Red Group

Totalitarianism & Social Darwinism

Totalitarianism is the government having absolute control over the economy and the affairs of the state. Totalitarianism is not present in Starship Troopers because people have the right to vote and own their own businesses, so the government does not control every aspect of the private sector. There isn't a dictator who makes the decisions and people who have done a term of service in the military can vote in a democratic manner on issues of the country.

Social Darwinism is the belief that the strongest and most capable individuals in a society can and should rise to the top and the weaker won't survive.


Those who agree with social darwinism would say that the beaver is simply embodying with the idea. Those who are weaker-either pysically or mentally (in case of the beaver)-will and should die off, while those who are stronger will survive. This is present in Starship Troopers because if you want to gain the right to vote you have to serve your country. The process one goes through to become a member of the military, and, eventually, a full citizen, is highly regimented and most members of the various boot camps align themselves fundametally with the military and the government or they drop out and never recieve the right to vote. Although socal dawinism stems from the idea that the people within the society are born to fufill their roles, one might argue that because, at boot camp, everyone starts "over" again, they are being "reborn" to fufill the roles the government and military has set out for them (at a higher dawinian plane). (See the green group for more.)

Heinlein also uses Mr. Dubois and his lectures to portray a society that somewhat resemble Social Darwinism. He argues that only those who fight and sacrifice should gain certain rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not "free" rights. People must make sacrifices to gain these, and those that make personal sacrifices gain superiority and gain these rights. In that sense, this society is controlled by the most capable individuals and not by those who are not strong enough to serve the Federation.

Another aspect of Social Darwinism is the bug war. Heinlein says that only one species can survive this war. This means one species survive while the other dies off. This is a great example of "survival of the fittest." Only one species will be able to continue existence, and the war will determine who is the strongest and who deserves to continue living.
Although social darwinism is more often applied to the individuals living within a society (the stronger will rise to the top, the weaker will fall to the bottom…), it can also be applied across cultures, which is much more closely aligned with the universe Heinlein presents in Starship Troopers. The novel presents not so much a struggle within the Terra society/ies as it does with the struggles-the wars-between the Bugs and humans. The fight, however, does embody social darwinism in the universe. The stucture of the Terra government leans more to elitism (find out more at brown group) than social darwinism or totalitarianism.

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