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All I Ever Really Needed To Know About Citizenship, I Learned From Starship Troopers
The Constitutional Alamo ^ | 04/09/10 | Michael Naragon

Posted on 04/09/2010 6:49:45 PM PDT by Publius772000

Ask most people about Starship Troopers, and, if they recognize the name at all, they’ll link it to the over-hyped 1997 film directed by Paul Verhoeven. This is unfortunate, as the film did no justice to the Heinlein text. My first acquaintance with the book came in 2003 when I found a 1959 copy in a flea market in Indian Springs, GA for the tidy sum of $5.

I’d never read the book before buying that copy, but I consumed it in a day. The writing was aimed at a young adult audience, but its themes resonate today, regardless of age.

The book, like the film, focuses on the exploits of Juan “Johnnie” Rico, a young high school graduate who decides to gain his citizenship through Federal Service. Heinlein’s post-20th century world is governed by a military republic where citizenship is attained through some form of service, primarily in the armed forces. Rico finds himself funneled into the Mobile Infantry, where he is trained to be a cap (capsule) trooper. During his training, the Earth enters a war against the “bugs” and the “skinnies,” two alien races. The book chronicles Rico’s journey from his entrance into Federal Service through his rigorous training and his time in officer’s school. Unlike the film, much of the book is set in Rico’s various classes throughout his training, most notably his courses on History and Moral Philosophy, which discussed the reasons behind conflict in general and the organization of the government in Rico’s time.

Heinlein’s book, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960, was both praised and criticized by the science fiction community. Some argued that Heinlein, who was a 1929 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was recruiting for the military...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Books/Literature; Government; Military/Veterans; Politics
KEYWORDS: citizenship; heinlein; starship; troopers
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To: FreedomPoster

That sounds about right.

41 posted on 04/09/2010 8:09:44 PM PDT by dangerdoc
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To: Publius772000

Another interesting point - ONLY combat vets were allowed to work as cops. Why? - they knew what happend when you pull the trigger...


Brought out concepts now seen as MECHA (powered armor)

Liberal use of TacNukes.

Liberal use of public whipping for punishment

Yup, the RAH was quite the rabble rouser.

Best piece - Short story “Searchlight”, a Novella in 1000 words.

For today - his “Take back your Government” has a lot to say.

42 posted on 04/09/2010 8:12:48 PM PDT by ASOC (In case of attack, tune to 640 kilocycles or 1240 kilocycles on your AM dial.)
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To: Publius772000
I bought and read STARSHIP TROOPERS when it first came out. I was attending the World Science Fiction Convention that year, and knew it was a Hugo nominee. I took my copy along to the WorldCon.

I had just sold my first story to ASTOUNDING that year. John Campbell, the editor, invited me to sit at his table during the Hugo awards. Heinlein was there at the table also.

When ST was announced as the winner, I ran back up to my hotel room, grabbed my copy, and got Heinlein's autograph on it right after he accepted the award. That copy is one of my most treasured possessions. I don't lend it out.

43 posted on 04/09/2010 8:14:43 PM PDT by JoeFromSidney
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To: driftdiver
Me too, the stuff after is disappointing.

In the sixties, when Stranger was all the rage, many hippies were greatly disappointed when they went on to read Starship Troopers and The Moon is A Harsh Mistress.

So I went out and read them, and was thrilled, especially by the latter, which I ought to read again. What I loved about Starship Troopers was the absolute respect it demonstrated toward women. One very moving part was about the cadet who went AWOL during training, and took a little girl hostage in attempting to avoid capture and killed her. They took him back to his unit, stripped him of all his military insignia down to his fatigues, then hung him by the neck in front of his former unit.

44 posted on 04/09/2010 8:18:40 PM PDT by ARepublicanForAllReasons (President Zero, walking in the footsteps of Hugo Chavez)
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To: JoeFromSidney

Very, very cool story...

45 posted on 04/09/2010 8:24:04 PM PDT by Publius772000 (
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To: ARepublicanForAllReasons

And what’s interesting about that particular episode in the book is that Rico views it with very different emotions than he does the public flogging of the recruit that struck Sgt. Zim during training.

46 posted on 04/09/2010 8:25:51 PM PDT by Publius772000 (
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To: Publius772000

The movie: based on the back cover of a novel by Robert Heinlein.

47 posted on 04/09/2010 8:27:34 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (+)
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To: Publius772000

Great book, first novel I ever read.

I have read it a dozen times, at least.

48 posted on 04/09/2010 8:31:28 PM PDT by Greystoke
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To: ctdonath2

The best description of the movie I’ve ever read... I may steal that in the future. :D

49 posted on 04/09/2010 8:32:22 PM PDT by Publius772000 (
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To: Publius772000

This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted… and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.

“Nothing of value is free.

What a prophet, that Heinlen. Collapse of democracies of the 20th century. OK, he missed by one century."

I agree. Great book. Every guy that reads should read it. A great guy book and I think women could get something out of it as well, but not really one aimed at women, IMHO. I don't agree with the premise that only those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country should be the only ones to vote or hold office, but it is based on a sound general principal.

You have to have some skin in the game to make a sound decision. There is a reason poke is played with money. No money, and everybody plays out every hand, bluffing on every hand. What do they care. Add money, and you have to think long and hard if you want to raise the bet and go on. You need skin in the game. Tax payers have that. Property owners have that. Small business owners have that.

50 posted on 04/09/2010 9:17:56 PM PDT by Freedom_Is_Not_Free (Bye bye Miss American Freedom. When did we vote for Communism?)
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To: Freedom_Is_Not_Free

When I first read ST, I loved it so much that my wife wanted to read it to see what the fuss was about. She did, and it became one of her favorites as well. I think you’re right about it being an obvious “guy” book, as we see the value in the kinds of friendships discussed, but my wife loved it for the same reason she loved Atlas Shrugged... the sense of duty and fairness that is woven throughout, and the ability to compare our society with the one created by Heinlein. Especially considering our current political and social culture, I think women would enjoy the themes as well as men do. One of the best passages in the book, especially for my wife and me, being teachers, is the section in which the idea of juvenile delinquency is discussed. Heinlein even painted the late 20th century as a time of teenage lawlessness and school violence. School violence!! He wrote about it in 1959.

51 posted on 04/09/2010 9:26:34 PM PDT by Publius772000 (
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To: GeronL

read the book. no one was a slave. soldiers could quit right before going into combat, if they wished.

52 posted on 04/09/2010 9:56:10 PM PDT by chesley (Lib arguments are neither factual, logical, rational, nor reasonable. They are, however, creative.)
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To: Publius772000

Here is a link to a fascinating 12 page article about Troopers and citizenship.

parsy, who says did you guys know there was a SS Troopers III out? Its on HBO and Encore some.

53 posted on 04/09/2010 10:02:17 PM PDT by parsifal (Abatis: Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside from molesting the rubbish inside)
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To: shibumi; Slings and Arrows; Markos33; LongElegantLegs

Ban plate tectonics, now!

54 posted on 04/09/2010 10:07:32 PM PDT by Salamander (....and I'm sure I need some rest but sleepin' don't come very easy in a straight white vest.......)
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To: chesley

Tue. Being a soldier was an honor, not an obligation.

55 posted on 04/09/2010 10:14:52 PM PDT by Freedom_Is_Not_Free (Bye bye Miss American Freedom. When did we vote for Communism?)
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>>> I’m trying to get into Time Enough for Love, but just can’t get there

“Time Enough For Love” was the final episode of the Future History timeline. I don’t think you can appreciate how it ties together the series and loose ends until you have read the prior stories of the series, many written in the 1940s.

Most of these are collected in “The Past Through Tomorrow”, including the initial introduction of Lazarus Long.

56 posted on 04/09/2010 10:39:04 PM PDT by tlb
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To: driftdiver
"Book is fantastic, I’ve read it probably 20 times. Movie was stupid."

The first movie was watchable. So was the third. The second one, however was about as excrable and S T U P I D as anything I have ever seen, and had absolutely nothing to do with the original story. I kept watching because I thought there was going to be a pony in there somewhere, but it turned out to be one of the WORST movies I have ever seen.

57 posted on 04/09/2010 10:48:52 PM PDT by redhead ("If you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat." --Ronald W. Reagan)
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To: GeronL

>>> Being a government slave for a while will sure be a great benefit to liberty.

As Heinlein explains it in the novel, it is the farthest thing from slavery. It simply requires people to accept responsibility for themselves before they may exert authority over others.

In the time prior to the start of the novel there had been world war leading to total civil breakdown. Local vigilante groups of veterans took charge and restored order. This developed into a general system of government. In a discussion during an Officers Candidate School class, the system is explained thus:

“The sovereign franchise has been bestowed by all sorts of rules —place of birth, family of birth, race, sex, property, education, age, religion, et cetera. All these systems worked and none of them well. All were regarded as tyrannical by many, all eventually collapsed or were overthrown.

“Now here are we with still another system . . . and our system works quite well. Many complain but none rebel; personal freedom for all is greatest in history, laws are few, taxes are low, living standards are as high as productivity permits, crime is at its lowest ebb. Why? Not because our voters are smarter than other people; we’ve disposed of that argument.

Mr. Tammany can you tell us why our system works better than any used by our ancestors?”

I don’t know where Clyde Tammany got his name; I’d take him for a Hindu. He answered, “Uh, I’d venture to guess that it’s because the electors are a small group who know that the decisions are up to them . . . so they study the issues.”

“No guessing, please; this is exact science. And your guess is wrong. The ruling nobles of many another system were a small group fully aware of their grave power. Furthermore, our franchised citizens are not everywhere a small fraction; you know or should know that the percentage of citizens among adults ranges from over eighty per cent on Iskander to less than three per cent in some Terran nations yet government is much the same everywhere.

Nor are the voters picked men; they bring no special wisdom, talent, or training to their sovereign tasks. So what difference is there between our voters and wielders of franchise in the past? We have had enough guesses; I’ll state the obvious: 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.

“And that is the one practical difference.”

“He may fail in wisdom, he may lapse in civic virtue. But his average performance is enormously better than that of any other class of rulers in history.”

Major Reid paused to touch the face of an old-fashioned watch, “reading” its hands. “The period is almost over and we have yet to determine the moral reason for our success in governing ourselves. Now continued success is never a matter of chance. Bear in mind that this is science, not wishful thinking; the universe is what it is, not what we want it to be. To vote is to wield authority; it is the supreme authority from which all other authority derives — such as mine to make your lives miserable once a day.

Force, if you will! — the franchise is force, naked and raw, the Power of the Rods and the Ax. Whether it is exerted by ten men or by ten billion, political authority is force.”

“But this universe consists of paired dualities. What is the converse of authority? Mr. Rico.”

He had picked one I could answer. “Responsibility, sir.”

“Applause. Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal, else a balancing takes place as surely as current `flows between points of unequal
potential. To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority . . . other than through the tragic logic of history. The unique `poll tax’ that we must pay was unheard of. No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead — and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.”

“Superficially, our system is only slightly different; we have democracy unlimited by race, color, creed, birth, wealth, sex, or conviction, and anyone may win sovereign power by a usually short and not too arduous term of service — nothing more than a light workout to our cave-man ancestors. But that slight difference is one between a system that works, since it is constructed to match the facts, and one that is inherently unstable. Since sovereign franchise is the ultimate in human authority, we insure that all who wield it accept the ultimate in social responsibility — we require each person who wishes to exert control over the state to wager his own life — and lose it, if need be — to save the life of the state. The maximum responsibility a human can accept is thus equated to the ultimate authority a human can exert. Yin and yang, perfect and equal.”

58 posted on 04/09/2010 10:58:11 PM PDT by tlb
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To: tlb

Thanks for posting my 2nd or 3rd favorite lesson from the book... I think the lecture on value is my favorite, followed closely by this and the juvenile delinquency discussion.

59 posted on 04/09/2010 11:23:20 PM PDT by Publius772000 (
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To: GeronL

No, because you’d realize that the book stated that if you wanted the right to vote and run for office, you had to show that you believed in and supported your nation - through ‘federal service’.

Citizenship was automatic, voting was not.

60 posted on 04/09/2010 11:30:16 PM PDT by gogogodzilla (Live free or die!)
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