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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Competition

Just for reference, here is the Bob Zubrin comment in question:

it has typically been the case that such nations have felt the need to compete with each other to establish prominence, a tendency that has often had very negative consequences. However the emerging US-Chinese race for space offers a different prospect, that of a competition more in the spirit of the Olympics, where nations compete for honors, not empires; where the goal is not to take anything from anyone, but to see who can do the most to advance the frontiers of human achievement and human possibilities
After my resent rant on Robert Zubrin's trip to China, Mark Whittington replied that:
Dan, I think Bob might be thinking of wars as a negative consequence of competition. They did occur from time to time, during the last Age of Exploration. Alsom[sic] if the Chinese win, that would be a real negative consequence.
I am not sure in the grand scheme of things wars are a negative consequence. They are, sometimes, the act of nations competing. War is a form of competition (albeit a deadly one). I agree it would be a negative outcome if China won the next stage of our expansion. But that is not a product of competition, but in having the evil side win. If we chose not to compete, that doesn't take about the possibility for China to spread their values to the solar system, rather than us.

My point was, Zubrin is (IMHO) saying competition between nations as something to be avoided. I believe, on the other hand, it is a fact of existence. If you choose not to compete, you may (and likely will) still find yourself on the loosing side. As Rush said in "Free Will"
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
I say we embrace real competition. Not this honor/Olympic nonsense Zubrin is pushing. Real contests have rewards at the end. If China and the US (whether public or private) go into space, one of our value systems will influence the future more than the other. The prize is furthering freedom or inhumanities. No agreements or treaties will change that.

6 comments:

Mark said...

I have to give a difffernt interpetation on Zubrin's statement. Note what he says after the negative consequences sentance.

"However the emerging US-Chinese race for space offers a different prospect, that of a competition more in the spirit of the Olympics, where nations compete for honors, not empires; where the goal is not to take anything from anyone, but to see who can do the most to advance the frontiers of human achievement and human possibilities."

I disagree a little bit with this. I think that the Chinese are very interested in an Empire, one that they run and does not include outsiders.

Dan Schrimpsher said...

Exactly. We can play at "honorable" competition, but in the end China is wanting to expand both their influence and sovereignty. I think to ignore this it to invite peril.

I think Mike Griffin gets this. I have heard him speak about making sure western values make it into space as we expand.

kert said...

doh, the original space race has done nothing but harm to space development. thats why we have the now dominant and failed paradigm of throwaway space hardware, socialist bureaucracies spending gobs of money with little to show for it and the public perceptions that space is inherently expensive, dangerous and of no particular use to anyone.

how can all this be considere good ?

the way i see it, the only good thing that came out of it was some useful technology developments, but its scant little for all these decades.

kert said...

one thought left out, if you want to spread core american values out to new frontiers, then then do it by tapping into core american values.
i dont think socialist welfare programs is one of these core values

Ken said...

"...[competition] is a fact of existence. If you choose not to compete, you may (and likely will) still find yourself on the loosing side."

Well said.

Dan Schrimpsher said...

Kert said:
”one thought left out, if you want to spread core american [sic] values out to new frontiers, then then[sic] do it by tapping into core american[sic] values.
i dont [sic] think socialist welfare programs is one of these core values”


I didn't necessary mean NASA vs. China, just Americans vs. China. Note how I said, ”If China and the US (whether public or private) go into space”