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Old 01-29-2024, 03:25 PM   #761
jason taylor
 
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1. The idea that voting should be a symbol of membership in society rather than a mere instrumental means of checking the insolence of the oligarchy was not an inevitable one. It was in fact a concept that came almost right away, as is shown by the fact that possession of a hoplon represented the right to vote. But it represented the right to vote as part of other privileges.

2. The idea that political equality and social equality are the same and that both are needed for justice was not a necessary concept nor has it ever been held consistently. Not many people are at the barricades for being denied the right to be a Senator.

3. The concept was not intended to be fixed but to be capable of reasonably equal transition. Being a freeperson is what you get automatically for being natural born or naturalized. Being a Yeoman is for fulfilling requirements that are reasonably achievable. Nor did I intend it to be a Starship Troopers type of stratocracy, but something in return for more achievable services in a Swiss manner.

4. The two tier system is to be assumed to be a compromise in a constitution that was written less than a century ago. It is not unreasonable for it to be a perennial ideological tussle.

5. It was not intended to be a pure democracy anyway but a mixed system. All Western states are mixed systems and having some franchise limitation is hardly unknown. In the past it was a lot more arbitrary such as not getting to vote because you resided in Tregony, Cornwall.

6. There is no real reason for it to be unstable. People often accept the system they have. Chinese went for thousands of years before someone came up with the idea that having an Emperor was unfair.
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Old 01-30-2024, 04:53 AM   #762
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Looking back on the thread - and in particular the recurrence of the Starship Troopers references, it occurs to me that "only veterans get to vote" is not that exotic as a system of government.
A good proportion of us on this board will have lived in states where national service was compulsory - if not for us, then for a generation with whom we were familiar - and that's not a massive jump to saying that only those who complete national service get full citizenship (I know at least one person who, whilst entitled to dual English-French nationality, relinquished the latter to avoid national service).
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Old 01-30-2024, 07:31 AM   #763
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Looking back on the thread - and in particular the recurrence of the Starship Troopers references, it occurs to me that "only veterans get to vote" is not that exotic as a system of government.
A good proportion of us on this board will have lived in states where national service was compulsory - if not for us, then for a generation with whom we were familiar - and that's not a massive jump to saying that only those who complete national service get full citizenship (I know at least one person who, whilst entitled to dual English-French nationality, relinquished the latter to avoid national service).
I also note that, much like Verhoeven, a lot of these people somehow missed the fact, made quite explicit in the text, that "federal service" did not mean military service, but any service the government needed done. It was stated quite clearly in the novel that the majority of full citizens had spent two years shuffling papers for government agencies, then were free to seek whatever employment they wanted. We followed Juan Rico in the Mobile Infantry because the story itself was about that, but that wasn't the focus of the worldbuilding overall. (Remember that Juan's high-school buddy Carlos, who signed up the same time as him, served as a research physicist at the lab on Pluto, and died only because a Klendathu ship bombed the facility. He never went through any sort of military training, because he wasn't military.)
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Old 01-30-2024, 08:56 AM   #764
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I also note that, much like Verhoeven, a lot of these people somehow missed the fact, made quite explicit in the text, that "federal service" did not mean military service, but any service the government needed done. It was stated quite clearly in the novel that the majority of full citizens had spent two years shuffling papers for government agencies, then were free to seek whatever employment they wanted. We followed Juan Rico in the Mobile Infantry because the story itself was about that, but that wasn't the focus of the worldbuilding overall. (Remember that Juan's high-school buddy Carlos, who signed up the same time as him, served as a research physicist at the lab on Pluto, and died only because a Klendathu ship bombed the facility. He never went through any sort of military training, because he wasn't military.)
It's been a while since I read it, but I seem to recall that federal service was explicitly dangerous - the whole point of it was that only those who were willing to risk their lives for the nation were fit to lead it. Now, some jobs were more dangerous than others - Mobile Infantry was probably near the top of the list, while cutting-edge research was probably near the bottom - but all came with the risk of serious injury or death. Of course, I think part of this risk came from the fact that you didn't really get to choose which job you got, they determined that based on what they determined of your own aptitudes. They did allow you to provide a list of jobs you would prefer, but their requirements tended to be exacting - IIRC Juan's last two picks were being an augmented MWD handler and MI, respectively, and after the initial battery of tests they asked him questions about his experience with having a pet dog, the answers to which rapidly disqualified him from the first job, and so his last option was MI... unless he wanted to leave it completely up to them, in which case it was implied he'd probably be a research subject for some dangerous tests. So while it may or may not all be military, it always had some potential for danger, much more so than working in the civilian sector.
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Old 01-30-2024, 09:00 AM   #765
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6. There is no real reason for it to be unstable. People often accept the system they have. Chinese went for thousands of years before someone came up with the idea that having an Emperor was unfair.
Well, two things:
1) Fairly often there were disputes as to who was supposed to be emperor. These were resolved fairly violently. That's not exactly stability.

2) Autocracies (where opposition groups are thoroughly crushed) and Democracies (where opposition groups exist and have their voices heard) have a good track record of stability, particularly over the last century. Anocracies (where opposition groups exist but their complaints aren't fully heard) are particularly unstable. Every time the Yeomen vote is what tilts an issue with broad Freeman support is a complaint unheard. Mounting disaffected opposition is not a recipe for stability.
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Old 01-31-2024, 01:01 AM   #766
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It's been a while since I read it, but I seem to recall that federal service was explicitly dangerous - the whole point of it was that only those who were willing to risk their lives for the nation were fit to lead it.
No, the recruiter emphasized danger specifically to weed out thrillseekers who might not understand the risks. Most jobs were boring; as the high-school History & Moral Philosophy teacher stated, the point was that you should demonstrate that you were willing to serve others, in whatever capacity demanded, before you were entrusted with the responsibility of running things. The key point was that you could request a given duty, but you'd get whatever the Terran Federation felt best suited you. Juan got the MI because all the preferences he listed were military, and his psych testing apparently said he was good soldier material.

The H&MP instructor at OCS, on the other hand, was less sanguine about the whole thing, and said that the basic reason to keep the system as it was lay entirely in the fact that it hadn't fallen apart yet. If it ain't broke don't fix it, in essence.
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Old 01-31-2024, 08:48 AM   #767
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No, the recruiter emphasized danger specifically to weed out thrillseekers who might not understand the risks. Most jobs were boring; as the high-school History & Moral Philosophy teacher stated, the point was that you should demonstrate that you were willing to serve others, in whatever capacity demanded, before you were entrusted with the responsibility of running things. The key point was that you could request a given duty, but you'd get whatever the Terran Federation felt best suited you. Juan got the MI because all the preferences he listed were military, and his psych testing apparently said he was good soldier material.
The options seemed to be military, or as close as they could make it to prove that an applicant that didn't qualify for military service actually had the mettle. Doctors and clerks working in government facilities are described as civilian employees. The students knew that, despite his non-military bearing, Mr. Dubois must have been in the military, since he was a citizen. The merchant marine is explicitly not a part of Federal Service. The supposed 95% of Federal Service that is non-military in nature basically doesn't exist within the text of the book.
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Old 01-31-2024, 11:05 PM   #768
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The supposed 95% of Federal Service that is non-military in nature basically doesn't exist within the text of the book.
We don't follow them, because the story's about Juan Rico joining the Mobile Infantry and fighting on behalf of the Terran Federation against the Klendathu. When you watch Saving Private Ryan, do you assume that Britain and the United States have no civilian population because they aren't shown in the movie?
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Old 02-01-2024, 02:56 AM   #769
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The core thing with Starship Troopers as a text is that we at no point have anything like an objective omniscient view of the society in question. We have the late adolescent Juan Rico's limited, self-centered view of what's happening, highly reliant on what various people tell him is going on in the world. You can extrapolate a lot of different underlying societies by playing with the knobs of "Why did these people tell Rico what they did, how much of what they told him was actually the truth, and what's going on where Rico can't see?"

But as far as Heinlein's comment in Expanded Universe that 95% of Federal Service positions were ordinary "civil service", I think James Gifford quite effectively rebutted it, and I find the counter-arguments to Gifford weak and unconvincing.
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Old 02-01-2024, 06:57 AM   #770
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But as far as Heinlein's comment in Expanded Universe that 95% of Federal Service positions were ordinary "civil service", I think James Gifford quite effectively rebutted it, and I find the counter-arguments to Gifford weak and unconvincing.
Gifford's essay matches my memory of the book. I was confused where people were getting the idea that 95% of Federal Service jobs were non-military, as I've never read Expanded Universe and it certainly never showed up in Starship Troopers.
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