Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The People that Colonize

Here, I'm going to talk about the people that would go colonizing, which sci-fi books tell me would be something like an explosion once the key to space has been unlocked.  If only we could develop a warp drive, you'd have people flocking to new planets, spreading humanity across the universe (and perhaps comparing humanity to a disease), or so conventional wisdom goes.

 Personally, I don't really think that's going to happen.  My experience with people has tended to show that most are perfectly willing to live where they are, perhaps moving to follow a job/career in another area.  But; going to a new world isn't some new job that you take up in a different location, it's an act where you create a new life in a new location, something very different than I think most modern people are used to.

Certainly after some time the colony is established enough such that new arrivals are better categorized as immigrants instead of colonists, but there is always that new land around established areas where the wilds are tamed so that civilization can emerge, and so there's that option available. (Do remember that the first areas are chosen for good reason. Get it quick before all the good stuff is taken!)  So, these colonists are the ones I want to talk about.  Not people looking to emigrate to a colony, but the people looking to establish that colony.

Historically when I look at how and why colonies are established and who goes, I'd split them up into three different categories: Extraction, base(port) building, and new home.

Extraction is the type of colony usually set up as the big evil of European imperialism.  This is the sort of colony that attracts colonists looking to get rich usually by extracting some natural resource in the area.  The spices and exotic plants from South America, the gold mines from Mexico and California, or the rubber from Africa were all good examples of these sort of colonies.  What usually made these evil were the usage of non-Europeans to work the areas, either imported or native to the area.  Not necessarily used everywhere, but still is the idea we often associate with colonies when talking about the evils of imperialism.

Ideally, I'd imagine that these wouldn't really occur in SEAC's game lifetime, as I've intentionally cut off the possibility of a profit motive to the homeland.  (More out of pragmatism.  As long as no government or individuals can plunder the stars, then there's no need to fight over who controls access out or worry about who pays for the enormous start-up fees)  I'd certainly guess that once colonies become established that they'd have these sort of towns pop up outside the bounds of civilization, but I'd be surprised if they were all that harmful.  Historically, the California gold rush was a great example of this sort of colonization that didn't result in mass enslavement, but did result in an enlargement of civilization in the US.

Base building is the second type of colonization that I've seen occur frequently.  A state or other major entity seeking to expand its power projection builds bases so that it can satisfy the logistical demands of a larger area.  During the age of European colonization, these bases were typically ports, built to act as way stations or to receive goods to send inland.  For this sort of interstellar empire, you'd have the same function in space stations or in some sort of initial base camp (that's likely to form into a city or town as local government replaces the foreign government).

As far as colonization goes, these bases are characterized by having workers manning the base, paid for by the entity in control of the base, along with a good amount of support positions for the people of the base.  So alongside the administrators and dock workers maintaining the port, you'd have the shopkeepers and cooks (and less savory jobs like whores and swindlers), all maintaining this point of civilization.

These bases are likely to serve as points of extraction for natural resources as well, but only for maintaining the state's interests.  Selling the resources too much puts it more in the Extraction term of colonization.  In normal game play the bases should be expected to provide resources (think asteroid mining), industry, and to expand logistics for the player by acting as mass storage for fuel and other necessities.

Long term colonization of the area depends on how nice the area is and how large it's able to become when the base inevitably becomes obsolete.  I'd imagine that for space stations, the long term population would be a direct function of traffic in the area and usefulness of the station itself, as I don't see much growth from colonists choosing to stay, as the area is expensive and expansion difficult, but the planets nearby are likely targets for these people looking to settle down after their stint in the station.

The last brand of colonization in my categorization is those seeking a new home.  North America (excluding Central America and the Caribbean, to be clear), Australia, and South Africa (mostly. Until the industrial age at least) were popular areas for this brand of colonization.  Unfortunately, I think this post is already quite long enough, and I'll talk more on the subject of what I imagine these colonists would like at a later time.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post. Something that you may want to consider, a colony may be funded by a government or business enterprise that may have very different motivations than the colonists themselves. In some cases, the establishing business (looking for profit) may be able to draw on the eagerness of people looking for a new home. In others, a ruler may have just decided to ship out the troublemakers!