Lion of the Blogosphere

Gulf, an HBD novella by Robert Heinlein

with 18 comments

This is a novella that Heinlein wrote in 1949, which was aimed at an adult audience, during a time in his writing career (from 1947 to 1958) when he was primarily an author of science-fiction novels for teenage boys.

I read it because I heard that it had an HBD theme to it. And in that respect, I was disappointed, because it’s mostly an adventure story with a protagonist who’s a secret agent, first for a government agency of some sort, and then for a secret non-governmental organization.

The last quarter of the book has a lot of pointless dialog between the protagonist and a female character who takes a liking to him, reminiscent of Heinlein’s last few novels, but without any kinky sex (or rather without letting us know that kinky sex was happening; Heinlein may have had some weird ideas about sex, but he didn’t write descriptive pornography).

It’s the secret organization that’s HBD themed. The organization is comprised of the smartest and most rational men and women, with the idea that if they separate from less genetically gifted men and breed only among themselves, they will give rise to a new race of man that’s better than the old race. Wiser and better stewards of the planet, the solar system, etc. To that end, one of their main activities is assassinating those who pose the greatest threat to humanity.

It’s the complete opposite of the message from several Star Trek episodes which tell us that genetically enhanced humans are dangerous and evil.

The following excerpt from the book is where Heinlein inserts his philosophical and political ideas, in the form of “Kettle Belly” explaining things to Joe, the secret agent protagonist.

“We defined thinking as integrating data and arriving at correct answers. Look around you. Most people do that stunt just well enough to get to the corner store and back without breaking a leg. If the average man thinks at all, he does silly things like generalizing from a single datum. He uses one-valued logics. If he is exceptionally bright, he may use two-valued, ‘either-or’ logic to arrive at his wrong answers. If he is hungry, hurt, or personally interested in the answer, he can’t use any sort of logic and will discard an observed fact as blithely as he will stake his life on a piece of wishful thinking. He uses the technical miracles created by superior men without wonder nor surprise, as a kitten accepts a bowl of milk. Far from aspiring to higher reasoning, he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists. He classes his own mental process as being of the same sort as the genius of an Einstein. Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.

“For explanations of a universe that confuses him he seizes onto numerology, astrology, hysterical religions, and other fancy ways to go crazy. Having accepted such glorified nonsense, facts make no impression on him, even if at the cost of his own life. Joe, one of the hardest things to believe is the abysmal depth of human stupidity.

“That is why there is always room at the top, why a man with just a leetle more on the ball can so easily become governor, millionaire, or college president-and why homo sap is sure to be displaced by New Man, because there is so much room for improvement and evolution never stops.

“Here and there among ordinary men is a rare individual who really thinks, can and does use logic in at least one field-he’s often as stupid as the rest outside his study or laboratory-but he can think, if he’s not disturbed or sick or frightened. This rare individual is responsible for all the progress made by the race; the others reluctantly adopt his results. Much as the ordinary man dislikes and distrusts and persecutes the process of thinking he is forced to accept the results occasionally, because thinking is efficient compared with his own maunderings. He may still plant his corn in the dark of the Moon but he will plant better corn developed by better men than he.

“Still rarer is the man who thinks habitually, who applies reason, rather than habit pattern, to all his activity. Unless he masques himself, his is a dangerous life; he is regarded as queer, untrustworthy, subversive of public morals; he is a pink monkey among brown monkeys-a fatal mistake. Unless the pink monkey can dye himself brown before he is caught.

“The brown monkey’s instinct to kill is correct; such men are dangerous to all monkey customs.

“Rarest of all is the man who can and does reason at all times, quickly, accurately, inclusively, despite hope or fear or bodily distress, without egocentric bias or thalmic disturbance, with correct memory, with clear distinction between fact, assumption, and non-fact. Such men exist, Joe; they are ‘New Man’-human in all respects, indistinguishable in appearance or under the scalpel from homo sap, yet as unlike him in action as the Sun is unlike a single candle.”

Maybe in the 1940s, a man with just a “leetle” more on the ball could easily rise to an important position, but that has not been my experience living in the 21st century.

Notice the part where Heinlein takes a dig at religion, calling it “glorified nonsense.” I credit Heinlein with teaching me atheism.

Heinlein has a reputation for being a libertarian, but this excerpt doesn’t seem to be very libertarian. Here, Heinlein makes the case for the average man being too stupid to be allowed to have freedom to do whatever he wants.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 9, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Posted in Books

18 Responses

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  1. “Heinlein has a reputation for being a libertarian, but this excerpt doesn’t seem to be very libertarian”

    I’ve never read any Heinlein, but if all his characters ever do is mouth his own opinions then that would make for a very dull writer.

    prolier than thou

    July 10, 2017 at 12:56 am

    • That describes Any Rand.

      However, when Heinlein’s characters go into lecture mode like that, they are saying something that Heinlein wanted to say.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 10, 2017 at 6:48 am

  2. Good quote.

    he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists. He classes his own mental process as being of the same sort as the genius of an Einstein. Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.

    That’s Dunning-Kruger effect fifty years before Dunning and Kruger.

    a cognitive bias wherein persons of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence. – Wikipedia

    E. Rekshun

    July 10, 2017 at 3:43 am

  3. Heinlein wrote a sequel of sorts, “Friday,” a novel published in 1982, so it was one of his last novels.

    Mike Street Station

    July 10, 2017 at 6:16 am

  4. Oh, no, Lion, you didn’t just commit the comprised/composed error!

    S.J., Esquire

    July 10, 2017 at 7:54 am

  5. That was pretty good stuff from Heinlein back in 1949. Unfortunately the thinking of our elites has gone backward since then.

    CamelCaseRob

    July 10, 2017 at 9:12 am

    • “New men” (or nu-males) are liberals, who spend time assassinating bad-white conservatives who refuse to do the wise thing and bake cakes for gays.

      Our elites resemble the new men a lot, though I haven’t read it.

      jjbees

      July 10, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      • Smart liberals cannot care less about the race or gender of their leaders. That is why there is so much love for JFK, Trudeau, and Macron. All white males with very conservative backgrounds.

        What you fail to realize is that liberals consider bigots a subhuman species. There is no chance of reconciliation or dialogue between liberals and homophobes/racists/hyper-religious folk because liberals see these groups as inferior in HBD terms.

        Moreover, every time that a smart liberal reads comments with “the plight of the white male” like yours, they discount what you say and lump you in with the rest of subhumans who just don’t get it: it is not about race, stoopid.

        true-conservative

        July 11, 2017 at 11:42 pm

  6. “Rarest of all is the man who can and does reason at all times, quickly, accurately, inclusively, despite hope or fear or bodily distress, without egocentric bias or thalmic disturbance, with correct memory, with clear distinction between fact, assumption, and non-fact. Such men exist, Joe; they are called global warming deniers.”

    CamelCaseRob

    July 10, 2017 at 9:13 am

  7. ‘Notice the part where Heinlein takes a dig at religion, calling it “glorified nonsense.” I credit Heinlein with teaching me atheism.’

    So how did this help you in life?

    Yakov

    July 10, 2017 at 10:39 am

    • Not much obviously. But it’s easier than faith.

      Mrs Stitch

      July 10, 2017 at 8:51 pm

  8. I think I get what you’re saying – Harleys should be outlawed, right?

    Marty

    July 10, 2017 at 11:36 am

  9. “Maybe in the 1940s, a man with just a ‘leetle’ more on the ball could easily rise to an important position, but that has not been my experience living in the 21st century.”

    I think that people are a good deal more intelligent and rational than Heinlein gives them credit for. When important personal interests are at stake, people tend to make rational decisions. Thus, we see Leftists buying houses in mostly-white school districts; excluding NAMs from their communities; buying beachfront properties, etc.

    In addition, rising within an institution is more about being personable and attractive than being intelligent and rational.

    So no, I doubt it’s ever been the case that a person who is smart and a good thinker could easily become rich and successful.

    fortaleza84

    July 10, 2017 at 6:34 pm

  10. “Heinlein may have had some weird ideas about sex, but he didn’t write descriptive pornography.”

    The main criticism of Houellebecq I always hear is that his novels are pornographic, but I don’t buy it. Yeah, there’s some nasty stuff, but many of his themes are sex-related. To me, if a sex scene develops the theme of a literary work, it’s not pornographic, but if it exists just to titillate, then yeah sure, I guess it is.

    And as Houellebecq himself said in a recent WSJ interview, sex is hard to capture in words. Can you name a single sex scene from a work of serious literature that was done well?

    I know the post was about Heinlein but the pornography thing made me go off on a tangent.

    Jokah Macpherson

    July 10, 2017 at 9:44 pm

  11. I don’t get the smug superiority of these sorts of monologues. Yes, being smart is nice, and I’d prefer to live in a society of people who were smarter on average. But when it comes down to it, to the extent people (and organisms in general) have an essential purpose, it’s reproducing ad nauseum up to their Malthusian limit. Someone else may make decisions that aren’t as “rational” as you’d like, but if they’re out-fucking you, you’re the one who’s defective.

    Jokah Macpherson

    July 10, 2017 at 9:50 pm


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