Anyone who thinks the military can successfully brainwash thinking people into mindless supporters hasn't talked to enough people with military experience. As for the corollary argument - "I wouldn't want the guys that i knew in the Army in charge" - well, this book isn't about our military, nor our society, so drawing comparisons to the "guys i knew in the Army" is not necessarily relevant. Aside from the fact that the terran Federation in general and the military in specific clearly take civics education a lot more seriously than late 20th century America does, its also clear that the incentive structure is different and the screening process more stringent. Myth 4: "Federal Service in the terran Federation requires that you join the military." Some (usually detractors of the book) have argued that Federal Service consists exclusively of "military" jobs. Others (usually defenders of the book) argue that Federal Service is a broader concept, and that it includes what is traditionally known as the civil Service in addition to the military. The answer appears to lie somewhere in between. While heinlein himself is often"d for this latter point of view, james Gifford has argued very persuasively that whatever heinlein's intentions, the book itself is fairly clear:.the evidence in the text of Starship Troopers is overwhelmingly in favor of the "exclusively military and support".
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Emilio rico, johnny's father, refers to federal Service as "parasitism, pure and simple. A functionless organ, utterly obsolete, living on the taxpayers." Why? "If there were a war, i'd be the first to cheer you on - and put the business on a war footing. But there isn't, and praise god there never will be again. This planet is now peaceful and happy and we enjoy good enough relations with other planets." heinlein 1959:24 It is clear that Emilio's attitude is not unique; the military is, in general, looked down greek upon, an attitude hardly consistent with a militaristic society. Compare and contrast that view with the fascist states in World War ii, which took militarism to impressive heights, or even with the current situation in America, where youth are encouraged by government-sponsored advertising to "be all They can Be" by enrolling in something that's. This isn't an argument - it's a tautology. There is no reason to think, though, that the situation presented to the vast majority of the citizens in the book - two years of peacetime service - is any more likely to make them militarists than it did the world War ii generation. (Or presidents Truman, eisenhower, kennedy, johnson, nixon, carter, reagan, bush, or Bush.) Indeed, i would argue that military experience should be a requirement in civilian leaders; experience is the best way to understand both the abilities and limitations of the military, and any civilian who. As a side note, am I the only one who finds it ironic that some people who don't trust the military suggest that the best way to prevent the military from running rampant is by ignorance on the part of civilian leaders? If only military leaders have military experience, how are the civilians expected to know when to believe them?
In short, the terran Federation is consistently described as the a representative democracy, where the only difference between those with full citizenship and those without is the right to vote and hold public office. One can certainly argue that, as a practical matter, such a state couldn't exist - that it is portrayed as a democracy, though, is incontrovertible. For what it's worth, poul Anderson - a self-described libertarian - reached the same conclusion: I never joined in the idiot cries of "fascist!" It was plain that the society of Starship Troopers is, on balance, more free than ours today. I did wonder how stable its order of things would be, and expressed my doubts in public print as well as in the occasional letters we exchanged. Heinlein took no offense. After a little argument back and forth, we both fell into reminiscences of Switzerland, where he got the notion in the first place. Anderson 1992:319 Finally, it assumes that the populace behind the government is militaristic and the terran Federation is warlike, a claim which is difficult if not impossible to support. It is clear from several statements in chapter 2, for example, that the terran Federation is hard-pressed to find work for all the federal Service enrollees.
It is no different in theory than the for process by which a foreign national becomes a naturalized American citizen, and in practice is much less restricted. This system isn't portrayed as perfect, only workable. Saying "this system is flawed" to some degree begs the question of "what system isn't?" It is never claimed that the system was 100 perfect, only that, by and large, "it worked." The closest system to the one described in the book was part. (Roman society had some severe bad points; understanding the rights and duties of citizenship - at least for the first 500 years or so - was not one of them.) Yes, there will be people who are going through the motions just to get the. That's why the system is stacked as much as possible to discourage people from signing up to begin with, and to make it easy for them to say "this ain't worth it" and quit - which you could do at any time you were not. Yes, there is a problem with a system where the people who have the right to vote decide who gets to have the right to vote. Of course, this is always the case; we can only hope that our founding fathers establish a system where the rights of the minority are respected, and that the rest of us have the courage to live plan up to their ideals.
The military tend to be despised by most civilians and this is made explicit. A career military man is most unlikely ever to vote or hold office; he is more likely to be dead - and if he does live through it, he'll vote for the first time at 40 or older." heinlein 1980:398 In short, there. Second, the government of the terran Federation is hardly a dictatorship, even a civilian one. I have heard the dictatorship claim made on several occasions, yet seems to be totally without any support whatsoever. It seems to be based on the assumption that any limitation on the franchise is undemocratic, which is clearly without historical context. Every democracy, past or present, has put limits on the franchise. Ancient Athens, the roman Republic, and revolutionary America (to name but a few) limited the franchise to male free landowners of majority age - distinctly less than half the population. Today, there are still limitations regarding birth, age, and civic status (i.e., criminal record) in every democracy on the planet, yet no one has made the argument that the United States, for example, is a dictatorship because 17-year-old convicted felons aren't allowed to vote. Heinlein's Federation is unique not in that it places restrictions on the franchise, but that full citizenship is determined by a conscious act (open to all rather than an accident of birth.
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On the other hand, he has also specifically stated (in private correspondence submitted to the. quot;ble heinlein page ) that his "fictional characters speak for themselves, not heinlein.". Heinlein was against conscription, as he stated in the guest of Honor speech at the xixth World Science fiction Convention: i also think there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is sessay one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don't think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. We have had the draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful.
If a country can't save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say: Let the damned thing go down the drain! Heinlein 1961:245 my belief is that heinlein was interested in exploring the faults of current society rather than necessary proposing workable solutions; as such, i believe that the book is more about the rights and duties of citizenship than about how to set. This is just my belief, however - if someone has a solid" from heinlein on the subject, i would love to hear about. Myth 3: "The terran Federation is a 'military dictatorship (i.e., militaristic) and 'the establishment has a vested interest in starting wars. This claim is flawed on three levels: it assumes that the military is in charge of the government, it assumes that government is a dictatorship, and it assumes the government and people act in a warlike manner. None of these assumptions are supported by the evidence in the book. The first assumption - that the military is in charge of the government - was addressed by heinlein himself in Expanded Universe: no military or civil servant can vote or hold office until after he is discharged and is again a civilian.
but they cannot vote. This structure arose ad hoc after the collapse of the 20th century western democracies, brought on by both social failures at home and defeat by the Chinese hegemony overseas. This is a society where john Kennedy's "Ask not want your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" isn't simply a musty old speech, but a core political philosophy. Misperceptions and corrections, the recent release of paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers has led to a lot of online debate concerning the original book. Some of the participants have made cogent points based on a thorough understanding of both the book in specific and the military in general.
Other people, though, have made the following comments. Myth 1: "Robert heinlein was a pick one or more: fascist, chauvinist, communist, racist, right wing, authoritarian, libertarian, elitist, militarist, superpatriot, etc.". The options, of course, are all intended as pejoratives. In the context of Starship Troopers, such statements usually precede the speaker's attempt to paint the book in the terms of the alleged pejorative,. E., "Heinlein was a fascist, so it's reasonable to assume that the terran Federation in Starship Troopers is fascist, too." Suffice it to say that Spider Robinson (in his essay "Rah Rah. has quite persuasively shown that anyone who can pigeonhole robert heinlein into one of those categories either has a serious reading comprehension problem or an axe to grind. Myth 2: "Robert heinlein was advocating the society in Starship Troopers; the characters are expressing his opinions.". Starship Troopers was written in response to real-world situations, and heinlein certainly argued in defense of the book that the current method of awarding the franchise - accidental birth in the country in question, followed by surviving long enough to reach the age of majority.
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Chapter 1 opens with a quick strike mission on a world of the skinnies, the humanoid allies of the federation's main foe, the insect-like arachnids. The story then flashes back to johnny's graduation from high school, and his decision - on a whim, really - to sign up for Federal Service over the objections of his wealthy industrialist father. After some aptitude testing and preliminary screening, young Johnny finds himself at a boot camp so rigorous only ten percent of the recruits finish basic training. He survives, is assigned to a unit, takes part in a few operations, almost gets killed, goes career, attends Officer Candidate School, is commissioned, and eventually commands his own unit. Interspersed through this are flashbacks to his high school History and Moral Philosophy course. These flashbacks are not revelation filler; indeed, in many ways they are the core of the book. For in the flashbacks we learn that in the terran Federation of Johnny's day, the rights of a full Citizen (to vote, and hold public office) must be earned through some form of volunteer "military" service. Those residents who have not exercised their right to perform this Federal Service retain the other rights generally associated with a modern democracy (free speech, assembly, etc.
(To see my letter to the editor of Science fiction Chronicle, and any further details of the resulting corespondence between. D'ammassa and myself, please click here. i have no problems with people disliking or even condemning the book for its contents; it is a controversial work, and while i personally think that "polemic" is a little extreme, i can see why someone might describe it that way. What I do not accept, though, is condemning the book on the basis of willful ignorance or poor reading comprehension. This is not to say that Starship Troopers doesn't have its flaws; it can be preachy and with a narrow focus, thus giving rise to the impression (incorrect, i believe) that heinlein was only focused on the military. (More about this below.) resume to further complicate matters, heinlein occasionally makes contradictory statements about the society portrayed in the book. While i disagree with heinlein on a number of issues (including the one that prompted him to write the book in the first place i do agree wholeheartedly with his take on citizenship; that with rights come responsibilities, and that many if not all. The Plot, the novel is told by juan Rico, a young trooper in the mobile Infantry, the terran Federation Army's 22nd-century equivalent of the 82nd Airborne.
a book published 38 years previously! Long on philosophical discussions about citizenship, government, and sociology, this is a book that can be read on several levels: classic coming of age story, political commentary, and science fiction adventure. It virtually defined the powered armor subgenre of military science fiction. It also generated an awful lot of mail, most of it negative. Lest anyone later accuse me of having a hidden agenda, let me make my agenda public at the outset: Starship Troopers might just be my favorite book of all time. This web page was inspired in large part by the degree of misinterpretation, false statement, and outright character assassination I have recently witnessed concerning Robert heinlein in general and Starship Troopers in specific, ranging from people on the internet who obviously felt that they didn't. For a specific example of such misinterpretation and falsehood, i recommend Don d'ammassa's recent "review" of Starship Troopers printed in April 1998 issue of Science fiction Chronicle. D'ammassa 1998:. D'ammassa uses same tired old technique of making what he claims are statements of fact regarding the society described within the book which are simply not supported by the text, then condemning the book based on these inaccurate claims.
My apologies to everyone who sent me email to whom I have not responded. My goal is to respond to every email, but I have only met the goal haphazardly. This is a work in progress. I have tried to keep the number of major book spoilers low, but there are a few big ones that are necessary to make the points I want to make. They are in the movie, though, so if you presentation have seen the movie, you already know them. (If you haven't seen the movie, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.). Since its debut in 1959, robert heinlein's novel Starship Troopers has been one of the most popular - and controversial - works of science fiction ever published.
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This page was last updated on Copyright by Christopher weuve ( mailto: ). Permission granted to copy and distribute at will for non-profit purposes provided the document - including this notice - is distributed intact. Robert heinlein's Starship Troopers, paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, references. Notes: Ten years after first creating this webpage, i get (on average) about an presentation email a week about. Most of those emails have been appreciative and/or thoughtful. A few have been hostile, and an even smaller number have been just plain weird. But i appreciate them all.