Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stranger In A Strange Land

I had recently been given a stern medical recommendation to abandon some of the heavy reading that I have been doing ("American Progressivism" and "The 5000 Year Leap") in favor of a lighter literary burden. Having read all of the rest of my stack at home, I decided to return to an old friend, "Stranger In A Strange Land", by Robert Heinlein. 

Since Heinlein is one of my all-time favorite authors and science fiction is the literature that got me hooked on reading, this was a real vacation. Originally published in 1961, some of the technology discussed now seems either primitive or far-fetched, but the techno toys were as much an excuse to send a message as anything else in Heinlein novels. Like many sci-fi writers, Heinlein had a lot to say about improving society, and used the future to do so. 

But why talk about this mid-week, when I usually discuss something political? The answer is simple, it is because re-reading this book reminded me of something that I used to know before taking up the subject of politics and government more seriously, both in this blog and in the columns that I write for the Toledo Free Press. Heinlein had a universal distrust of government and politicians and expressing it was a common theme in his writing: 
"Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you. If you don't play, you can't win."  

This is not to say that all elections are rigged (though you would be hard pressed to convince the people of Afghanistan that), but rather that politicians set up the system, so of course the rules favor them. That doesn't mean that we have to to like the rules and that we shouldn't try to throw in a monkey wrench when the opportunity presents itself. If you sit on the sidelines though, there is little chance that you will have any influence or that things have anything more than a hope of getting better.  

"Stupidity cannot be cured by money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim cannot help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime: the sentence is death, there is no appeal and execution is carried out automatically and without pity." 

To me the meaning is clear here. Those who take on the mantle of aggressive ignorance (sometimes almost gleefully) where their government and leadership is concerned have no reason of surprise or complaint when Darwin's theories place them in the same category as that of the carrier pigeon and the dodo bird. Truth be known, the rest of us may be better off without them.  

"Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil" 

Government these days seems intent on taking care of us whether we want them to or not. They tell us that they do this in large part because the world is too complicated for us to handle it on our own. In other words, they are doing this out of the best, the kindest, and the most altruistic of motives. Invariably, they are wrong, and in the worst way.  

"A motion to adjourn is always in order." 

I have always taken this to mean that government does the least harm when it does the least. I believe that history will prove me out on this one. This is why I am so concerned about a government that is now so concerned with every fiddlin' detail of our lives. 

I live for the days when Congress is not in session, knowing these days that the more time they spend not legislating and regulating, the happier that I am and the more freedom I keep. You see, the reading of my youth prepared me for the place where I am today. The lessons that I learned (and recently relearned) about life from Robert Heinlein still stand me in good stead. As for "Stranger ...", it simply reminds me what an odd duck we Conservatives are in this encroaching world of liberalism and progressivism, causing us to feel like strangers in a strange land. I have hopes however that with or without reading one of my literary heroes, such will not always be the case. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should also point out what Heinlein said about those engaging in pursuits like this blog:  

"Writing is never something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterward." 

If you will excuse me, I have a date with some soap and water ... (BTW, for those of you who 'grok' Heinlein, I am thinking a lot lately of changing my name to Jubal or Lazarus.) 

No comments: