The Greeks had a myth about what the State considered the perfect soldier - an ant. These ant soldiers were called Myrmidons. They didn't question orders, they didn't think, they just fought and died.
Every portrayal of soldiers I have read in all those dystopian science-fiction novels I read all the time are just updated versions of that old myth. Portrayals of the military didn't used to be this way.
We can use as an example Robert Heinlein's novel, Starship Troopers, which was made into a movie that, although it has the same name, has little in common with the novel. In fact, it is a degenerated version of the book.
The late Heinlein was strongly libertarian in his writings, although his support of the military has caused some to label him fascist. They're wrong. Heinlein was far from a pure libertarian, but he was in no way a fascist.
In his novel he supported a purely voluntary military, easy to get out of, but very hard to stay in. Why? He only wanted the most motivated soldiers. The book supports the old military virtues of honor, pride, loyalty and patriotism.
In some ways it is a silly book, with depictions of terribly wounded soldiers who aren't supposed to make a sound, but overall, Heinlein's world is one in which I could live.
Then there's the movie. It shows the difference between Heinlein's 1950's jdealized view of the military, and Paul Verhoeven's mocking, satirical 1990's one. The society in the movie is what I call "soft" fascist – the world is starting to become politicized and militarized. As a result, the military has started to degenerate.
The more politicized and militarized a society, the more fascistic it becomes, and the more its military will degenerate,because of the loss of the true military virtues, and the installation of sadistic, power-mad ones. Heinlein's strongly libertarian novel was some 40 years later turned into a fascistic movie. Such is the change in the view of artists toward the military, in a short time.
Most artists are, in a way, prophets. They have a sensitivity, and an imagination, that oftentimes allows them to predict the future, not specifically, but in a general way. Science fiction is specifically about the future. In its history it's done a pretty good job. It's usually 30 to 50 years ahead of society.
I think another reason is that most writers, and especially the good science-fiction writers, are somewhat anarchistic. The imagination, the sensitivity, and the anarchism together gives them a leg up on everyone else, because they have a pretty clear view of the State and the damage it causes to whatever it gets its tentacles into.
Currently, science fiction's depiction of the military is very disturbing. There are three trends in modern science fiction that all should pay attention to: nanotechnology, designer drugs, and genetic engineering. Especially when the military-industrial complex gets its claws on them, because it will try to use them to produce Myrmidon super-soldiers – killer ants from space.
The first example that comes to my mind is the movie Blade Runner, which is about artificial, genetically engineered humans called replicants. The movie, which is very subtle in many ways, suggests the replicants have animal DNA inserted into them. One is part turtle, one raccoon, one wolf, one snake, and one fish, probably shark.
Could such DNA insertions be done? You just wait. I do know that unholy mutant that is the marriage of Big Business and the State will try, in order to create super-soldiers. You can take that one to the bank.
What comes after Verhoeven's view? The Borg, a futuristic group of Myrmidons that use genetic engineering, nanotechnology and probably designer drugs. I consider them to be the scariest soldiers ever.
The Borg comprises humans (and aliens) who are kidnapped and, though nanotechnology and genetic engineering (and I suspect drugs), turned into Borg soldiers. The soldiers are true Myrmidons – they are without fear of anything (including death), without anxiety, without mercy or conscience, indeed without self-consciousness. They follow orders without questions and die without hesitation. They have no honor, no pride, no dignity. They don't even have loyalty or patriotism, because they have no choice in the matter, no more than an ant does.
Any degenerated military in the world would love them. They'll all trying to create them. And the essence of a degenerated military culture is to treat soldiers as expendable things – although the upper echelons are always taken care of.
As a personal example, my last year in college a smirking Army officer tried to get us to join, telling the class we would be made officers and "taken care of." The enlisted men, on the hand other, he said, "We don't care what they want." I didn't join.
I also received offers through the mail from every branch. All of them, except the Marines, were interested in certain degrees such as computer science or engineering. Every other degree was listed as "other," except for the Marines, which only wanted to know if I had a degree. And from what I've been able to gather, it is only the Marines that still have some understanding of a true military culture. The other branches, obviously, are starting to degenerate.
The Borg also show something rare in fiction, but which always exists in the real world – the welfare/warfare state. Writers in general are very good at portraying warfare. Few understand the other side of that coin is welfare. One never exists, in the long run, without the other.
The Borg are on perfect welfare. They're literally babies in their flying cube. Every need is taken care of. Unfortunately, to protect that welfare, they are always at war with whatever comes their way. Welfare at home, warfare abroad. It's a law of bad human nature.
The Borg are also always trying to absorb whatever race they encounter. Obviously, they consider themselves so superior to all other races they believe it gives them the right to "civilize" them by force. They certainly do sound familiar.
Good fiction is always a cautionary tale, usually jammed right up reader's nose. It says, "This is what can happen unless you stop it." Currently it's saying, "A fascist society can be recognized by the attempts of its degenerated military, along with State-supported degenerated Big Corporations, to use science and technology to create expendable Myrmidon super-soldiers, even if it costs them their humanity."
What a fine post, Bob. I am STILL choked at Hollyweird for what they did to Starship Troopers. The problem with SF is that it has been hijacked by feminists, faggots, militant atheists and other leftist scum that don't understand the military. If you want to see a case of institutions producing mindless drones - just look at the leftist moron factories our universities have become.
The last thing the Marines need or want is ants. Bugs get stepped on. They need men that can THINK and adapt. The air force and navy recruit by offering all the 'rewards' you can reap in the civilian world once your service is over. The reward for being a Marine - is being able to call yourself a Marine!
Unfortunately I fear for our military. Women in combat roles? Faggots and lesbians now? Affirmative action tokens on the battlefield? What could POSSIBLY go wrong with a 4 gendered military?
GAH. We live in interesting times.
I remember reading this one years ago. I remember part of it as a story about an agent who hunts down deviant life forms. People hop into a tank and let the transformation begin.
Ah, yes, Charles Sheffield. He was good.
The problem with making humans into Myrmidons via genetic engineering et. al. is that is will probably be much easier, cheaper and quicker to create machine soldiers. I would worry far more about Terminators than Replicants.
You got a point there but still I wonder what going to be done to humans. Perhaps a combination of ED-209 and Rick Deckard so all the bases are covered.
My vision went red, when you quoted that recruiting officer. I started thinking up the punishments I‘d give him if he were under my command “Hmm... PAT Platoon? No... ah, that‘s it - Recruiting!“
Except that I wouldn‘t want him as the public face; hide him in a back office, keep him away from the troops.
The fact that he exists - and I saw a lot of personalities like these during my service - is just another symptom.
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