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  1. #1 Heinlein’s Conservatism 
    October 25, 2010 4:00 A.M.
    Heinlein’s Conservatism
    A new biography explores the political evolution of a first-rate science-fiction writer.

    Ask a science-fiction fan who the three greatest writers of the 20th century were and you’ll start an argument that will last all day, but the consensus remains that they were Isaac Asimov, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert A. Heinlein. Clarke kept politics out of his novels. Asimov was a devoutly liberal Democrat; liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has repeatedly stated that his teenage enjoyment of Asimov’s Foundation series, which depicts a precisely planned and controlled future, inspired him to become an economist and a man of the Left.

    Robert A. Heinlein, however, was a conservative. Heinlein had a libertarian streak to him, and if you meet a Heinlein fan that has named his cat “Adam Selene,” you’ll find someone who believes Heinlein to be a simon-pure libertarian. But Heinlein’s patriotism and strong support of the military ensure that he must be thought of as a conservative.

    Heinlein’s conservatism extended to his non-political juvenile fiction of the 1940s and 1950s. There are hundreds of thousands of Baby Boomers who read such books as The Star Beast (1954) and Have Space Suit, Will Travel (1958) and discovered exciting novels, set in a future of limitless wonder and exploration, told by a writer who seemed like a kindly uncle who whispered, “Yes, I know being a teenager is a struggle. But knowledge is important. And I know math is hard, but you’ve got to understand math if you want to do well in life.”

    Heinlein, in his juvenile novels, taught conservative virtues. “I have been writing the Horatio Alger books of my generation,” he wrote to his editor, Alice Dalgliesh, in 1959, “always with the same strongly moral purpose that runs through the Horatio Alger books (which strongly influenced me; I read them all). ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ — ‘Hard work is rewarded.’ — ‘There is no easy road to success.’ — ‘Courage above all.’ — ‘Studying hard pays off, in happiness as well as money.’ — ‘Stand on your own feet.’ — ‘Don’t ever be bullied.’ — ‘Take your medicine.’ — ‘The world always has a place for a man who works, but none for a loafer.’ These are the things the Alger books said to me, in the idiom suited for my generation; I believed them when I read them, I believe them now, and I have constantly tried to say them to a younger generation which I believe has been shamefully neglected by many of the elders responsible for its moral training.”

    As William Patterson shows in Learning Curve: 1907–1948, the first volume of his authorized biography, Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Heinlein’s political evolution was somewhat comparable to that of Ronald Reagan. Until the 1950s, Heinlein thought of himself as a liberal. After 1945, he thought that the only way to prevent global atomic annihilation was a strong world government. In his 1949 novel Space Cadet, Heinlein depicts a future where peace is preserved through a global government controlled by the military.

    Reagan and Heinlein both moved to the right in the 1950s, partially due to wives who were more ardently conservative than they were. Heinlein’s discovery of conservatism must wait for the sequel to this book, but Patterson provides one clue: In 1954, Heinlein read an article that was critical of the official U.S. government story about Pearl Harbor. This led Heinlein to become more skeptical of the state, and he quit being a Democrat.
    Interesting.

    National Review
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  2. #2  
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    Interesting. Discovering a cure for liberals takes the same route as a cure for diseases. Science may yet cure malignant liberalism.
    Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
    C. S. Lewis
    Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. (Are you listening Barry)?:mad:
    Ayn Rand
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    Senior Member Arroyo_Doble's Avatar
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    I am not a Heinlein fan at all; his writing is juvenile and sappy. Friday is without a doubt the worst science fiction novel produced and I have read alot of terrible sci-fi.

    That said, I always thought his vision of a world where service was a requirement for citizenship (a modified concept I believe in: compusory service) is 180 degrees opposite of what effect that would have on a society.
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    Senior Member FeebMaster's Avatar
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    Poor Heinlein. You write a book where service guarantees citizenship and the conservatives claim you for life.
    ... certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited. Such action is long overdue.

    - Ronald Reagan
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    PORCUS MAXIMUS Rockntractor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arroyo_Doble View Post
    I have read alot of terrible sci-fi.
    Do you not have the ability to stop reading it once you have determined it to be stupid, is your time worth that little to you that you can't stop?
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    Quote Originally Posted by FeebMaster View Post
    Poor Heinlein. You write a book where service guarantees citizenship and the conservatives claim you for life.
    Alas, there is no known cure for self aggrandizement.
    Too bad we can't all be as detached and above it all as you. Your'e my hero.
    Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
    C. S. Lewis
    Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. (Are you listening Barry)?:mad:
    Ayn Rand
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    Quote Originally Posted by FeebMaster View Post
    Poor Heinlein. You write a book where service guarantees citizenship and the conservatives claim you for life.


    How long did it take for you to come to that conclusion?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arroyo_Doble View Post
    I am not a Heinlein fan at all; his writing is juvenile and sappy. Friday is without a doubt the worst science fiction novel produced and I have read alot of terrible sci-fi.

    That said, I always thought his vision of a world where service was a requirement for citizenship (a modified concept I believe in: compusory service) is 180 degrees opposite of what effect that would have on a society.
    Juvenile and sappy.....OK then. I take it "Stranger in a Strange Land" is sappy and juvenile?
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    Senior Member Arroyo_Doble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockntractor View Post
    Do you not have the ability to stop reading it once you have determined it to be stupid, is your time worth that little to you that you can't stop?
    No. I tend to stick it out once I start. It is rare that I will put a book down (figuratively) without finishing it.
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    Senior Member Arroyo_Doble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mau10man View Post
    Juvenile and sappy.....OK then. I take it "Stranger in a Strange Land" is sappy and juvenile?
    Yes. One of the most overrated books of all time. Right up there with that whining douchebag story Catcher in the Rye.
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