Thoughts on Colonial Despotism and Tyranny

by R.W. Van Sant

digital rendering of a science fiction biosphere

Colonies in the history of the Earth have primarily been seen as an exploitable resource by the nations that control them. They contain assets and supplies that can be extracted for the use of the mother country, thereby providing markets for the merchants and producers and often provide advantage military positioning. All these viewpoints place extraordinarily little value of the individual colonist or the assumed or plainly stated freedoms they enjoy. This is especially true in space colonies, which are often separated from the originating civilization, or home world, by many light years.

Distance only serves to exacerbate the situation as it limits both the ability for the mother countries to protect and provide a protective presence to the colony, as well as allowing the colony any meaningful access into the levers of power that create the policies that directly affect their lives. Since the colonies are typically viewed in financial or military terms, any sign of independence is viewed as a martial or economic threat and must be dealt with immediately.  The governing, or maintaining control, is often left to governors or military patrols, and quite often devolves into a rigid administrative system of tyranny.

So, what will happen in the far future, in s[ace colony worlds of humanity when the speed of starships vastly outstrips the speed of communications. The power of the military that patrols and maintains the peace is greatly increased and the colonists voice runs the risk eliminated almost all together. If a corrupt starship captain can report to the government within weeks and it takes years for a message from the colonies to get there, then the mother government will often only work from one set of information. Indeed, since they are the ones who put the captain of that ship in a position of authority in the first place, it is in their interest to take the captain or governor’s word over the colonists. 

In a situation like this, unscrupulous, criminal, and power-hungry men can commit great evil in the space colonies and the colonists may be left with no recourse but to rebel against the mother government in order to survive.


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