Capitalist ideology is inherent in the American space program.
Billings ‘07Linda Billings is a research professor at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. She does communication research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) astrobiology program in the Science Mission Directorate. She also advises NASA’s Senior Scientist for Mars Exploration and Planetary Protection Officer on communications.
The ideas of frontier pioneering, continual progress, manifest destiny, free enterprise, and rugged individualism have been prominent in the american national narrative, which has constructed and maintained an ideology of “americanism”—what it means to be american, and what america is meant to be and do. in exploring the history of u.S. spaceflight, it is useful to consider how u.S. space advocacy movements and initiatives have interpreted and deployed the values and beliefs sustained by this national narrative.the aim here is to illuminate the role and function of ideology and advocacy in the history of spaceflight by examining the rhetoric of spaceflight advocacy. Starting from the premise that spaceflight has played a role in the american national narrative and that this national narrative has played a role in the history of spaceflight, this paper examines the relationship between spaceflight and this narrative.
Examining the history of spaceflight advocacy reveals an ideology of spaceflight that draws deeply on a durable american cultural narrative—a national mythology—of frontier pioneering, continual progress, manifest destiny, free enterprise, rugged individualism, and a right to life without limits. this ideology rests on a number of assumptions, or beliefs, about the role of the united States in the global community, the american national character, and the “right” form of political economy.according to this ideology,the united States is and must remain “number one” in the world community, playing the role of political, economic, scientific, technological, and moral leader. that is, the united States is and must be exceptional. this ideology constructs americans as independent, pioneering, resourceful, inventive, and exceptional, and it establishes that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism (or capitalist democracy) constitute the only viable form of political economy.2 the rhetoric of space advocacy exalts those enduring american values of pioneering, progress, enterprise, freedom, and rugged individualism, and it advances the cause of capitalist democracy.