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- View topic - Review, kinda
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Review, kinda 
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Review, kinda
I'm familiar with the Asimov comment. It's not clear whether he is making a statement from first-hand knowledge and experience or repeating a trope he no doubt heard throughout fandom. The canned nature of the comment makes me think it's the latter. It may even be a retcon - late 1980s thinking assigned to an earlier recollection.

Asimov was also only slightly less politically naive than Einstein. I can't see him being able to construct a political assessment that specific without outside input. That comment also became, when published in 1994, fuel for yet another round of ignorant yammering on the forums etc. (At least there was some justification for the ignorance, since the only references at the time were Stover and Franklin. I can't say I knew much better until a few years after that; I think I accepted the liberal-into-conservative model then. Honestly can't recall.)

But in 2011, after having supposedly read an exhaustive biography, it's sheer laziness and calcification of the frontal lobes.


Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:18 pm
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Post Re: Review, kinda

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Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:56 pm
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Review, kinda
Robert, forgive me if I'm too harsh here, but I don't see that you've done more than restate what I said, at much greater length, and then worked to justify the NR author's claims, which I think are simplistic and ignorant of the facts no matter how much "...he really meant..." you add in. In the end, you're making just as much thin stew from just as few scrawny oysters as he is. I don't think his "review" is defensible on any level, due to his insistence on sheer bullheaded willful ignorance. There's no real point in trying to ferret out nuances.

Terms like "liberal" and "conservative" are, and should be, minor political descriptives, not one-word definitions of an individual's entire political orientation and mindset. Saying "Heinlein was a liberal/conservative" is vague hand-waving, no matter how many qualifiers you throw in or how long and hard you labor to assign derived meaning to those terms. Any person who is politically aware and active is much more complex than any combination of one-word labels can represent, even among knowledgeable peers. Heinlein was an extremely complex individual in this regard and simple terms, and simple statements of his position over time, are even less adequate than they are for vaguely political Joe T. Voter. Especially when considering the shifts in political terminology and alignment over the span of his life; we are talking about several bygone sociopolitical eras, each of which would baffle most present-day observers.

Much of the problem is that we have "shifted" into an era where no political discussion gets past a very limited number of one-word descriptives. I can't think of a politically active figure who is judged for his or her ideas, ideology, stance on a spectrum of issues or integrity. We've reduced the game to a simplistic rubber-stamp assessment of the scent of their political buttcrack, and no two groups share any sense of "Hey, that smells pretty good!"

Too many commentors are eager, if not frantic, to ensure that Heinlein's attar-of-roses buttcrack emanation is understood to be Liberal or Conservative or Libertarian [bang hole in paper with the period key here]

What nonsense. I keep hoping for better, overall. I really expect better in discussing Heinlein, and while I don't agree with much on the NR end of the spectrum, it saddens me to see therein such a naive, ignorant piece so evidently twisted to suit the author's preconceived ends... especially as it's nominally a review of the book that should have larn't him better.


Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:44 pm
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Post Re: Review, kinda
There is no such thing as "too harsh." ;)

I was attempting some "nuance" regrading this specific piece. The writer seems to be saying that RAH was a "conservative" as defined by the National Review circa 2010. He just didn't state it that clearly, which would have made his "review" more cogent.

I think the whole political dimension of RAH and his work is fascinating, since he was a real politician rather than just an armchair theorist like most writers. That is why I did go on at length--I may inflict a longer essay on the forum about it some day.

From the day I read my first page of Heinlein I sensed a kindred spirit, like many here. An individualist, a pragmatist and, in the end, an optimist about where humanity is going. These things are obviously more important than superficial "liberal/conservative" labels.

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Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:55 pm
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Post Re: Review, kinda


Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:55 pm
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Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:29 pm
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Post Re: Review, kinda
I think the Heinlein of 1980 might have *wished* for an economic model where work could be optional because a dividend would suffice. But, unlike too many people, Heinlein didn't quit learning after he left school. I think he came to believe that the social credit system that he favored in the 1930s would not work. That doesn't mean that he quit thinking of chronic long-term widespread poverty as a problem in need of a solution, or that he quit wanting to fix repairable injustices in distribution of wealth.

However, he was too much a believer in human free will to see human beings as passive responders to external stimuli. Add a good dose of pragmatism and a desire to see any theory demonstrated to work in the real world, and he simply wasn't a good candidate for ideologue no matter what ideology. Freud, Jung, and modern psychology? He'd be leery. IMHO he was an even worse candidate for belief in a strong central government, and not just the types of strong central government that are obviously tyrannical (Marxism-Leninism, Fascism, Naziism, etc.) Personally, if he were alive today, I think he'd be horrified by the trend of the U.S. government towards ever-stronger, more monolithic power -- and would see that trend accelerating both through the previous Bush administration ("Patriot" act, etc.) and the current Obama administration (continued growth in security apparatus, huge new healthcare programs, etc.)

A person with clear eyes and a clear mind can see a coherent, thinking approach to politics and life in this. But I defy anybody to make a good case for matching this with either "conservative" or "liberal" as those terms are used in common discussion today.

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Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:38 am
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Review, kinda

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In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:11 pm
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