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In a world where three or four, at least, other sentient, intelligent civilisations (of non-human species) with a few planets each exist, earthly humans are getting more advanced. We've finally got the technology to discover these civilisations, but we only discover them after we colonise our first planet. Speaking of which, we've found a nice candidate. It's empty, it's within reach and it's pretty habitable.

In the upcoming years to launching our first colony mission, there's some stuff that needs to be taken care of. Out of all of it, I'm wondering, what are the major pro's and con's of abolishing the idea of 'nations' and becoming an intergalactic nation named Earth?

Russia, China and the US, among others, would obviously be the 'main' countries if we don't unite. But all in all, what should be done, and why? Should we remain as countries, and have planets belonging to the US, planets belonging to Russia, and so on? Or should we scrap that ideology and have planets belonging to Earth as a whole? Perhaps a compromise between the two?

I suppose considering politics and economy is a must, but other aspects to consider are evident. I just can't think of them...

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  • $\begingroup$ China is going to be at least as big as Russia and the US. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 6 '15 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ Oh. Whoops. Heh. Us aussies will be up there too, I'm sure ;) $\endgroup$ – blaizor Feb 6 '15 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB Us, as in, me. And any other aussies reading this later on. $\endgroup$ – blaizor Feb 6 '15 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ Eurasia, Estasia and Oceania must unite! $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Feb 7 '15 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ Pros and Cons for whom? Humanity as a whole? USA considering joining a world government? Small country considering joining world gov? $\endgroup$ – Solanacea Apr 6 '17 at 18:46

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One way would to look at how we would unify in the pursuit of the space race, which will of course include colonies, we actually have some data on it. Britain, France and the Netherlands, to name a few established colonies in the past, in the New World, which ironically was on the same planet as them.

A few centuries later, where are the colonies today? Most of them have declared independence, either due to the colony's need for autonomy, the desire to break from the shackles of taxation from their origin country, or the origin country can no longer govern the colony effectively.

So as we can see, humanity can not even unify in the colonization of the New World, much less space. Multiply that by the vast vastness of space and that communication would have incredibly huge latency, colony autonomy will have to be a given.

This describes how humanity will be after the space race, but what about during it? It is likely that in the early steps of space exploration, everyone would help each other out, as space is terribly huge, and it would be best to cooperate with the few humans that would be with you.

However, the individual ships/groups sent to space would still highly likely be created with the sponsorship of one of the countries on Earth, rather than all of the ship to go to space being created by humanity as a whole. That would require world peace and harmony, but that does seem like quite a far off goal. That may happen, far in the future, but it is very likely that the space race would have been well on it's way.

In conclusion, it is unlikely that we unite at the start of space exploration. We may then unite at some point in time in the future. However, in the end, all of the colonies would most likely break off from humanity as a whole, barring advances in FTL technology

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  • $\begingroup$ I imagine that the "helping each other out" phase would be a rather uneasy alliance. We would want humanity to thrive, of course, but we would also prefer that it be our own group/nation of humanity that thrives most. $\endgroup$ – KSmarts Feb 6 '15 at 16:57
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Humans are very cliquish, and IMO, the one thing that could get us to unite as a species and really try to work under one government would be to discover we really aren't alone in the universe. We would have a more alien 'them' than the guy with different colored skin down the street or that neighborhood of unbelievers across town. This is just for our planet.

Now as far as staying together among the stars, the first prerequisite the Peter pointed out is the need for at least FTL communications and even better FTL travel. If those are satisfied, then then next would be who else is out there? If there are 'others' then it will encourage us to at least stay a confederacy of planets, the more pressure we would face from others, the stronger our bonds would be. If we are the first, then our planets, moons and likely even asteroids will be (eventually) locally governed with treaties similar to how the world runs now.

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  • $\begingroup$ If we had FTL, we could just travel back in time and kill the aliens. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Aug 11 '15 at 3:14
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It's a good idea but it will never happen.

Becoming one nation is a good idea in terms of interplanetary commerce and diplomacy. If we're multiple nations, then we are pretty likely to have multiple currencies, and other planets aren't going to appreciate having to exchange multiple currencies to their own currency when they've already come light years to get here.
It's also a good thing for diplomacy because it means we have one set of policies to apply to interplanetary affairs.

However, it won't happen because people will think it's too much hassle. Not only that but people disagree so much on so many issues that reaching one stable state with one stable government is impossible. Look at the world - we have groups like ISIS and AQAP who disagree with the West, we have Russia who would be a very powerful space leader but also disagrees with the West, and every country has internal disagreement about its own policies because people are different.

However, what I can see happening is us having a Space Commerce and Diplomatic Affairs Committee (SCDAC) (because we like giving things long names). This committee would be made up of a few members from each country in the world, and would be the deciding agency for trade and diplomacy. They would manage incoming trade, taking and paying one currency, then distributing it to countries of origin in their own currency. The members would vote on the policies, and while this arrangement would be incredibly inefficient, SCDAC would be the only viable way we would find to deal with everyone or people will complain about not having a say, etc, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Over time those differences fade though. Most countries today were once many smaller countries. (USA, Australia, Great Britain being obvious examples). Europe is also heading in that direction. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 6 '15 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB Differences change, they don't disappear. That's why the concept of countries still exists; it's way we still have wars. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Feb 6 '15 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ When's the last time Nevada declared war on California? $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 6 '15 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ England and Scotland were at war for a long time, now we've been one country for hundreds of years (last year's referendum notwithstanding) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 6 '15 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB, I think that a world government will be likely as soon as the UK passes a referendum to break up into separate units and states of the US. In other words, not likely. Also, the Nevada/California issue doesn't match, they were never separate nations. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Apr 6 '17 at 18:17
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Question: “But all in all, what should be done, and why?”

Earth may unite but it will not be allowed to exert control of or influence over any colony established in space or Celestial Body.

The reason being there will be little to no commonality between an “Earth Point of View” and a “NON Earth Point of View”. There will not be an Established Earth 2 in our solar system. Each colony will be unique and have unique requirements to survive.

As to “United Humans” - Nope, not a chance in Hades. There isn’t any now and with 8 Billion Humans on a Planet that can support 2.5 Billion (+- 0.5 Billion) people, at a balanced state, meaning Environmental things will not change, for the better or the worse. Leaves us no real time to try to “come together”. (Current Mass Extinction: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction )

The best solution is let like minded people establish their own colonies in space ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Neill_cylinder and variations) or on Celestial Bodies. With the hope they will at a minimum embrace a “tolerance” point of view towards each other. Seeking to establish Cultural and Material trade/exchange.

Countries that do this should do it for their own benefit as in “We need to shed N population so …” not unlike the Colonization of The Americas and Australia. They should NOT expect to maintain them as “possessions”. Instead find ways to trade, that creates the best possible win/win scenarios.

In the end it is less likely to be countries and more likely to be … corporations. The Big Pharma Group could easily bank role this and quite possibly be the biggest beneficiaries of Humans: A Spacefaring Species. Google could easily bank role some of this (as in specific colonies) and stand to be well rewarded by establishing the Space Internet of Things. Apple, Samsung etc can afford to get into this game as well and ensure they have products that meet their customers requirements throughout the solar system.

The Oil Rich Countries stand to have a big part in this IF they can come to terms with Technology Countries to create a partnership … so to speak. The hurdle here that I see is “Cultural Differences”. One solution would be to borrow a line from the movie “Contact” “Why build one, when you can Build two” (meh maybe not exact). Ok the Tech group build the means one for the Money Suppliers and one for themselves. Yeah the Money people get charged for both but they get off planet and can build on the purchased tech.

There is one thing that Humans must do before any of this happens on a large enough scale to matter. Humans must stop thinking like Humans: A Planetary species. Humans must start thinking like Humans: A Spacefaring species. We must change our perspective to building everything we can, as fast/soon as we can, in Space from Space resources. We must not allow ourselves to use any Earth Resource …. Ever … when we have the resource available to us in space. The cost is just to prohibitive and to harmful to Earth and those that will insist on staying.

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According to our current understanding of physics and universe, all travel and communication is sub-light-speed.

For a species where individual lives 100 years or so, being united with parts which are centuries of travel away and getting a response to any question would take several centuries in average, being united has little sense. Far outposts of human civilization will have some warm feeling about Earth as ancestral planet, but they will have to rely to themselves to solve most of the problems, and all urgent problems.

If you have FTL travel and communication, you can maintain coherent culture and contact, remaining united.

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Out of all of it, I'm wondering, what are the major pro's and con's of abolishing the idea of 'nations' and becoming an intergalactic nation named Earth?

Governments are based on violence, that's what they do, they how they function. If an organization cannot enforce its decisions by violences, it's by definition not a government.

History is pretty clear that when government lack external threats or competitions from other governments, they turn their capacity for violence on their own people. Perhaps more accurately, the subpopulation that comprises the "government" uses violence to oppress and exploit the rest of the population. Tokugawa Japan is a crystalline example, although any of the large pre-idustrial empires will show the behavior as well e.g. the Roman Empire fought more Civil Wars that external wars as did most Chinese Dynasty Empires.

History is likewise clear that such Empires value stability and stasis over change or progress of any kind unless forced by outside pressure. Tokugawa Japan did not advance or change at all for nearly 250 years. Likewise, the Ottoman Empire froze itself in mid-1700s for nearly 150 years.

Any kind of "World Government" established before contact of knowledge of possible alien competition would shortly turn tyrannical, murderous and static. Likely, such a regime would never foster space travel as it would view it as far to destabilizing.

Conversely, most progressive civilizations shoot ahead of their peer civilizations when some crisis, quite often external military, forces the society to become more merit driven and egalitarian to survive. Golden Age Athens, the Roman Republic, Venice, the Dutch Republic, Meiji Japan etc. We also have the example of formally squabbling local polities uniting against exterior foes e.g. the Greeks in response to the Persians, Italian states in response to the Celts, Daimyo clans in Meiji Japan in response to contact with the rest of the world.

The best case scenario would be the world remaining dividing into competing polities until after contact with aliens occurs. At that point, a unified world government, more precisely the subpopulation with the powers of the state, would have to take into account the aliens when making policy. If they made earth culture to static, they aliens might out develop us in technology or spread farther.

It's worth noting that historically, long distance trade, exploration and colonization were also powerful drivers of meritocratic and egalitarian societies. When people found themselves thousands of miles away from home on the seas, or having to trade with distant peoples or stuck out on a frontier with help weeks or months aways at best...suddenly they stopped caring "what" or "who" an individual was based on the traditional culture and just started caring about what real skills and benefits they could bring that would help the community.

The people on colony worlds or traveling in space would very quickly develop a different culture than their parent cultures on earth.

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I personally think that we should all unite under one banner, and keep the concept of countries. Tim B's phrase "When we the last time Nevada declared war on California" got to me. We must all have a united goal, but countries would in turn become states, able to influence change in themselves and the banner they are under, and yet able to band together with the other countries on Earth for the greater good. In that way, without language or currency or even religious boundaries, we would be able to unite. But so long as Religion exists, different languages exist and different cultures and currencies exist, we will be unable to unite to colonize Space. At least those are my 2 cents on the matter.

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I live in Europe, and personally speaking I'm a firm supporter of EU integration, the Euro, Schengen, and that lot. My reason: I believe that any one European nation, even larger ones like Germany, France, or the UK, would be ground under by larger players in a globalized world. Only an united voice can be heard. We must hang together or we will hang separately. Plenty of other people in Europe disagree with my conclusion, but I think for the sake of this question we can agree that my position has at least some merit.

Would the same reasoning apply in blaizor's scenario?

  • What happens if a disunited Earth has several starports with different policies on quarantine for alien plants?
  • What happens if a disunited Earth tries to trade intellectual property with aliens?
  • What happens if a disunited Earth has one nation looking for off-world allies in a purely terrestrial power struggle? What if aliens threaten to declare war on, say, the Bahamas? Would other Earth powers intervene?
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As ArtOfCode said, a world government is not going to happen.

While some people think that it would be a good idea (I don't - multiple cultures lead to multiple possible solutions to a problem), we can't get there from here.

For everyone not in the US, think about your nation (if large, being broken up) being made a state of the United States and now you have to follow all US laws (or China or Russia). If you are in the US, consider your state now a part of China or Russia.

Oh, also, you must speak the new language. This means that the Brits would have to give up their extraneous "u"s (colour => color).

Face it, if there is a world government, it will end up being China, Russia or the US. Though Germany could be a contender if it becomes more overt in it's control of the EU.

The reason why the UN is so useless is because the nations at the time wanted it to be too weak to take over.

Everyone thinks that space exploration and colonization will make everything different. Did finding The New World make the European nations of that time decide to join hands, become one nation, and sing "We Are the World"?

A one world government is a bad idea that, thankfully, it's likely to happen unless someone comes up with a super weapon or mind control beam and can make everyone comply.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Face it, if there is a world government, it will end up being China, Russia or the US. Though Germany could be a contender if it becomes more overt in it's control of the EU." - I would say the US has pretty much been winning this battle since WWII CULTURALLY ... perhaps the war that no one ever thought about is what now 71 years old? But that is just my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya Apr 6 '17 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya, Yes, a lot if US culture has spread but not a lot of the US mindset. If the mindset had spread, there would be far fewer people in the world who would even consider a world government. :-) $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Apr 6 '17 at 19:17
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It would entirely depend on whether the aliens were a potentially hostile threat to us. Generally speaking, nations almost never voluntarily unite with one another. The best example I can think of is Germany in 1871. Even then, it took the elation of recent victory over the French, the common cultural heritage of the German states, the inebriation of having looted all the wine of Versailles, the history of being rampaged over by Napoleon et. all, the machinations of Bismark (one of the greatest politicians of all time), and the understanding that a united Germany would be necessary for competition in the new global era.

As for human nations choosing to do this in the short term, I find it very unlikely. One key piece of it is that federal givernments do a lot more now than they used to. It would be neatly impossible to convince, say, America and Saudi Arabia to compromise on federal policy like, say, whether women should be allowed to drive or whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry.

The solution to this is to have a weak federal government and delegate all the power to the states. This would be an iff-y proposition, and would likely only work in the short term as eventually ideological coalitions would form and impose their views on the rest.

An even bigger hurdle to getting nations to combine is the fact that about half of all nations are ruled over by dictators who would never willingly loosen their grip on power. Can you honestly expect Kin Jong Un of North Korea to give up power for the good of humanity? Moreover, can you expect the international community to sit back and let somebody like Assad walk away and retire peacefully even if he does give up power?

The most likely thing humanity would do is that we would crate some sort of European Union or NATO style system with a combined(ish) military, open(ish) borders, free(ish) trade, etc. The alternative is that one nation (probably the USA) gets a bunch of others to combine into a world government, and then conquers everybody else. This would require the ability to avoid nuclear retaliation, but I assume that tech is available by this point.

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