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Revolt in 2100
(1954)


Check it out...three stories in one! (Not that big a deal, really.) This is the third in Heinlein's "Future History" series. It marks the period circa 2100 where Earth is under the domination of a hypocritcal religious cult. The first story, If This Goes On--, tells of West Point graduate John Lyle's sudden disillusion with his prestiged assignment to "The Angels of the Lord", and eventual dissertion from service to the Holy Prophet Incarnate. His is a conversion of passion, well exploited by the underground resistance movement, which exists to overthrow the one-hundred year old religious dictatorship centered at New Jerusalem. Coventry describes the resultant civil libertarian society, created to establish "maximum personal liberty". In such a society, individuals found guilty of social offense (causing physical or economic damage to another) are given a choice of psychological reprogramming, or banishment. Misfit chronicles the resurgence of the space program, which the religious nasties had done away with due to financial stinginess. Altogether an engaging read, but somewhat preachy.

Notable quotes:
When any government, or any church, for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives.

You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.

There is magic in words, black magic--if you know how to invoke it.

I believe very strongly in freedom of religion--but I think that that freedom is best expressed as freedom to keep quiet. [Editor's note: Sounds to me like Heinlein was uncomfortable with folks who had convictions differing from his own Libertarian views, of which he hardly kept quiet about...]

Editorial Commentary:
"Examined semantically 'justice' has no referent--there is no observable phenomenon in the space-time-matter continuum to which one can point, and say, 'This is justice.' Science can deal only with that which can be observed and measured. Justice is not such a matter; therefore it can never have the same meaning to one as to another; any 'noises' said about it will only add to confusion.

But damage, physical or economic, can be pointed to and measured... Any act not leading to damage, physical or economic, to some particular person, they declared to be lawful."
A lofty-sounding ideal, but with questionable merit. First, it is obvious that 'Science' is lauded as the ultimate arbiter in matters pertaining to life. Why? According to Heinlein (but hardly a good reason), because it deals with the observable and measurable. Such a system discounts all the unobservable and unmeasurable elements of life (love, hate, compassion, greed, peace, anger, etc.) Second, one would have to pre-prove that there is not a God by whom 'justice' would most definitely have a referent. Third, confining damage to measurably 'physical and economic' consequences is very slippery ground. I would think psychological, social, emotional, etc. damage can be equally as deserving of judgment.


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