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Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'

  • The Libertarian Tradition
August 17, 2010

Fahrenheit 451 acknowledges that powerful impulses toward mindless conformity and suppression of deviation exist in the population itself — that, on a deep level, many, many people want to be "protected" by the state from the risk of being offended and from the necessity of thinking. Bradbury never makes it perfectly clear whether the utter mindlessness of television in the world of Fahrenheit 451 is a result of government censorship or an outcome of market processes. It unquestionably might be the latter. One of his characters, a retired English professor and secret lover of books named Faber, speaks contemptuously of "the solid unmoving cattle of the majority," and it is, of course, majorities that markets serve best.

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