Thursday, July 4, 2013

Brainstorming Thursday: Put a Flag in It

What else do you think I would write about on America's celebration of independence? I am uber American, after all. Any more patriotic and you'd find it tattooed on my... *clears throat*


There are over 190 nations in the world. Most are members of the United Nations. (There's some disagreement on the exact number, depending on the various list criteria and political agendas.) In each of those countries there is some form of "Independence Day" or patriotic founding celebration.

Patriotic holidays are important to solidify a society's cultural identity and growth.

But - and here enters the brainstorming - what about when we spread out to the stars and growing pains start?

First things first, how will the expansion start? (It lends to the brainstorm further down, promise.) I see a few ways it could go.
  1. The United Nations (or other unity organization yet to be created) purpose expands and solidifies all the countries and forges into the stars as one human nation. This is very Star Trek-ish.
  2. Private entrepreneurs and corporations will forge into the stars with the fiscal support of the strongest nations. These nations will then lay claim to the space they conquer. Much more Firefly-ish
  3. Private entrepreneurs and corporations will forge into the stars with fiscal support of private and group investors and the government concept will become corporatism.
Eventually changes will be demanded after this first step into the solar system, either by the people or competing governments or corporations. The aftermath of this forced change will cause a new patriotic celebration created by the victors.

What will that look like? Most of the current patriotic celebrations involve a certain date, fireworks, gatherings, food, music and honorary speakers.

Hmm... most of those won't work in space. Okay, gatherings, food and music seem pretty workable. But how about the date? That'll be a problem in a civilization spread across the solar system. Fireworks. Okay, granted, that could work on open planetary settlements, but what about domed facilities, space colonies and life vessels? And honorary speakers. This hits the same issues as a date. The distance will make any live speaker broadcast difficult.


  1. Here's a suggested celebration. On Unification Day, go to a bar wearing your brown Independent's coat and start a fist fight with supporters of the Alliance.

    Okay, I stole that idea from Firefly. But there is a point to it: Patriotism is tribal--celebrating your tribe, AS DISTINCT FROM other tribes. Hailing from a schizoprhenic, cross-border family, I tend to get confused in early July. Do I celebrate Canada Day (July 1) or July 4? If I try both, I'm still feeling too Canadian, eh, to get into the full swing of July 4. Belonging to mutually exclusive national tribes can cause (mild) existential heartburn.

    So, if patriotism exists in the future, it will be defined by the type of tribes that exist.

    Your first scenario hints at a lack of tribalism, hence of patriotism.

    Your second and third lead to corporate patriotism, because one's tribe is a company. That might lead to something pretty similar to the national patriotism we now have, or maybe to having a special sale one day a year.

    In all three scenarios, though, tribalism would spring up between different settlements.

    UNLESS we find aliens. Then, perhaps, our tribe would be humanity, rather than a subset. I kind of like that thought.

  2. LOL, dual patriotism... that has to be very confusing! Realistically, I agree that 1 isn't likely to happen because humans right now are very much tied to their nationality (tribe). Of course, it all depends on how far the globalization efforts goes. And how that transforms our identity. Though, maybe 2 or 3 would start us out but then when/if we met up with aliens (or vice versa) #1 kicks in as we now become a speciies identified patriotism.

  3. Oops, accidentally hit publish instead of scrolling down on my ipad. I meant to finish off with I think that as we expand we'll become "corporate districts" in space... like "Virgin Mobile's Planetary Settlement of Europa" or some such thing.

    I loved your feedback. You bring up a very interesting aspect with the tribal mentality. Thanks!