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Münchausen's properties PDF Print E-mail
Life – Consciousness

180px-the moon luc viatourWe are not speaking here about a retrogressive society where information has no place, where there is no relative freedom, or, generally, those features which can make a person 'universal' in comparison with the past. We are talking about the Czech Republic (and, unfortunately, not that country alone). Recently, when its President took over the presidency of the EU, he made his entrance with an art exhibition - both 'cheeky' and eccentric - which dealt with the faults and prejudices of the countries of Europe.

We don't want to suggest that countries don't have faults, or that we should live within a cultural 'bubble' (in imitation of the economic one) in which everyone fantasises that he is perfect, stronger, more able, more senior… and is always right. But this was not the right moment, because of the unfavourable conditions prevailing in the world, and particularly because the problems of the countries are not corrected by witty artistic creations, which do more to promote their author than the need for change. This introduction has been made so that we can take a more penetrating look at things, in dealing with the anthropological factor, which is what is accountable for everything that happens, whether good or bad.

So then: according to articles in the Czech press, there is a 'lunar embassy' (sic) which sells plots of land on the Moon. Perhaps it might be said that this is merely a case of an eccentric or weird person talking nonsense. But the matter is not as simple as that, because there are, from this, people who buy these plots-scams, and they are foolish as well, given that they cannot go to the Moon in order to make use of them. And one buyer has said that he has bought such a plot for his 18-year-old daughter, and that this was the best thing he could give her. The above 'lunar embassy' also issues an inter-galactic passport so that people can go 'where no man has been before'! We are also informed that there are some 18 such embassies in various parts of the world.

A. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
But the worst thing is something else:

We can observe here certain interesting psychological features which we should in no way underestimate, because in the background of all developments is, as a motive force, human psychology with all that it involves.

1. It is obvious that the buyers believe that the solution to their problems lies outside planet Earth. On the other hand, the vendor of the invisible real estate is offering, as he maintains, an opportunity to the purchasers to go where nobody else has gone before, that is, the purchaser will be the first to find or do something. 'Oldness' as a sign of strength has always played an important role in politics, society, and authority, in a frenzied effort one consider oneself more senior than others, or the first - with one exception: age, as to which, on the contrary, people frantically seek after youth, that is, to be the last to make their appearance on earth! Sexuality requires tokens of youth, whereas the authority of seniority, and, in this way, life takes revenge with a division of desires on the gap and the lack of lucidity and balance.

2. This attitude, which transposes to another place, another planet any hope of solving problems is, in reality, appallingly retrogressive, because it shows that man is in no way disposed towards understanding the true causes of his problems (and particularly when these are within him, apart from in his environment), let alone making the slightest effort to improve them. He has to be left with the benefit, while the onus of dealing with collective errors is left to others. This means zero self-knowledge and, consequently, zero sociability, because, in a strange way, self-knowledge is a sign of real sociability. This attitude is a constant attempt to ostracise responsibility and effort outside oneself, to gain a paradise all on one's own, leaving problems behind, and, most importantly, without changing oneself to the smallest degree! Everybody wants to gain happiness without a price and without even having thought what this happiness is.

3. Of course, there is also pleasure in adventure, which can be proper, or may not be, depending on the circumstances. However, the payment of large sums by rich people for trips to the Moon (more than 20 m. euro per trip) - if indeed any such payments have actually so far been made - are a superfluous eccentricity and point to a latent social crisis in which each individual is enclosed in his own world with his own desires and fantasies, and not finding anything of interest in the world here (as if he really knows that world!), and, on the contrary, having money available for a fantasy, but not for the needs around him. Boredom and a vacuum always look for something striking, something bizarre to fill it. Nor should it be thought that since in a subsequent, probable but rather distant, space age it would be natural for such deals to take place, and so the present phenomenon is natural. What is natural is judged by the present and the way in which the individual faces the future. This behaviour is not the future, it is an attempt to imprison the future in the moulds of the past, in violence, in possessiveness, the 'bubble', and fantasy.

4. There is also the sick strategic possessiveness as to possible future benefits to be derived from other planets, such as military bases, water, minerals, or whatever else they may contain. What is certain is that human beings of the present day as possible colonists on other planets will not be the 'goodies', but the 'invaders and baddies', so we should not have any illusions about the quality of such an economic and strategic expansion. Furthermore, they have done the same things on earth also: violence, conquest, torture, and the ‘seizure’ of human rights have been the everyday tactics of the human world. Fortunately, there have also been, of course, the positive features - fewer, but from another point of view, stronger.

Thus these vendors of lunar land are like the mythical King Yima in Iran, who constantly increased the land in a magical way in order to satisfy human desires, which were multiplying uncontrollably. But they don't even touch upon the problem of the absurdity of uncontrolled desire itself. The same has also happened in the economy, with unlimited profit as a sacred principle, without its champions wondering whether in fact this could be realised limitlessly, as its name suggests, and what impacts it would have on the environment. So much power and so much idiocy hand-in-hand!

5. On the other side, the vendor allots real estate which doesn't belong to him, he has no titles to it, he has never seen it nor can he ever do so! This is why we have given this article the title 'Münchausen's Properties', because the notorious Münchausen narrated entirely imaginary and non-existent facts about his own history. This is an imaginary ownership, the last word in blind egocentrism, which means that as long as I want and imagine something, this is already mine. Of course, the contemporary idea of freedom may have an entirely subjective foundation (that is, it is based on what the interested party himself believes or wishes), but subjectivity without its harmonious co-existence with objectivity is a sign of underdevelopment and falsehood which will inevitably lead to disaster.

This is also the reason why pronouncements of the type of the economic model in which everybody will be prosperous in some magical way, or even to the extent of their capabilities, initially attract so many supporters or so many whose attitude is neutral - which in the end favours this model. This is because:

a. many people have the fantasy that they possess these magical capabilities which others lack (since self-knowledge is not their strongest point) and so believe that this will operate to their benefit, and

b. most people confuse reality with wishful thinking. And reality has two facets : one is the existence, or otherwise, of the possibility of the wish itself being realised (e.g., to become rich), and the other is the compatibility of the specific wish (e.g., the need for sincere friendships, which, naturally, are not favoured by wealth). But people want everything for themselves and are not content with choices, although they are forced by circumstances to make them in the end.

The culmination of this matter lies , of course, not with these chance citizens of some country, but in the fact that there are today 18 lunar embassies in the world, and so this 'movement' is beginning to take on the dimensions of an epidemic. One branch of this private endeavour to acquire property rights on the Moon is in the Isle of Man. This island is situated in the Irish Sea and is a possession of Great Britain, without, however, being a part of it, and with its own autonomy. It is said that there is there a legal loop-hole which permits the establishment of rights of ownership by any private citizen who plants the flag of the Isle of Man or elsewhere! We do not know if this is true or what is the exact content of this right. However, it serves to complement NASA's international competition of 2005 for the funding of a 'space colony'.

B. THE LEGAL AND STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS
And at this point things change, because in the case of NASA, there can actually be possession on a body outside the planet, such as the Moon, on the grounds that a state has such power. But wherever powerful individuals could in the future possess such power of access and possession, there would now be not falsehood and fiction, but a reality. Therefore the question arises: what kind of colonies are these, on what conditions, what happens with the other states which do not have the scope for expansion into space, or with the international conventions which prohibit ownership outside the earth, or with the military use of such colonies? These questions must be answered, because the founding of a colony will create a de facto situation which will not be able to be overturned. This is exactly how encroachments on territories take place on earth, whether in the case of individual citizens in their small properties, or that of states, or that of large social or national groups in large regions.

All this looks like an attempt to counterfeit by stages the rules of law, but, above all, to spread the madness which exists on earth and to a greater extent, outside the earth. And if we suppose that man will set foot on the Moon, able to acquire its territory, the need for legal order in this case that law should play some role in our actions - must be understood, because the Moon could serve as another Guantanamo lying outside the sphere of the legal competence of the earth's countries.

Two basic principles, then, should be that:

i. Scientific achievements of this kind are funded by states, and, consequently, belong to the peoples who have paid for the research and not to the individuals who may ex post facto reap the benefits of the toil of many.

ii. All the knowledge of today has been based by a process of evolution on the previous gradually-acquired knowledge (general or specific) of wise men from different peoples (in the fields of astronomy, geometry, physics, chemistry, medicine, mythology, etc.), and it constitutes a possession of mankind as a whole and not of the strongest. But, of course, no one is going to listen to this. It is not Reason which gives rise to rights, but strength - as has always been the case. And in such a case of abuse and infringement of international law, the weak would not even be able to react as to a place so remote and inaccessible to them. Nevertheless, this place could become a theatre of confrontations between those who possess the necessary technology, if, of course, some ecological disaster doesn't beat us to it and subvert both our priorities and our scope for expansion into space.

And, naturally, it is meaningless to speak about the rights of nature or of any other inhabitants, even of non-human form, when we don't respect or acknowledge such rights even on earth.

The Law of Space is defective, because it has not made provision for the distorting interpretations which would undoubtedly be made in the future by the strong and the arrogant. According to Article 2 of the International Convention on the 'Principles which will govern the acts of states in research into and use of space, the Moon, and the heavenly bodies' of 27/1/1967, states cannot acquire rights on the heavenly bodies or space; but all states should be able to have access to them for peaceful purposes. However, it seems that this regulation was not adequate to cover the present state of affairs and to counterbalance the obvious selfishness of human beings.

Thus the economy, as absolute ruler of society - since it regards states as of no account - believes that private individuals are not excluded from enterprises of such a kind! And these individuals may be highly imaginative and foolish and, like Baron Münchausen, may sell things which they don't possess, but what will happen with possible powerful individuals in the future (in the form, principally, of legal persons)? Here the state should react swiftly, and science should be activated to fill the gap, which is perhaps not a real gap. But, in a reality in bad faith, it is better for the principles to be expressly formulated, without there being any need for interpretation, for the benefit of the champions of extreme formality, and of wilful ignorance of the substance and the aim of the principles.

In parallel with the economy, strategy enters in, to begin to include 'defence' among peaceful purposes (because aggression on its own is regarded as a military aim). But nobody knows how defence is defined. Certainly, there will be as many interpretations as there are parties involved (attacking and defending) in all conflicts, given that no party will accept that it is the attacker.

The colonies planned by NASA, and possibly by others, is an additional strategic action included within peace. Nor is it, in any way, out of the question that it should, initially, truly be intended for the peaceful exploitation of natural resources. However, the earth's natural resources have been the basic cause of major military conflicts on earth, and so this is no consolation. The same conflicts will occur in this instance also, because, naturally, no peaceful action would have as its purpose the good of humanity, but the prosperity of certain nations or of a nation, and so would mark an occupation over raw materials and the exclusion of the rest.

And so, in all probability, the romantic Moon will shall become in the end an 'off-shore paradise' in the future and a strategic 'hell' for those on earth. What a good thing it is that the Sun has a great disadvantage for undertakings of this kind: it burns, and together with the merchants of dreams, it will burn up their dreams themselves!

 

Ioanna Moutsopoulou, lawyer
Member of the SOLON NGO Secretariat

 
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