« Old Men's Problems | Main | Aaaaand Cyclone Season is On! »

Too Busy Being Dead To Vote

Of course, the one main downside to the Service Guarnatees Citizenship model in Starship Troopers is that it can create a minority of voters, and as there's no guarantee that you'll actually survive your service, especially if you're in the armed forces, the potential minority shrinks even further. Not only that, the uncertainty of battle may well mean that the people best fit to wield the vote or hold office after they complete their service may well wind up dead on the battlefield.

Elitism? Snobbery? Arrogance? Even more possibility for corruption as Those Who've Proved Their Worth ignore Those Who Haven't? (I imagine a ruling culture of ex-servicemen may differ significantly from the culture within the services.)

I'd hope not, and Heinlein seemed to think that the nature of the service itself plus the Easy Way Out would be more likely to promote patterns of behaviour that would run counter to those tendencies, even after the term of service is completed and citizenship is awarded.

Again, I suppose it's just one of things we won't know for sure until a nation tries it.

If you liked this post, please check out more Editorials and Musings


In a way, we already do. There are already several countries that require service of their citizens for the their military for 2 years. Cypress and Greece are two that I can think of off the top of my head. Now granted this isn't quite the same as gaining citizenship by service, but it is very close.

Hmm. To my mind, those mechanisms are drastically different from what Heinlein wrote of. As you say, it's a requirement made of all its citizens, not a choice.

What I like about the Starship Troopers ideal is that it's very much about duty. You don't have to serve if you wish not to, and that's fine - Heinlein was, I think, fully accepting of the personal urge to survive. He also accepted and celebrated duty, of putting personal survival at risk for something greater - nationhood, patriotism - and that's something you can only ask of a person, not demand it. Duty, especially that which may require one's life, cannot be forced upon someone, they can only choose to accept it.

Which is why, I think, Heinlein was very much against conscription. If a the people of a nation are such that they must be forced to defend it, then there are deeper problems that conscription won't solve (and may exacerbate).

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)