Quotes from Starship Troopers

Robert A. Heinlein ·  335 pages

Rating: (156.2K votes)


“Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Our behavior is different. How often have you seen a headline like this?--TWO DIE ATTEMPTING RESCUE OF DROWNING CHILD. If a man gets lost in the mountains, hundreds will search and often two or three searchers are killed. But the next time somebody gets lost just as many volunteers turn out.
Poor arithmetic, but very human. It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature--a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers



“Any group is weaker than a man alone unless they are perfectly trained to work together.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“To permit irresponsible authority is to sell disaster.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Girls are simply wonderful. Just to stand on a corner and watch them going past is delightful. They don't walk. At least not what we do when we walk. I don't know how to describe it, but it's much more complex and utterly delightful. They don't move just their feet; everything moves and in different directions . . . and all of it graceful.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“If we can use an H-bomb--and as you said it's no checker game; it's real, it's war and nobody is fooling around--isn't it sort of ridiculous to go crawling around in the weeds, throwing knives and maybe getting yourself killed . . . and even losing the war . . . when you've got a real weapon you can use to win? What's the point in a whole lot of men risking their lives with obsolete weapons when one professor type can do so much more just by pushing a button?'
Zim didn't answer at once, which wasn't like him at all. Then he said softly, 'Are you happy in the Infantry, Hendrick? You can resign, you know.'
Hendrick muttered something; Zim said, 'Speak up!'
I'm not itching to resign, sir. I'm going to sweat out my term.'
I see. Well, the question you asked is one that a sergeant isn't really qualified to answer . . . and one that you shouldn't ask me. You're supposed to know the answer before you join up. Or you should. Did your school have a course in History and Moral Philosophy?'
What? Sure--yes, sir.'
Then you've heard the answer. But I'll give you my own--unofficial--views on it. If you wanted to teach a baby a lesson, would you cuts its head off?'
Why . . . no, sir!'
Of course not. You'd paddle it. There can be circumstances when it's just as foolish to hit an enemy with an H-Bomb as it would be to spank a baby with an ax. War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government's decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him . . . but to make him do what you want him to do. Not killing . . . but controlled and purposeful violence. But it's not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It's never a soldier's business to decide when or where or how--or why--he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and the generals. The statesmen decide why and how much; the generals take it from there and tell us where and when and how. We supply the violence; other people--"older and wiser heads," as they say--supply the control. Which is as it should be. That's the best answer I can give you. If it doesn't satisfy you, I'll get you a chit to go talk to the regimental commander. If he can't convince you--then go home and be a civilian! Because in that case you will certainly never make a soldier.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“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.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers



“Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not - and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of the mind.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“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.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part...and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers



“Cast me into a dungeon;, burn me at the state, crown me king of kings, I can 'pursue happiness' as long as my brain lives -- but neither gods nor saints, wise men nor subtle drugs, can insure that I will catch it.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Let's skip [Mobile Infantry] tradition for a moment. Can you think of anything sillier than being fired out of a spaceship with nothing but mayhem and sudden death at the other end? However, if someone must do this idiotic stunt, do you know a surer way to keep a man keyed up to the point where he is willing than by keeping him constantly reminded that the only good reason why men fight is a living, breathing reality?
"In a mixed ship [men and women] the last thing a trooper hears before a drop (maybe the last word he ever hears) is a woman's voice, wishing him luck. If you don't think this is important you've probably resigned from the human race.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“If you wanted to teach a baby a lesson, would you cut its head off?”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“A boy who gets a C- in 'Appreciation of Television' can't be all bad.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers



“The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion ... and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself - ultimate cost for perfect value.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal - else a balancing takes place as surely as current flows between points of unequal potential. To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority... other than through the tragic logic of history... No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead - and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“I told you that 'juvenile delinquent' is a contradiction in terms. 'Delinquent' means 'failing in duty.' But duty is an adult virtue—indeed a juvenile becomes an adult when, and only when, he acquires a knowledge of duty and embraces it as dearer than the self-love he was born with. There never was, there cannot be a 'juvenile delinquent.' But for every juvenile criminal there are always one or more adult delinquents—people of mature years who either do not know their duty, or who, knowing it, fail.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more. All the wealthy, unhappy people you're ever met take sleeping pills; Mobile Infantrymen don't need them. Give a cap trooper a bunk and time to sack out in it and he's as happy as a worm in an apple - asleep.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers



“Every time we killed a thousand Bugs at a cost of one M.I. it was a net victory for the Bugs. We were learning, expensively, just how efficient a total communism can be when used by a people actually adapted to it by evolution; the Bug commisars didn't care any more about expending soldiers than we cared about expending ammo. Perhaps we could have figured this out about the Bugs by noting the grief the Chinese Hegemony gave the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance; however the trouble with 'lessons from history' is that we usually read them best after falling flat on our chins.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“The junior hoodlums who roamed their streets were symptoms of a greater sickness; their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of ‘rights’ . . . and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“doing something constructive at once is better than figuring out the best thing to do hours later.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“But if you didn't have more urgent things to do after supper [in boot camp], you could write a letter, loaf, gossip, discuss the myriad mental shortcomings of sergeants and, dearest of all, talk about the female of the species (we became convinced that there was no such creatures, just mythology created by inflamed imaginations - one boy in our company claimed to have seen a girl, over at regimental headquarters; he was unanimously judged a liar and a braggart).”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers


“We learned not to waste ammo even on warriors except in self-protection”
― Robert A. Heinlein, quote from Starship Troopers



About the author

Robert A. Heinlein
Born place: in Butler, MO, The United States
Born date July 7, 1907
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