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Very interesting piece and excellent analysis! I just want to push you a little bit on that third quote.

Although some people read the first two quotes as celebrating violence, you make a persuasive case that all Heinlin is doing is making (correct) observations about the world. He's warning us that both the reality and possibility of violence are often highly determinitive of really important outcomes, and he's restating Weber's idea of the state monopoly on legitimate violence.

Similarly, I think the third quote can be read a different way. I share your ethical belief in an uninhibited universal franchise for the people of a state - and I think Heinlin is saying that the obligation to serve that state is (or ought to be) *downstream* and not upstream of this belief. I don't think he means to say simply that military service is a precondition to voting - he really is trying to express something more like that idealistic notion that "if we can vote for a war that may lead to our State’s ruin, who are we to avoid service?" The policy implication, I think, is not to disenfranchise all non-veterans, but something more like universal mandatory national service.

And even though I'm basically a down-the-line normie liberal, I've come to agree with Heinlin on the merits of this. Perhaps the greatest American civic injustice of my lifetime was the Iraq War. We the citizenry made an incredibly destructive mistake, and we put the terrible cost on a comparatively tiny group of people serving tour after tour after tour. It's just not right, and it's precisely the problem Heinlin worried about. I was no fan of the war (and below voting age in 2003) but looking back, l wonder I shirked my ethical duty by not dropping out of school and enlisting the day I turned 18 - not because the war was just but because the outsourcing of suffering was unjust. How can I call myself a citizen after not sharing in this burden?

An America with mandatory military service would have been more circumspect about a war of choice, and i dont think we would have voted to invade Iraq if it was our own lives we were putting at stake with mandatory service. And I'm talking about *truly universal* mandatory service - none of the Vietnam-era exceptions where the elites enjoyed college deferments while blue-collar kids were shipped off to die. When the liberal states in WWII eventually did the right thing, I think their voters understood both the cost of inaction and the likelihood of general mobilization, and one could argue that this was the war whose burden was most fairly shared among the citizens who chose it.

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