Heinlein's The Puppet Masters is generally regarded as a thinly veiled attack on communism. Its Wikipedia article reads:

Heinlein's novel also repeatedly makes explicit the analogy between the mind-controlling parasites and the Communist Russians, echoing the then prevailing Second Red Scare in the United States.

What are these explicit analogies? Are the slugs the communists or the slug-infected Americans?

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    Probably both the mind control aspects (see Orwell's 1984 as well) and the parasitic part (party elites - see Orwell's Animal Farm since we are on Orwell kick here) are analogies. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 23 '13 at 17:34
  • As an aside, I believe this is a misuse of the word 'explicit'. To be explicit the novel would have to actually state that the slugs represent Communists, which I don't think it does. However this is Wikipedia, so easily fixed. – DJClayworth Sep 5 '13 at 20:49
  • @DJClayworth: The book doesn't explicitly state that the slugs represent Communists, but it does explicitly make the analogy with communism. See my answer. – Ben Crowell Apr 20 '14 at 4:04

As the quote says, the Second Red Scare was in full swing in the US at the time of the novel; the scare not being just a fear of of Communism, but of infiltration of the US by Communist spies and sympathizers. The parallel is that the infiltrators look and act like 'normal' people, and can't be distinguished from them without close inspection, but are in reality out to take over 'our' world - exactly what it was alleged Communist infiltrators were doing in the US.

There is another parallel in that it was widely believed at the time that the Soviets did practice 'brainwashing', through 're-education', through widespread propaganda and possibly through chemicals.

These two combine give make very strong parallels between the Puppet Masters and the Soviet Union.

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    Is this a guess or confirmed by canon/author? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 23 '13 at 19:48
  • Educated guess. – DJClayworth Aug 23 '13 at 20:57

There is an explicit comparison near the beginning of ch. 21:

I wondered why the titans had not attacked Russia first; Stalinism seemed tailormade for them. On second thought, I wondered if they had. On third thought I wondered what difference it would make; the people behind the Curtain had had their minds enslaved and parasites riding them for three generations. There might not be two kopeks difference between a commissar with a slug and a commissar without a slug.

There would be one change: their intermittent purges would take a different form; a "deviationist" would be "liquidated" by plastering a titan on his neck. It wouldn't be necessary to send him to the gas chamber.

There are two editions of the book, one shorter and one longer. The shorter one has a shorter version of this passage.

Just because the first-person narrator makes the analogy explicit on one page of the book, that doesn't mean that the only possible way to read the book is as a roman a clef for the cold war. It's basically an exciting spy story, more focused on action-adventure than ideas. Nor would it be correct to portray Heinlein as a one-dimensional Cold War hawk. See How anticommunist was Robert Heinlein?

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