Starship Troopers

Talking of science fiction, tonight we watched Starship Troopers (the 1997 edition) – in Italian (that was the deal with N° 2 sprog – gore in return for language exposure). This is one of those films that is definitely not better than the book on which it is based. Nevertheless, it does strongly echo one of the book’s central themes, that, as Director Paul Verhoeven put it, ‘war makes fascists of us all’, a theme underlined by the satirical use of uniforms deliberately echoing Nazi dress. It is, of course, a recurring theme in science fiction literature – if we cannot even empathise with our fellow human beings, how could we possibly empathise with alien beings? To echo one of the scientific predictions in this morning’s post, would we even be able to understand them? That is the central story line of Solaris, which I would strongly recommend. Unlike Heinlein’s novel, Stanislaw Lem makes the point without a war; when we can’t understand things, we tend to attack them.

1 Comment

  1. Joe

    War CAN make fascists of us all, but it doesn’t necessarily do that. It depends on teh quality of your society, the independance and autonomy of its’ citizens, garuanteeing a separation of powers of the state, and limiting the state’s functions to a strictly defined jurisdiction.

    Did the UK emerge from WW2 a fascist society? Did West Germany? Did the U.S. or Japan? No.
    Did the DDR? USSR? China? Yes. Quite objectively, they were fascistic.

    Paul Verhoeven’s assertion is shallow and stupid. You also don’t necessarily need war to transform a pluralistic society into an authoritarian regime or even a popular autocracy. Look at Cuba.

    By the way, Starship Troopers was required reading at the U.S. Navy’s Officer’s Candidate School (along with Sun Tsu, much real historical and theoretical murk, and what tabbed up to 3 books a week to be read in ones’ abundant spare time).

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