Summertime and, apparently, the living is easy, unless you live in Venezuela. For some reason no British socialist wants to talk about that. Not that the millionaires at the BBC will ever ask them about that poor country in the first place.
However, Venezuela is for another day.
The summer hols are upon us, and therefore so is summer reading. What to read? A techno thriller? The latest Game of Thrones? A Booker-worthy novel about urban liberal angst and consequent domestic secrets exposed?
Perhaps something to scare you rigid. But not a horror story.
Consider Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The title refers to the temperature at which paper will spontaneously combust, possibly apocryphally.
The novel is set in a future where books are banned. Firemen’s jobs are to locate and destroy books. Why is this so? It is explained in this revealing paragraph:
“Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!… Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did.”
Bradbury imagined the literary dictatorship of multiculturalism and took it to its logical conclusion of political correctness going not just mad, but well and truly insane. A film was made of the book, directed by François Truffaut and shot in England. Some of the firemen’s uniforms were recycled for a colour episode of the Rigg-era The Avengers.
The novel was written in 1953. This week the Advertising Standards Authority banned adverts that might portray social stereotypes in case they offend some people. For 13 years Rotherham council failed to protect girls in its care that were gang-raped by organised groups. According to The Guardian this inaction by state sector workers and local politicians can be rationally explained as it is ‘understandable that the Labour council was sensitive to the reputation of its Muslim community.’
“Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes…” Bradbury was on to something.
A shorter read may also entertain, or perhaps horrify. Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, penned a short story in 1961 entitled Harrison Bergeron. I cannot do better than Wikipedia’s exposition:
“In the year 2081, amendments to the Constitution dictate that all Americans are fully equal and not allowed to be smarter, better-looking, or more physically able than anyone else. The Handicapper General’s agents enforce the equality laws, forcing citizens to wear “handicaps”: masks for those who are too beautiful, radios inside the ears of intelligent people, and heavy weights for the strong or athletic.”
Britain had its own Handicapper General, in the form of Harriet Harman and her ceaseless drive for ‘equality’ which she has made the law of the land. It is a coincidence that in the story the Handicapper General is also a woman. The story revolves around the Harman-like culture of equality taken to its logical conclusion. It is not about levelling people up. It is about dragging people down. It is the logical conclusion and consistent end-state of all socialist societies.
In our reality, it means that there are demands that identity is placed before ability to select the best person for the job. The Tottenham MP David Lammy, who is currently also moonlighting for North Kensington constituents, is a prime exponent of this. This explains why Diane Abbott is currently Shadow Home Secretary.
These dystopian stories were written as fantasies over 50 years ago. It is up to the reader to determine how close they are to coming true. Remember, Jeremy Corbyn becoming the leader of an opposition party that is currently ahead in the polls was also once a fantasy.