In "Fahrenheit 451," why does Faber think that the people, not the government brought the present state of affairs upon themselves?
In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag begins to question how society had reached its current state in which all literature is completely banned. After discussing the issue with Fire Chief Beatty and the ex-professor Faber, he starts to find several reasons as to why books would be banned and burned.
Faber tells Guy that the people, not the government, brought the outlawing of books to reality. What he means by this (and Beatty would likely agree) is that because the people began to find literature offensive and challenging, they acquired a need to have the books banned. Rather than confronting the literature as an intellectual if not philosophical work, the ordinary citizens in Fahrenheit 451 raised hell about conflicting ideas and philosophies. Great literature certainly comes from all backgrounds, beliefs, religions, countries, and genders, and so it becomes inevitable for literature to cause conflict. Faber seems to think that the society took the easy route, banning books as a whole to avoid any intellectual effort in sorting out a wide variety of content.
It's interesting, and perhaps ironic, to note that Fahrenheit 451 itself was a victim of those who ban books; it was banned outright in many schools and districts, though some brave souls requested a semi-censored version in which minor profanities (damn, hell, etc.) were blacked out or removed from the novel.
The citizens in Bradbury's dystopian society prefer to watch parlour televisions and participate in exhilarating activities instead of reading or engaging in intellectual pursuits. When Montag visits Faber's home, Faber explains to him why literature is important and reminds him that the citizens stopped reading on their own accord. Faber tells Montag that the population had no use for literature and did not enjoy authors critiquing their superficial culture. Citizens were perfectly comfortable living shallow, meaningless lives, as long they were being entertained by media outlets and felt satisfied after taking various prescription pills. Essentially, the government created the fireman structure as a way to ensure citizens' happiness and create a spectacle for society. Faber tells Montag,
"And the Government, seeing how advantageous it was to have people reading only about passionate lips and the fist in the stomach, circled the situation with your fire-eaters (Bradbury, 42).
Overall, the citizens stopped reading on their own accord, and the government decided to create the fireman structure as a way to capitalize on society's ignorance.
He says this because the people, like him, who saw it coming did nothing to stop it. He says he saw the trend coming and he could have spoken up, but he didn't and now, he continues, he is one of the guilty. The point that Bradbury through the character of Faber is trying to make is that when people don't speak up to stop the wrongs they see being committed, then they are as guilty for those wrongs as the ones committing them are. He is warning the reader to avoid complacency.