Copyright 2004 by Matt Pearson. Published by the Mars Society with permission.
MARS AND THE REPUBLIC
Much of the speculation regarding colonization of Mars has at its core the idea of a Martian Republic. This is not because Mars is particularly suited to a republican, or more loosely "democratic" system or that careful examination of the facts has led to the conclusion that such a system is the best option, but simply that those expounding their opinions on the matter are almost invariably citizens of republics. Discussions of the matter are entered into with a base assumption derived from the very recent experience of only a fraction of humanity under conditions radically different from those the Martian colonists will face. At present, the republican system is primarily the government of choice for North America and Western Europe. Several nations, particularly in Eastern Europe and South America, possess the trappings with varying degrees of sincerity; many more nations do not even bother to feign it. At present republics, while not altogether uncommon, are by no means universal. Historically they are rare indeed. Go back even as little as a century and their number drops dramatically.
A Martian Republic is certainly an ideal to strive for and can potentially convey on human civilization the same sort of benefits as the American republic during its frontier period. Mars can act as a proving ground for new ideas, a cradle for invention and a societal safety valve all at once, but a republic is not assured. It will require a great deal of preparation and careful cultivation if it is to succeed and to assume its inevitability is to willfully blind ourselves to the perils of the course we have set ourselves upon.