Pat Richards    

  ... notes on Robert A. Heinlein


these are notes, not polished articles, on:

Heinlein The Elitist


Heinlein The Elitist

As much as I love the writings of Robert A. Heinlein, you can't deny that he was an elitist -- and a scientific elitist, to boot.

In several books he advocated rule by a council of scientists. That was a bit naive, given the number of really fug-headed scientists running around, but he definitely didn't think the average yahoo was entitled set policy and make important decisions about things. 

He cleary disparaged the iniquity of mob rule -- either directly, or via the mass mind of 'public opinion' so prevalent in modern democracies (see STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND  for a lot of dissertations on that subject). But he was definitely not a fascist (although a lot of his detractors like to claim that he was), because he wasn't in favor of keeping the hoi polloi down -- he wanted them to raise themselves up and become thinking, self-determined human beings and join the elite.

In fact, a lot of his stories deal with just this effect. The protagonist often starts out a fairly average, not-very-aware, everyday Joe who begins to realize that there are more things in heaven and earth than he previously realized. The character then goes on to learn, develop and achieve greater potential that was evident at the beginning of the story.

A lot of people think STARSHIP TROOPERS is an endorsement of a fascist,
militaristic society. Actually, it's just the opposite. It shows how a society can easily fall into an unquestioning militaristic mode when confronted with an 'enemy' -- and then proceeds to subtly lampoon such a system's flaws and problems. In the end, he explains that if the earth society had not been so blindly militaristic, they could have easily avoided getting into the war with the Bugs in the first place, and that all the suffering and sacrifice of the "Starship Troopers" was wasteful and unnecessary.

Above all, Heinlein advocated self-reliance, self-determination and taking responsibility for one's own actions. Today, he would be considered a radical right-wing conservative, yet he wrote the 'bible' of the liberal hippy movement (STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND again). Just goes to show how absurd our current method of labeling and pigeonholing people's belief systems is.

more to come