Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Literature, Poetry, and Books

Ray Bradbury

There is an interesting short note on Ray Bradbury in the Los Angeles Times. Two of his comments:  "I think our country is in need of a revolution," Bradbury said. "There is too much government today. We've  got to remember the government should be by the people, of the people and for the people."  And: "We have too many cellphones. We've got too many Internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now."

Discussions - 9 Comments

I heard Bradbury speak at UC San Diego 20 years ago. With regard to technology, he sounded a similar tune even then. I don't remember the larger point of his remarks, but one of his asides -- a theme he repeats in almost every talk he gives, it turns out -- stuck with me: Never watch TV news. Ever. Especially local TV news. That's the worst. "Makes you believe the world is coming to end," Bradbury said. A bit of hyperbole, perhaps, but I think he was basically right.

The line about e-books is puzzling since his agent is really big into peddling e-books.

...and the whole thing is a bit amusing, what with Mr. Schramm's enthusiasm for the Kindle (as expressed on this blog) and Bradbury's Ted Stevens-ish (RIP) "too many internets" remark. (I didn't even realize that there was more than ONE!)

But how to reconcile that "government should be by the people, of the people and for the people." with one that is small enough to drown in a bathtub??

Also a tad ironic to make the Lincoln reference when calling for a revolution to bring smaller government. The size of the federal government actually doubled under the Lincoln administration, so perhaps that's not the most appropriate prez to look for inspiration for kick-starting a Norquist revolution.

Imagine if some liberal (let alone an actual socialist) writer would call for a revolution, with or without the reference to the G'burg Address. The dittoheads would be calling for his immediate imprisonment and waterboarding. It's the real political correctness - one can only call for overthrowing the government if it involves (at least hints of) conservative talking points.

Too many internets, too many machines!! And one of those internets (remember folks, "it's not a truck!") helps to spread Bradbury's wisdom...

Any virtue can become a vice.

Cell phones and the internet -- along with ancillary devices such as the Kindle and the other e-books -- are, in themselves -- not a bad thing. Perhaps even good to a point.

But when they are used as a means to avoid the more meaningful human interaction we were meant for ... well, then there's an issue.

Internet forums are famous for their lack of civility. I've seen discussions of motor oil devolve into arguments (no kidding -- see BobIsTheOilGuy.com).

I don't agree with much Craig says. But I'm more likely to treat him with contempt on an anonymous forum than I would in person. And the practice of contempt online becomes a habit, and a habit works its way into our being. And that probably explains a great deal of the lack of civility in our world today.

So Bradbury is probably correct deep within the core of his argument. It's being misconstrued to mean he rejects things that make him money. I doubt there's an element of hypocrisy here. I think his point is not properly taken.

(This "Captcha" thing is getting ridiculous ... 9 out of 10 values are impossible to decipher.)

Craig, have you not overlooked the fact that the expanding government under Lincoln consisted of military expansion, rather than bureaucracy and entitlements? (Here would have been a great opening for you to note that conservatives like big government only if it leads to the greater conservative value of war-mongering).

But a sensible person wouldn't call Lincoln a war-monger, because they sense that his political landscape was extreme. Because extreme, Lincoln's enterprise entailed things that never before merited consideration. It entailed actions not proper to normal political life, such as amassing an absolutely huge army (i.e., creating bigger government). Still, Lincoln expanded government only to a level where government "of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." We can assume that, given the convictions Lincoln stood by his whole life, a more normal presidency for him would have looked different.

There is nothing circumstantial about liberalism's affinity for larger government. Lincoln's task had an ultimate finish, with self-government either succeeding or failing. Substitute "Civil War" for "war on poverty" or any other such social crusading, and you see that the connect between "big government" and Lincoln is cheap indeed. Liberals must rely on circumstance ("never waste a crisis"), but when the increase of the state seems to be their holy-grail, what else could one expect?

So the next time you pick up 'arguments' from secessionists (even if they seem convenient to your ends), remember that they are probably ill-founded.

Don - Just to be clear, my own take is that Bradbury could be on to something interesting when it comes to his hints of Luddism ("too many machines") - people across the sociopolitical spectrum have made arguments of that sort for a long, long time - but it seems clear that he's pandering to the tea partiers with the "too much government" line.

Owl - I don't recall where I picked up the fact about Lincoln and the expansion of govt. under his admin., but it's just that, a fact, so I see no reason to call it an "argument" or to credit it to "secessionists." It's simply true.

Do note that I saw no reason to call it an 'argument,' either (that is why there are ironic quote marks around the word).

While a fact, it is a fact which elucidates little meaningful content, at least in the context in which it is usually used (i.e., in the speech of secessionists or those who otherwise seek to destroy Lincoln's place in the tradition of conservatism by claiming that he was somehow a 'big government guy in principle').

Well, as I recall, Lincoln had been a Whig, and the Whigs were all about using government to build infrastructure and the like. By the standards of his day, he was a "big government guy."

Within limits, of course, this was a good thing. The country needed turnpikes, railroads, canals and the like. But he was also a protectionist, yes? That's a little more controversial.

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