Skip to comments.Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Political Correctness, and Soft Totalitarianism
Posted on 03/25/2009 12:40:22 PM PDT by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
Ray Bradbury (born 1923) foresaw with clairvoyance the socio-political phenomenon that goes by the name of political correctness. His 1953 dystopia, Fahrenheit 451 attests [to] Bradburys prognosticative perspicacity. Most readers know the general situation that Fahrenheit 451 depicts, one with a resemblance to other items in the category of dystopian fictions such as H. G. Wells The Holy Terror or George Orwells 1984.
Decades of cold war between hostile polities have assimilated the formerly classically liberal societies to the model of their totalitarian rivals until all societies exhibit the characteristics of an ideological dictatorship founded in strict repression of any dissent from the proverbial Party Line. The regime of Fahrenheit 451 manipulates the citizenry more subtly than the one in 1984, but with an equal brutality held in spring-loaded reserve. Almost everyone has employment; life for those who are not wage earners, such as the protagonists wife, consists in interminable sweetish diversion like the daily interactive soap opera broadcasts, which audiences view on wall-screens that project a larger than life image into the drawing room.
...The dictatorship of Fahrenheit 451 is a confidently self-regulating one that insures its continuity through the methodic inculcation of regressive taboos and infantile totems that render people no longer capable of examining or doubting what the state tells them. Our own political correctness is a system of regressive taboos and infantile totems that bludgeons people, by state-reinforced priggishness, into self-betraying cowardice and insipidity. With its readiness to denounce by hurling epithets, pandemic intolerance maintains obedience as effectively as a police force with automatic weapons. The fear and envy of small people who compensate for their feelings of inferiority by banding together are what drive and sustain dictatorial conformism. The state seizes on that fear and that envy and harnesses them cynically to its own schemes to secure and increase its power. The elites are driven as much by fear and envy as the masses; they enjoy leveling things out, which is for them a supremely moral experience, but they are more culpable than the masses because they know what they are destroying.
... Goading people to feel offended is central to the regimes technique of social manipulation. This is because the person who perceives a slight perceives also a difference; and for such a person that difference is invariably an inequality that, in the subjects deformed understanding, demotes him intolerably below another. Under the principle, we must all be alike, the great clamoring aggregate-majority insisted that, each man [should be] the image of every other. The governing elites had to step in to address the crisis. Intellectual differences particularly rankled because, unlike material differences, they resist leveling. What to do? Look for the signs of the thinking man and persecute those who display them. A book is like a loaded gun in the house next door and who knows who might be the target of a well read man?
Personally, I think Anthony Burgess's Clockwork Orange and The Wanting Seed are THE most prophetic of the novels which set out to depict our "future".
I encourage (again) everyone to read Anthony Burgess’ 1985. His novella is closer than any other prediction to what is happening in England now.
Good luck trying to find it too. Almost as if someone was trying to hide it.
I read 451 in high school and remember seeing the movie on TV. The film was bleak...
My High School curriculum did not consist of any of the dystopian novels. I had to read those on my own.
I will meet you in the wilderness to read the banned works of William F Buckley and Mark Steyn
I haven't heard of The Wanting Seed. I'll have to check that out.
Bradbury's prognosticative perspicacityOkay, lay down the Thesaurus and back out of there, slowly, with your hands on top of your head.
Two books that are not on most people’s reading list are “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis and Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler.
While Lewis “plots” the totalitarian takeover of America by a “republican”, the methods he describes are being used today. He shows that it Can and IS happening today.
Darkness at Noon is just plain scary.
Rand’s We the Living is also good reading during this time in history.
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