Neel V. Patel, writing in Inverse, wrestles with a problem that is not likely to be something that needs dealing with for a few decades, that being the politics of Mars Colony. How does one reconcile the settlement of another planet with the dictates of the outer space treaty? Should Mars remain a kind of Antarctic-style science preserve? Should something called “cooperative sovereignty” be imposed? In fact, a solution is staring everyone in the face that involves some clever diplomacy that is likely to rub some people the wrong way.

The establishment of a Martian Republic

Let us suppose a scenario in which a group of Mars colonists, say as part of SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s scheme, land on the Red Planet and start building homes and setting up industries. Nothing impedes them from declaring themselves an independent republic and claiming ownership of the entire planet. The Martian Republic would not be a party to the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits claims of sovereignty over celestial bodies, so it could legally do that.

Of course, a group of a few hundred colonists would be ill-equipped to defend their claim so that it will need allies on Earth. The Martian Republic could start cutting deals with Earth governments. In exchange for recognition of the new nation and its claim over Mars, the Martian Republic could offer generous trade agreements and pledges of support for any science oriented expeditions that Earth governments would care to mount.

Immigration to Mars would be open to qualified individuals of all nations.

The economy of Mars

Patel demonstrates some confusion about Free Market economics. He ascribes to capitalism a host of problems, including “inequality, war, oppression, corruption.” In fact, these problems tend to be the result of government interference in economic activity.

The Martian Republic could become a laboratory about what happens when a free market is actually free, which would provide a valuable lesson for governments back on Earth.

To be sure, the government of Mars will have a few functions that it needs to reserve to itself, planetary security, foreign relations, a court system to arbitrate disputes, and some sort of regime to manage terraforming, a project that may take any amount of time from decades to centuries.

Just as early America should the ancient countries of Europe that a constitutional republic could be viable on a mostly unsettled continent, a Martian Republic could reiterate that lesson at early as the late 21st Century. Economists are uncertain what sort of exports a Mars Colony could generate. One of them may well be a new birth of human freedom, brought back to a planet increasingly benighted by regulation addicted politicians and bureaucrats.