Ray Bradbury was good at writing. He gave us Farenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, as well as The Illustrated Man and was as responsible as anyone for the popularization of science fiction. He was also, according to a recently de-classified file from the FBI, a terrifying communist whose writing was an attempt to undermine wholesome American values (like censorship?) during the Cold War.
The documents, obtained by MuckRock, chronicle the Bureau’s decade-long hunt for Communist sympathizers in the era of McCarthyism and, like all self-serious government documents, contain loads of hilariously un-ironic language dealing with Bradbury’s lifestyle and insidious political views. To be fair to the FBI, Bradbury did once call for an uprising, saying, “I think our country is in need of a revolution.” But the end of that quote goes like this: “We’ve got to remember government should be by the people, of the people and for the people.”
Dude was quoting the Gettysburg Address.
Here are some of the file’s choicest quotes:
- “Our files show that in the past he has been critical of the U.S. Government and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He has also been described by a former member of the CP [Communist Party] as being probably sympathetic with certain pro-Communist elements in the western section of the Writers Guild of America. Above investigation necessary to bring this matter to a logical conclusion [sic].”
- “A request is not being made of the Bureau to interview Bradbury inasmuch as it is believed he does not possess informant potential, in view of his occupation as a freelance science fiction writer and since it is felt no useful purpose would be served by such an interview at this time.”
- “Berkeley [the FBI’s informant] stated it has been his observation that some of the writers suspected of having Communist backgrounds have been writing in the field of science fiction and it appears that science fiction may be a lucrative field for the introduction of Communist ideologies.”
- “Berkeley reported that Bradbury, during the course of the discussion, rose to his feet and shouted, ‘Cowards and McCarthyites’ when the resolution [to keep Communist members in the Screen Writer’s Guild] was discussed.”
- “Informant observed that Communists have found fertile opportunities for development; for spreading distrust and lack of confidence in America [sic] institutions in the area of science fiction writing.”
- “Informant declared that a number of science fiction writers have created illusions with regard to the impossibility of continuing world affairs in an organized manner now or in the future through the medium of futuristic stories concerned with the potentialities of science.”
- “Informant stated that the general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe could not be won since their moral had been seriously destroyed [sic].”
- “The publication reported that The Martian Chronicles, which was published in 1950, afforded Bradbury national recognition and the second edition of the publication sold over 200,000 books. This book dealt with the development and exploration of Mars, its effects on mankind and its home world. The stories were connected by the repeated theme that earthmen are despoilers and not developers [sic].”
- “Ray Bradbury, a well known science fiction writer, related that he uses ‘this medium (science fiction) to try to bring to light some of the current fallacies in human values today.’”
You can read the FBI’s full 40-page file here.
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