A Dystopia Of Our Own Making

In a wide-ranging essay, Lauren Weiner appreciates Ray Bradbury's variation on the dystopian novel – that the problem isn't just with overbearing governments, but lies within ourselves:

For Bradbury, culture is usually the problem — culture as affected by technology — not the decisions of the powers that be. Even Fahrenheit 451, which is about an evil regime, is in a sense an apolitical work. The government that tries to quash the last remnants of independent thought is not so much imposing its will as it is fulfilling the wishes of a degenerate society. It was not oppressive government policies, but decisions of the people, under the influence of technologies that sped up human experience too much, that undermined humanistic values and intellectual curiosity in the first place. Not state censorship, but a more general failure to value the mind, the imagination, nature, and a civilization’s hard-won insights, is the main target of criticism in that novel.