martian economics

I've been reading--and by god I hope by the time I post this, I'm done reading--Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. I read (parts of) these once before, but I was busy adjusting to college at the moment and I didn't retain a great deal from that experience. In any case, there's a lot in these stories to pick apart and absorb.

And I enjoy that. I really like science fiction that both tells a good story and contributes to some sort of intellectual conversation that's bigger than it. Surely all literature has some theoretical conception of itself, but work that unabashedly tussles with relevant knowledge is particularly powerful.

Hell, at one point, a character in Blue Mars meditates on Deleuzian philosophy. My heart goes pitter pattter at the sight of people who are willing to mediate on Deleuze and do a good job at it. (Ironically, or perhaps not, I think a lot of academics don't quite know what to do with Deleuze.) Anyway...

One of the things that I've really enjoyed thinking about while reading Green and Blue Mars is that Robinson does a lot of economic theorizing and imagination. I find this an interesting playground as a lesson from fiction, and also as a productive consideration of the issues I began to talk about in my essay on co-ops, competition, and openness.

So read the book, particularly if you haven't or if you're interested in thinking about economic systems and potentials, but the current economy is... boggling.

Robinson posits (a martian) system where land is collectively owned, where projects (research, farming, construction) are undertaken by ~100-person co-ops that workers have to buy-into (with money earned during internships), with everything overseen by a Judaical system that makes judgments on mostly with regards to environmental impact.

My father, upon reading this, made the very apt judgment that, the key here is that--on Mars--there's no countryside, and that farming (because it's attached to cities because of the Atmosphere issue). While this is a vast oversimplification--of course--he's right: new age hacker-type economic models need to consider "industries" like materials engineering and food production more than they currently do.

We have a lot of thinking to do.

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