In 2017, the government of Dubai announced plans to create the first human settlement on Mars within one hundred years. This article considers how the ‘Mars 2117’ project and its Earth-bound beta tests represent an increasingly global and vanguard relationship to the materials we call nature, where the goal of politics is about making a new kind of habitat rather than the creation of a polis. Mars 2117 reveals the ways in which the present grounds for authoritarian legitimacy in the UAE are, in effect, on loan, for which the future functions as a form of collateral for its present day governance structure, and is hedged upon the engineered anticipation of a people, a place, and an infrastructure to come. Anticipatory authoritarianism names a form of authority being innovated to skip over political contradictions and environmental limits caused by the feedback between peak oil and irreversible climate change.
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