In Starship Troopers, Heinlein takes time to discuss the nature of morality and social responsibility. He writes:
- Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not ...We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of the mind.
- The instinct to survive is human nature itself, and every aspect of our personalities derives from it. Anything that conflicts with the survival instinct acts sooner or later to eliminate the individual and thereby fails to show up in future generations.
- A scientifically verifiable theory of morals must be rooted in the individual's instinct to survive--and nowhere else!--and must correctly describe the hierarchy of survival, note the motivations at each level, and resolve all conflicts.
- We have such a theory now; we can solve any moral problem, on any level. Self-interest, love of family, duty to country, responsibility toward the human race .
- The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual.
- Social responsibility above the level of family, or at most of tribe, requires imagination-- devotion, loyalty, all the higher virtues -- which a man must develop himself; if he has them forced down him, he will vomit them out.
Revolution is a big jump for any democracy. So instead, discontent first manifests itself in the recognition of populist movements. Many of these may appear to be simplistic, xenophobic and divisive in their ideology. No matter. It is not the substance of the movement that appeals to the disenfranchised: it is the very act of signifying rejection of the status quo, of the dogma, morality, ideology and accompanying polices being imposed by the oligarchy.
For environmentalists especially, this is a hard message to absorb, as it contrasts so markedly with their own image they have of themselves.