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Heinlein as Libertarian 
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
Skimmed the thread. If I missed something relevant, apologies.

It seems to me that there was if not exactly a war between halves of Robert Heinlein, there were at least halves.

There was an aesthetic half, and a practical half.

The aesthetic half had preferences. The practical half tried hard to live in the real world as he found it, applying considerable intelligence to the problems it presented at the moment.

The aesthetic half preferred freedom, of practically any kind you can name that stopped short of damaging another. If you want to put the label of "libertarianism" on that, I won't argue --tho once you got into the nitty-gritty of this position or that, Robert certainly might have. I once watched a debate between Libertarians on repudiating military pensions and military health benefits "Come the Revolution". I think even Robert's aesthetic half would have peeled paint in response.

The practical half recognized there were limitations on when what the aesthetic half would prefer were practical to the situation.

This created, on the surface, contradictions. I don't find them so. I find them the compromises of an intelligent and feeling man depending on the context he was in at the moment. Context is incredibly important in Heinlein (as, indeed, it is in real life). If you don't get that, you'll always be frustrated in reading the entire Works and trying to make sense of them on a macro scale.

Later in life (and career) he put some effort into trying to reconcile aesthetic and practical by creating practical (in his view, at least --others my differ on his success) where his aesthetic could romp thru the fields of wildflowers. Actually, he tried early too (see FUTL), and learned the lesson that it wasn't yet time when he could get away with that and fill the station wagon with grocieries at the same time.

It doesn't just occur in economics either, in my view. You can see it in religion as well, if you've read the right letters. I don't know how you can reconcile the obvious (even without having read the right letters, tho they make it easier) duality of Heinlein-mysticism and Heinlein-hell-on-organized-religion without grokking the above.

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Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:43 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
georule wrote:
<snip> It doesn't just occur in economics either, in my view. You can see it in religion as well, if you've read the right letters. I don't know how you can reconcile the obvious (even without having read the right letters, tho they make it easier) duality of Heinlein-mysticism and Heinlein-hell-on-organized-religion without grokking the above.

This last point is simple: "organized religion" is what one does instead of spirituallity. ANYONE who is deeply spiritual is going to be down on institutional religion.


Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:38 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
BillPatterson wrote:
ANYONE who is deeply spiritual is going to be down on institutional religion.

Erm erm erm... I'd disagree with that. Spirituality manifests in many forms and something like a devout Catholic is in no way inf/sup/erior to a lone ascetic in a Tibetan cave.

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


Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:31 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
I think what I would posit in place of Bill's assertion is this: anyone who is deeply spiritual (like Emerson) has a tendency to reject organized religion (like Emerson) because organized religion tends to substitute ritual for substance. When the ritual is paid more attention to than the substance it was meant to produce in the first place, you've got yourself a dead church.

Heinlein was opposed to dead churches, of all varieties -- and placed himself firmly against any organization or institution that prevented people from fully living. I honestly think this is why he applied the term "anarchist" to himself -- because he refused to follow any rules which prevented him from fully living, even as he clung to rules (like the military) which he accepted in their entirety.

Insofar as RAH believed every human being had the right to decide for himself how to live their life, he was a libertarian; when those actions impacted negatively on others, he rejected them (hence his hostility to pacifism and communism, as well as things like Comstock laws, censorship, and bad parenting...)

You have the freedom to fail -- but you have no right to have me pay for your freedom.

This is, I think, the essence of his libertarianism.

It is the end product of the lineages I traced above.


Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:17 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
I believe in this case the exception may disprove the rule....

Organized Catholicism as a group has a LOT to answer for...but

My Uncle Johnny (Pere Jean to the rest of the world) has lived in the jungles of Haiti for over 50 years. He is a Catholic priest in a country that he wryly describes as 95% Catholic, 5% protestant and 100% Voodoo.

And for over 50 years he has been humbly trying to teach Haitians to read. Not in Port-Au-Prince with its palaces and rich people – he lives in the backwoods of Haiti – a three day donkey ride through the jungle. For Christmas we used to send him packages of pencils and paper because there was never enough for them there, until the postal system became so corrupt we could not send packages anymore. During the hurricane floods he swam out (he was pushing 80 years old) - we thought we had lost him. He arrived on dry land with no medicine, no passport, nothing.

And after he came home for a while to heal he went BACK. Over the STRENUOUS objections of his family.

During the earthquake he did not even come home - he was just very sad and tired and there was a very lot for him to do. At least this time he was able to be relatively safe.

When the thugs were driving around shooting at people during the Papa Doc stuff he stayed. And again for the Baby Doc stuff.

He told me once that the only way to have a democracy was to have a literate citizenry. So for all these years he has lived in the poorest country in the world in poverty that we can barely imagine, with decades of malaria and lately more serious diseases, and isolation from all of us for so long that he might as well have been living on a spaceship with no contact from earth in a lot of ways. And he did this because that is what he felt he needed to do. And in his case the Church was the vehicle for that.

Spirituality is not a function of organization - it is an earned (and by definition a HUMBLE) quality that demands a great deal. I would take Uncle Johnny's spiritualism in a heartbeat over any of the horde of loudly self-proclaimed “spiritual people” who never get off their ass and DO anything in the name of their faith, (or for any reason) whether organized or not.

I do not know if RAH ever met anyone from organized religion who was like my Uncle Johnny - but I am sure he would have recognized him for what he is. And if the Church made him into that, then that is fine with me.

There was a Maureen Dowd column recently that said this more eloquently than I can – but Uncle Johnny is MY lesson on condemning the whole for the acts of a few...so here you go.

Take care,

Audrey


Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:33 am
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
JamesGifford wrote:
BillPatterson wrote:
ANYONE who is deeply spiritual is going to be down on institutional religion.

Erm erm erm... I'd disagree with that. Spirituality manifests in many forms and something like a devout Catholic is in no way inf/sup/erior to a lone ascetic in a Tibetan cave.

OK, I'll give you that. There are people who can use even so tortuous an instrument as the Catholic church for their own spiritual ends[*] -- but it's not the church as such. Catholicism has historically been as hard on its "enthusiast" adherents as any other sect. And the very core of the Johannine-Pauline division within the church is that the institution set up by Paul is not very hospitable to the "Christ-like life."

* When I was studying Aquinas with a friend, he said God created theology so that even creatures so miserable as theologians might be saved. So I guess anything is possible.


Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:20 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
Just as there are teachers for whom the system will not dissuade from actually teaching, there are Catholics for whom the system will not dissuade from actually believing....

Truly inspiring story!


Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:21 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
audrey wrote:
I believe in this case the exception may disprove the rule....

Organized Catholicism as a group has a LOT to answer for...but

My Uncle Johnny (Pere Jean to the rest of the world) has lived in the jungles of Haiti for over 50 years. He is a Catholic priest in a country that he wryly describes as 95% Catholic, 5% protestant and 100% Voodoo.

And for over 50 years he has been humbly trying to teach Haitians to read. Not in Port-Au-Prince with its palaces and rich people – he lives in the backwoods of Haiti – a three day donkey ride through the jungle. For Christmas we used to send him packages of pencils and paper because there was never enough for them there, until the postal system became so corrupt we could not send packages anymore. During the hurricane floods he swam out (he was pushing 80 years old) - we thought we had lost him. He arrived on dry land with no medicine, no passport, nothing.

And after he came home for a while to heal he went BACK. Over the STRENUOUS objections of his family.

During the earthquake he did not even come home - he was just very sad and tired and there was a very lot for him to do. At least this time he was able to be relatively safe.

When the thugs were driving around shooting at people during the Papa Doc stuff he stayed. And again for the Baby Doc stuff.

He told me once that the only way to have a democracy was to have a literate citizenry. So for all these years he has lived in the poorest country in the world in poverty that we can barely imagine, with decades of malaria and lately more serious diseases, and isolation from all of us for so long that he might as well have been living on a spaceship with no contact from earth in a lot of ways. And he did this because that is what he felt he needed to do. And in his case the Church was the vehicle for that.

Spirituality is not a function of organization - it is an earned (and by definition a HUMBLE) quality that demands a great deal. I would take Uncle Johnny's spiritualism in a heartbeat over any of the horde of loudly self-proclaimed “spiritual people” who never get off their ass and DO anything in the name of their faith, (or for any reason) whether organized or not.

I do not know if RAH ever met anyone from organized religion who was like my Uncle Johnny - but I am sure he would have recognized him for what he is. And if the Church made him into that, then that is fine with me.

There was a Maureen Dowd column recently that said this more eloquently than I can – but Uncle Johnny is MY lesson on condemning the whole for the acts of a few...so here you go.

Take care,

Audrey

Pretty darned eloquent in my opinion, as is. As you see from the reply I made to Jim, I backed down from my sweeping generalization [and went on to just sweeping...] Spiritual people are everywhere


Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:23 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
BillPatterson wrote:
georule wrote:
<snip> It doesn't just occur in economics either, in my view. You can see it in religion as well, if you've read the right letters. I don't know how you can reconcile the obvious (even without having read the right letters, tho they make it easier) duality of Heinlein-mysticism and Heinlein-hell-on-organized-religion without grokking the above.

This last point is simple: "organized religion" is what one does instead of spirituallity. ANYONE who is deeply spiritual is going to be down on institutional religion.


Bill, I have two words for you. And a direct Heinlein quote at that.

"Father Mike".

Edit: I hadn't yet read Bill's wise "advance to the rear" when I wrote that. . .and props to Audrey for sticking her oar in, because I've heard that story before and am pleased she chose to share it in this context. And even MORE props to Audrey for apparently having had enough influence on Jim to cause him to say something sorta-nice implied on the subject. Ahh, the love of a good woman! Been there, done that, have the T-shirt. (He's gonna ream me for that --I'm chuckling already).

_________________
"Rub her feet." --Woodrow Wilson Smith

"Hey, if I'm going to pass on the timeless wisdom of the ages in a Sig, that pretty well qualifies, in my experience." --Geo Rule


Fri Jun 04, 2010 6:05 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as Libertarian
I think it was the institutionalism more than the religion that Bill was talking about, and I agree there. The confrontation between St. Francis of Assisi and the pope in the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon comes to mind. It works both ways: California is home to plenty of people who institutionalized hippie spirituality.

Great story about a great man, Audrey. I wish I'd known him. If Heinlein had known him, he'd have written about him, for sure.


Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:27 pm
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