doesn’t mean humans are at the center of the universe.
- 46:36 If there are other rational beings out there in the universe, moral value will be true for them as well.
46:55 Preserving Public Spaces
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the importance of public spaces and how they can be preserved. They also talk about how wind farms would not exist in a privatized economy.
Preserving Public Spaces
- 46:55 There is enough motivation to preserve beautiful landscapes because many people want them.
- 47:14 The National Park Service has made it harder to protect and preserve public spaces than if they were looked after by charities or companies that maintained them as beauty spots.
- 47:32 Wind farms would not exist in a privatized economy because there is no economic case for building them. Nuclear power would be by far the leading form of power generation in a fully privatized system.
49:09 Property Rights and Planning
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss property rights and planning. They talk about how people don’t have a right to the entire environment around their home, but they can value their view and buy the 3D space in front of their house. They also discuss Dubai’s top-down approach to city planning.
- 49:09 People don’t have a right to the entire environment around their home.
- 49:25 The idea that people have a right to a view is causing NIMBYism.
- 50:16 Honduras’ Free Cities project is trying out giving people the option to buy the 3D space in front of their house.
Dubai City Planning
- 51:49 Dubai has a very top-down approach to city planning.
- 52:09 The main road down the middle of Dubai is a 15-lane monster called Sheikh Zayed Road.
- 52:47 Dubai has a law where you get arrested if you get into a car accident regardless of whether or not it’s your fault.
- 53:04 The bulk of Dubai’s transportation system is just giant government roads that are put in place before anything else.
- 53:22 Private architects in Dubai have freedom to do awesome stuff that they don’t have in London or in the US anymore.
53:38 Vanity Projects and Architecture
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers talk about vanity projects and architecture. They discuss some of the buildings in Dubai, including Burj Khalifa, Palm Junior hotel, Jumeirah Hotel, Atlantis hotel, and fake islands.
Buildings in Dubai
- 53:38 The Palm Islands and the World were vanity projects for the government.
- 53:55 Burj Khalifa is an absolutely stunning building that is interesting and beautiful.
- 54:13 The Jumeirah Hotel is a gorgeous building with a curved side that looks like a sail.
- 54:30 Atlantis hotel looks like something that belongs in Disneyland, but it’s interesting.
- 54:46 Some of the buildings in Dubai are designed by private architects who have freedom to do awesome stuff.
54:13 Useless Government Projects
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how governments often waste money on useless projects such as the Dublin Spire and lumps of sand in the sea.
Examples of Useless Government Projects
- 54:13 The Dublin Spire is a giant metal pole that does nothing but show off.
- 54:29 Governments thought they had endless money during the Celtic tiger period and started building pointless projects.
- 54:46 Governments are not the only ones who create these things. Private companies also build projects that people don’t go to.
55:01 Building Projects in Qatar
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about his experience working in Qatar and staying at an Italian Canal Place that was designed with canals and period buildings. However, he found it to be empty and devoid of people.
Experience in Qatar
- 55:01 Worked in Qatar for a couple of months once.
- 55:27 Stayed at an Italian Canal Place designed with canals and period buildings.
- 55:27 Found it to be empty with no one around.
55:46 China’s Artificially Incentivized Growth
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about China’s government trying to maintain a false bubble in its retail market by encouraging all kinds of building on the edges of cities. This has resulted in entire planned cities being built that nobody lives in, creating a debt trap for other countries.
China’s Artificially Incentivized Growth
- 55:46 Chinese government is trying to maintain a false bubble in its retail market.
- 56:03 Encourages all kinds of building on the edges of cities.
- 56:20 Entire planned cities are built that nobody lives in, creating a debt trap for other countries.
56:53 China’s Deals with Other Countries
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how China is making deals with other countries to extend its growth economy overseas. However, these countries can never repay the loans given by the Chinese government, resulting in them defaulting on those loans and creating a debt trap.
China’s Deals with Other Countries
- 56:53 China is making deals with other countries to extend its growth economy overseas.
- 57:12 These countries can never repay the loans given by the Chinese government.
- 57:27 Resulting in them defaulting on those loans and creating a debt trap.
57:12 China’s Runaway Growth
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how China is trying to artificially incentivize runaway growth that is completely unsustainable in its cities and construction industry.
Unsustainable Growth in China
- 57:12 China is trying to artificially incentivize runaway growth that is completely unsustainable.
- 57:48 Trying to extend it overseas as well.
- 57:48 This will eventually blow up badly.
57:48 Planning Outer Space Colonization
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how there is already legislation happening at United Nations regarding colonizing outer space. Elon Musk also has plans for governing or managing life on Mars.
Planning Outer Space Colonization
- 57:48 There is already legislation happening at United Nations regarding colonizing outer space.
- 58:10 Elon Musk has plans for governing or managing life on Mars.
01:00:01 Understanding the Space Treaty
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the space treaty that has been in place since the 1960s and its implications for space exploration and colonization.
Implications of the Space Treaty
- 01:00:01 The space treaty states that space needs to be used for the benefit of everyone and no nation can claim sovereignty in outer space.
- 01:00:18 It is not clear whether private companies can profit from space or if a new nation can claim sovereignty in outer space.
- 01:00:32 The treaty was modeled on the Antarctic treaty to prevent one nation from exerting complete control during the Cold War.
- 01:00:49 However, it was written vaguely and imprecisely with government hubris, not appreciating how big space is.
Applying Property Rights to Mars
- 01:01:05 John Locke’s principles of property suggest that if you mix your labor with a natural resource, you own the result.
- 01:01:46 If someone goes to Mars and makes a bit of Martian land valuable by turning it into something productive like a city or mining operation, they should own that part of it.
- 01:02:21 However, there is still a need for government to protect property rights as people cannot use force against each other if they want to take over someone else’s property.
Challenges of Colonizing Mars
- 01:02:38 There is a Communications delay between Earth and Mars which creates separation from Earth.
- 01:02:56 If Earth-based governments try to run colonies remotely, there will likely be conflicts leading to Martian Wars of Independence.
- 01:04:04 Private colonies are more likely than government efforts at colonizing Mars.
01:05:14 The Flaws of NASA’s Space Programs
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the flaws in NASA’s space programs and how they have failed to create sustainable and economically valuable products.
Lack of Economic Motivation
- 01:05:14 NASA’s space programs lack economic motivation, resulting in billions being spent on projects that are not sustainable or commercially optimized.
- 01:05:31 The program ran for six missions, with no optimization for commercial use.
- 01:05:46 The Artemis program is designed to go back to the Moon as a stepping stone for going to Mars, which makes no sense physically.
- 01:06:07 It is more efficient to launch directly to Mars than staying within Earth’s gravitational environment.
Cost-Effective System vs Job-Creating System
- 01:06:25 Robert Zubring came up with a system called Mars Direct, which is designed to be the most efficient cost-effective way of getting to Mars.
- 01:06:38 Government organizations don’t want the most cost-effective system; they want the most job creating system.
- 01:07:02 NASA’s multi-billion dollar project reuses space shuttle hardware that doesn’t work.
SpaceX vs NASA
- 01:07:37 SpaceX uses methane-fueled liquid rockets, which are cheaper and more efficient than Antares for the NASA Moon program that reuses space shuttle solid rocket boosters.
- 01:07:54 SpaceX has designed rockets that can land themselves remotely after separating from the first stage during flight on Falcon rocket.
- 01:08:26 SpaceX has divided the cost of launching into space by a factor of five compared to what NASA failed to do in 50 years before that.
Private Companies vs Government Organizations
- 01:08:44 The first moon mission is all about getting the first woman and the first person of color to the moon, rather than creating a sustainable colony or an economically valuable product.
- 01:09:18 Private companies like SpaceX will get to the moon and Mars first, assuming government lets them.
- 01:09:35 There’s going to be a space race of private companies, and then there’s going to be American Chinese maybe European space agencies kind of stumbling along at the back of the race.
01:10:29 The Development of SpaceX and the Future of Space Colonization
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses how NASA retired its space shuttle program and began using the Russian system for transportation to and from space. Private companies were then invited to apply for funding to speed up their development, resulting in SpaceX developing the Dragon system. The speaker also talks about how space colonization could lead to a diversity of new governments and social systems.
The Development of SpaceX
- 01:10:47 NASA invited private companies to apply for funding to speed up their development.
- 01:11:07 SpaceX received a lot of funding and developed the Dragon system years earlier than NASA’s Orion system.
- 01:11:24 NASA contracted SpaceX to provide a product and service, which they successfully delivered.
The Future of Space Colonization
- 01:11:49 Space colonization is similar to the colonization of America in that it will unfold in exactly the same way due to its distance from Earth.
- 01:12:06 Governments won’t be able to extend their influence into space due to its vastness, leading to a diversity of new governments and social systems.
- 01:12:44 Mars is by far the most reasonable place for civilization due to its resources, tentative atmosphere, and manageable temperatures.
- 01:13:02 A civilization on Mars could become an exemplar of liberty like America was in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Governance Models in Space
- 01:14:16 A governance model in space would have certain rules that cannot be broken without compromising everyone’s safety.
- 01:14:35 Governments’ proper function is preventing people from using force against each other, making it not authoritarianism but freedom.
- 01:14:52 All governments on Earth today are a degree of authoritarian, but there is a sliding scale of degrees of rights violation.
01:16:04 The Role of Government and Anarcho-Capitalism on Mars
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss the role of government in protecting rights and whether anarcho-capitalism could exist on Mars.
The Role of Government
- 01:16:23 The speaker believes that a government is necessary to protect individual rights.
- 01:17:00 However, the speaker criticizes the idea of social contract theory, arguing that individuals cannot collectively consent to being governed.
- 01:17:35 A free private city on Mars with voluntary membership and contractual agreements could be a better system than traditional government.
Anarcho-Capitalism on Mars
- 01:16:04 The speakers discuss whether anarcho-capitalism could exist on Mars.
- 01:16:43 They agree that a free private city with voluntary membership and contractual agreements would work as long as there are legal restrictions against using force against others.
- 01:18:32 However, they note that extreme environments like Mars require engagement with reality and facts about human behavior and physics.
01:18:32 Colonization of America vs Colonization of Space
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers compare the colonization of America to the colonization of space.
Differences in Environment
- 01:18:32 The severe differences in environment between Earth and space will manifest in decisions made regarding governance models.
- 01:18:56 Authoritarian governments do not work because they ignore reality about human behavior, physics, economics, etc.
- 01:19:13 Extreme environments like space require throwing out silly traditions and engaging with reality to make things work.
Free Culture on Mars
- 01:19:45 The extreme environment of Mars will breed a freer, more rational, and scientific culture.
- 01:20:04 Education will need to be better on Mars because people will need to understand the world they live in to survive and be safe.
- 01:21:01 A grassroots movement for colonization may not exist, but it could be done through trade if the cost of space launch is low enough.
01:21:37 Trading and the Importance of Creatives
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss the importance of trade in building a society on Mars. They also talk about the role of private companies in transportation and colonization efforts. The conversation then shifts to Elon Musk and his personality as a creative individual.
Trade is Essential for Building Society on Mars
- 01:21:54 Raw materials are present on Mars, but certain necessities like foodstuffs, technologies, and expertise will still need to be traded with Earth.
- 01:22:09 More trade leads to more prosperity, even for things that can be produced locally.
- 01:22:44 A transportation system set up by a company like SpaceX would allow people to pay for transportation to Mars without having to build rockets themselves.
Elon Musk as a Creative Individual
- 01:23:18 Elon Musk’s personality as a complicated creative makes him well-suited for endeavors like colonizing Mars.
- 01:24:04 He sets clear goals for achieving the kind of world he wants to live in and goes about doing it.
- 01:24:21 While he may have misjudged opinions or publicity stunts, he is constantly learning and evolving his views on government and society.
- 01:24:56 Complicated individuals like Elon tend to be better at making integrations between different things or having unique visions.
The Importance of Government in an Ideal Society
- 01:25:14 Elon has gone through an epiphany regarding government in recent years due to his experiences with SpaceX, Twitter, and lockdowns.
- 01:25:32 He fires out misjudged opinions occasionally but is still coming to grips with his new view of the world.
- 01:26:13 There are ways that governments can be better in an ideal society, and authoritarianism in America does not mean that other governments like Russia and China are not orders of magnitude worse.
01:27:05 Elon Musk and the Future of Humanity
Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss Elon Musk’s vision for the future of humanity and his efforts to achieve it. They also talk about the challenges he faces and the potential obstacles that could prevent him from realizing his goals.
The Challenges of Building a Better Future
- 01:27:05 Elon Musk is trying to build a better future for humanity, but he is facing constant obstruction and resistance.
- 01:27:22 When faced with such challenges, people either rebel or allow themselves to be co-opted.
- 01:27:46 Going to Mars may be one way for Musk to overcome these obstacles, as there is nothing anyone can do about it once he gets there.
- 01:28:05 However, there is a risk that those who oppose his vision will try to stop him before he can achieve his goals.
The Race Between Optimism and Environmentalism
- 01:28:23 There is currently a race between those who have an optimistic vision for the future of humanity and those who believe in restricting growth and progress in order to save the planet.
- 01:28:45 Musk needs to get his colony ship into space before those who oppose him take over.
- 01:29:05 The speakers express concern about the increasing trend towards restrictive governance and collectivism in Western societies.
- 01:29:25 They mention a book called “The Ominous Parallels” which draws parallels between 1930s Germany and 1980s America in terms of their philosophical underpinnings.
The Problem with Collectivism
- 01:29:49 Collectivism is the idea that the group (nation, race, etc.) is more important than the individual.
- 01:30:09 This idea underlies every evil system throughout history.
- 01:30:30 Putin’s philosophy and Russia’s behavior are based on this idea, as is the Nazi ideology.
- 01:30:49 Environmentalism is also a form of collectivism that places the planet above human well-being.
- 01:31:24 While some environmentalists may be motivated by concern for humanity, many others explicitly reject human flourishing and freedom.
01:32:57 The Role of Government and Business in Society
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the proper function of government to stop people from harming others. He also talks about his concern that dangerous individuals are in government and how businesses can use government coercion to restrict competition.
The Proper Function of Government
- 01:32:57The proper function of government is to stop people from destroying and harming others.
- 01:33:16The speaker believes that the really dangerous individuals are in government.
- 01:33:35Elon Musk is not a really dangerous individual; he wants to save us from a destructive future.
- 01:33:48Musk’s motivation for wanting to go into Mars is to escape a dark fate.
Businesses and Government Coercion
- 01:34:09Most businessmen are positive influences if they’re not cronies.
- 01:34:29Businesses can use government coercion to try and restrict competition and secure their position.
- 01:34:45This interplay between business and government allows businesses to use force, which should not be the case in a free society.
- 01:35:01Businesses should provide good products instead of using power or force.
01:35:18 Dystopian Existence on Mars
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses his concerns about dwelling on Mars. He talks about how it could be a relatively dystopian existence because everything would need monitoring, which could lead to privacy concerns.
Monitoring on Mars
- 01:35:18Dwelling on Mars could be a relatively dystopian existence because everything would need monitoring.
- 01:35:42It would be built into the hardware of life on Mars, making it difficult to avoid.
- 01:36:05People conflate technology with things it can sometimes represent, such as surveillance.
- 01:36:25The speaker is concerned about what the monitoring serves and whether it’s for legitimate reasons.
Concerns About Contactless Payments
- 01:37:14The concern about contactless payments and moving away from cash is only legitimate because of government involvement in finance.
- 01:37:50If we had free money and banks were encouraging us in that direction without government intervention, the speaker would be completely fine with it.
01:38:26 Centralization vs Decentralization
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses whether centralization or decentralization is better for a global business. He argues that it depends on the type of business and its purposes. The speaker believes that decentralization is generally better than centralization because it overlaps with liberty, which should be supported.
Centralization vs Decentralization
- 01:38:41 The fundamental choice between centralization and decentralization can be misidentified because it often overlaps with another choice.
- 01:38:59 Decentralized governance models are generally better than centralized ones because they promote liberty.
- 01:39:18 Localizing government is better at keeping government accountable to the people it affects and specialized to the needs of different areas.
- 01:39:50 The proper size of government in terms of land or population representation is not as important as having diversity of choice and the ability to go somewhere else if one government fails.
- 01:41:18 Smaller states may encourage more exchange and promote freer societies.
01:40:09 Proper Function of Government
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses what he believes to be the proper function of government. He argues that certain things like banning murder should be nationwide, while other things like urban planning are better done locally.
Proper Function of Government
- 01:40:09 Banning murder should be nationwide, but urban planning is better done locally.
- 01:40:26 There should be a national structure above local courts to keep them accountable.
01:40:44 Hard Borders Between Countries
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about hard borders between countries. He argues that while borders are necessary for preventing harm from entering a country, the idea that you need a passport to go everywhere and should only be able to stay for 90 days is a complete fiction of the last 150 years.
Hard Borders Between Countries
- 01:41:39 Borders are necessary for preventing harm from entering a country.
- 01:41:53 The idea that you need a passport to go everywhere and should only be able to stay for 90 days is a complete fiction of the last 150 years.
- 01:42:27 Only necessary part of going through customs when entering a country is checking if you’re not on a criminal register or intending to commit harm.
- 01:42:44 People should be free to come in, trade, set up businesses, but they shouldn’t be entitled to benefits.
01:43:34 Preferred Choice of Governance for Mars and Earth
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses his preferred choice of governance for both Earth and Mars. He advocates for a large number of rights-respecting republics with limited government and protection of individual liberties governed by a well-written constitution.
Governance Models for Earth and Mars
- 01:43:59 The speaker envisions a large number of rights-respecting republics with limited government and protection of individual liberties governed by a well-written constitution.
- 01:44:55 A well-written constitution would be strong enough to act as governing documentation even in bad times.
- 01:45:34 The United States was a fusion of Roman republicanism with Lockian attitudes to freedom, which got most of the way to what the speaker thinks is the proper system of government to protect liberty.
- 01:45:49 The speaker believes that more smaller countries would be better than fewer larger ones for flexibility, choice, encouraging trade, and avoiding nationalism.
- 01:46:50 The speaker proposes turning Britain into a more American-style federal system where Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Devon together, most of England probably, maybe London separate; Channel Islands; Isle of Man; Northern Ireland as states within a federation that all have balance power between them all have law set their own laws that aren’t governed from Westminster centrally.
- 01:47:09 This would make a much better balanced Britain and less nationalistic Britain where Scottish people are not having arguments with English people about whose laws are being blocked.
Elon Musk’s Vision for Mars
- 01:47:57 Elon Musk has not talked in detail about governments on Mars. He wants to create free and open opportunities for people to colonize and trade on Mars. However, there is a need for some kind of legal structure to protect rights and prevent armed conflict situations erupting between private businesses.
Eternal Battle Between State and Liberty
- 01:47:34 The speaker thinks that the battle between state and liberty is an eternal one. America began well but ended in a situation where the same thing is going to happen on Mars.
01:49:10 Fundamental Principles
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses his views on creating a flourishing civilization on Mars and the importance of freedom. He also talks about American culture and its spirit of liberty.
- 01:49:28 The American project hasn’t ended yet, and it is still one of the greatest countries on Earth.
- 01:49:49 The people in America have a spirit of liberty that is exceptional and unlike anything seen in Europe.
- 01:50:47 American patriotism based on America’s fundamental principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is legitimate.
- 01:50:08 There are some people in America who are viciously and consistently defenders of liberty.
- 01:50:26 There is a purportedly pro-liberty social conservative movement that is actually against religious freedom, abortions, education, etc.
- 01:51:21 Cultures are not equal; the best cultures are the ones that allow people to live freest and be the most productive they can.
- 01:52:03 There are many countries that compete with the US for being the best country on Earth at the moment or freest.
- 01:52:21 Sweden is a genuinely free culture despite having high taxes in certain respects. It has Scandinavian rationality and positivity that makes it very pleasant.
01:53:33 Will We See Those Kind Of Societies On Earth Again?
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses whether we will ever see societies like those in America again or if they will only appear after colonizing space.
- 01:53:33 Currently unlikely to see societies like those in America again unless it’s after a long period of suffering.
- 01:53:53 After the original Golden Era of humanity, limited experiments with freedom fell apart and fell into dictatorship and Dark Ages before a new culture arose.
01:54:33 The Hope for a Positive Future
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the possibility of a positive future where a new civilization acts as an example to help progress the old world. He talks about how America made Europe freer and acted as a bastion of freedom.
A New Civilization as an Example
- 01:54:56 The speaker believes that it is more likely for a positive future to happen if a new civilization comes along and acts as an example that helps the old world progress.
- 01:55:12 He gives the example of America making Europe freer and acting as a bastion of freedom.
- 01:55:30 The speaker would like to see another culture do that, where thinking spills back down, turning a country on Earth into a new home of liberalism.
Setting Up A New State
- 01:56:09 The speaker thinks that without some kind of dramatic event happening or violent revolution somewhere, setting up a new state somewhere else is much more likely to bring about a new age of freedom.
01:56:09 Creating Big Government vs Destroying It
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how creating big government is easier than destroying it. He also discusses his personal strategy for living in light of these ideas.
Creating Big Government vs Destroying It
- 01:56:09 The speaker says that creating big government is much easier than destroying it and removing laws.
- 01:56:29 Without some kind of violent revolution or dramatic event happening, setting up a new state somewhere else is much more likely to bring about a new age of freedom.
Personal Strategy for Living
- 01:56:49 The speaker’s personal strategy for living is to advocate these ideas and try to bring about the kind of world where he and others can live freely.
- 01:57:08 He enjoys academic and intellectual freedom, reading, writing, traveling as much as he can, and fighting for values that encourage better human life in the future.
- 01:57:25 The speaker is concerned about the tendency at the moment because of this kind of woke cultural narrative that’s being encouraged by government but is coming out of universities mostly.
- 01:57:45 He believes it’s important to maintain curiosity, be open-minded, rational, critical thinking, and fight for the values that encourage better human life in the future.
01:58:02 Rewriting Old Books
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about how digitization of media is making it easier to manipulate media but also easier to preserve media. He also discusses his concerns about rewriting old books.
Digitization of Media
- 01:58:02 The speaker says that digitization of media is making it easier to manipulate media but also easier to preserve media.
- 01:58:19 It’s easier to get old books but it’s also easier to screw around with them.
Concerns About Rewriting Old Books
- 01:58:02 The speaker enjoys getting old books and trying to find stuff from before the current discussion started happening.
- 01:58:19 He’s concerned about the tendency at the moment because of this kind of woke cultural narrative that’s being encouraged by government but is coming out of universities mostly. There’s a lot of rewriting of old books going on.
02:00:09 Sabbatical Plans
Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about what he would do if he had a one-year sabbatical.
- 02:00:28 The speaker would take a writing retreat or creative retreat.
- 02:00:49 He would prefer to go somewhere beautiful and warm like a Caribbean island environment.
- 02:01:06 Being in environments that challenge and inspire him motivates him to be creative.
- 02:01:24 He wants to use his time to write books, articles, and develop business ideas.
- 02:01:44 The interviewer thanks the speaker for the conversation and expresses interest in having him on their podcast.