Given the appallingly low turnout in recent British elections, Starship Troopers is an excellent reminder that we should participate. As people say, if you don't take enough of an interest to vote you can't complain about what happens in politics. In Heinlein's world, the vote is not a right: you have to earn it by standing up and doing something to help the body politic. If you don't care enough, fine; you can get on with you life and make a success of youself, you can pay taxes and receive benefits - you just leave the decision making to those who do care. Even a passive turning out once every few years to put your cross on a ballot paper isn't enough - Heinlein says that freedom is so precious, and so dearly won, that only those who truly appreciate that price are worthy to be full citizens. In his society, there is no discrimination against non-citizens and citizenship is open to absolutely anyone who is willing to face up to the responsibility of potentially paying for freedom with their life. Don't fall into the common trap of assuming that Heinlein glorifies the military; he makes it quite clear that there are other ways to earn the vote - for example by testing new survival equipment, or being a guineau pig for medical experiments. Of course, for dramatic purposes, a war makes a better novel, and it's easier to highlight the fact that citizenship is earned through contribution when that contribution is the defence of the body politic against an enemy with whom we can feel no empathy, and who is seeking to destroy not just the body politic but the entire species. It might be harder to get the message across in a novel where Johnny Rico's slipped into a fatal coma because the drug he's been given didn't work. It's a great novel, which I've read and re-read dozens of times. It doesn't necessarily make me want to go and join the army - no chance! - and nor do I condone Heinlein's society of the future, but it woke me up to the fact that politics (in the widest sense of the word), and government, are everybody's responsibility, and if we abdicate the duty of participation, then we've got precious little right to complain when things don't suit us.