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From the covers of Astounding Magazine - 1940

The Roads Must Roll by Robert Heinlein

If this goes on by Robert Heinlein

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Comment by Darren Raleigh on November 23, 2010 at 9:36pm
Thank you, Sergeant. To me it seems an elegant solution: the persons providing steering on the helm of the state should be those who have had the experience, for however brief a time, of putting the state ahead of their personal interests.
Comment by Sgt Monster on November 23, 2010 at 2:06pm
You are correct of course Darren.
Military service is not the only way to gain franchise.
I, as a solider myself, have a special affinity for that path.
Franchise is not just the right to vote, but also the ability to hold office, and access to goverment funds.
The idea is that before one can benifit from the goverment, one must serve the goverment.
We do this by paying taxes here in the US....as they did in Rome.
Most folks in this country have never served in the military...(less than 10% of the population) but alot more receive government funds or use the programs available.
This is not a system I personally feel can work much longer.
Rome didn't die to barbarians at the gates....it died to the chant of "Raise the Dole!!"
Comment by Darren Raleigh on November 23, 2010 at 1:18pm
Oops. I must correct something I said in the post below, as it makes no sense (because it's wrong):
"Several characters speaking at different times throughout the book make this distinction clear: a member of the military gives up his right to vote upon joining, and can only recover it after serving his or her term, leaving the military and returning to civilian life."
My mistake. In the paradigm of the book that's not quite true. It's true that members of the military - even career soldiers and officers - cannot vote for their entire military careers, but it's not true that members give up their right to vote upon joining. Unless they were already citizens by virtue of having completed a term of some kind of service they had no vote to give up.
Comment by Darren Raleigh on November 23, 2010 at 12:16am
Reflective of his views? I think so. Satire? Certainly not. Sympathetic to fascism?

Unequivocally, no. I'm afraid I'm at work, and so don't have the references to hand, but I do recall something from one if his collections of letters in which he described himself as, "about as far from a fascist as it is possible to get." And yet regarding Mr. Heinlein as a fascist is a common mistake, and Starship Troopers is an example often cited by people of this view, so let's review: what is fascism?

In our societies, the military is an arm of the state. In a fascist society, the military IS the state. Many, many times in Mr. Heinlein's work he promotes the idea that the military must remain subordinate to the state. in fact I cannot recall one instance which would contradict this. Now, to return to the book: since it is told from the view of a soldier, it seems as if he is in a fascist society and he is: he's in the military and his life is entirely governed by it. But the military is not the entirety of the society in which the book takes place; only a small subset of it, and this is critical: a subset subordinate to the state.

Several characters speaking at different times throughout the book make this distinction clear: a member of the military gives up his right to vote upon joining, and can only recover it after serving his or her term, leaving the military and returning to civilian life. The military are entirely at the command of the civilian government; there is no chance of a military takeover/conversion to a fascist state.

Another example cited by those who think the book a fascist creed is the notion that the privilege to vote is only given to those who have completed a term of service of two years. Many people gloss over the fact that this service is not necessarily military - in the life of the protagonist it is, but it is clearly stated several times in the book that military service is only one of many routes to franchise. In fact, in the society of the book it is the right of every person to perform some sort of service to gain this franchise and it is the responsibility of the state to present means by which the person can perform service. But the privilege to control the direction of society is not a birthright - it must be earned by working, for a brief term, for the welfare of the society rather than for personal profit.
Comment by Larry on November 22, 2010 at 3:35pm
I've read the novel. I was never sure what to make of Heinlein and I've never read anything definitive.

Was the novel reflective of his views? Was it satire? Has the novel been misinterpreted as being sympathetic to fascism when in actuality it was something different? I would love it Darren if you have some information on Heinlein in relation to the novel that you could share.
Comment by Darren Raleigh on November 22, 2010 at 1:21pm
There was no Starship Troopers movie. Never happened. At most there was a pathetic attempt to capitalise on Mr. Heinlein's work, so lamentable as to border on slander by a director who was so ill-informed of the nature and scope of the work that he actually called Mr. Heinlein a fascist.
Comment by Sgt Monster on November 19, 2010 at 11:23am
I loved "The Roads must Roll"
And I usally punch folks who talk to me about that horrible movie they made of Starship Troopers.
Comment by Larry on November 16, 2010 at 7:52pm
Great stuff. I love those old magazines.
Comment by Deven Science on November 16, 2010 at 4:03am
The guys on the first cover are very Rocketeer! Very like my original idea for an Ace Aviator dieselpunk costume.
Comment by Hayen Mill on November 15, 2010 at 12:30pm
Astounding indeed! Robert A. Heinlein FTW!

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