Elon Musk has had his sights set on Mars for a while now, but at SXSW last Sunday, he shared his ideas for a government framework on a future Martian colony.

“Most likely, the form of government on Mars would be something of a direct democracy […] where people vote directly on issues instead of going through representative government.

This imagined colony could become a reality much sooner than expected. Musk can already boast the successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which sent a dummy astronaut into space, but he’s already budgeting his plans for a human colony. Last year, Musk revealed his plans to pay for a colony on Mars while speaking at the International Astronautical Congress, so it only makes sense that the next step in planning would focus on governing systems.

Musk compared an early Martian community to a fledgling United States in the late 18th century, one wherein laws would be short and the democratic system would be immediate.

“When the United States was formed, representative government was the only thing that was logistically feasible,” he said. “There was no way for people to communicate instantly. A lot of people didn’t have access to mailboxes, the post office was primitive. A lot of people couldn’t write. So you had to have some form of representative democracy or things just wouldn’t work at all.”

While the future colonies of Mars will probably have more access to education and technology, their beginnings on the planet will be humble. He often compares Martian settlements to the earliest colonies in the Western hemisphere, admitting that “probably people will die.”

All existential threats to Martian-living aside, at least the laws will be simple.

“Everyone votes on every issue and that’s how it goes,” Musk said of the decision making process. He also would prefer to keep laws short. “There’s a few things I’d recommend. Keep laws short. […] Something suspicious is going on if there’s long laws.”


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