I first read this as a teenager. I found myself far more interested in the politics and philosophy than in the whiz-bang science aspects of the story.
“Under what circumstance is it moral for a group to do that which is not moral for a member of that group to do alone?”
“That’s a trick question.”
“It is the key question…A radical question that strikes at the root of the whole dilemma of government. Anyone who answers honestly and abides by all consequences knows where he stands–and what he will die for…
“A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame…as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside humans beings singly and nowhere else. But, being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world…aware that his efforts will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.”
–Professor Bernardo de la Paz, from Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress