Study Guide

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress The Lunar Authority

By Robert Heinlein

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The Lunar Authority

Could this organization use a rebranding or what? Even Big Brother knows better than to call himself the Guy Who Controls Your Life. Might we suggest a better name than the Authority, such as Family Funtime Cooperative or Awesome Neighborhood Helpers? Though on second thought, perhaps they're doing everyone a solid by going with their chosen name: After all, it leaves very little room for confusion about the role they play in society—authority run amok.

Characters such as Mannie and Prof would argue that the government's job is to protect the freedoms of its citizens and nothing else. It should not meddle in the private affairs of individuals, and it should not impose rules and regulations on the economic marketplace since, as John Locke would put it, private property and the right to be productive with in is tantamount to liberty.

The Authority, yeah, it doesn't follow any of that. The Authority is government out to ensure what is best for government. In this way, it acts more like a corporation, trying to maximize its power and profit. It is in no way concerned with the average citizen's liberty, and with no competitors, it's the only game in town.

It has made itself so ever-present in the lives of Loonies that at one point Mannie thinks to himself: "Everybody does business with Authority for same reason everybody does business with Law of Gravitation" (2.36). In other words, people don't have the freedom to work outside the Authority in the same way we don't have the freedom to not deal with gravity—because it's everywhere.

When the Chairman reorganizes the Authority's trusteeship of Luna, we get a glimpse of how this government views its relationship with the Loonies:

A code of laws was being drafted; civil and criminal courts would be instituted for benefit of "client-employees"—which meant all persons in trust area, not just consignees with uncompleted sentences. (19.10)

The idea of client-employee suggests the Authority sees citizens as working for its profit, not the other way around. And the "persons in trust area" shows that, unlike in a free market, a citizen cannot choose another form of government wherever they live.

It's a take-it-or-take-it proposition, and the Authority represents that attitude as it manifests in government.

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