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Starship Troopers


zulu9812
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How many people have read the book (ignore the film, please ;))? Does anyone think that it shows the future of warfare. Personally, I don't. It seems a bit silly for troopers to be individually dropped from orbit - surely their descent must seperate them by huge distances? In the book, it's not such a problem, since it's suggested that one trooper has enough firepower to hold a large area. To me, that seems to me that the military of that time are assuming that they will always be facing inferior opposition - a fatal mistake, I'm sure you'll agree. Modern military thinking (and police thinking) is to maximise your forces in a concentrated spot, i.e. to overcompensate and overestimate your opponent. Finally, wouldn't these troopers be awfully costly to replace? In a war situation, you can't always rely on a healthy economy or even a working industry. The again, I suppose that's why they're trained to throw knives.

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the CAP Troopers are a spec ops force, I think. in the first chapter a squad deploys from space, then use jump packs to move from point A to point B blowing up everything they can on the way. i think i remember that they were always separated by at least a few kilometers except for at the very end of the mission when they boarded the drop ship. thats one of my favourite parts of the book BTW :D

they rely on speed, shock, and mobility for protection. its also mentioned that the mission was to harass the enemy for political purposes, not destroy them. the story goes that the aliens they were attacking were not the "bugs", but rather another race that was on the verge of switching sides during the war.

this tactic is in use today, believe it or not. the SAS started off in WW2 by doing lightning raids at night while in jeeps. they drove along side an enemy encampment as fast as they could, shooting as much as they could in a single pass. then they would spped off into the night again before Rommel and the African Corps had a chance to respond. For a more recent example: US Navy SEALs use Desert Patrol Vehicles (DPV) in the same way. DPVs were deployed in the Gulf War and also in Afghanistan for quick hit-and-run strikes. the whole idea is that speed, shock, and mobility make up for superior numbers and superior firepower.

this is the direction modern military forces are heading. the new US main battle tank is supposed to be light enough that it can be airlifted in to battle. the big thing about the Crusader Weapons System (it was the new Arty, before the project was ended) was that it was light and fast to deploy. the CF is in the process of restructuring to accomodate smaller brushfire wars that need speed more than firepower.

any thoughts?

oh yeah... here's a pic of a SEAL DPV... these things are just sooooo damn cool :DDPV at specialoperations.com

DPV1.jpg

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Heinlein didn't have to be a boob back then - imaginations were bigger at the dawn of the space age and science fiction was so much more speculative. I don't think that the future of warfare bit was the point of the book. Heinlein spends much more time dwelling on wartime army life and on the philosophy of war. Some of the writing in that book on whether war solves anything, on whether countrues need military forces is universally pertinent. More so now that we stand on the brink of another war that to so many people needs more justification.

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I don't think that the future of warfare bit was the point of the book. Heinlein spends much more time dwelling on wartime army life and on the philosophy of war. Some of the writing in that book on whether war solves anything, on whether countrues need military forces is universally pertinent.

this is true. the tactics represented in the book take second stage to the moral philosophy. but one could argue that the tactics - the philosophy of manuever warfare - is a universally pertinant as well. if it was true when Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War and it is still true today, who's to say that it won't be true in another few thousand years?

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One of my favorite novels...The warfare elements, however, weren't intended to be anything more than window dressing...Heinlein wanted to write his political and moral views, on warfare, social and political issues, in a format that would attract a younger audience...

The novel is a testament to the fighting man and frighteningly accurate with it's predictions of where the US justice system (specifically juvenile) would be...As wells as to the extent of the moral decay of the US...

Personally, I think this is one of the most important books ever written...As far as the tactics go, I would say that the principle and deployment of what the CAP troopers were would be correct...I think the weaponry had alot to be desired (basically a flathrower and nuclear weapons...Not alot of options there)...I know, however, that the US Military is already in the process of designing those types of exoskeletons for military use...

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I'm much more fascinated with Heinlein's idea of society as he presented it in the novel..I belive the novel was even put "on ice" for a whille, as some critics were scared that it might encourage political hard-liners to transform the US into a military/police state and solve the cold war issues with USSR trough open war means.

Still, one cannot help contemplating Heinlein's concept...seeing all the coruption, moral decay, crime rate increasing...maybe such society would be an up-trade..?

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@Joe, have you read the book? It wasn't the dictatorship, more like a form of technocracy. And isn't it always the best to have the right man doing what he's most fitted to do?

Now, that Gettysburg insinuation...if you read the book, then you know races or nations weren't an issue in Heinlein's hypotetical world. And btw..all men are not equal- and I don't mean it in a racial way either- it's just that some are taller, some are shorter, some are talented to be physichists, some to be artists...no law or goverment can change that.

Heinleins society was divided into Citizens and Civillians- the difference beeing that A Citizen is taking a responsability for the body politics and defending it with it's life-if nessessary. A Civillian does not. Therefore, only Citizens were allowed to vote. I agree, that seems a bit radical...but if you take a look at the society today, you'll find alot of registred voters which never vote as they are not interested in participating in politics, yet they are the first to complain about their goverment, they frown upon police, yet again are the first to cry "and where was the police when we needed them?!" when something goes wrong....and that's only the bottom shelf. As you climb up, you'll find corrupted judges, corrupted politicians...

And let's not forget the crime rate today, inefective penal system (perticulary for juveniles)..most of that was eradicated in Heinlein's world.

You can go ahead and call it a dictatorship, but it was still a healthy system in which each individual had the oportunity to grow and reach for the limits of his/her abillities.

If I had to choose between corrupted democracy we have today and Heinlein's technocracy (or dictatureship, as you called it), I think I'd choose the latter...

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..all men are not equal- and I don't mean it in a racial way either- it's just that some are taller, some are shorter, some are talented to be physichists, some to be artists...no law or goverment can change that.

Where I do technically agree that not all people have equal abilities and cirumstances, the point Joe is making is freedom of opportunity. The beauty of democracy is not that it makes everybody the same but that it affords everybody the same opportunities as if they were the same. It's the backbone of this great society. It openly allows people the right to make whatever they want of their lives. It's not perfect, but it's admirable in that it aspires to be.

As far as crime, corruption and poverty goes, as long as we remain human, these human states of being will always be present, no matter how you try to format government to fix it. They are all based on human decisions, be them emotional, irrational or wicked.

And finally, Starship Troopers is more-so a utopian society, don't you think? I think we've seen a couple failed experiments in technocracy in the past and how it can be corrupted itself (can anyone say "fascism?")

I'm sorry for preaching...

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@Moaks, you have nothing to apologize for..I agree with you, in the most part. It's just that I don't see Heinlein's utopian society as a form of facism. In fact, I don't see any form of facism as a technocracy- far from it. Facsist societies were hardly led by the most fitted people for the job...

Edited by Streinger
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Just for the record, Heinliens government in the novel was a democracy...

There were two classes of people who existed: Citizens and residents...Citizens were those who had served a "term", usually in military service, and were allowed the priveledge of voting ang participating in certian career fields...

Residents, those who had not served, had no adverse consequences...They just had no say in the government...

Essentially, in Heinliens world, if you weren't willing to sacrifice for society, then you had no say in society...

Facism? Not hardly...I personally believe that would be an ideal government...

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fas┬Ěcism

1) A system of government marked by centralization of authority , stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

In Starship Troopers, only those that serve in the military or other sensitive government entitys are afforded the right to vote or make political or social decisions. Therefore, the decisions of the "terran nation" (all of humanity) lies more or less in the government, thus fascism.

Heinlein's novel was, IMO, a hollow, "pie-in-the-sky" story which only served as a blatant mouthpiece for his philosophy. So lets approach his novel as simply that, philosophy. Heinlein's book represented his 2-dimensional view of what he felt was an ideal society and was not burdened by the complex and endlessly layered factors of reality, and while it might sound nice in some respects, so does communism (to some people. I still think the whole doctrine is ridiculous).

My gripe with the novel is not that it's maxims about service and sacrifice aren't important, it's that authority cannot belong to the select few. That's a form of segregation and it creates inbalance. That's the beauty of checks and balances, it deters absolute power (shameless cliche: absolute power corrupts absolutely) and keeps a balance in government. You may not like what others have to say, but it's their right to speak against you, and yours to speak against them.

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I noticed his commentaries on future government when I read it but I think he was actually warning against that kind of society. I know the officers and the schoolteacher and other characters extolled the virtues of such a system, but the real aim I though was to ask us if that was what we wanted. After all, Heinlein served during WWII and he saw the different ideologies opposing one another in that war. The questions the book raises are anti-facist and ant-communist.

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I have read the book and a lot of commentaries about it and to be totally honest I think he didn't raise questions or criticism of one system or another: he just presented a "version" of the future he imagined: a militaristic society, with its pros and cons.

I don't think he took a stand in the book. He presented pros and cons equally. In my opinion Heinelein simply showed us that future and left to us (the readers) the freedom to judge if that's what we want or not.

Also, let's not confuse the matter here about something: I forgot who said this but "no one wants peace more than a soldier because the soldier is who will have to face the horrors of war" ... I probably misquoted it but that's the bottom line.

Heinelein presented a future where soldiers and ex-soldiers had the political power to decide to go to war or not. Politicians that never went to war or had to face war, sit comfy in their chairs and send other people to die. Soldiers that saw battle and the horrors of war, would (ideally) think twice before sending other soldiers to war and would do it only if necessary and not light-hearted. I think that's the pro of the society he imagined and i think that's the bottom line of the point he was trying to make.

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Ok, while I agree that sometimes lit teachers read way too much into stories, you really need to put this into historical perspective.

Heinlein hated the Soviet Union and did not feel they could be trusted. Remember, this is the 1950's we're talking about. Heinlein wrote newspaper ads in support of U.S. nuclear testing. In 1958, President Eisenhower suspended U.S. nuclear testing, based on a promise from the Soviets to do the same. At the time, Heinlein was working on Stranger in a Strange Land. He immediately stopped and wrote Starship Troopers.

Let's look at this, also: in the Soviet Union, you were not given the freedom to choose your own career based on your interests. Everybody is supposedly equal. So, the government decided who was going to be a doctor, a lawyer, a farmer, etc. While not exactly the same as the society that Heinlein describes (since the Soviets didn't really care if you had an aptitude for the job they placed you in), let's put 2 and 2 together here. It's obvious that Heinlein was making a political statement, whether we agree with it or not, whether we want to just consider it a story or not.

That said, since the man is dead and we can't ask him what he meant, this is all subjective. Your opinion may be different than mine. However, I've thrown out a couple of key facts that are not actually in the book anywhere so that you can use them to put things into perspective and draw your own conclusions. I don't care if you disagree with me, as long as you think. That's what is important -- weighing all the facts and drawing a conclusion on your own, rather than having it spoon-fed to you by your teachers, the media, or even me.

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Heinelein presented a future where soldiers and ex-soldiers had the political power to decide to go to war or not. Politicians that never went to war or had to face war, sit comfy in their chairs and send other people to die. Soldiers that saw battle and the horrors of war, would (ideally) think twice before sending other soldiers to war and would do it only if necessary and not light-hearted. I think that's the pro of the society he imagined and i think that's the bottom line of the point he was trying to make.

This is a verry good observation, @Yoda...and there was one other important thing about Heinlein's hypotetical world; although citizens had a right to vote and thusly participate in political decisions, that right was put "on ice" for the duration of their active military service. It only became active after they would left the active service and continue with their civilian..er, pardon me, citizen life. That part is important, IMHO, as it prevents the military to act as a large group of "one-minded" registered voters, a political party if you want..a political party with guns. It is also the element that strongly distincts Heinlein's society from any form of fascism, where the military played a very active political role.

Edited by Streinger
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Really?? what did he look like? What kind of guy was he?

He was sorta reserved, alot more than I expected but when you got him discussing his books and the concepts, he opened up and was really a nice individual. Very passionate about his writing and how it related to the real world. His health was not the best but he was a guest of the convention and felt obligated to attend.

I have also had the pleasure of meeting Issac Asimov, Piers Anthony and Larry Niven. Sci-Fi and Fantasy conventions are a good outlet for this! :D

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