Robert Heinlein believed in a military democracy. That is to say, a wholehearted, 1950’s style, gun-ho military. He wanted a wholesome army, protecting the US from communism.
Heinlein was raised in a poor, mid-western family. It’s possible that his upbringing informed his vision of America. Heinlein believed in total self-reliance and opposition to communism.
Like many of his generation, Heinlein saw American values as sacred. He believed in a version of liberty unquestioned in his era. His writing reflected his values in a way that made them alluring, and natural. In his own way, Robert Heinlein was defending the American constitution by providing a literary/political backdrop to the genre he mastered so beautifully, that of science fiction. Private and political freedom (of white Americans) drove his politics, and his writing reflected his politics.
In 1952 America was awash with fears of communist invasion. This fear comes alive in Heinlein’s work. His stories of a twenty-first-century alien slug invader who controls humans by attaching itself to their spinal cords. To individualists, the notion of betrayal is wrapped within communal ideals. The ‘agreed rules’ of the heartland is threatened by convergence with the alien, voluntarily or involuntarily. This convergence was horrifying to the average patriotic American. Betray your country, betray your values, subsume yourself within alien belief systems and you die. Not questioning your own paradigms you accept this version of reality. Eventually, Robert Heinlein challenged these core concepts of liberty, US-style.
Stranger in a strange land
Stranger in a strange land was the counter-cultural novel of the sixties, written in the era of hipster fertility and deep imagination. It is at once a vision of America, a poem of freedom, of modernist ideals, and a libertarian view of the future obtained within the present. The man from Mars is gentle, weak, charming, childlike, yet holds a godlike power over the children of the flower era. As America strove for world domination, and occasionally harnessed the weapons of deep destruction, Heinlein’s criticism was present. Ultimately, his critique was overshadowed by his celebration of American heroics – the hero/anti-hero distinction now being irrelevant.
Or perhaps the giant slugs of The Puppet Masters could be seen as the dark side of globalism, in a ‘future history’ that is now.