Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Thom Didato

Second Advisor

Jennifer Rhee


This thesis responds to criticism of Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (1959) as a “fascist” novel by further investigating the claim through a close reading of the novel that applies political theory scholarship on fascism. Chapters I and II introduce the novel along with its general reception and controversy. These chapters consider the accusations of “fascism” given to the novel while at the same time understanding that a clear, exact definition of “fascism” has long been grappled with by scholars since the rise of the regimes in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Chapters III and IV apply political theory to examine Starship Troopers’s characters, language, and plot to find if the novel’s narrative expresses the “mobilizing passions” of fascism identified by Robert Paxton in The Anatomy of Fascism (2004). In addition to Paxton, the political theory analysis will also be aided by Roger Griffin’s The Nature of Fascism (1991) and Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Ur-Fascism.” The focus will be on “checking off” each mobilizing passion listed by Paxton, but consideration will also be given to how Starship Troopers buys into the “national rebirth” myth in Griffin’s definition of palingenetic populist ultranationalism as well as how it expresses certain fascist features observed by Eco. Chapters III and IV ultimately find that Starship Troopers’s narrative expresses all of the mobilizing passions listed. Chapter VI concludes the analysis by denouncing fascism and Starship Troopers’s vision of a false-utopia, pointing to the inherent ineffectuality and destructiveness of fascism. The concluding chapter closes with final remarks reflecting on applying current scholarship on fascism to the reading of a novel.


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