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FBI Informant: Ray Bradbury's Sci-fi Written To Induce Communistic Mass Hysteria 282

v3rgEz writes: The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare. "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria," the informant warned. "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won since their morale had seriously been destroyed."
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FBI Informant: Ray Bradbury's Sci-fi Written To Induce Communistic Mass Hysteria

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  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:20AM (#50379815)

    The government is taking the position that saying things that disagree with the official government position on things are subversive, anti-American, defeatist, comfort-to-the-enemony traitors? Color me surprised!

    • Well, it's true, isn't it? Opposing the authority of your homeland merits the death penalty

    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:39AM (#50379949) Journal
      This seems particularly absurd given that the point in question was 'not believing that World War Three is winnable'.

      It takes pretty impressive doublethink to suggest that pessimism about a hypothetical nuclear exchange that the government's own strategists were talking about in terms of 'mutually assured destruction' and 'deterrence' is somehow a product of propaganda.
      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwater.gmail@com> on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:47AM (#50380491) Homepage

        It takes pretty impressive doublethink to suggest that pessimism about a hypothetical nuclear exchange that the government's own strategists were talking about in terms of 'mutually assured destruction' and 'deterrence' is somehow a product of propaganda.

        You've got your timeline all screwed up... The papers are dated 1959, when the "official" position was still (more-or-less) that a nuclear exchange with the Soviets was winnable and the effects of Tailgunner Joe's Red Scare still lingered on the political landscape. "Mutual destruction" and "deterrence" wouldn't become the primary US strategy until the Kennedy administration.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It takes pretty impressive doublethink to suggest that pessimism about a hypothetical nuclear exchange that the government's own strategists were talking about in terms of 'mutually assured destruction' and 'deterrence' is somehow a product of propaganda.

        Idiot.

        That's like saying "It's doublethink to suggest that you have removed all SQL Injection points from your website and you STILL want to limit the web user's rights on the SQL server!"

        You are not taking things in the correct context, because you're an idiot. Communism was scary. Not just "terrorists might blow up another plane!" scary. Not "boogeyman under the bed" scary. It was "They just actually killed 30-45 million of their own people in the last 10 years, and now they have actual agents working

      • But only with the [Soviet|US] system a third world war can be won! The [US|Soviets] have no chance standing against us for we have the superior technology, and we can and will triumph supreme should the scum dare to start a war they cannot win!

        Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, [comrade|citizen].

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @02:02PM (#50381869) Homepage Journal

        Actually from 1950 until around 1962-65 the US could have won a nuclear war with Russia without much damage. Europe would have been toast as well as Japan and Korea but the US would have been pretty safe. The USSRs bomber fleet at that time was tiny and lacked forward bases to make attacks deep into the US and the US had a pretty good Air Defence system. The R-7 ICBM took days to fire and was not a practical weapon system but it did scare the daylights out of the US. The most dangerous weapon system was probably the strategic nuclear torpedos the USSR developed. Those could have done a lot of damage to coastal cities in the US.
        The Death toll would have been huge but the US would have come out ahead and would have "won".
        MAD is what came after that period when the US decided it was too costly to win a nuclear war with the USSR starting around the late 1960s.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Slight correction...
          Actually from 1950 until around 1962-65 it was reasonable to believe that the US could have won a nuclear war with Russia without much damage.

          Later analysis showed that even a much more minor nuclear exchange would probably lead to "nuclear autumn" with vast starvation, advancing glaciation, etc. The US vs. Russia would be a lot worse, though probably not up to the original "nuclear winter" estimate. The problem is that nuclear blasts in conjunction with fires loft fine ash particles u

    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:46AM (#50380003)

      If this is true, then we should call the fire department and have his books burned right away.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:21AM (#50380277) Journal

      The government is taking the position that saying things that disagree with the official government position on things are subversive, anti-American, defeatist, comfort-to-the-enemony traitors? Color me surprised!

      It was the McCarthy era - the American Inquisition. He wasn't hauled up in front of HUAC (The House {of representatives} Un-Ameracan Activities Committee), so I presume, if he was investigated, the FBI (and the other witch-hunters) didn't find any evidence of an actual association between Bradbury and any of the Communist regimes.

      Having said that: Bradbury's dystopias always struck me as an attempt to transplant mainstream literature's techniques and biases into Science Fiction.

      SF is the art of the technical class. The central message is "You can fix it or create wonders by applying intelligence and dilligence to the problem." Even the dystopias a subset of "cautionary tales", with the central message being "Be careful not the break it THIS way, because that could wreck it so badly you CAN'T fix it.

      Mainstream fiction is the propaganda of control of the general population: The central message is futility: "Do what the authorities tell you to do. No matrer HOW badly they're doing and HOW bad things get, don't try to improve them. Anything you try will make them worse."

      My impression of Bradbury is that he tried to use mainstream fiction techniques and in the process imported the mainstream fiction message.

      • SF is the art of the technical class. The central message is "You can fix it or create wonders by applying intelligence and dilligence to the problem."

        Huh? That is not the central message of SF. That is one single theme used in some SF, and used in the most generic sci-fi out there. The conflict is man v. nature/technology or man v. society (or even man v. self), where the virtues extolled are up to the writer. Besides intelligence and diligence, some other virtues often key in SF include self-reliance

      • Mainstream fiction is the propaganda of control of the general population: The central message is futility: "Do what the authorities tell you to do. No matrer HOW badly they're doing and HOW bad things get, don't try to improve them. Anything you try will make them worse."

        Er, what fiction would that be? Lots of popular mainstream fiction is about an underdog taking on a corrupt government/corporation.

      • SF is the art of the technical class. The central message is "You can fix it or create wonders by applying intelligence and dilligence to the problem."

        Mainstream fiction is the propaganda of control of the general population: The central message is futility: "Do what the authorities tell you to do."

        Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein entered the mainstream because they wrote entertaining, well-written. stories for adults with engaging themes, three-dimensional characters and a minimum of techno-babble.

        Heinlein, of course, could be remarkably observant and cynical about "the technical class" and its own desire for control --- not to mention its complicity in providing the means to control others.

        I have often thought it a pity that he didn't live long enough to see the geek in full flight. The privilege

    • Was the informant's name Grima Wormtongue?
    • by pr0nbot ( 313417 )

      I think you meant comfort-the-anemone [wikipedia.org]? (I'm not sure they're big Bradbury fans, books don't fare well in their high humidity climate.)

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      What are they supposed to do? Just sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids?

  • by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:23AM (#50379833)
    All of the stuff written from the COINTELPRO/pre-Church committee era should be exhibit #1 for the case of why the national security apparatus needs to be strictly controlled, and heavily limited in its ability to spy on American citizens. We don't even have to go back far to see the rampant abuses, paranoid delusions, and intrusive actions taken with the intent of ruining the lives of those deemed to be political enemies, subversives, or anything else.

    This sort of shit is un-american, undemocratic, and the sort of thing that should have no place in a free society.
    • This. Every single time I hear them try to make a case that we should feel safe because there are such strict controls. Yes, lots of controls that you can't see and will be audited only in secret. Strict controls to make sure that you will never know what we really did.

      Once the apparatus for mass surveillance exists, its a matter of policy how its used, and that policy can change a lot more easily than building the system was. Its not a matter of a guiltless organization of trustworthy angels.

      History is repleat with instances of people abusing access to the personal information of others. When I was a teenager, and Princess Di came to the hospital my mother worked for, there was quite a little scandal about people accessing her personal info, in the 90s. Fast forward 20 years, and the single most common reason for someone to be fired from the hospital? Improper records access.

      What does the system red flag? Access to family members, access to people living on the same street, etc, all flagged, why? because its all been abused, many times over.

      There is no way I trust these promises.

      • From Snowden, there were essentially no technological barriers to abuse. This makes it trivial for a G. Gordon Liddy type to spy on political opponents of some bigwig.

        Just knowing who they talk too can yield devastating info, to say nothing of actual phone conversations at the flip of a switch.

    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:00AM (#50380101)

      Let me FTFY: ...and the sort of thing that should have no place in a "free society".

      Notice the quotes. A friend of mine spent a year in Canada consuming Canadian news. He said that the experience really opened his eyes to how much propaganda we (as U.S. citizens) are fed through our news outlets. I don't know if that's driven by government or quasi-government led efforts, or simply driven by economic realities of the news business. Either way, this is possibly further damning evidence (albeit anecdotal) giving rise to the notion that the US being a free society is a romanticized pipe dream. The Matrix has you.

      • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:32AM (#50380361)
        As a Canadian watching news from both sides of the border, I can confirm your friend's experience. When I watch Canadian news, I see pro-Conservative/Liberal/NDP news. That much is evident. But when I watch American news? Holy fucking hell, close your windows, lock your doors and stay inside your home or you're going to be fucking mugged/raped/kidnaped/killed within the hour. If the American News was a group of people, they'd be a bunch insecure, frightened paranoids nutcases.
      • Do you honestly think that the Canadian government and media are outside of the influence of the US government? Sorry if it sounds paranoid, but two countries couldn't have closer economic, social and military ties than the US and Canada.

        Feel free to consider Canada the borderlands where the Madness hasn't quite spread yet. But you couldn't be any closer to it than you are right now.

        • but two countries couldn't have closer economic, social and military ties than the US and Canada

          In fact, they can. Russia and Belarus for example.

        • two countries couldn't have closer economic, social and military ties than the US and Canada.

          There are plenty of examples of countries with far closer ties: members of the EU; England, Scotland and Wales; the counties in the former Soviet Union etc. Indeed I would argue that Canada has closer ties with the UK than the US: we share a monarch, style of government and social morals the later of which is very different from the US in that we have national healthcare, functioning social welfare etc. Of those you list I'd say that only our economic ties are closer to the US than the UK.

    • by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:00AM (#50380105)

      Maybe the FBI were just reading too many actual Marxist manuals [schillerinstitute.org]?

      ""religious illumination," says Benjamin, must be shown to "reside in a profane illumination, a materialistic, anthropological inspiration, to which hashish, opium, or whatever else can give an introductory lesson." At the same time, new cultural forms must be found to increase the alienation of the population, in order for it to understand how truly alienated it is to live without socialism. "Do not build on the good old days, but on the bad new ones," said Benjamin.

      The proper direction in painting, therefore, is that taken by the late Van Gogh, who began to paint objects in disintegration, with the equivalent of a hashish-smoker's eye that "loosens and entices things out of their familiar world." In music, "it is not suggested that one can compose better today" than Mozart or Beethoven, said Adorno, but one must compose atonally, for atonalism is sick, and "the sickness, dialectically, is at the same time the cure....The extraordinarily violent reaction protest which such music confronts in the present society ... appears nonetheless to suggest that the dialectical function of this music can already be felt ... negatively, as 'destruction.' "

      The purpose of modern art, literature, and music must be to destroy the uplifting—therefore, bourgeois — potential of art, literature, and music, so that man, bereft of his connection to the divine, sees his only creative option to be political revolt. "To organize pessimism means nothing other than to expel the moral metaphor from politics and to discover in political action a sphere reserved one hundred percent for images." Thus, Benjamin collaborated with Brecht to work these theories into practical form, and their joint effort culminated in the Verfremdungseffekt ("estrangement effect"), Brecht's attempt to write his plays so as to make the audience leave the theatre demoralized and aimlessly angry."

      Basically the long and the short of it was these these people were and apparently are trying to infect the arts and entertainment in order to get everyone bummed out enough to turn to communist revolution, by salting the depression with political statements. I'm not sure how bummed out you'd have to be to go that far but that didn't stop them trying. I mean why do you think that modern art is, sometimes literally, such a pile of shit?

      Now just for clarity I don't agree with everything in that article, in particular his connecting art with religion - there may be a connection but it's far from as pervasive as he seems to think, however what I'm seeing happening in the arts and entertainment industries these days does appear to match the claims he's making.

      • by DG ( 989 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:22AM (#50380281) Homepage Journal

        And as a corollary:

        "Hello, Authorities? I think this man is up to No Good. I'm seeing behavior that leads me to think a Plot is Afoot.".

        "Thank you Sir. We'll check it out."

        [an Investigation is Conducted]

        "Well, it turns out that there's nothing going on that contravenes the law. No Nefarious Plot. We'll file this in our archives and move on to something else."

        The fact that an investigation was conducted in response to a complaint is *to be expected*. That's what the "I" in "FBI" is all about. The good news here was that when the investigation turned up nothing illegal, it was shelved.

        Now it is certainly true that during the McCarthy Era, there *were* investigations that went too far, and innocent people suffered consequences even when they were never charged and convicted. There was much for law enforcement and government to learn during this time period. I'm certainly no fan of witch hunts - especially ones where the definition of "witch" is not well defined.

        But it is also true that there *were* foreign agents about, and they *were* seeking to do harm. Investigating leads that might end up in a legitimate conviction is a good thing. Dropping an investigation that proves unfounded is also a good thing.

        But Oh Noes! Government! Security! These things must be bad, right?

  • yay, government (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:24AM (#50379837)

    Obviously we should give the government more power. After all, as Barney Frank says, "Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

    You chose this, right?

    • let's give the power to google and microsoft and donald trump instead and see how that goes

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:25AM (#50379845)

    Vietnam is the prime example of this. The NVA despite taking overwhelming losses on the battle field manage to win by destroying the will of the American homefront to prosecute the war.

    • re: Vietnam (Score:5, Insightful)

      by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:38AM (#50379937) Journal

      I'm no professional historian, but I question your assertion.

      American lost the Vietnam War because we weren't able to cope with a situation where there was so much guerrilla warfare taking place. Everything was a big question-mark. Did we eliminate all of the enemies in locations A and B? Did those snipers shooting from unseen locations in the jungle represent the only 1 or 2 enemies left, or were there many more? We kept dumping loads of money on equipment and manpower without any ability to see clear results.

      I think we saw the same issue with the "war on terror" in countries like Afghanistan, except this time, it's notable that reconnaissance missions played a very big role with liberal use of drones, spy satellites and more. There's a growing realization that even if you're technically winning a war, you're still losing if you can't tell the current "score of the game".

      • Re: Vietnam (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:50AM (#50380041)

        In both cases, the wars were unwinnable because you had proxies providing material support without any real repercussions. The fighters are in plentiful supply because they are pissed off about the state of their country. The materiel is plentiful because it is being supplied from outside the country by entities that we can't, for political or practical reasons, go after. At that point you have to decide whether to go into "kill everyone" mode or just get the hell out.

      • by Old97 ( 1341297 )
        Aren't you just providing the details behind his assertion? The US was not willing to prosecute total war in order to win and it lost the will to fight a protracted guerrilla campaign. The British won their war in Malaysia using more overwhelming numbers and cutting off access to the villages by the guerrillas. It took about 10 years if I recall. It also takes a good 10 to 1 manpower advantage to pull this off. The US wasn't willing to make that commitment and the US population lost patience. News repor
        • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

          I guess you could look at it that way (that my comments were just providing details behind the original assertion).

          Although, I'd also say that America has *never* really been willing to wage "total war" to win one since WWII. I don't think the majority is really behind the idea that it's about "winning at any/all costs" unless the war directly threatens their continued existence. (If someone starts launching nuclear missiles with targets on U.S. soil? That would provoke a "total war is acceptable" response.

      • Re: Vietnam (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:04AM (#50380145)

        I'm no professional historian, but I question your assertion.

        American lost the Vietnam War because we weren't able to cope with a situation where there was so much guerrilla warfare taking place. Everything was a big question-mark. Did we eliminate all of the enemies in locations A and B? Did those snipers shooting from unseen locations in the jungle represent the only 1 or 2 enemies left, or were there many more? We kept dumping loads of money on equipment and manpower without any ability to see clear results.

        America lost Vietnam precisely because of the political pressure at home, which indirectly caused much of what you describe above.

        A little history lesson:

        The Tet offensive in 1968, which garnered a lot of negative media attention in the US, effectively broke the back of the NVA. Until that offensive there were quite a few "traditional" battles. Remember, the NVA was a professional military force complete with armor and aircraft (in the case of the North Vietnamese air force). For several years after this the US was mainly fighting the VC (the guys in black pajamas), not the NVA. The NVA and the VC did most of their training, troop movement, and had much of ther senior command based in neighboring Laos. The US knew this, but apart from some small actions earlier in the war, barred the military from conducting operations in Laos due to fears of being seen as "widening the war". Had the US been able to put pressure (and keep it on) these troop marshaling areas and supply routes they could have pressed their advantage in both manpower and weaponry.

        The negative publicity and public sentiment was not just felt in the White House and Pentagon, but in the squads and platoons climbing those hills for the 2nd and 3rd time. They knew the war was unpopular, had no real clue why they were there beside some vague notion of stopping the Communists (believe it or not, give soldiers a good, real reason to fight and they will put up with a lot), and very likely were against the war themselves in the case of draftees. When your primary goal is to survive your 1 year tour as opposed to winning the war, you probably are not going to win.

        • Re: Vietnam (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:14AM (#50380215)

          America lost Vietnam precisely because of the political pressure at home, which indirectly caused much of what you describe above.

          America lost Vietnam because the people at home came to realize we had wasted more than 50,000 young American lives fighting on behalf of a tyrannical, oppressive government the Vietnamese people hated, and were doing so not to oppose communism but mainly to protect rubber plantations belonging to companies like DuPont. There was no good point to the war, and people eventually wised up.

      • American lost the Vietnam War because we weren't able to cope with a situation where there was so much guerrilla warfare taking place.

        Add in the things that made prosecuting the war harder for the military, like LBJ's insistence on personally approving all targets for the bombing campaign to ensure that the selection of targets 'sent the right message' to the NVA government.

      • Re: Vietnam (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:20AM (#50380265) Homepage

        And you know what? Between Vietnam and going into Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000's America spent years teaching this kind of asymmetric warfare around the world.

        In Latin America. In Afghanistan. To Osama Bin Laden himself. Against a democracy and in favor of dictators if it was in the interests of the US.

        So, like the British got all upset when America was fighting for independence that the Americans didn't wear uniforms and line up in rows, America has spent the last bunch of decades teaching how to do this very thing ... and are upset that people don't wear uniforms and line up in rows or play by any established rules of the game.

        There's a growing realization that even if you're technically winning a war, you're still losing if you can't tell the current "score of the game".

        Sorry, that's not technically winning.

        It's called being engaged in "low intensity" or "asymmetrical warfare", and means you might not be winning, and might not even know how you'd be able to tell.

        Like the Russians weren't winning in Afghanistan.

        And, in a similar way, why bombing ISIS and claiming you're winning doesn't mean you're winning when you can't change anything happening on the ground. It means the people who are counting the "score of the game" don't know if they're winning or losing, or what criteria to judge that.

        It's notable to realize that America is now fighting people they trained and armed as they were fighting the Russians under the theory of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", only to find out that isn't the case.

        America lost the war before they even left, walked away from it and claimed to have done a great job, and now they're wondering why they think they "technically" won the war all the while discovering they didn't even know the rules of the game.

        Especially now that the game has shifted to a new playing field, and people will have to re-learn the historical lesson that you can't control a country from the air.

        Arguably, the Middle East might have been safer and less volatile if Bush hadn't gone into Iraq under bogus pretenses in the first place.

        The problem is nobody else is playing this according to how the US strategists have claimed it would play out. Which means the US strategists don't seem to really know what is happening.

      • It's fortunate you're not a professional historian, because South Vietnam was independent, relatively free, and barely able to hold its own when the U.S. left. It took an infusion of Red Chinese money and arms to turn the tide against S.V., while the U.S. Congress refused to provide any help.

        Read and learn, and don't accept the revisionist lies. The U.S. was not defeated in Vietnam. South Vietnam fell well after the U.S. left.

        • The U.S. was not defeated in Vietnam.

          I'm confused, what do you call it when you pick up all your stuff and run away to not fight again? Most people would call that "defeated"

      • I was not sure where to put this, so I chose here. All of the problems in Vietnam resulted from the fact that the decision had been made to fight the Soviet Union in a series of proxy wars designed to cost them more than they could afford. That decision in itself was a good one, the dangers of fighting the Soviet Union directly were too great to risk. The problem was that the decision makers in Washington did not fight in Vietnam with the intention of winning that engagement. They decided to continue that p
    • What was the cause of the war again?
    • The NVA despite taking overwhelming losses on the battle field manage to win by destroying the will of the American homefront to prosecute the war.

      The Vietnam war was, like many wars of the era, a proxy war. The NVA were backed by China and the USSR among others. The US could have but never did invade North Vietnam mostly because of the potential for direct conflict with the Chinese. The USSR provided very substantial hardware and training assistance. The NVA didn't really have to win, they just had to not lose and eventually the US had to go home. Without the backing of China and others the NVA couldn't have lasted for long. Similar situation h

  • When I find out who leaked this to the Feds we're going to have a purge. Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
  • What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:28AM (#50379863)
    "Communistic mass hysteria"? Not clear what that means. It looks like they played with the idea that making people think about society made people more susceptible to Communism. Probably true in some cases.
    • here is an interesting phrase from TFA: "is similar to the approach taken by a small number of scientists who hold that it is impossible to conceive of war without threatening the isolation of the Universe." Understanding that is an exercise best left to the individual reader.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Most people get so caught up in the fantastical stories of science fiction they don't stop to think about how science fiction came about. It's writing in which the environment has been exaggerated in some fashion by science and technology, and this is used to make certain moral and ethical arguments more blatantly obvious.

    Authors during the Cold War were grappling with the issues of nuclear war, ideological combat and widespread authoritarianism. This hasn't really subsided all that much even today.

    • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

      "and this is used to make certain moral and ethical arguments more blatantly obvious."

      Not really. Most sci fi is just one of the 7 basic plots set in a universe with more advanced tech. Almost all stories have moral and ethical issues because thats the nature of humanity and hence the stories we tell regardless of the era they're set in.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:29AM (#50379871)

    I'm not sure these guys could distinguish a credible threat from a popular band fan base... Oh wait, they can't: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by steak ( 145650 )

    of course they followed an old white guy, but where was the FBI when that presbolutheran inuit transgender pansexual furry was writing all that sonic the hedgehog slash fic? It is time for equal rights when it comes to governmental agencies wildly overstepping the bounds of their duties.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:31AM (#50379893) Homepage
    I really hope that the majority of the agents laughed at this stupidity.

    We have access to literally MILLIONS of attempts at propaganda - both from the US and from outside agencies.

    It's not that hard to recognize propaganda and his work is not it. You have to target your intended audience pretty highly and anyone not in the target audience can easily see through it for garbage.

    Otherwise, it's not propaganda, it's truth that you disagree with. So you call it propaganda and pretend it is based on lies.

    The reason for this is simple - the only way to convince someone that a lie is 'true', is if the lie is aimed directly at their own personal belief structure. You can't convince a liberal that there is a secret conspiracy in the US Government to 'invade texas' without a TON of proof, but you can convince certain conservatives with radio broadcast and an internet web page.

    Similarly, you can't convince a Republican that the Pro-life movement is designed to keep women barefoot and pregnant (rather than to stop abortion), but you can convince certain liberals with an article and a news report.

    As such, any real attempt at Propaganda is obvious to anyone not targeted by it, and it's ridiculous to believe that an author could engage in 'secret' propaganda.

    • by AntronArgaiv ( 4043705 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:41AM (#50379967)

      The only real way to fight this type of mass hysteria (be it communists or muslim terrorists under our beds), is to have and encourage a well-educated and critically-thinking public. Unfortunately, these abilities don't seem to be in vogue at this time. (Perhaps because they run counter to the interests of various religious and political groups).

      An uneducated, docile public is easily led, while an educated, questioning public will loudly proclaim "bullshit" when presented with such.

      • "Unfortunately, these abilities don't seem to be in vogue at this time" -- I agree with you that they aren't in vogue now, but can you cite any examples when they were in vogue? I can't. Maybe we could say during the late 60's when the populace finally turned against the Vietnam War, but a lot of that occurred when the big news organizations turned against the war (liberal bias!?), not through self education.

    • by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:46AM (#50380007)
      It is important to note that normally this type of agent does not care if what he is doing makes sense. What matters to him is to ensure that the lie told by his boss to be accepted as absolute truth at all costs. It's the same in my country, I live seeing people being bombarded by things so absurd that you would find that they are lobotomized, and yet they not only believe in such absurdities as still harm you if you say something against.
    • I really hope that the majority of the agents laughed at this stupidity.

      This was before my time so I can't say so with any authority, but the impression I get is that most agents probably believed it. Keep in mind that this was a time when the greatest fear of many American parents was "juvenile delinquency" and they honestly blamed comic books for it. The Senate even had hearings about comic books and juvenile delinquency. William M. Gaines, who would go on to publish Mad Magazine, was forced to testify in front of a Senate panel on the subject. How seriously the US govern

    • To be fair to the FBI, it looks like they didn't take this accusation too seriously. The rather nonsensical quote from the summary was made by an informant, not by the agent investigating Bradbury. The portion of the FBI report that was actually written by the investigating agent concluded that there was no actual evidence linking Bradbury to the Communist Party.

  • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:37AM (#50379931) Homepage

    "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria,"

    "...and believe me, you're talking to a man with a _lot_ of experience with psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria."

  • by honestmonkey ( 819408 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:40AM (#50379963) Journal
    I know that when I was a kid, every time I read a Bradbury story I got into a state of communistic panic, and it took a hot dog, piece of apple pie and a baseball game to calm me down.
    • That's because you bought into his anti-psychiatry propaganda. If you'd just chucked down a couple of Valium, you'd have been fine.

      Bradbury had so much opposition in him to mental health it's a wonder the Scientologists didn't adopt him and make him a saint.

      Granted, at the time he wrote a lot of that stuff, most psycho-active medications had all the subtlety of a 2x4 upside the head, but he really did want the monsters to survive and he really did feel that insanity was one of the primary roots of creativit

  • by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:45AM (#50379999)

    Wait....

    "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won"

    Does that mean anyone in the FBI was crazy enough that a 3rd world war could actually be "won" in some kind?

    • This is from the days when J. Edgar Hoover was running the FBI, just a few years after Joe McCarthy was doing his Red Menace shtick in the Senate. Take it all with a BIG grain of Cold War Paranoia salt.
    • Ignorance is King. Many would not profit from his overthrow for they enrich themselves by means of his dark monarchy. They are his Court and under his aegis they defraud and govern for their own benefit and to perpetuate their power. They milk and shear and butcher the flocks that they maintain on bread and circuses, herding and stampeding them at their whim. Communication and education they fear, for the written word and the ability to think are channels by which the subjects may lift themselves into the l

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      Does that mean anyone in the FBI was crazy enough that a 3rd world war could actually be "won" in some kind?

      Yes.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Actually yes from 1945 to about 1962-3 the US could have won in a nuclear war. Russia lacked any real way to deliver nuclear bombs effectively to the US. Now Europe, Japan, and Korea would have been toast but the US would not have been that badly damaged.
      Yes we could have won that in about the same way that France won WWI or Britain won WWII

  • Martian Chronicles is so strange ... it was all about inciting hysteria, not about story telling.
  • Obviously reading Badbury's story induced communistic-related mass hysteria in the informant.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      So, who was the informant? Maybe a paranoid conspiracy theory nut. Or perhaps another science fiction author with an axe to grind because his stuff wasn't selling as well.

      L. Ron Hubbard?

      • The informant was Martin A. Berkeley. According to the FBI's notes, Berkeley had confessed to being a Communist Party member and turned informant to save his own skin. This leads me to suspect that he eventually resorted to accusing anyone he could think of to maintain his "usefulness" to the FBI.

  • ... has always been on the part of the wingnuts. They perceive themselves as the ultimate "victims" while trampling the rights and lives of any who dare question them. Of course, they justify it all as "God's Will", while pounding the Bible and wrapping themselves in the flag.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Actually, this kind of delusion that you espouse is a primary example of the effectiveness of mass media propaganda. You are repeating the indoctrination presented in every single university, and most lower schools. You are repeating the same narrative shown on every single television channel. And one commonly found in science fiction.

      Yet, you perceive yourself as being outside the mainstream, when you are repeating the very religion of the people who rule over you. You in fact do not deviate in any sub

      • Your adherence to the principles of eugenics is noted. For reference, my use of the term "wingnuts" is not based in economics or social caste, but in the adherence to an ideology which is empirically disprovable. Thanks for providing an example of such.
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Hey Rambo. I think you just tripped over another wing nut. Either that, or an example of Poe's Law [wikipedia.org]

    • The irony is that Bradbury was strongly religious.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:20AM (#50380267)

    We can't have people doing that. That's the government's job.

    • Why do you think we have that war on terror? It's like WW2. Killing brown people? Fuck it, Germany, that's OUR job!

  • I stand vindicated! I've been reading seditious material my whole life and really did need that tinfoil hat to keep the FBI from reading my seditious thoughts. No wonder my high school English teacher declared that science fiction wasn't literature and refused to allow book reports about it, she was protecting us from the FBI!

  • by Baby Duck ( 176251 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:44AM (#50380467) Homepage

    I think this FBI informant had a geek crush on Ray Bradbury. He wanted to stalk him at all costs. He invented this elaborate "Communist-angle" ruse to justify to his superiors the inordinate amount of time he used obsessing over Bradbury's every move, admiring him from afar. I imagine it's easier to maintain this fib than do actual work of any value.

    This would make a good comedy sketch, actually! Like a variant of The Tailor of Panama.

  • Switch communist for terrorist and "winning the third world war" for "winning the war on terror" and you can have a comfortable life as an informant again.

    Some things never change. Snitches are like composers, to be successful all they have to do is adapt to what their audience wants to hear. Just dress up the same old song with a different tune.

  • This really shows how out of step the FBI is, that they thought Ray Bradbury could be an agent of international communism. Why, Raymond Bradbury is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson

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