Friday, August 17, 2007

Conservatives are Threatened and Liberals are Thrilled

Spider Robinson (website) has taken old notes and outlines and written a "lost" Robert A. Heinlein novel "Variable Star". The book is a fun read and one thing that Robinson has done well is capture the glib advice and commentary that is a hallmark of many Robert Heinlein novels. Heinlen had an opinion on everything from war to relationships to manhood to survival, and he wasn't afraid to put it into the know-it-all mouths of his characters.

So what does Spider as Robert have to say about the political parties?
(from pg. 202 of "Variable Star")
"Sol Short once told me that mankind is divided into two basic sorts: those who find the unknown future threatening... and those who find it thrilling. He says the rupture between those two sides has been responsible for most of the bloodshed in history. If change threatens you, you become conservative in self-defense. If it thrills you, you become liberal in self-liberation. He says the Threateneds are frequently more successful in the short run, because they always fight dirty. But in the long run, they always lose, because Thrilled people learn and thus accomplish more."
At least this opinion is expressed not by the twenty-something protagonist but by the older and "wiser" character, Sol. It turns out to be important when the characters in the novel face a space disaster even more horrifying than the 9-11 World Trade center attack and they must decide on their approach. After an attack everyone feels threatened, but what is the appropriate next step? The novel throws in some not so thinly veiled commentary on our life and times, the war on terror and the appropriate response to attack.

As to the philosophy espoused, it doesn't make Threatened sound like an attractive position. I also disagree that all of the bloodshed is caused by disagreements between the two sides. The Threateneds seem to like to beat up on each other pretty nicely as well.

Which are you?



1 comment:

Lynn said...

What about people who are both threatened and thrilled at the same time?