Monday, December 1, 2008

The New Republic

by Hanno

In Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven shows a society split into three groups. We are shown the prosperous family of the main star, Rico. His family plan for him to attend Harvard, but Rico chooses instead to join the military. His family is in shock by his choice. They do not understand, and think he is making a foolish choice, throwing away his future. The wealth of the family show that the society as a whole is prosperous, for only prosperous societies can produce great wealth. The society also produces enough wealth to arm and train an army with the highest level of technology, and to fight a never ending war of expansion. There may well be poverty and misery, but we never see it. the point, however, is that the family represents a class of people driven by love of money, and the drive of the whole class creates the prosperity in the society. This mirrors Plato's conception that we read about last week.

The ends of the money lovers are different from the ends of the honor lovers. They want different things in life. What they place value upon are different as well. It comes as no surprise that the choices they make will be looked upon with contempt. the money lover cannot understand why the honor lover chooses a life path that promises only pain and sacrifice, and no luxuries. The honor lover, on the other hand, has nothing but contempt for the soft pleasures that drive the money lover. Those people cannot are self-centered, and cannot handle pain. Sacrifice has no meaning for them. This split is mirrored then in the movie as well, with one key difference. Rico enters the military not out of the love of honor, but the lust for a girl who enters the military. But in Boot camp, the martial spirited soldiers are separated from the ones who cannot handle it. While this separation is being made, the new soldiers are taught their craft, they are shaped to fight a military ethos. Plato spends much time in the republic describing the education which makes the best most virtuous soldiers. Boot camp is that in the film. By the end, the soldiers have a love of honor, sacrifice and display a certain kind of contempt for civilians. Now the soldiers recognize something more important than themselves, and are willing to die for it.

So we have in the movie a class split, between the military and the civilians, between the defenders of the society and its producers. And we have people whose natures determine to which part they belong, and an educational structure which develops those natures along the lines of virtue. In short, we have the Republic.

Now the the last class for Plato was the ruling class. These were people chosen from the military class who put the good of the community above anything else, even above their love of honor. In the movie, the ruling class comes from the military class as well. When the war goes badly, the leadership resigns, and new leadership is installed, new strategies are put in place. In short, wiser policies and policy makers are put into place. This, too, then matches the film.

For both Plato and Verhoeven, society is split into three distinct classes, each with different aims and desires, each content with their own lot in life, and each working in their own way for the good of the whole. The society works when each part does its part. The New Republic looks much like the Old Republic.

1 comment:

ce said...

The New Republic looks much like the Old Republic.

And the Jedi are still an important element.