Author Archives: Michael Kleen
At the tail end of March 2014, a friend and I decided to drive out to the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Devil’s Tower. It was springtime in the Midwest, and thoughts of winter storms were long behind us. About ninety minutes west of Sioux Falls along Interstate 90, however, the temperature began to drop, the wind picked up, and dark clouds formed ominously on the horizon.
Apparently we had driven into “Winter Storm Xenia,” which hit parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and northeast Wyoming. There were 5-6 foot snow drifts in Roseau, Minn and wind gusts of up to 64 mph in Rapid City.
We decided to stop for gas and check the weather at the Conoco gas station off Highway 16 near the tiny town of Kimball, South Dakota. “Real Food,” a large sign announced as we pulled off the interstate. The sign referred to Doo-Wah Ditty’s Diner, located inside the gas station.
The terms fascist and fascism get thrown around a lot, but rarely with accuracy. The science fiction novel Starship Troopers (1959) by Robert A. Heinlein, and the 1997 movie of the same name, are alternatively accused of promoting or lampooning fascism. Starship Troopers isn’t my favorite film, but I think it’s entertaining and original enough to rewatch every now and then. I just watched it last week, when to my surprise, RedLetterMedia featured it over the weekend in an episode of “re:View.” Watch the full episode here.
In their review, Mike and Jay take the position that Starship Troopers is a satire of fascism, and that audiences largely missed the point when the movie was released in 1997. There’s some evidence for this. The director, Paul Verhoeven, definitely interpreted Heinlein’s novel in this way. At one point, characters are wearing uniforms obviously inspired by the Nazi Gestapo. Violence is shown as the only solution, and militarism and war are at the center of this futuristic society. Characters consider the alien arachnids to be ugly, mindless, and inferior to humans. They are confined to a “Quarantine Zone,” like the Nazi ghettos.
Mike and Jay argue Starship Troopers inverts a common character arch in which a character living in an oppressive society comes to rebel against that society. Instead, in Starship Troopers, characters who originally question the social order, or who are at least indifferent to it, end up embracing it. Characters become less human as the film progresses, until, at the end, they cheer when it’s revealed a captured arachnid feels fear, an emotion that typically elicits sympathy.
Verhoeven himself said his movie adaptation is “playing with fascism or fascist imagery to point out certain aspects of American society… of course, the movie is about ‘Let’s all go to war and let’s all die.'” He copied some propaganda scenes directly from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935).
But is the Terran Federation depicted in Starship Troopers a fascist society? Despite the fascist ascetic in the film, it just doesn’t measure up. Benito Mussolini defined fascism as a merger of corporations and the state. Fascism is more generally characterized by a cult of personality, extreme nationalism, veneration of past glory, militarism, racial superiority, and authoritarianism.
Well, Starship Troopers certainly portrays a militaristic society, but that is where the comparison ends.
This charming 21-room French Victorian Mansion is located at 24 Sydenham Street in the historic Sydenham District, just a few blocks from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. It operates year-round as an upscale bed and breakfast. Guests come for more than relaxing evenings, however. The Hochelaga Inn is widely believed to be haunted by several ghosts, including a woman in black and a spectral child.
John and Harriet McIntyre built this home in 1879. Harriet was a relative of Sir John Alexander Macdonald. Macdonald, renowned for his drinking and public corruption, was the first Prime Minister of Canada. After John McIntyre died, the Hochelaga Foundation, a branch of the Bank of Montreal, purchased the inn to house its traveling employees. The stables were located behind the mansion, where the carports are today.
Welcome to the latest in a series of posts looking at minor countries in the game Hearts of Iron IV by Paradox Entertainment. Hearts of Iron IV is an epic historical simulator that allows you to experience the Second World War as any country, and perhaps, change history. These articles examine the benefits and drawbacks of playing as any of dozens of minor countries in HOI IV. This week I’ll be looking at Romania.
After WW1, Romania received the territories of Transylvania (1920), Bukovina (1919), and Bessarabia (1920), doubling its size. Transylvania in particular was a bone of contention between Hungary and Romania. Prior to joining Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania lost territory to Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union through German arbitration. Romania contributed over 1.2 million men to Operation Barbarossa, but switched sides in 1944 and joined the Allies. It became a Soviet puppet after the war. Can you steer Romania toward a different fate?
Romania begins the game in 1936 as a non-aligned democracy led by Armand Calinescu. It has the national spirit Neutral Foreign Policy, which inflicts the following penalties: Join faction tension limit: +100%, Send volunteers tension limit: +20%, Guarantee tension limit: +100%, AI Modifier: Threat receptivity: +1%, AI Modifier: Desire to be in or expand a faction: −100. It has a volunteer army, export trade focus, and civilian economy.
The next election will be held in December 1937. The fascist party, led by Ion Antonescu, has 18% popularity, the democratic party, led by Armand Calinescu, has 20%, the communist party, led by Constantin Ion Parhon, has 2% support, and the nonaligned party, led by Gheorghe Tatarescu, has 60% support.