How the Nation of Luxembourg Is Racing to Privatise Space

Arkyd 6 spacecraft
Arkyd 6 spacecraft

Mining asteroids is the new old game, though no longer science fiction. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – which has all the square footage of an asteroid and, with a population up to slightly over half a million – has earmarked €200m to fund NewSpace companies that join its new space sector. In July, the parliament passed its law – the first of its kind in Europe, and the most far-reaching in the world – asserting that if a Luxembourgish company launches a spacecraft that obtains water, silver, gold or any other valuable substance on a celestial body, the extracted materials will be considered the company’s legitimate private property by a legitimate sovereign nation.

Should space benefit “all of humankind”, as the international treaties signed in the 60s intended, or is that idealism outdated? How do you measure those benefits, anyway? Does trickle-down theory apply in zero-gravity conditions?

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The Culture Industry Cracked by the Frankfurt School

Why is it… that there seems to be such a strong correlation between the trappings of Capitalism, and the alienation of society? – asked Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, two members of the Frankfurt School in their book “The Dialectic of Enlightenment”.

Stephen West on how the Frankfurt School thinkers saw the role of culture industry in perpetuating the cycle of working and consumption. “For eight hours a day, a third of their life these people get to go to a job that alienates them and sucks the life out of them…and their reward for doing that is more of this green paper that allows them to go home and consume stuff that makes them feel just good enough to get up and do it again the next day.”

Adorno aimed beyond trivia, “In an age of spiritual disenchantment, the individual experiences the need for substitute images of the ‘divine’. It obtains these through pseudo-culture. Hollywood idols, soaps, novels, pop tunes, lyrics and film genres such as the Wild West or the Mafia movie, fashion substitute mythologies for the masses.”

Philosophize This

Rethinking Capitalism

rethinking-capitalism-1Western capitalism is in trouble. For decades investment has been falling, living standards have stagnated or declined, and inequality has risen dramatically. Economic policy has neither reformed the financial system nor restored stable growth.

In this joint lecture, Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs, drawing on their new book, Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, explain inadequacies of orthodox economic theory and the failure of economic policies informed by it. They show how alternative economic approaches can better explain how capitalism works, why it often doesn’t, and how it can be made more innovative, inclusive and sustainable.
Michael Jacobs, an environmental economist and political theorist, is Visiting Professor in the School of Public Policy and Department of Political Science at University College London. 
Mariana Mazzucato holds the RM Phillips chair in the Economics of Innovation at SPRU in the University of Sussex.

LSE | 1st December 2016