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The Politics of Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers

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station description A weekly podcast that examines the politics of nerd fiction.
Social Science Fiction
Duration: 54:33
Examining the politics of Starship Troopers. Is the Terran Federation's citizen-civilian distinction inspired by the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau? Is it actually a fascist state? What would Heinlein have to say about the foreign policy of Eisenhower and Kennedy? Listen to find out? Notes:3:40
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Examining the politics of Starship Troopers. Is the Terran Federation's citizen-civilian distinction inspired by the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau? Is it actually a fascist state? What would Heinlein have to say about the foreign policy of Eisenhower and Kennedy? Listen to find out? Notes:3:40 - I suppose the title is a giveaway there. 11:00 - The other alien species being the "Skinnies." At the beginning of the novel they are allied with the bugs but are later said to have                         switched sides. 11:47 - Getting into the citizen-civilian distinction 12:15 - Using "liberal" here in the political science sense, meaning a democracy that protects civil rights. 18:48 - Plato being a good example. See Plato's Republic for an idea of how he dealt with these issues.  19:15 - Polybius' Histories are a good example of what the American Founders would have been thinking regarding ancient Rome. 24:47 - Getting into Heinlein's views on International Relations 27:11 - Other key aspects of the Realist model are that the world is anarchic (meaning there is no higher authority to maintain order) and                    that hard power (military might) trumps soft power (diplomacy, culture, moral authority, etc.). 27:53 - This situation has been described as an example of a "prisoner's dilemma." Each party would rather cooperate and avoid conflict but               each party knows it is safer to betray the other and, more importantly, each party knows the other party knows this. Thus,                               cooperation is thwarted by mutual mistrust.  33:32 - Heinlein's Starship Troopers is one of the first (if not the first) work to feature power armor. 34:59 - Civilian meaning non-military. Not civilian in the citizen vs. citizen sense. 38:02 - Part of Kennedy's presidential campaign strategy was actually attacking Eisenhower for being soft on defense and allowing the                       Soviet Union to surpass us in missile development. It turned out the Soviets weren't close to matching the United States on missiles. 39:00 - The idea that threatening a small response is more credible than threatening a large response is something most children seem to                      understand intuitively. Kids know their parents aren't really going to turn the car around and go home. They will worry if they're                        told they're not getting ice cream later. 40:28 - The fascism debate. 41:17 - The case for Starship Troopers as fascist 46:46 - The case against. 51:51 - Wrapping up. What does Starship Troopers tell us about Heinlein? Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
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