I was listening to the Podcast of FTL when I heard them chatting with a caller about Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) and "Starship Troopers". RAH was the fellow who turned me to Libertarianism. I read his stuff over and over again. The hosts at FTL have "Starship Troopers" all wrong. It is about personal liberty! The book celebrates democracy, individuality, diversity, and free choice, in peacetime first; then wartime. The clueless high school senior evolves as a result of his choices and events to an adult, ultimately earning his father's respect. The book is a easy "hard read". Just from memory, let me hit a few high points.
(1) RAH in ST first made me question suffrage. In his alternate world, you are allowed to vote only if you have done something positive for society. Seems reasonable. Just being born, doesn't confer "wisdom" upon you. But, if you have to "pay" a stiff price for a "privilege" of voting, then you will think long and hard about the choices you make. RAH made the "privilege" universally available, everyone would be assigned something dirty, dangerous, and hard. You had to pay a high price in RAH's world to be allowed to steer the ship of state. An excellent concept.
(2) RAH in ST made me think about democracy and the popular majority. People cannot vote themselves into prosperity. They certainly shouldn't be allowed to vote away my past, preset, and future. It makes you think about fundamental assumptions that you have never brought up before. He brought up interesting insights in the "History & Moral Philosophy" class. I especially liked the dialogue, "My mother always told me that violence doesn't solve anything. Really? I wonder what the city founders of Hiroshima would have to say about that." It completely destroyed my thinking about peace and aggression. That led me to Ann Rand and the Zero Aggression Principle. Capital punishment, juvenile delinquency, civic virtue all got skewered in his world. He pointed out that there were millions of people already in America before the Europeans came and ruthlessly slaughtered these 'subhumans' on their new property. That made me think differnetly about such diverse topics as Columbus, the Spanish "missionaries", religion, and the Japanese Internment.
(3) RAH in ST introduced me to the concept of wolves and sheep. Only warriors should vote because they "know" the true cost of freedom. Very powerful concept. If you aren't willing to die for your country, then why should you be allowed to lead it. Today's politicians put our boys and girls at risk without that visceral understanding of what it means. With the backdrop of American's dying in VietNam, it hit home. I'm no John F. Kennedy fan, because he had the morals of an alley cat, but he did steer the US thru a dangerous time with Cuba and VietNam. If was LBJ who escalated the war there. And, while I'm no John McCain fan, I bet he would be more circumspect about using the military. Heinlein backs up wolves with the logic that "revolt is impossible". I always looked after that if I was being lead by a real "leader" with experience, or one with paper credentials.
(4) RAH made his military 100% voluntary. A unique concept. If a trooper didn't want to drop, he didn't have to. Far cry from today's all "volunteer" force.
He used the juvenile fiction novel genre to "sneak into" our heads with personal responsibility, non-aggression as opposed to pacifism, and objectivity.
Heinlein is pure American and IMHO his ideas are almost Jeffersonian.
"Correct morals arise from knowing what man is; not what do-gooders and well-meaning old Aunt Nellies would like him to be."
The book was a treasure. The movie was a joke. I beleive the hosts confused the two together. The book had a provocative depth. I learned and taught myself a lot as a result of it. Perhaps because RAH was an engineer, he new how to connect to a future engineer.
Stealing a line from the movie "Would you like to know more?"!!!!