Why Freedom Needs Spaceflight
We need spaceflight to solve the underpopulation problem.
A race limited to one planet, possessing a high knowledge of mechanics but with all its basic machines of commerce and war requiring a large capital investment, will inevitably tend toward collectivism under one name or another. Free enterprise needs elbow room.On the other hand, I suspect large populations are more important than large distances. Thinly-populated frontier societies frequently have an apparent labor shortage that encourages the extraction of labor by force.
If populations become very large we can have both vigorous competition and economies of scale. There might be room for only one Google on Earth but room for thousands on Ringworld. (A decade ago, I used Microsoft as the example. Times change.)