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The Politics of Federal Service

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posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 07:11 AM
Constitutional Federation based around Democracy and Meritocracy with Capitalism still as the foundation of economics.

The novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein was first published in 1959.
Its not discussion of the fiction I wish to raise but rather the politics of the novel, politics which many show interest in and many attempt to discredit.

Starship Troopers - Wikipedia
The first-person narrative is about a young Filipino soldier named Juan "Johnnie" Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an insectoid species known as "the Bugs." Through Rico's eyes, Heinlein examines moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, necessity of war, capital punishment, and juvenile delinquency.[1]
Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960 and helped create a different genre of literature known as military science fiction. It has been adapted into several films and games, most famously the 1997 film by Paul Verhoeven. The novel has attracted controversy and criticism of its social and political themes, which some critics believe are militaristic.

Federal Service

Edited from the novel to make it into one oath rather than the format it appears as in the novel.

Federal Oath

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (pg 32 - 33)

I, being of legal age, of my own free will, without coercion, promise, or inducement of any sort, after having been duly advised and warned of the meaning and consequences of this oath, do now enrol in the Federal Service of the Terran Federation for a term of not less than two years and as much longer as may be required by the needs of the Service and to obey all lawful orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Terran Service and of all officers or delegated persons placed over me and to require such obedience from all members of the Service or other persons or non-human beings lawfully placed under my orders and, on being honourably discharged at the completion of my full term of active service or upon being placed on inactive retired status after having completed such full term, to carry out all duties and obligations and to enjoy all privileges of Federation Citizenship including but not limited to the duty, obligation and privilege of exercising sovereign franchise for the rest of my natural life unless stripped of honor by verdict, finally sustained, of court of my sovereign peers.

  • Required to be 18 years of age (male or female) before you can apply for federal service but you can apply at any age after you turn 18(pg24)
  • Federal service is two years in length or more depending on certain circumstances such as the out break of war (pg 25)
  • Federal service includes both combatant and non-combatant roles but non of the roles are physically undemanding paper pushing unless you are unable through physical disability to do physically demanding work.(pg 29)
  • Anybody can sign up, even those who are disabled (pg31)
  • You can only sign up if you are of sound mind enough to understand the service oath. (pg31
  • If you quit or are discharged you can't try for federal service again (pg 34)
  • Career military personnel and Federal service military personnel serve in the same groups and not as separate groups (pg 14)
  • You are not permitted to vote while still in federal service or military career (pg153)
  • Have to do federal service to be a politician (pg 69)

Page referencing is from the 2005 paper back edition

(To my understanding a career within the same fields as those who do Federal Service will yield the same results such as the ability to vote, but you are doing it as a career and only receive those additional rights when you leave you career which is of a much longer time period than that of federal service)

I believe the current system of democracy has flaws which leave it open to serious problems.

Politics isn't currently about making an honest difference, its about whose wallet is biggest at election time, politicians are often simply people who want power and have strong financial backing but haven't done anything truly deserving to be granted the power they crave.

Sure they were elected by the majority or in some cases not, but what right do we have to vote, because men and women decades ago died to preserve that right and stand ready to do the same again?
Simply because that's how we do things?
Or because the majority is surely right? In that case every decision that is held by the majority is justified and should be upheld because it's a majority decision, but its not right is it, the majority are rarely right in their decisions.

Most people vote for who their parents voted for, who they think means well or sadly who simply has the best public image.

Democracy isn't democratic, its become something other than democracy, something vastly corrupted, something where money means more than the quest to better humanity.

But what would happen if those who could vote could vote because they sweated blood and tears to be able to do so.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (pg 155)
Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.
And that is the one practical difference.
He may fail in wisdom, he may lapse in civic virtue. But his average performance is enormously better than that of any other class of rulers in history.

We could put our fate in any number of elite groups, scientists, great thinkers, religious men, monarchs…


Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (pg 155)
Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage

Men and women who give mind, body and soul to something which they don't have to do, they could live comfortable lives without Federal service but they would choose to do difficult low paid work for a minimum of two years to be able to say "I gave my all and now I can vote".

They can vote not simply because thats how we've always done it, but because they understand you earn your most important rights through true responsibility.

Is the concept of completing Federal Service to vote a plausible concept, yes I believe it is, would it work, who knows…

[edit on 25-10-2006 by UK Wizard]

posted on Dec, 14 2006 @ 02:52 PM
There are always problems with any new idea or theory, one issue with the system of Federal Service is its implementation.
Such a concept cannot simply be put into action with the flick of a switch, such a change over from the current system of democracy to the Federal Service system of democracy would require decades of Federal Service being in place without the earned rights being available to those who had served, a sufficient number of people need to have served to be able to create a fair voting base and provide a fair number of political camps to be voted for.

A full and complete switch over with immediate effect would impractically yield a Federal Service with no voters and no people to be voted for, crazy to even to the basic of understanding.

So how is it in Starship Troopers the system of Federal Service is implemented without the void effect, in the book it is a gradual process.

A World War had taken place and veterans of that war had returned home to their country only to find the break down of law and order, a weak Government with no power and chaos in the streets.
In Scotland a group of returned Veterans decided to do something about it, imposing vigilantly law and order as they saw fit.

The veterans then in turn created a council of sorts (to replace the apparently weak local form of Government) which only veterans were allowed to sit upon, and this in turn expanded and the concept spread to other groups and nations.

Plausible? Not really.

Thought evoking? Sure why not.

The Fear of State Orientated Democracy

We approach the issue of the Federal Service method of democracy being heavily state orientated democracy, only a small number of the population who have served the state can become part of it.

This however is not true, everyday civil servants who make up the majority of state based positions under the Federal Service system would not as I understand be entitled to vote nor hold elected positions, only those who have done the demanded Federal Service or served within the military could hold political positions or vote.

The Fear that Tin Helmets and Ballot Papers are to be the Same Thing
There is a fear that democracy under the Federal Service system is militaristic, if all these people who carried guns are the only ones who can vote surely its advocating a military Government?
Well in truth its not, those serving within the military cannot vote during their career and those under going Federal Service are not permitted to vote until they have completed Federal Service, only those who are retired from either the military or have completed Federal service can vote.

Then we have the fact only a small number of those doing Federal Service are actually soldiers, the majority of those doing Federal Service perform alternative roles, maintaining ships, pilots or any number of roles that would test you to your abilities, don't forget they can't refuse your application they have to find a job that you can do.

Safe Guards

The Federal Service is based around a Constitutional Federation, a union in similar design to the U.S.A, with one central Federal Government and semi-self governing states, all defended by a Constitution which defends the freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to practice whatever religion you choose, freedom from ethnic or racial discrimination and the freedom to think whatever you want. *

While we could say a Constitution can be changed, we could say any law or safeguard could be changed, but a Constitution is held in much higher regard than any law.
A society based around the freedoms I mentioned above is a fair society, free of dictatorship styled oppression.

Self Criticism

The idea of Federal Service is not perfect, it is far from it in fact, which may smack you as an odd statement to be uttered from my keyboard.
No political system is without its flaws, even true democracy where everyone votes is flawed by the human element of the system.

I personally find the concept of Federal Service as a method for attaining democratic vote a very interesting idea and while I think the system could create a counter balance to many of the problems with our current systems of democracy I do nod my head to the fact it has some flaws which make it impractical.

First of all it could probably never be implemented due to its nature, elements within the general population might find the idea interesting but the majority proportion of the society would be opposed to the fact that they would have to work for their vote even if they did't normally vote.

If there's one thing in particular that people don't like its when somebody tries to take something away from them even if they haven't used it.

posted on Dec, 23 2006 @ 10:06 PM
I always found the federal service concept presented by Starship Troopers to be a very appealing one. You pretty much laid out all the reasons why.

What I want to add is a sociological POV. Much of literature fails in recognizing that stratification exists in many forms. It can be economic, financial, material, military, etc. Through federal service, however, you level the playing field a bit. Regardless of who one votes for, all voters are unified in that they went through the same process to earn that right to vote and to be called a citizen.

As long as the book's Roman Republic-like society or the movie's Nazi-like society does not emerge, I am all for federal service being prequisite for citizenship.

posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 02:09 AM
Wizard, if you were not a mod, I'd WATS that in a hearbeat.

I won't characterize my thoughts as either an endorsement or a challenge to the federal service concept, I'll just toss them out there for consideration.

All governments are in some way the product of force, be it the implicit potential force which could be exercised by a majority or the explicit force of a junta.

That is a necessary requirement of government's essential function: To check the unilateral force which any creature can bring to bear in pursuit of its own interests in the state of nature.

This preemption of unilateral violence which is the very kernel of government is arbitrary, as the very concept of opposition requiring forceful intervention negates the possibility of a concensus within the body politic. Certainly the aggressor never surrendered his sovereignty to any government, he is ruled wholly by force. We do not normally shed any tears for him of course, for we have only done to him what he did to another, and done it for the purpose of stopping him, but never the less we have tyrannized a sovereign-born man, or gone to war with him if you will.

Therefore, in any form, government not only inherently possesses but necessarily exercises the ability to impose an arbitrary will over the natural rights (total, amoral, alegal freedom) of a person. (This has proven controversial in past discussions but I believe that it is flawless in that it can only be challenged by positing moral absolutes, which is a homunculus fallacy which merely blames a deity for the original imposition of rule).

That being the case, there may be little fundamental difference between a more selectively drawn enfranchisement and the osstenisble "universal" sufferage of our democracy which relies upon an equally subjective system of meritocracy when it sets age limits (best illustrated by the fact that the voting age has infact been lowered by 3 years since the advent of the US Constitution and within a single generation this new criterion became an article of faith to proponents of American democracy, and that is not even to mention the evil undone by the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, and 24th amendments or the defacto sufferage change made by the 17th and 23rd amendments).

The impracticalities noted so far do however lead back to the organization of government by force. In the absence of a strong government or aspiring government, and often in its presence as well, the majority remains a potent force, perhaps too potent to be subjected to any change which might be adverse to the respective self-interests of each person. Only an existing power is safe from this, and is such because the self-interest associated with staying out of the dangerous business of rebellion may trump interest in enfranchisement. This is why Heinlin's vision was most credibly painted as the result of a war which destroys standing government and the rise of a lawless regime in which there is not a broad enough self interest in resisting any force of order until such time as that force has become a government, at which point it is too late to resist.

This same scenario is readily observed in the formation of our own constitution however, and this fact reinforces my assertion that there is not a moral difference between the two. The revolution could only be waged under the quasi-anarchy of the articles of confederation. Only once the patrons of that anarchy had made themselves the strongest force in the colonies could they forge a true government. Not only is that the case, but it is noteworthy that after so doing they never again gained a state by sympathy, but only through settlement or conquest.

Away from the subject of kinship with the democratic spirit, I have other observations to offer.

It occurs to me first that as constituents of the economy and society of the state that a person renders a service similar in spirit if not necessarily in merit to the service one could render in the employ of the federal government. I then rebut myself with the observation that there is personal gain at stake in those matters and that service is incidental to the pursuit of that gain. It follows then, however, as a counter-rebuttal, that the same might become true of federal service. Again I withhold judgement.

I conclude that in all respects we seem to be struggling with the fundamental individuality of each person, and the historical suspicion which is not necessarily confined to philosophers or sociologists that this individualism perhaps belies a certain wanting for spiritual or at least perceptual evolution. On this matter I will indulge in a single sentence of judgement: I agree.

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