Added the video on population bomb of Ehrlich (a biologist, born in 1932), to show the similarity to Malthus (born 1766, or 166 years before Ehrlich). The root cause of such an idea is the materialist mentality, which easily leads to fear.
One of the unique characteristics of socioeconomic science is the ability to scale naturally through space and time. It means that its economic maxims for tiny human societies, such as a family, are the same ones for large societies, such as a big corporation or even the global human society, and for those located outside of Earth, as in those on the international space station, and even for humans in the distant future. This is because its maxims are based on the study of human nature formalized as metaphysics (when viewed from the outside) or moral philosophy (when viewed from the inside). Metaphysics correctly believes that mind or soul is the cause of the universe or of reality, that physics is subordinate to metaphysics, or that consciousness is superior to matter, or to anything existing in time and space, and even time and space itself:
“It is an established maxim in metaphysics, That whatever the mind clearly conceives, includes the idea of possible existence, or in other words, that nothing we imagine is absolutely impossible.” (Hume, Part 2: The Ideas of Time and Space, Treatise of Human Nature)
This maxim alone has the most significant implications on everything, whether in daily life, philosophy, or the sciences. In socioeconomics, it destroys the numerical limitations imposed by any model, such as that of the perfectly inelastic supply curve and, more famously, the Malthusian growth model.
An economist who is either a materialist or a pessimist will conclude that human populations must be limited by the finite-ness of matter and space and conceivable time, as seen in the limited size of land or even of the planet and its life span. He will never consider that humans, unlike animals, have a mind which can conceive of unlimited possibilities to get over the limitations imposed on it by nature or reality. Historically, population pressures were solved by improved agricultural production and by sending humans overseas voluntarily or involuntarily, easily refuting the dire predictions of pessimist economists.
“The controversies on Malthus and the ‘Population Principle’, ‘Preventive Check’ and so forth..are.. sufficiently mournful. Dreary, stolid, dismal, without hope for this world or the next, is all that of the preventive check and the denial of the preventive check.” (The Works of Thomas Carlyle)
An economist who is either a metaphysician or an optimist will conclude that human populations are unlimited and have the whole universe to expand to. Any significant population pressure on the Earth can likewise be easily relieved by improved agricultural production, fairer distribution of food, less waste or destruction of scarce resources, more energy-efficient food, and by sending humans to other planets, such as Mars. All of these possibilities, however, are very much restrained or made difficult specifically because of the production motive and profit maximization doctrine of the materialistic and dismal science of economics, and generally because it lacks moral philosophy and is based on the effect of economic activity, as numbers, instead of its cause, which is the mind.
“Mathematics, indeed, are useful in all mechanical operations, and arithmetic in almost every..profession: But it is not of themselves they have any influence.. A merchant is desirous of knowing the sum total of his accounts..Why? but that he may learn what sum will.. pay his debt.. Abstract or demonstrative reasoning, therefore, never influences..our actions, but only as it directs our judgment concerning causes and effects..It is from the prospect of pain or pleasure that the aversion or propensity arises towards any object: And these emotions extend themselves to the causes and effects of that object.” (Hume)
A lot of knowledge, ideas, and human and technological capital are engrossed for profit, as seen in excessively long intellectual property ownership and the high cost of education, stifling the development of science and technology by confining it to fewer people. The lack of metaphysics or moral philosophy prevents people to view others as fellow-creatures capable of the same feelings, leading to uneven development and wasted potential human capital.
“The elite preferred to believe that the poor were poor because of too many children, rather than being poor because of an unfair and unequal economic system.. There’s a tendency to apply to human beings the same models that apply to the insect world. The difference, of course, is that humans are conscious beings, and we do all kinds of things.” (Gita Sen)
Mars is to us what the New World was to the Europeans
Another important metaphysical maxim, although largely Eastern, is the cyclical nature of the universe. In the West, this idea is imbued in ‘history repeating itself’, although in different forms. In our case, and to explore the idea of sending humans outside of Earth, history repeats itself if we view other planets as ‘new worlds’ which we can explore, get resources from, or settle in, just as how the early Europeans viewed the other worlds of America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Based on this premise, we can deduce that the causes, methods, and policies which led to successful contact, trade, and settlement of other countries in the 16th-18th centuries will help us to be successful with the exploration and settlement of other planets.
What History Has Taught Us
If the cause of the exploration or settlement is largely greed, such as those by the Spanish and Portuguese, the endeavour will likely be unsustainable. But if the cause is largely the pursuit of knowledge, exchange, and permanent settlement and the establishment of law, as those by the British, then the endeavour will likely scale better and also last longer. Since our nearest planetary neighbor does not have any inhabitants to trade with or help us settle in, our short term focus in socioeconomics will be the proper funding and budgeting of scarce resources such as food and fuel for the first batch of colonizers. Included in this funding is the development of the needed technologies which is seriously stifled by the current economic system because of its core beliefs mentioned earlier.
Out with the Dismal and Material, In with the Bright and Immaterial
In future posts, we will explore how socioeconomics can remove the obstacles unknowingly imposed by the dismal science of economics and how the socioeconomic systems proposed for Earth will work in the same way in Mars or whatever planet humans move to. A positive economist, whose cognition can expand beyond the planet, will easily see that there is actually a shortage of humans needed to colonize, explore, and populate the universe, and thus, will never see his fellow-creatures as competitors for resources, nor fear general overpopulation.