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5 Reasons Why Starship Troopers Is An Authoritarian And Militaristic Hellscape

Robert A. Heinlein somehow he created the worst futuristic society that is beloved by readers everywhere in his 1959 novel Starship Troopers.

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1. You need to serve in the military for 2 years to be able to vote

In the world of Starship Troopers, only those who have served in the military have achieved the moral requirement that allows them to vote. For whatever fucked up reason, training in an emotionally repressed camp and shooting insects or creating weapons of mass destruction makes for a higher level of being than say, a doctor who saves the lives of these soldiers, a person devoted to non-violence, or a teacher.

Also, only those who have served can hold political office. Which works wonders for the complete halt of any new ideas progressing in this society.

2. Floggings are commonplace in the Mobile Infantry

When enlisting in the Mobile Infantry, you can expect to pay for any mistakes you make. Our hero, Johnny Rico is told by his teacher before joining the military about the benefits of corporal punishment. He says that criminals need to suffer, not be rehabilitated, the effectiveness as pain as punishment is built into us as a species and that punishment must be unusual to be effective. Besides the fact that physical pain as a consequence is damaging towards the recipient in negative ways. Johnny is eventually beaten for a mistake and Heinlein describes him as being perfectly fine afterward. He feel

3. Fighting an enemy of mindless insects

Bugs are an easy enemy to kill without remorse. They're shown as a disgusting swarm and characters don't need to think about the implications of exterminating a species when destroying their colonies. A society that doesn't need to think about its moral integrity when at war is one that is worse off.

Heinlein depicts a war without any personal trauma or loss. Sure, he shows two old veterans with missing limbs, but our hero Johnny never grapples for more than a paragraph about the loss of his fellow soldiers or the horrors he's seen on the battlefield.

4. Heinlein held a variety of not-so-savory views himself


Many of these aspects from Starship Troopers represent Heinlein's personal far-right political views. He was initially inspired to write the novel after being enraged by an article calling for the US to disarm their nuclear weapons. Bugs are a stand in for his anti-communism; he thought of communists as mindless collectivists. He was also a eugenicist and xenophobic. Many of these views are apparent in Starship Troopers, where Johnny's teacher, Jean Dubois, tells him the "truths" of the world that are clearly extensions of the author's worldview.

5. The novel and its world inspire real life consequences

Josh Wimmer describes his experience with Starship Troopers in an article for io9 where he describes how Heinlein swept him up in notions of grandeur and triumph, to the point where he wanted to join the military based off of Heinlein's skewed depiction of life as a soldier. Luckily, Wimmer's father, who was a veteran, was able to dissuade him from doing so. Heinlein was one of the main popularizers of the genre of Military Science Fiction which is currently used as a recruitment tool for the military. Notably, for the 2016 film Independence Day Resurgence, they used ads asking for viewers to join the fictitious Earth Space Defence and do "missions" to unlock content about the film, all while having a link to the US Army recruitment page in the corner of the site.

Without critically engaging with the messages that the media we consume spreads, we're at risk to replicate it.

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