HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Gender & Orientation » History of Feminism (Group) » Robert Heinlein once pose...

Fri Oct 30, 2015, 06:51 PM

Robert Heinlein once posed a question:

... "When is it moral for a government to do what it is immoral for an individual to do?"

In reference to violence against women and minorities, I offer the following observations:

I suggest that the institutionalization of violence, especially violence towards our own citizens, speaks to that question. I also suggest that there are quite a few people who do not understand the ethical dictum "What I do through another's hands, I do myself." While I would never try to float a serious proposition that people actually do feel a queasy conscience about committing violence themselves, for many I think the opportunity to be sanctimonious, take the moral high ground, and deplore what our institutions do "of necessity" while sadly acknowledging that necessity, adds a piquant spice of justification to their hatred and greed. I doubt, too, it is a sentiment wholly confined to males, for there are many females who support the misogynistic patriarchy for their own reasons (they must be getting something out of it, though I can't imagine what, unless it is a hope of living a life of luxury and privilege as the appendix of an alpha male, not dissimilar to the hope felt by many of the financially oppressed, that they will be rich one day).

-- Mal

13 replies, 2100 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Robert Heinlein once posed a question: (Original post)
malthaussen Oct 2015 OP
ismnotwasm Oct 2015 #1
malthaussen Oct 2015 #2
ismnotwasm Oct 2015 #3
KitSileya Oct 2015 #4
malthaussen Oct 2015 #6
Blue_Adept Oct 2015 #8
malthaussen Oct 2015 #5
Blue_Adept Oct 2015 #7
ismnotwasm Oct 2015 #9
KitSileya Nov 2015 #10
ismnotwasm Nov 2015 #11
Blue_Adept Nov 2015 #12
ismnotwasm Nov 2015 #13

Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 01:14 PM

1. An good 'ol Heinlein

I used to be such a fan.

Your phrase "institutionialization of violence" is the key here. As much as people want to deny it, in the long run, the government *is* "the people" --at least in government where there is choice, and history tell us what happens when you take choice away for too long.

--As an aside, in first world nations, so much is taken for granted as regards to "leisure time", as well as time-saving measures, from things as simple as buying, not milling flour, to riding a bus instead of walking, or in cases of the old-time wealthier, riding a horse. This free time is important because we can then focus our attention an other things, and we tend to do so in a lackadaisical manner--in other words, The Revolution will be televised--

It's very easy to condemn certain kinds of violence, especially government violence (war, or military intervention) While remaining entirely unaware how it may have a backhanded benefit--for simplicities sake, I'll say oil prices. That doesn't stop us from filling up our tanks, nor to we give much thought to the complexities that drive oil prices up and down. Blood and death is often involved. What we won't do, besides shake our fists, is make the more difficult choices that will reduce oil demand (This is also complex, as it involves organic plastics in all its forms) at least not in any real way that matters--although I'm thrilled for President Obama's Moving forward on climate action and energy sources. This is a case of proper governing, because it will offer a pathway to make better--and easier--choices.

Violence isn't always a pathological response, but the habit of war I believe is a pathological one. What to do about it is more difficult as we have powerful warrior cultures across the world.

As far as it being a male one, not when we teach our males differently--there have always been violent females and gentle males.

I don't believe in "alpha" males--just bigger assholes, and human being are attracted to wealth because of the leisure and comfort it brings. Women are statistically poorer.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 01:52 PM

2. About all we can do is try to keep our own footprints small.

When I am in a particularly brutal mood, I remind people that their clothes, their smartphones, and all the appurtenances of their lives are built on the blood, terror, and rape of others. It's usually not a sentiment well-received. The purpose is not to instill guilt -- I think guilt is one way the power structure tries to manipulate us -- but to serve as a reminder that there is a lot more going on in the world than occurs under our noses.

There was a link to a Tom Engelhart article in GD that echoes your thoughts about leisure: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10027303011 . I think one of the things "they" are working on (for a given value of "they" is reducing our time for reflection, thought, study, all in aide of enabling them to keep pulling the wool over our eyes while we snooze in front of the TV. It has the added benefit of squeezing more blood out of the stone, in terms of raising per-capita productivity higher and higher (without any corresponding compensation). Since most of us are in thrall to a paycheck of one kind or another, it seems to be working out really well for "them."

As far as Alpha males go, it's a common enough sociological term to serve the purpose. The society is structured to encourage assholes, who achieve prominence by dominating others. Given that even in this enlightened age, only the biggest of female assholes can hope to compete with the male ones, hitching yourself to one (so to speak) is one easy way to get the goodies and riches of life.

Bob has been so co-opted by the Libertarians that many have found their opinions of him changing (and let's face it, some of his later books were especially awful). Though many think there is no difference between him and Ayn Rand (and after all, Professor de la Paz did say he could "get along with a Randite", there is a crucial difference: Heinlein was a firm believer in sacrifice and service to the community, which would be anathema to the true Randite. I think that constitutes a saving grace.

-- Mal

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to malthaussen (Reply #2)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 02:12 PM

3. Agree

I like your take on "Alpha"

And I'm actually ready to revisit Heinlein it's been twenty years-- no what actually started bugging me was his "old guy" personas up to and including Lazurus Long, always were involved with very young, beautiful girls/women. Of course he was a product of his times, and at least he addressed gender politics

He is a great author, and it's been too long to hold a resentment. I will have the enjoyment of rereading his books with a mature (more or less) mind.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #3)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 02:48 PM

4. Yup, he did break some barriers when it came to female characters.

Of course he was a conservative, and there's tons of misogyny in his books, but at least his female characters were smart, and he also wrote a transgender character (Elizabeth Jackson.) He didn't condemn homosexuals beyond 'not my cup of tea' too.

(Gotta stop myself before I write an entire lecture - I wrote my master's thesis on Robert Heinlein female main characters.)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to KitSileya (Reply #4)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 02:57 PM

6. Don't need to stop on my account

I think Heinlein is an interesting mix of misogynist, feminist, Libertarian (of a sort), and realist. A total intellectual snob, though, which is probably why his female characters tended to be so smart. But hey, they were also redheads, so that's something.

-- Mal

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to malthaussen (Reply #6)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 07:22 PM

8. This.

All of this, really.

Part of the appeal is that even with his views as they are, he mostly presented them well and you could engage in debate about it. It wasn't wholly pie in the sky kind of thing.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #3)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 02:54 PM

5. In his later works, of course, he let us in on his fantasies about his mother...

... I often think of Heinlein as in a way similar to Dorothy Sayers. The early Peter Wimseys are excellent, but then she fell in love with her own creation, and began to be very embarrassing.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is one of the three books I read back in 1968 that had a huge impact on me. (The other two were Black Like Me and Treblinka , not, I'd suggest, suitable reading for a twelve year-old, however precocious). I prefer it to Stranger in a Strange Land , because I frankly dislike the way Jubal Harshaw treats the women on his staff. "Front," indeed!

-- Mal

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 07:20 PM

7. I loved Heinlein when I was younger

And am kind of afraid to read some of it now that I'm older. I always felt Time Enough for Love defined me in a number of ways with many of the quotes in it. That, Stranger in a Strange Land and just the thrill of Methuselah's Children always got me. But I also dug a lot of his other works and really binged on them.

But fear for how it could be read today though modern lens...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #7)

Sat Oct 31, 2015, 10:32 PM

9. Which is why I'm planning on re-reading a few books by him

He was a huge influence on me. I finally quit reading him with an eyes roll, and I find that when I reread certain classics -- even Dune, which had no dearth of "strong female charecters" I get to that point quickly. (expecially my beloved "Foundation" series--I read that over and over when I was younger. Reading recently had some cringeworthy moments) I haven't read "Stranger in a Strange Land" in years, it's the one I'm planning to start with.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 1, 2015, 01:42 AM

10. I never liked "Stranger in a Strange Land" to be honest.

My favorites were his very last books - Friday, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, and Numbers of the Beast. I don't know whether it was his TIA that had an impact on the way he wrote (detrimental impact according to those who loved his juveniles) or whether it was age, but I find those books a lot more philosophical and fun. Really gets into questions like what makes a human human, and what is the universe, and morality.

I think that unfortunately John Campbell pretty much had sole power over what kind of sci-fi was published in the seminal period of the 40s and 50s, and he chose men like Heinlein, Asimov and their ilk - libertarian, intelligent, and men. They got their breakthroughs, an went on to become the grand old men of sci-fi in the 70s and 80s, but there was no diversity, no women, no persons of color, no political progressives. That means that most of the classic books from that era have the same deficiencies. Not to mention, we still see hostility towards female-centered, minority-centered sci-fi, as witnessed by the recent Hugo awards ballot-stuffing scandal.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to KitSileya (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 1, 2015, 08:57 AM

11. Oh yes indeed

You sound far more versed in history than I am! I'm a huge CJ Cheeryh fan--at least her earlier stuff--among others. She's one of those author that used initials and also added an "h" to her last name for obvious reasons. I like Julian May as well.

I spent a year reading only women authors, and I read a lot of science-fi. Definitely changes one's perspective, doesn't matter if the author claims he label feminist or not.

Scalzi is a current favorite, he's an interesting writer, he can mix military sci-fi, space opera and old fashioned space travel sci-fi--and writes in decent women characters and well as GBLT ones. I don't think anybody beats Octavia Butler for challenges genders and sexuality--as well as race.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 1, 2015, 01:05 PM

12. I so want to revisit Julian May

Just came across the two intervention/surveillance books in my pile while pulling out books for my mother last night from her past she wanted to revisit.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #12)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 02:14 PM

13. She's a Good read

Not a prolific writer, but I enjoy her books a lot

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread