Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Response to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

In his book The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Robert Heinlen puts forth his own objectivist vision for what he calls a “rational anarchist” society. Rational Anarchy is the prevalent though of Professor Bernard de la Paz, but seeing how he is the architect of the government that forms on the moon once they free themselves and then when they are diplomatically recognized, it is say to say that he is the one shaping the type of government that will be instituted. What is problematic to me about the professor and his views are his moral beliefs, and the way his personal moral beliefs will come to shape those of the society on the moon. His view that all action stems from individuals and that these individuals must be ultimately accountable to their decisions. While I have read some existentialist writings and do believe in some aspect of what Sartre calls authenticity I do not believe that this is the basis for the professor’s moral code. Instead his morality is one where the dynamics of power and the systems in place play no role in influencing people’s decision making. I think this is problematic in that their clearly are rules in the society on the moon which shape behavior. One such example is the way the men protect the women from unwanted advances in the least or seek out retribution in instances of sexual assault or violence. In this way these men are not acting as singular moral agents choosing their decision, instead they are part of a collective following well established norms and behaviors that stem from a historical context. In this way I think the professor in being responsible for constructing the new government will have to either reshape society in his own image, or will have to adapt his moral code. And the book never really explains which of these happens.

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