Another good episode! Thank you for talking about Dulce et Decorum Est. It was perfect for this episode. Other thoughts:
I thought John's father's rant was more Malthusian then Hobbesian, since he seemed to be portraying giving aid to social inferiors as a social, if not moral, evil.
Heinlein has always been comfortable with large scale murder. Think Stranger in a Strange Land where the Hippie sex cult starts disappearing everyone they don’t like or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where a massive bombardment of the Earth is literally described as orgasmic.
The idea that only soldiers are willing to die for their country is just wrong. Lots of civilians have always put their lives on the line. Just one example is the spectacularly bad-ass Virginia Hall who was a spy in France during WW2.
Regarding the comment about whether dying for your country is the highest virtue, I’m reminded of the old Flannery O’Conner quote that it’s easier to bleed than to sweat.
I agree that the conflation of science and truth is a problem, and that many truths cannot be scientific. (The first president of the US was George Washington. That’s a historical truth, not a scientific one.)
One area where I do have to cut Heinlein some slack is on the justice system. He was living in a world where corporal punishment by parents and in schools was the norm, as I know from personal experience. I remember seeing chain gangs working as a kid in the 60s and I doubt that a flogging was worse than the beatings I saw guards give prisoners sometimes. So, he legitimately may not have seen flogging as cruel and unusual punishment.
Fun fact: The Doc Savage novels, written not long before this, present non-consensual brain surgery, to remove their criminal tendencies, as a humane way to rehabilitate convicts.
JIC my post left the wrong impression, I am not in favor of corporal punishment. I raised my son without it and he turned out fine.
Re: Dulce Et Decorum Est: What a poem means is subjective. My dad was in the first wave of sailors send to clear up Hiroshima after the bomb and he was still waking up in the night screaming from nightmares about what he saw over 20 years later. I will always read this poem as a soldier screaming at a government that lied to him about the glories of war and who found no glory in war at all, just horror.
Re: Dulce Et Decorum Est =
“No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.” - ascribed to Gen. George S. Patton.
Corporal punishment was still a thing in the 70's, too. It was, at least in theory, an option in my elementary school. I don't recall it ever actually happening. We were a conservative white Midwestern church school. Let's just say that Gerald Ford won the Second Grade mock election about 18-1 over Jimmy Carter.