SM Book Club- Starship Trooper- DISCUSSION

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by Motomom34, May 9, 2017.

  1. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

  2. reinkefj

    reinkefj REINKEFJ

    This is the book that made me an anti-war little L libertarian. Wonder how many others he "brainwashed"? "Men aren't potatoes!" Remember Heinlein's Starship Troopers’ universe? One does not merely have the right to be a citizen and vote by virtue of what Heinlein called the mere accident of birth; rather, one has to earn this right through Federal Service that tested one’s ability and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of the polity. Bet not a lot of vets would vote for all the undeclared wars the USA has been in since WW2? Argh! Now I'm going to be upset for the rest of the night!
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  3. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Some background om the book and related memes within the story itself.
    The story was first published (in abridged form) as a two-part serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as Starship Soldier. Starship Troopers (edited and expanded as the book) won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960

    The book Starship Troopers (ST) is credited for a couple of things.

    Mecha - or powered armor. From a SciFi POV, this was truly way beyond bleeding edge thinking. Not just an exoskeleton, but full on, enclosed, self-contained, drop from orbit battle armor. The other - a hive-mind entity as a opponent - where life didn't matter to 'the bad guys'. (I'll come back to this in the general discussion)

    From a pure publishing viewpoint -
    Heinlein, writing in his 1980 volume Expanded Universe, would say that his desire to write Starship Troopers was sparked by the publication of a newspaper advertisement placed by the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy on April 5, 1958 calling for a unilateral suspension of nuclear weapon testing by the United States. RAH's politics varied wildly over his lifetime to say the least.

    Heinlein, a graduate of Annapolis, and his wife Virginia Heinlein created the small "Patrick Henry League" in an attempt to create support for the U.S. nuclear testing program. Heinlein stated that he used the novel to clarify his military and political views. So much for motive.

    As with many of Heinlein's other books, Starship Troopers was completed in a few weeks. It was originally written as a juvenile novel for New York publishing house Scribner. Heinlein had previously had success with this format. However, it was rejected, prompting Heinlein to cease writing juvenile fiction for Scribner's, end his association with that publisher completely, and resume writing books with adult themes. The novel was eventually published as an adult novel by G. P. Putnam's Sons. RAH stayed with Putnam's Sons for a number of years.

    Scholars have suggested that Scribner's rejection was based on ideological objections to the content of the novel. I disagree. The book, while ostensibly a YA book, has very adult content. I'm not surprised at the Scribner's rejection. My own parents were horrified at some of the passages (mostly close quarter combat) and wondered how this book could be in a high school library.....this at the same time 18 Y/O were being drafted and sent to the meat-grinder of Vietnam.

    I was fortunate to personally know Robert's cousin, Oscar Heinlein, a retired USAF colonel and active ham radio operator. He, and Robert, came from a long line of Navy men. Oscar is one of the few people I met that had honest-to-John Blimp pilot wings. When blimps were grounded, he resigned his commission in the Navy and enlisted in the Army Air Corp's flying program.
    Robert was pensioned out of the Navy owing to medical issues - TB. That small monthly check helped support him as he began his career in writing.

    As a final note, my youngest son enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps 2003, at the height of the fighting in SWA. I bought him a book to read in his free time at Basic (yes, they do get some free time) - that book was Starship Troopers. I even highlighted certain passages that struck me as key to the gestalt of the story arc.

    I look forward to the discussion of the story, underlying themes and memes Not to mention the Bug Eyed monsters.....
  4. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    I got the take on his "citizenship" as a way of preventing what is developing in our republic and what has happened in the past in other societies, the rise of a political underclass that will vote for anyone who will provide the bread and circuses they wish. This seems to lead to the Emperors in Rome or the "Bernie's or Hillary"s" in the USA. YMMV The problem is that the solution may well be as fatal as the problem. Who shall be in charge and what their powers will be has been an open debate since before man could speak, occurs in every animal group that we observe, chickens and pecking order etc, and still is an open question. Starship Troopers describes a system in which you have to have skin in the game in order to play, and illustrates in a graphic way that it may be a significant amount of skin and that the good of the whole may require sacrifices by the individual.
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  5. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I will start reading it again (for about the 6th time) tonight so it's fresh in my mind and to be ready for discussion come Sunday.
    I have always agreed with his view on earning your citizenship and right to vote by service even though I am sure the elites would find a way around it...don't they find a way around everything?
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  6. OldDude49

    OldDude49 Just n old guy

    IIRC the founders never intended one person one vote... you had to have property IIRC?

    they were fully aware of what happened in previous forms of western type governments...

    IMHO if you are on welfare you should NOT be allowed to vote... I'm not talkin SS or VAD here...

    talkin welfare moms that pump out the babies n such...

    a job for at least a year AFTER getting off said welfare should be required?

    just an opinion mind you...
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  7. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    why not? is government money welfare for one but not for another?
    the problem is that there is such a thing as government money. For states, for schools, for churches, for you or for me, the government is giving me your charity against your will, that can't be done. See Walter Williams.
    If you don't PAY TAXES you shouldn't be allowed to vote. Now the answer to that is not a bunch of non voters, it's NO NON-TAXPAYERS!
  8. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Last edited: May 18, 2017
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  9. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    I concur whole heartedly! (y)
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  10. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Social Security is not gov't money, as much as they'd like you to believe it. It has been paid in for decades by workers, only to be stolen and redistributed to many departments that have no claim upon it.

    As far as only taxpayers voting...there are many illegal aliens that pay taxes...should they be entitled to vote just because they (fraudulently) pay taxes? I don't think so. Same with land owners...lots of non-residents fall into that classification.

    Having "skin in the game," although far from perfect, would set a standard that would be clear and concise.
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  11. snake6264

    snake6264 Combat flip flop douchebag

    I must say that I think that the concept idea of service and being a Full Citizen.
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  12. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Starship Troopers has generated a lot of ink. I want to set the stage - as shown by specific passages in the book and then make comments related to those passages.

    At the end of 20th century, national governments of the world collapsed due to the failure of "unlimited democracies", civil unrest, social workers and child psychologists, a "pre-scientific pseudo-professional class", banning corporal punishment, resulting in crime reaching endemic proportions.
    Quite the list of villains. This was penned in 1958. RAH uses the term "delinquency" and "juvenile delinquency" - and these terms may be open to some (mis)interpretation
    In 1958, the seminal work (listed below) was published - looking at what was then a nascent but growing 'gang culture'. I think even then (1958) RAH could see the storm clouds gathering for North American society.

    Lower Class Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency
    Authors Walter B. Miller
    First published: July 1958Full publication history DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1958.tb01413.x


    Illegal activity which took place all around the world, including in Russia and in the United Kingdom, brought down the North American Republic. In 1987, the resulting Russo-Anglo-American alliance became engaged in a war with the Chinese Hegemony. Shortly before the war's end, the "Revolt of the Scientists" tried to create a utopia through a coup d'état but soon failed. The war ended in 2130 with the humiliating Treaty of New Delhi, which made large concessions to the Hegemony. This treaty freed prisoners captured by the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance, but left 65,000 civilians (Japanese, Filipino and Russian) and two divisions of British Paratroopers (sentenced for political crimes) in Chinese incarceration, leaving them escape as the only way to freedom.

    The loss of the war (or rather, a negotiated peace on extremely unfavorable terms, somewhat like the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I) left the West and Russia on the brink of anarchy. I cannot make references to the conflict in Vietnam as that nightmare had yet to begin.... I'll just note that the less-than-satisfactory outcome of the Koren conflict was still very fresh on everyone's minds.
    BTW - The listed dates of the conflict with the Chinese beggars the imagination. A 'war' lasting over 150 years? A full seven generations? I'll list this a flyer missed by the editors.

    After the collapse of national governments, a group of veterans in Aberdeen, Scotland, formed a vigilante group to stop rioting and looting. They hanged a few people (including two veterans) and decided to only allow veterans to join their committee due to a mistrust of politicians. This contingency plan became routine after a couple of generations, and this group of vigilantes originated the Terran Federation.

    It is expressly stated in the book that this was never intended to be a coup d'état and was perhaps more comparable to the Russian Revolution. One system collapsed on its own and another rose to fill its place.
    This goes a long way to provide the rational for the so--called "protected jobs" . For example, only combat vets could be policeman - something about knowing what happens after you pull the trigger.

    Now we are presented with a society (North American Republic) that was killed off by crime. Believable, sadly. An alliance with the remains of the UK and Russia - today, also believable. In 1958,. it was more than a bit 'out there'.

    RAH is careful to fill in many of the broad strokes of the society this story takes place. What isn't covered is how mankind managed to spread out into the stars. That aspect is treated as a fact, seemingly not needing backstory fill. This, in many ways, is where I see RAH failing to provide the needed background for a reader to make full sense of the story presented.

    I'll wait for others to post up their views on the opening / background / setup for the story arc before going on.
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  13. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    If I may - you see this issues than as "No representation without taxation"?
    I think RAH was pushing a larger narrative - the idea that 'service' was a way to prove you could be part of a greater whole - and thus, would take more care in your voting.

    We see within the story this idea (Duty and the whole of society) writ large -
    "The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual.”"

    “Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part...and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live.”

    Which then leads to:
    “Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.” Big on demonstrated. I feel it would have been better stated a "is a person" vice is a man.

    Finally - RAH took voting pretty seriously.
    “When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.”

    To say Robert had a unique outlook - either then or even now, would be an understatement.
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  14. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King |RIP 11-4-2017

    Maybe because welfare (including SSI...which is not Social Security) is need based and one does not need to have worked a day in their life to receive it, while Social Security requires that one has worked during a minimum of 10 years and paid the FICA "taxes" (in reality premiums) in order to qualify, and it's payment rate is in direct correlation with the amount of income upon which one paid those "taxes"?

    While I do not believe the government should be in the Retirement, Survivor & Disability Insurance (the actual name of the Social Security program) business any more than they should be in the health insurance business, it has been collecting (between specified SS and Medicare amounts) around 10% of our income...with the employer paying another 10% which is part of your "cost" to your employer (except those of us who owned a business in which we worked, who paid both "shares") throughout our working careers. Personally, with both a good paying job and side businesses in which I worked, I had 6 figures of income taken from me over the years to justify the small (compared to my total retirement income) amount I receive and the privilege of only paying just over $100 per month for a pretty limited health insurance (along with another $150-$200 per month to make it real insurance).

    Since you say government money is government money, I note you didn't mention his reference to VAD (actually VDC, or Veterans Disability Compensation) which, as the name implies, is compensation for disabilities acquired while serving in the military. Do you also consider this to be lumped with "welfare"?

    (EDIT: Sorry Moto...just saw your request not to make this about current politics, but people who spew uneducated opinions as fact on this subject tend to tee me off a bit.)
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
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  15. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    What I lover about this book was that the protagonists had a common enemy that united them for survival of the species.

    Heinlein was far ahead of his time in thinking about how sexual equality would look.... men and women showering together, fighting side by side, dying together. He also thought alot about what makes up a citizen. Someone who is willing to serve, to lay their life on the line for the privelege of voting and having a say in how your government works.
  16. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King |RIP 11-4-2017

    In 1958, even for one who recognized (at times, and more so in this book than others of his) a closer approximation of gender equality than most at the time (or many today...even on this board), the term "man" as used, was equivalent to "mankind". I agree that "person" would have been a better word by our standards...but in '58 the 2 were interchangeable.

    If you think his outlook politically in this book is unique, take a look at his proposed government structure in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress some time.

    In at least 6 or 7 readings of this book, I have to admit I had never noticed the length of the Chinese war.
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  17. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    The requirement to vote was described as "fulfilling at least two years of "Federal Service". This is open to everyone, regardless of ability.
    Vets get the protected jobs.
    As an aside, I see this in the private sector. For example, in Clark County (Las Vegas) retired police get first shot at any open bailiff positions. If you think about it - it really makes sense in many areas.

    The people of this Terran Federation are either "Citizens" or "Civilians". Everyone is born a "Civilian", and at age 18 every "Civilian" has the right to enroll for a minimum 2-year term of "Federal Service". After completing a term of Federal Service a Civilian now becomes a Citizen and gains the right to vote.

    In theory a completed term of Federal Service ensures a Citizen is willing to put the needs of the community before their own personal well-being. This is because Federal Service is tough and dangerous (by design). It can involve joining the military (but not exclusively). One can 'serve' by being a human guinea pig, testing survival equipment, or even manual labor. The Federation makes it quite easy to quit a term of service before completion (even during war-time), but once someone has quit they are never allowed to enroll again. While a minor point, it is a key piece of the book in the Basic Training section. .

    In the book, we see :A doctor giving a medical examination says "if you came in here in a wheelchair and blind in both eyes and were silly enough to insist on enrolling, they would find you something silly to match. Counting the fuzz on a caterpillar by touch, maybe." The only impediment that can render one ineligible for federal service is if a psychiatrist determines that one cannot understand the oath of service.

    "Civilians" are neither discriminated against, nor deprived of legal rights other than that of the ballot. Several examples from the book bear this out, particularly the fact that Juan Rico's family is prosperous and lacks for nothing save the right to vote. The book takes some pains to point out that Rico's father regards voting as "useless" anyway.
  18. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey

    The political system had it's origin's with the veterans, the forgotten and abandoned POW's of the Chinese war. Those that had made their own way back home (Scotland) only to find wide spread lawlessness and those responsible to maintain order incapable of fulfilling their obligations to the community.

    They formed a citizen's committee and put a stop to the riots as well as the lawlessness by hanging them. The veteran's continued their committee and only allowed Vet's to be members. Other communities hear of their susess and followed their example. Eventual that system of governance that those vet's formed became the planetary governing system.

    Those Vet's had looked solve a problem within their own small community, but they changed a world.

    Just my small contribution to the discussion.
    And, Thank the lord for spell check!!
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  19. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Vets making the law "work" has happened - just not recently.

    The Battle of Athens (sometimes called the McMinn County War) was a rebellion led by citizens in Athens and Etowah, Tennessee, United States, against the local government in August 1946. The citizens, including a large number of World War II veterans, accused the local officials of predatory policing, police brutality, political corruption and voter intimidation. The event is sometimes cited by firearms ownership advocates as an example of the value of the Second Amendment in combating tyranny. ( for a look at the background of the conflict and the ultimate results)

    And this is where RAH's Utopian view, IMO, falls apart.

    While it is one thing to win a battle (put down riots) winning the war (building a working society with the Rule of Law) is an altogether different thing.

    Overcoming graft and corruption with the resulting (generalized) crime at any level (local, State or Federal) requires several things to have any hope of working.
    Laws that make sense, are understandable and seem "fair" (tricky word, fair) to at least the majority of the people to be governed.
    For the Law to work, it must be enforced. In a working society, this may be a minor task. May be.
    If the Law is to be accepted as enforceable, the Police function must be both focused and trained in the Law.
    As a corollary to the Police function, you must have a judicial system that is impartial and enforces the Law - that is to say, not use the Law to take or give advantage - this is where corruption takes root and grows....

    Sadly in too many places both the Police function and judiciary fail in every count. The story leading this post (Battle of Athens) is a perfect example. Today the exact same thing goes on, it just tends to be a little more subtle....

    The book comes from a different age in our society, but the warts remain the same...
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  20. OldDude49

    OldDude49 Just n old guy

    Something that caught my eye...

    "I don’t know," he had answered grimly, "except that the time-tested method of instilling social virtue and
    respect for law in the minds of the young did not appeal to a pre-scientific pseudo-professional class who
    called themselves ‘social workers’ or sometimes ‘child psychologists.’ It was too simple for them,
    apparently, since anybody could do it, using only the patience and firmness needed in training a puppy.
    I have sometimes wondered if they cherished a vested interest in disorder
    but that is unlikely; adults almost always act from conscious ‘highest motives’ no matter what their behavior

    During High School in the mid 60's I was starting to see this... and later in college in the mid 70s had class with an instructor that claimed he had spent time in China and would purr about it... noticed he twisted, so many things... and in some cases he outright lied... and thinkin this kinda thing has only gotten worse in our educations system...

    thinkin it may not be cherished but possibly... deliberate

    recall something I read long time back... seems the KGB etc... considered the USA to be a moral people and part of the plan that was laid out was to attack the moral fiber of this nation... along with other things... gotta wonder...

    which leads me back to this... from Tsun Tzu... which IIRC was required reading for them and also for the Chinese version if said agency...

    The direct tactic of war is necessary only on the battlefield, but only the indirect tactic can lead to a real and lasting victory.

    Subvert anything of value to the enemy's country. Implicate the emissaries of the major powers in criminal undertakings: undermine their position and destroy their reputation in other ways as well: and expose them to the public ridicule of their fellow citizens.

    Do not shun the aid of even the lowest and most despicable people. Disrupt the work of their government with every means you can.

    Spread disunity and dispute among the citizens of the enemy's country. Turn the young against the old. Use every means to destroy their arms, their supplies, and the discipline of the enemy's forces.

    Debase old traditions and accepted gods. Be generous with promises and rewards to purchase intelligence and accomplices. Send out your secret agents in all directions. Do not skimp with money or with promises, for they yield a high return.

    just some thoughts...
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