How does the society in Fahrenheit 451 have a false consciousness?

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are at least two ways to answer this question.

These two arguments are not completely separate from one another and both can be related to the idea that this society claims it is defending human rights and equality while violently restricting those rights and removing all meaning from the very idea of equality.

First, there is an argument to be made that the professed notion of “equality” in this society has less to do with a democracy of equals and more to do with a culture of conformity.

This is a society that believes no one should be better than anyone else therefore everyone should agree to be mediocre. Not every character in this book is convinced that mediocrity is democratic or valuable. Enforced mediocrity of this kind is, in fact, seen by Montag as dangerous, totalitarian, and inhuman.

Second, there is an argument to be made that this society is not a democracy protecting the rights of everyone by punishing those who refuse to conform.

Though the authorities in this society would argue that the police represent the best interests of everyone, those who fail to conform, like Montag, have a much different view of the police and the authorities. The police do not protect freedom but in fact enforce a law that severely limits personal rights and freedoms.