Ray Bradbury: Writer, Critic, Communist Sympathizer?

Photo by Alan Light (CC)

It seems that Ray Bradbury, a vocal critic of Joe McCarthy and his ilk, was the subject of two FBI investigations in the 1950s. The Daily Beast has recently obtained the FBI files via a Freedom of Information Act request:

The FBI’s investigation of Bradbury in the late 1950s centers on alleged communist activity, and it reveals more about the author’s talent for holding up a dystopian mirror to reflect society’s flaws than actual communist tendencies. These government documents were first obtained by Bradbury biographer Sam Weller and described in his 2005 book The Bradbury Chronicles.

“I remember distinctly his response when I visited him and presented him with the files,” Weller told The Daily Beast. “He beamed ear to ear and dismissed it with a wave of his hand and laughed and he said, ‘I’ll be damned, I’ve had nothing to hide over the years—what are they going to investigate? What a bore.’”

The FBI found plenty to investigate. The Bureau clearly didn’t like the cut of Bradbury’s jib, but despite their best efforts, the G-Men were left empty-handed. You, however, won’t be. You can download the complete file at The Daily Beast.



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6 Comments on "Ray Bradbury: Writer, Critic, Communist Sympathizer?"

  1. Jin The Ninja | Aug 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

    i’ve always maintained that science fiction has radical implications. it’s really no surprise that an author who wrote about censorship and authoritarianism was investigated. no surprise, but surely telling of our system of control.

    • Matt Staggs | Aug 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm |

       There’s a great tradition of radical science fiction; particularly since the late sixties and early seventies. People like Samuel Delaney, Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Margaret Atwood and J.G. Ballard challenged both social and literary conventions with their groundbreaking novels and stories. Incidentally, I had the great pleasure of taking Moorcock out to lunch one day. Fine fellow, and full of interesting stories.

      • Jin The Ninja | Aug 30, 2012 at 5:34 am |

        moorcock? very cool. i’m a bit jealous to be honest…and that is a rare thing.

        have you ever read the strangers in a tangled wilderness, ‘of mythmakers and lawbreakers’ ? margaret killjoy interviews several authors whose either self identify as ‘anarchist’ or whose work engages anarchist themes. free pdf files online. really interesting.

  2. May J. Edgar Hoover forever rot in Hell.

    I was surprised to learn that Jack London was quite the Socialist.

    My Elementary School introduction to him was “He wrote _Call of the Wild_ and _White Fang_, then he got hooked on drugs and died. Drug’s are bad M’Kay.”

    Anyhow, I found his novel _The Iron Heel_ to be quite interesting.

    Sorry too lazy to properly format a Hyperlink so… http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1164/1164-h/1164-h.htm


  3. Anomaly_of_Anomie | Aug 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm |

    In hindsight, it is easy to understand the red scare. Whenever someone in a position of fame or influence expressed concepts abstract to formal organization (especially if community was emphasized) the capitalist government would then step in and label that person a “communist.” The media tool made clear this word symbolized betrayal to one’s country… and during a time of heightened nationalism, to the point where simply being accused was enough to incapacitate anyone socially and financially. 

    If one can understand the past, it is then possible to decipher the future and see through the present moment, where the term “terrorist” can now be used the exact way, for the same purpose of preserving profit and power.

    History repeats…  

  4. It said in his obituaries that he actually had libertarian sympathies. From his fiction, it seemed like his main concern was that we were getting too rationalistic and losing our imaginations.

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