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Superscripts refer to bibliography in source text.
a) Advancing to Astronautics
After having considered some of the essential attributes of man Ė his mind, his morality, his machine Ė it is now more justifiable to draw the conclusions that are the basic, philosophical principles of the industry of astronautics creating the starship of man. Knowing the nature and purpose of manís life will show the reasons why man is an astronaut and why men are striving to create a life and home in space, among the stars.
The fact that man survives by using reason, the fact that reasoning is conceptual and volitional, the fact that reasoning is a moral, egoistic activity, and the fact that rational morality creates the machine to support manís life--these are the basic reasons why astronautics is necessary for manís continuing existence. That man should choose to think in order to produce the goods for his life is the fundamental argument for starship.
It is for the benefit of manís life, for the happiness of his rational self, that man continues to improve himself by seeking new values, new ones to add to those found on Earth. The engaging in new ventures for new resources is part of the constant, open-ended, conceptual, volitional activity that enlivens man. New worlds and new environments bring new knowledge and materials with which to grow intellectually and technologically. The innovative industries of astronautics offer new opportunities for expanding oneís achievements and renewing oneís enjoyment of life. As the expression of the ongoing search for new ideas and fresh goods, starship, the ultimate project of astronautics, is created.
Astronautics, ("astro" - "star", "naus" - "ship"), is devoted to the creation of the mobile home that can protect and provide for manís life in his quest for new values out in space, among the stars. Since the home is mobile, to suit manís mobile, exploratory needs, then manís home is a ship, a self-contained, self-propelled house-vehicle. And since the home requires energy for it to work, and the primary source of energy is the sun, a star, then manís home, his ship, is a starship. Man lives in a starship, and he is an astronaut.
In the fundamental sense, man has always needed and has always made a starship to support his life. To the extent that man created the home that moves with him, harnessing the direct and derived forms of solar energy, to that extent he was building a starship. Thus, starship is not only a futuristic proposition, a project to sail among the stars, but it is also a historic existence, although mainly in an implicit, unnamed, un-integrated form.
Now, as a consequence of manís increasing awareness of the nature and extent of the resources of the universe, and as a consequence of his improved capabilities in transforming the given environment to suit his needs, man is beginning to conceive explicitly of creating an integrated starship that would enable him to leave Earth, live in space, and travel to the stars.
Built in stages, the technology involves the construction in space of observatories, laboratories, studios, farms, factories, habitats, etc. Ė all the basic components required in an ecosystem proper to manís survival. The aim is to build a self-contained, self-propelled, man-supporting, integrated craft that can employ solar energy and planetary material to grow the seeds of life from Earth. It is an immensely complex task to create a starship, requiring a heroic effort of genius, but by the nature of reality and of manís faculty of reason, starship is an attainable goal.
As indicated in Chapter 2, the possibilities and benefits of working and living in space to construct the starship are rapidly being discovered. In space, where Earthís gravity, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere have significantly less influence, the selective control of various technological processes is increased markedly, resulting in higher efficiency and productivity. The high vacuum of space permits greater extraction of solar energy, and, along with the lack of gravity, aids in many beneficial manufacturing processes. As well, new sources of materials are available on the moon, from asteroids and the planets. All this plus the immensity of space permits the construction of gigantic, elaborate structures housing millions of people who would work, play, and live in them. These are some of the opportunities for growth in the new frontier of space, a frontier of wilderness unlike any past frontiers on Earth.
The space frontier, as an extreme kind of wilderness, poses a dangerous threat to manís nakedness, and the ultimate challenge to his power of reason. The naked man in empty space would die instantly, explosively. On Earth, protected by an atmosphere, the naked man could survive long enough at least to try to find food. In space, every environmental condition required for manís growth needs to be met technologically, conditions including the proper atmosphere and sufficient shielding against harmful solar and cosmic radiation. To thrive in space, man needs the most sophisticated, highly conceptual skills in designing, building, and maintaining the home that supports his life. The structure of that home would at first be an extension of the earthly, terrestrial home, and later, be modified following new discoveries of the optimal environmental conditions for manís health.
In any case, to live in
space, man needs to use his reason to the utmost to create the home, the
starship, which is an integrated structure of life-sustaining processes.
The pro-man craft of starship is designed by manís conceptual understanding
and controlled by his volitional choice. What is created is a complex artifact
in which virtually every component and system fulfills a human need, unlike
less artificial constructions which contain unchosen, unneeded, and perhaps
harmful elements. To determine precisely the proper components and their
correct integrative relationships demands the combined powers of all the
b) Objectivist Astronautics
The principles of action for living in space in a starship are essentially the same principles for living on Earth, or anywhere. The fundamental objectivism of existence and the rational nature of man are both as real in space as it is on Earth. Just as prayers and incantations could not change a grain of sand on Earth, so they could not produce one molecule of oxygen in space. To survive and prosper, to create the starship home in space, manís simple alternatives are to be efficacious in using his reason to support his life, or to fail and die. There is no evidence for any special favor granted by reality to guarantee manís successful life, neither on Earth nor in space.
To live in space, aboard a starship, man the astronaut should practice the principal virtues of rationality, productiveness, and pride. A commitment to reason, a dedication to earning oneís living, and a respect for the heroic dignity of man are the cardinal values that bring manís happy life. In continuing the advancement of the self to achieve the astronautical life, man is fulfilling his rational, egoistic purpose.
The astronautical life is a life of continuous adventure to break the present limitations by reaching for new answers to new questions beyond the traditional boundaries. Manís conceptual consciousness, for proper functioning, requires repeated inputs of new information for identification and integration. Without constant activity in forming new concepts, the mind stagnates, becomes dull and lethargic. In the extreme, consciousness without active integration and excitement is comatose. To maintain its keenness, its cognitive efficacy and emotional exuberance, the conceptual consciousness seeks new worlds to explore, to understand, to live in.
Thus, the very same conceptual, integrative ability that enables man to become an astronaut is also the reason why man needs the new scientific and technological opportunities for cognitive, productive, and emotive growth offered by astronautics. That is, man goes to the stars because he can think, and because he should continue to think, actively, dynamically, progressively. To be limited in vision, to be bound to the concretes and urges of the immediate moment, and without the projection of a purpose into the future, this is to be a-conceptual in thought, which is not to be human.
To be human is to be conceptual, to be engaged in a constant, integrative process of thought identifying the facts of reality. Manís life is an ongoing, open-ended, conceptual process of gaining new knowledge, new values, and new means to achieve those values. To be progressive, intellectually and technologically, to be the astronaut, is in the interest of manís conceptual well-being.
The conceptual faculty does not operate automatically or infallibly, however, and manís advancement to the stars is not inevitable. There is no innate instinct to explore, no mystical duty to improve life, no guarantee that manís conceptual ability will support his life in space. Just as long ago man did not have to think of the agricultural revolution, or later to think of the industrial revolution, so now he does not have to think about or participate in the astronautical revolution. At any stage of his conceptual, cultural development, man could have stopped. He had the choice to think or not to think. Manís conceptual ability is volitional.
To identify new concepts and integrate new relationships, to seek out new life in new worlds, to create the starship for exploring the universe Ė these goals are pursued by manís volitional choice to initiate, sustain, and direct his mindís functioning according to logic. All the promises of rewards or threats of dangers from living in space could not move the mind to act unless man first chooses to. That is why some men may act in spite of the dangers, and why other men may not act in spite of the rewards. Whether there are reasons for or against the astronautical enterprise, a man can choose according to or contrary to those reasons. By merely choosing not to think about it, by closing the eyes to the evidence, a man can ignore reason, and the stars that reason discloses. There are reasons for promoting the astronautical revolution, there is a basis in reality for manís creation of starship, but, because reasoning is a matter of choice, the starship astronaut is a matter of choice.
Men may not be forced, compelled against their choice, to support the industry of astronautics, but neither may they be forced to abandon it. The moral-political principle that recognizes manís volitional choice is the principle of manís right to his own life, his right to pursue the goals that achieve the values for his life. So long as a man refrains from initiating physical force in his treatment of other men, his choice of action as well as the consequences are his to take. If he chooses to live in space, to work on the starship project, it is his right to choose so, as part of his general right to his own life. But he cannot force other men to choose the same. He can argue, persuade, and encourage others to co-operate with him, but the others have the inalienable right to disagree. They can choose to live at their own pace and level of development, they can remain on Earth, live in the jungles as primitive hunters, they can spend all their energy on saving the poor of Earth Ė but they, too, have not the right to prevent another man from becoming an astronaut.
Astronautics, properly, is a private affair of private choices and actions for private gains at private capital and risks. Any public involvement is only a sum of individual, private involvements, and does not have any special rights superseding individual rights. Men may co-operate and organize their individual efforts to more efficiently and productively accomplish their astronautical goals, but they may not use governmental power to gain their own advantage at the expense of others. Likewise, those who do not favor astronautics do not have the right to pass legislation against free astronautics.
Those who choose not to progress, who choose a static, pastoral level of existence, technologically or intellectually, are free to do so. But they have no moral right to forcefully restrain innovation in astronautics. The "steady-staters", the "limiters-to-growth" Ė the altruists preaching self-sacrifice of the greater to the lesser Ė no-one has the right to violate rights. If a manís life and property is earned by his own honest effort, then it is his by right to enjoy, use, and invest as he chooses. If he and his free associates spend their deserved money on rockets, on mining the asteroids, or on designing starships, then it is their right. Demands for altruistic charity are immoral according to egoism, because any benevolence to others, rich or poor, should be gauged by the standard of justice, i.e., according to what is earned and deserved.
A free astronautics can exist only in a free society where governmental powers are limited to the defense and policing of rights, with no jurisdiction in the scientific, technological, economic, or other activities of astronautics. This free society in which astronautics would flourish is an individualistic, capitalistic society.
A capitalistic, egoistic
astronautics could create a world in which two freedoms are united: the
political freedom of men to earn their own living, and the technological
freedom to earn it in the limitless frontier of space. Living in free space,
making, owning, and trading their capital in order to support their lives,
men would become astronauts. In voluntary co-operation, they would finally
accomplish their project: the creation of the starship with the freedom
and protection to extend manís rational, conceptual, volitional life outwards,
outwards to other stars and other galaxies in the unbounded universe. To
do this requires a free astronautics.
c) Current Intellectual State
There is not one nation yet in which the citizens are politically free to make their own living, for their own benefits, by their own efforts, in their own ways, of their own choices. Among the nations that are engaged in space exploration, none are purely capitalistic.
Soviet astronautics ("cosmonautics") is communistic and totalitarian, forcing people to work collectively for rewards which are distributed according to the principles of altruism and self-sacrifice. Whether or not the people want to spend their energy on space development is irrelevant to the decrees of the government. There is little chance for the private individual to make his own choice about his own life. He has no "own life", being owned by the state. It is an altruistic virtue of self-renunciation to give your life in the service of the state, even if it means that you are to starve and die. With these sacrificial methods, the goal pursued by Russian space activity is definitely not one of free astronautics, not for the rational self-interest of manís life.
American activity in space is also government financed and regulated, although there is a small, growing capitalistic, egoistic influence. Not as institutionalized as it is in Russia and other European countries, the doctrines of altruism in America are nonetheless seldom challenged and usually respected. The United States, the freest of the nations, the nation founded originally on the principle of individual rights, has altruism in its establishments and if not ejected, will become more totalitarian like Russia. The NASA programs are supported by forced taxation and regulated by the government, which adds to the general confusion regarding the nature, goals, and methods of astronautics.
There would be less intellectual confusion, and less political oppression, if the question of whether or not men should be engaged in astronautics is distinguished from the question of whether or not men have the right to decide and act for themselves. If men have the political, legal right to run their own lives, then they may judge freely for themselves the ethics and economics of astronautics Ė and whatever they each choose to do, they do so with their own capital, not with the extorted capital which is tax-money. If astronautics is conducted only by private enterprise and not by government agencies like NASA, then there would be no need for discussions about the worthiness of spending "public" money on space development. The questions remaining would be the ethical, private questions of the worthiness of oneís own investment in astronautics.
But, living in a semi-free, mixed economy, where taxes are forced from oneís income to support government programs which one has not chosen, the astronautical individual has the right of self-defense in voting for the taxes to be spent on the space program. This action would be a partial restitution, a means of retrieving taxed goods, and a moral entitlement Ė but only so long as the abolishment of such unrightful government projects is advocated as well. It would be hypocritical and contradictory to claim retribution for government extortion, and at the same time not call for its removal, implying a sanction for its continuing existence.
These are some of the key points to remember Ė in addition to recalling the essential, egoistic nature of astronautics Ė when examining the contemporary debate on the worthiness of manís project to live in space and to create the starship.
The development of astronautics in the past quarter-century has been challenged and undercut by altruistic appeals, which I will cite, for man to sacrifice his life and happiness to the needs of those that are other and poorer than himself. Man is not to advance to the stars because there are slums on Earth. He has a duty to the poor, the needy, the suffering Ė human, animal, plant, divine, or otherwise. Men should not upset the delicate balance of life, or neglect the needs of the impoverished masses. Menís egoistic interest in astronautics should be surrendered to something, anything, other and "higher" than their own welfare. This is the basic line of attack by the altruists against starship.
There are those who placate the altruists with the apology that the purpose of astronautics is altruistic, that the motivation for exploring outer space is to find the new resources for relieving the poverty on Earth, and that this goal justifies the taxation of income to support it. But nothing rationally justifies forced taxation for any purpose, including any astronautical aims of bringing charity to the needy. And, while advances in astronautics by innovators can and do benefit the less creative or less productive, it is not a justification for restricting the former to the latter. Those who profess approval for astronautics but who compromise with and appease altruists end up with collectivist astronautics.
With or without the appeasers, the anti-astronautical altruists join the chorus of the anti-technological, urging men to give up their progress and prosperity to be found out among the stars, and, instead, remain on Earth to maintain a "steady-state" of harmony with "nature", "God", "society", whatever. Do not deplete the Earthís last resources or ravage the sacred environment just to satisfy delusions of grandeur. It is unnatural and inhuman to live in the highly artificial, technological environment of a starship, assuming you can make it work. There are limits to what man can know and do. He is already fouling and destroying the natural ecology on Earth; now he wants to carry his plans of pollution in space. If he does not kill himself first because of his arrogance and brutality, he will eventually kill all life in the universe. It is best to stay on Earth and be still, stagnant, and to not disturb the status-quo Ė the state which is collectivism, altruism, and irrationalism. Sacrifice your individuality, your self, your reason for living, your desires for improving happiness Ė all that which is your ego. Keep your life in the slums, not in the stars.
But, as Ayn Rand says, "Slums are not a substitute for stars".1 "Poverty is not a mortgage on the labour of others... man is not a sacrificial animal on anyoneís altar nor for anyoneís cause..."2
And yet, sacrifice of the achievement, progress, and prosperity of astronautics is the policy implied in the following statements. These statements express denials of manís rational nature, show desire to rule men by force, and propose goals to destroy astronautics. They deride heroism and attempt to make men feel ashamed of their love for adventure and achievement. They want to suppress manís free spirit. Here is what they say:
Of those who support astronautics, most of them defend it inconsistently and non-essentially, showing little explicit, philosophical comprehension of the nature and purpose of astronautics. Instead, they justify astronautics only on the grounds that it is technically feasible and economically profitable. But, they do not identify the fact that it is manís rational, conceptual, volitional nature that is the basis of his reach for the stars. They do not defend astronautics on objectivist, egoist principles, not consistently or essentially. Usually motivated by a subconscious, unnamed emotion, they do not express consciously the fundamental, philosophical premises of astronautics. They appeal, at best, to an undefined "need" to explore, or to an unexplained "impulse" to expand, to an unknown "longing" for freedom. Or, they use the justification that astronautics is "insurance" against earthly holocaust, or that astronautics brings benefits to Earthís poor. Some even claim that "God" intends it, so that man will know and serve "Him" better. These kinds of defenses are insufficient against the altruists, although the intent is laudable. Compare:
e) Starship Astronaut
It is the thesis of this study that to make room for manís life and morality in the universe of stars, it is the god of altruism and irrationalism that needs to be altered or eradicated Ė and the principle of egoism, of reason and rights, to be affirmed and defended. Similarly, the systems of individualism and capitalism need to be applied purely, rejecting any element of collectivism. If collectivism and altruism are not to be exported into space, aboard starships as hitchhikers or stowaways, then statements like the following ones should be repudiated. These statements are from a symposium of the American Anthropological Association on "Cultures Beyond the Earth", in which objective truth is rejected so that the irrationalism of collectivism can be instituted:
This opportunity for dissent encourages the honest mind to seek the reason and morality for the industry of astronautics. There are reasons to value space travel and starships, even if some people are too impatient or pragmatic to find those principles. Here is an example of those who do not care for the moral reasons and who would eventually fail, because morality is a matter of survival:
Describing the envy leveled at the Apollo moon missions, Ayn Rand wrote:
With a rational, egoistic, moral purpose, the machine can help advance the mind to conceive of new possibilities of existence, to become explicit and serious about the progressive, astronautical aims of man - to identify, integrate, and concretize the meaning of manís life as starship.
The starship of astronautics is the new expression of an old purpose, a purpose that could unite the common purposes of all men who choose to live better, who choose to progress scientifically, technologically, and philosophically Ė who choose to enhance the enjoyment of manís life in space as a starship astronaut.