On the surface it looks promising
Proposed at a press conference last year, and promoted by an excentric Russian engineer/billionaire and intellectual father Igor Ashurbeyli, Asgardia should become the first self-proclaimed Space Nation. Igor would have himself proclaimed as the head of Nation of the Space Kingdom Asgardia.
Today Asgardia is a website with a large membership list. In November it will have its first satellite and start of a presence in Space. Today it sees more than Three hundred thousand online members from all around the world approve its constitution in just one year and now holds elections to select its first leaders and ministers, as budding nations do. One item on their busy agenda is to hand out ID cards as soon as the constitution is approved by a majority. When you read the constitution it uses a lot of humanistic inspired words. What is not to like? But wait…the 100.000 people who say yes to the constitution are just a third minority of the 300.000 people who initially signed up to be a member. What is going on???
These members are enthusiasts, just by signing up they prove this. In theory they all desire to create this space nation quickly? Why are they not simply signing this formality of voting a constitution?
Aah… They do not follow the principles of a democracy…Bummer
A year ago, as a jurist with a space company I immediately got intrigued, joined and applauded the idea, but after reading the document presented as a constitution, my face went red with shame and I immediately tried to find the button to reject the very bad document they call a constitution. If it is a democracy, there would be a reject button. There isn’t such a button. For space law this is a very interesting case.
Coercing approval by opt in to launch a political project, calling it a vote, and that sees you elect a king, who happens to be a billionaire, usually is not a very good start of a nation. The fact that it uses lofty ideals and verbiage doesn’t hide this fact. At least, that is what the last 6000 years of documented history have shown us or the last 70 years of history that goes along with the decolonization movement in Africa. Pick a country.
But who cares about such details? Oh yes, the other people with a brain who write posts on the official Asgardian internet fora asking for a button to reject the constitution, usually political or legal experts, economists or people who know history or what a democracy is, which most non-voters also do. There is a reason why such a large fraction of people does not click on the ‘I accept the constitution’ -button, even after the high initial interest in the project when the project was launched and even if it means they immediately lose their what are called political rights to take part in an election.
I hate to use clichés but having read at least a 50 constitutions while I was doing research on a political subject, I’d have to say the thing feels…very Russian…like…a 19th century pré-1917 Russia. Very reactionary. Not for international consumption by any standard.
I have the impression that most Peoples internationally have gotten spoiled with the ideas of democracy and usually applaud it. Except billionaires that have grown up under the political and legal umbrella of Russia. They don’t quite get what the benefits are…or do they? And the subjects who did vote in favor? Well, they will get the leadership style they deserve.
It could be that Igor and his team just didn’t realize how sensitive people are about a well written constitution with a balanced powers and a well-ordered democratic power. If that is indeed the case, this could be easily solved by taking more Western style democratic constitutions as a template and consulting with the many legal specialists already part of his online initiative. The big lesson to take away: what people are sensitive about on Earth, they will also be sensitive about in space.
So I’ll wait and see, without Asgardian political rights or an ID card, and learn. It is kind of unfortunate, because I was looking forward to joining this network of space enthusiasts, and maybe make some friends or professional contacts (and promoting my business of course, I am open about that). Aargh, common political sense, ethics and principles I picked up as a law student, they always get in the way of my professional and space faring ambitions.
But if they learn from this mistake and create a better constitution, I’ll definitely would like to support that. Maybe they can make my proposal for a universal Habeas Area Right a part of its foundational article. It would solve the property issue in Space in an elegant manner to the benefit of all.
Please don’t forget to comment what you think about this initiative and its potential pitfalls. Are space nations just a Utopian idea. Or does the Asgardia idea actually have merit and could it work with some minor tweaks. If you like this story, let us know. Like, subscribe, share or support us on Patreon.
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