Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Could New Krypton Have Stayed on Earth?

Reprinted from comicartcommunity.comThe Citizens of New Krypton by Pete Woods.

It's truly a shame that Kandor's temporary stay on Earth did not work out as well as Superman had intended. But, economically and politically, it was doomed to begin with.

After Superman defeated Brainiac and retrieved the stolen city of Kandor, he restored it in its original integrity near the Fortress of Solitude at the North Pole. Overnight, Earth became the new home for approximately 100,000 Kryptonians. Hopes were high to assimilate the Kryptonian population into the Earth community and to teach them the way of Earth cultural and democracy. Yet as tensions rose (unfortunately human tendencies towards xenophobia and paranoia garnered the mistrust of many ill-tempered Kandorians), an exectuve decision was made by Alura-El (Superman's aunt and Supergirl's mother) to retreat completely into autonomy. Kryptonians were to live within their sanctuary at the North Pole, mining their own resources and disconnecting completely from the affairs of the primitive humans.

In effect, Kandor had become an autarky, a completely self-reliant society, economically independent of other nations. Unfortunately, prohibiting a society of 100,000 citizens from international trade or any sort of economic interdependence with other nations is not easy in 21st century Earth. The world is globalizing--fast. Technology, communication, and industry are rapidly expanding into global markets and more nations and societies are quickly being integrated into this system of trade and interdependence. This is why recessions tend to have global impacts; the increasd interconnectedness of these markets makes local economic collapses that much more difficult to contain.

Economic autarkies today either are not real autarkies, or are not doing so well. Consider the case of North Korea. It maintains an "autarkic" command economy and a strict isolation policy from Western countries. The problem is that it is not completely cut off, as Kandor intends to be. In 2008, North Korea's trade rose 30%, three-quarters of which came from China. It has even begun conducting small amounts of business with South Korea. Actually, North Korea also receives considerable foreign aid, from countries including South Korea and even the United States. Beyond that, its economic conditions aren't so hot. Growth is significantly hampered due to its trade restrictions, even though GDP has been rising in recent years. Poverty continues to be a huge problem as well.

Kryptonians do have certain advantages that would aid them in remaining isolated from human existence. A major one is that, apparently, they do not need to eat (how sad!). This means that finding resources that can be made into a source of food is not a problem. Yet, there is no denying that the Kryptonians do need some Earth resources. They have established science and medical guilds, meaning they are interested in innovation and technology. Obviously, they're going to need more fancy crystals to put into crystal tubes. They have labor guilds, which means they need to use tools. And Krypton is a society which pours most of its resources into its own rapid development.

Since its resources on the original Krypton were all but depleted, it needs to make due with the scarce ones available on Earth. The North Pole has untapped minerals and fuels, but I'm betting Kandor will need more that, especially if it wants the kind of technology that will send a child through the galaxy in a crystal ship. This is why Alura sent teams to explore human nations -- it wasn't just to spy on them, it was also to gather stock of what resources might be available to them.

Eventually tensions rose so high that, following an epic battle with the Justice League, the citizens of Kandor left Earth and established a new society on a different planet altogether (New Krypton). It's truly a shame. Imagine the implications for Earth's economic growth and technological innovation if we could have worked out or differences and integrated Kandor into the global marketplace. Once again, we blew it.

18 comments:

Jay said...

I'm surprised that they didn't move to Venus, actually. Venus offers a wide array of resources, not least of which is ample yellow-sun radiation. Given a yellow sun, Kryptonians would not find molten-lead surface temperatures or sulfuric-acid hurricanes very problematic. It would take a while to reoptimize their technology for such an environment, though.

PS many Kryptonian habits and institutions are probably vestigial remnants of their red-sun days, like the medical guild.

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