George Orwell is often lauded as an oracle, but he is not the only novelist who deserves the title. In Fahrenheit 451 (named after the temperature at which paper burns), Ray Bradbury depicts a world where apathy and conformity are the norm. Controversial ideas – any thoughts more complex than wondering what’s on TV, really – are discouraged. Conflicting opinions aren’t tolerated. Books are flambéed en masse.
Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of Guy Montag, a “fireman” whose job is to do the flambéing. Nearly everyone in Montag’s world is a vapid twit, and would no sooner pick up a book than they would a dead rat. Some thinkers persist, however, and they are dealt with harshly. Montag begins to question his purpose in life when an old woman, who owns a contraband library that he was dispatched to destroy, chooses to roast alongside her books rather than live without them.
In a Promethean gesture, Montag cracks open some books he had squirreled away over the years and begins to read. This defiant act leads Montag to immolate his anti-intellectual boss and start life anew as a pariah, pursued all the while by monstrous Mechanical Hounds. (More prophecy – don’t imagine for a second that Boston Dynamics won’t offer their “robot dog” without optional gun mounts.)
Fahrenheit 451 has a satisfying ending, though it feels appropriate to recommend that you read it for yourself.
Book burnings are not some new thing. Still, we are now in an era of accelerating censorship. Utter anything online which Big Tech takes umbrage with and the word “suspended” looms in your immediate future. Attempt to teach the “wrong books” in public school and you might become a story on 60 Minutes. Try and rouse anger about the current state of affairs and prepare to be branded a wack-a-ding-hoy conspiracist.
In time, the flamethrowers may not even be necessary. Controlling thought is pointless if no one is capable of it.
Fahrenheit 451 Quotes
That’s enough Fahrenheit 451 quotes for one day. But here’s one more quote to keep in mind by Heinrich Heine: “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”
Who is Ayn Rand? Born to a middle class Russian-Jewish family in 1905, Rand was treated to a front row seat to the wonders of communism in action. Rand fled with her family to the Crimea following the “liberation” of her father’s pharmacy but ultimately returned to Saint Petersburg where she could attend university when she wasn’t busy starving. Due to her life experiences, Ayn Rand quotes are some of the most thought-provoking in the world.
Teddy, as he was affectionately called (although seldom to his face) was the 26th president of the United States, and considered by more than a few to have been the greatest. He was also a statesman, writer, conservationist, naturalist, hunter, ornithologist, taxidermist, cowboy, and war veteran – he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001.
An Austrian School economist, Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises devoted much of his life to writing and educating on the subject of classical liberalism. While several classical libertarians including John Locke and Jean-Baptiste Say preceded him, Mises’ revival of the ideology following the Second World War has cemented his place as one of libertarianism’s most revered figures.