A libertarian space colony challenges the thinking of earth-based bureaucrats in this classic science-fiction short film. [ Libra credits: Dir: Patty Newman/ 39 min/ SciFi-Fantasy/ Libertarianism 101, Econ 101]
A continuing energy crisis on earth provides the backdrop for this futuristic story of space-based energy generation. Some distinguished talent contributed ideas to this film, including faculty and staff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the California Institute of Technology, and the Boeing Corporation. Particularly interesting are the descriptions of techniques used to colonize and build in space.
As the story goes, an international planning commission is resisting the expansion of Libra, an orbiting space colony that collects solar power and transmits that power to earth via microwaves. The planning commission argues that “irresponsible production” will upset the delicate balance negotiated between existing producers. It’s not clear who’s going to win this battle, but the viewer can’t help but side with the innovative Libra management.
The film is mildly persuasive as an argument for free markets and makes its points with humorous Randian characterizations of good business people and evil bureaucrats. This is one of a series of films produced by WRI Education. In the very early days of libertarianism, before the word “libertarian” had even gained common currency, let alone before the ideas it represented had blossomed into political significance, these short films were like rain on an intellectual desert. Directed at college and high school audiences, they articulated the concepts of liberty in a fun, entertaining way and thereby helped to recruit that first wave of young advocates who transformed the fledgling movement into a global intellectual force. These films are now dated, but are nonetheless interesting in their own right as a window into the early libertarian movement.
“Produced and distributed by a free-market group based in San Diego called World Research, Inc., the 40-minute film is set in the year 2003 and gives viewers a look at two vastly different worlds. On Earth, a world government has formed and everything is micromanaged to death, killing private enterprise. But in space, there’s true hope for freedom.”
“Libra is not only a good outline of the role and need for the colonisation of space but also a well thought out discussion of the roles of the free market and economic planning and, as is interestingly hinted at in the characters’ dialogue, the practical power that each side of the argument can wield.”