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Reply #64: Robert A. Heinlein was not a fascist [View All]

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Squeech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-25-06 08:30 AM
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64. Robert A. Heinlein was not a fascist
He wasn't even a militarist. He was a proud alumnus of the military, specifically the Navy, and he was pissed when they wouldn't let him re-enlist to help fight World War 2. (Is the desire to defeat Nazi Germany a common characteristic of fascists in your experience?)

Nor was the government in the novel a fascist government. Yes, the vote was limited to citizens who'd served a hitch in the military or some equivalent federal service. This was justified in the novel both by the pragmatic reason that it was stable (anybody aggressive enough to enlist in a revolution has already enlisted in the ruling class and can vote) and because they have a putatively advanced system of behavioral psych, called History and Moral Philosophy, that deals with the mutual obligations of society and its citizens, and teaches that only those who are willing to put their asses on the line for the community have demonstrated the empathy to make good decisions. This may strike you as fascist, but there's no Fuhrerprinzip in it, so I don't think it qualifies. Having read most of Heinlein's published work, It's obvious to me that he very strongly values independence of thought-- as opposed to the fascist ideal, where everybody is supposed to agree with Dear Leader.

There were a couple issues Heinlein was dealing with in the book. Explicitly, he was trying to tell his readers (American adolescent males) what he thought was appealing about military life. And the really cool part was, he was trying to keep it on a fairly elevated moral plane-- we kill because we must, because superior officers we trust think it necessary to defend ourselves, not because we get our jollies doing it. Implicitly, he was also trying to think through what kept the military (or at least his version of it) free of the sort of psychopaths we commonly see in banana republics, where congenital thugs enlist so they *can* get their jollies taking potshots at peasants. Heinlein's idea of a mandatory high school course in his invented science is part of his plan to weed out the bullies and monsters before we give them either arms or authority. (Note that this privileges the first clause of the Second Amendment. Does that sound fascist to you?)

There's a short story by Heinlein, I'm forgetting the title now, where there is a military coup-- an ambitious officer attempts to seize a nuclear arsenal in satellite orbit and use it to cource the various governments of earth. He is thwarted only by one of his techs, who gets in and disables all the bombs, exposing himself to fatal doses of radiation in the process. He's the hero of the story-- and in fact he reappears in another Heinlein military adventure yarn, Space Cadet, as one of four iconic heroes the cadets are taught to revere, in an attempt to inculcate a tradition of respect for civilian authority and the rule of law. Does this sound fascist to you?

All the movie took from the book was the names of the characters and the plot outline of the war on the bugs. All the philosophy and aesthetics of the movie are in (admittedly) distinct opposition to the book. As a result, Heinlein is now spinning in his grave with a rotational velocity sufficient to power 250 average American homes, if we could only hook him up to a generator.
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  -I'm obsessing over "Starship Troopers" as allegory: CanuckAmok  Apr-23-06 10:16 AM   #0 
  - I'm just surprised you haven't read the book  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 10:26 AM   #1 
  - i kant reed buks  CanuckAmok   Apr-23-06 10:31 AM   #3 
  - You  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 10:35 AM   #4 
     - Nelson Emory Balsac?  CanuckAmok   Apr-23-06 10:40 AM   #5 
        - haha  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 01:08 PM   #26 
  - Funny, not many girls are into sci-fi.  henslee   Apr-23-06 01:14 PM   #31 
     - Yeah, not many people  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 01:15 PM   #32 
        - Yes, but you look hot in nerd glasses.  fudge stripe cookays   Apr-23-06 01:18 PM   #34 
        - You know, I've never seen a pic of you  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 01:25 PM   #37 
           - I alphabetize my spices.  fudge stripe cookays   Apr-23-06 02:35 PM   #45 
              - I think you'd look FAB in nerdy glasses!  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 03:30 PM   #46 
                 - Thanks!  fudge stripe cookays   Apr-23-06 03:33 PM   #47 
        - I dont think its nerdy. I think its well rounded.  henslee   Apr-23-06 01:26 PM   #38 
           - Yeah, here's the thing.  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 01:29 PM   #39 
              - Oh lord. Hey ever read Man in the High Tower by Dick? A good one.  henslee   Apr-23-06 01:35 PM   #41 
                 - Nope, can't say I have  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 01:36 PM   #42 
                 - Wow, its cool. It takes place in the U,S after WWII but the Nazis have won  henslee   Apr-23-06 01:50 PM   #43 
                    - Dick was an excellent writer-a real visionary  EstimatedProphet   Apr-23-06 05:39 PM   #49 
                 - Yeah it is!  EstimatedProphet   Apr-23-06 05:38 PM   #48 
  - Also the Island-Hopping Campaign through the Pacific Theatre in WWII  DS1   Apr-23-06 10:30 AM   #2 
  - Ditto GinC - the book's a worthy read, different vibe.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 10:47 AM   #6 
  - It was a fascist society.  Swede   Apr-23-06 10:50 AM   #7 
  - Fascist how?  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 11:02 AM   #8 
     - The dominance of everything military.  Swede   Apr-23-06 11:08 AM   #9 
     - It's a war story, so NO DUH it has a military focus.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 11:16 AM   #10 
        - Sorry I added that dig in,it was uncalled for.  Swede   Apr-23-06 11:27 AM   #12 
           - Sorry, but I think you just proved his point re: facism  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 12:00 PM   #15 
           - "a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism."  Swede   Apr-23-06 12:15 PM   #18 
              - For your claim of fascism to somehow work,  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 12:23 PM   #20 
              - That's one aspect of fascism, not the whole kit & kaboodle.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 12:27 PM   #21 
              - The "bugs" are the gooks of this film.  Swede   Apr-23-06 12:31 PM   #22 
                 - No, we won't have to disagree. You're demonstrably wrong.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 12:49 PM   #24 
                    - My argument is valid.  Swede   Apr-23-06 12:54 PM   #25 
                    - The argument is not valid.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 01:10 PM   #29 
                    - Ebert's take on the film sees the same things I do.  Swede   Apr-23-06 01:08 PM   #27 
                       - That STILL isn't fascism  GirlinContempt   Apr-23-06 01:10 PM   #28 
                       - Argumentum ad verecundiam.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 01:16 PM   #33 
                       - Right back at ya slick.  Swede   Apr-23-06 01:22 PM   #36 
                       - Actually, the film is anti-fascist  EstimatedProphet   Apr-23-06 01:20 PM   #35 
                       - Gee,do you think?  Swede   Apr-23-06 01:30 PM   #40 
                          - Ok, but what you were saying earlier was that it was fascist  EstimatedProphet   Apr-23-06 02:07 PM   #44 
                       - Whoever you're quoting never read the book  DrGonzoLives   Apr-24-06 07:24 AM   #57 
              - So, anything not a left-wing utopia is fascism?  DrGonzoLives   Apr-24-06 07:16 AM   #56 
           - I missed your edit, so I'd like to address the definition you posted.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 12:41 PM   #23 
     - The movie had very fascist overtones  EstimatedProphet   Apr-23-06 11:17 AM   #11 
     - Lots of that was part of the satire.  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 11:30 AM   #13 
     - Exactly  EstimatedProphet   Apr-23-06 11:49 AM   #14 
        - I suspect people missed that stuff because  asthmaticeog   Apr-23-06 12:20 PM   #19 
           - That, and action films tend to be immature in their outlook  EstimatedProphet   Apr-23-06 05:45 PM   #51 
              - It was marketed as a right-wing action flick.  Telly Savalas   Apr-23-06 10:32 PM   #55 
     - There's one brief scene that sells the whole thing:  CanuckAmok   Apr-25-06 12:56 AM   #63 
     - I have to agree. Militarism does not necessarily = Fascism.  CanuckAmok   Apr-23-06 12:04 PM   #17 
  - Hey, Any Movie That Puts Doogie Howser In An SS Uniform.....  Paladin   Apr-23-06 12:00 PM   #16 
  - I thought Neil Patrick Harris pulled off his role very well  entanglement   Apr-23-06 06:27 PM   #52 
  - I'm obsessing over showgirls (Vehoveens other classic )as allegory. nt  henslee   Apr-23-06 01:12 PM   #30 
  - It's a classic morality play in the Renaissance tradition...  CanuckAmok   Apr-23-06 10:10 PM   #53 
  - Man, I wish sundog was here.  Fenris   Apr-23-06 05:44 PM   #50 
  - One reason this flick was great - Denise Richards!  The Sushi Bandit   Apr-23-06 10:31 PM   #54 
  - PLEASE read the book  DrGonzoLives   Apr-24-06 07:26 AM   #58 
  - Personally, I think the movie does a good job of lampooning action flicks  EstimatedProphet   Apr-24-06 11:47 AM   #60 
  - ...  CanuckAmok   Apr-25-06 12:36 AM   #61 
  - How can it be allegorical and prescient at the same time?  billyskank   Apr-24-06 07:49 AM   #59 
  - Well...  CanuckAmok   Apr-25-06 12:44 AM   #62 
  - Robert A. Heinlein was not a fascist  Squeech   Apr-25-06 08:30 AM   #64 
     - Very well put!  BigMcLargehuge   Apr-25-06 09:06 AM   #65 
     - "The Long Watch" is the story. John Dahlquist was the hero.....  Bridget Burke   Apr-25-06 09:25 AM   #66 

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