8 Short Stories and Novels that Exemplify the Dangers of Big Government

I want your money!

It’s April 15 and if you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you might want to look into that. By the way, don’t come to me for tax advice. You can come to me for lesson plan advice.

Or for clever lists like this one.

In honor of tax day, I present 8 stories/novels that exemplify the dangers of big government.

Big overnment is watching.

…so you better not be surfing the Internet at work.

1984 by George Orwell. I remember reading 1984  in 1984. It was one of the first assigned novels I actually enjoyed. Although I found it entertaining, I didn’t quite find it very realistic. In the novel, the government was able to monitor everyone via hidden microphones and hidden cameras. News organizations with political agendas would report news one day and report the exact opposite later when it suited the government’s needs. Anyhow… I remember reading 1984 in 1984 and I found it very realistic, although not very entertaining.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Huxley’s an equal opportunity critic of big government. His novel depicts the abuse of both socialist regimes and the dangers of capitalism out of control. The one thing I remember most about Brave New World–probably because I was in my late teens–was the aspect of unregulated sex. It was encouraged at all ages. It’s as though Huxley understood how the proliferation of Internet pornography would affect future generations. Luckily sex scandals never happen with government officials.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I once read Fahrenheit 451 on a Kindle. It’s too bad that modern technology has made the premise of Fahrenheit 451 technologically obsolete because so many of Bradbury’s prophecies  have come true. Have you ever noticed, for example, that politicians running for office never really take a stand on anything, that the slightest inclination one way or another is immediately excoriated by media members? Or as Bradbury writes:

“Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchant, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy” (57).

“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut’s more famous for his satirical novels Slaughterhouse V, Cat’s Cradle, and Mother Night, but this short story about an out of control government that intentionally handicaps gifted individuals is one of his finer works. Check out these “Harrison Bergeron”  lesson plans and feel free to check out this great cinematic adaptation.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. “Wait a second,” you say. “Isn’t Lord of the Flies a novel about kids who get stranded on an island and start killing each other?” Yes, it is. So why did all this killing take place–other than insanity and dehydration? One of the groups establishes a dictatorship. They control the food supply and had the tougher army. OK, this is a bit of a stretch, but it’s one heckuva good book and it gives me an excuse to share this lesson plan using quotations from Lord of the Flies.

Big GovernmentEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card. One of the underlying themes of Ender’s Game is the balance between individual rights and the collective good. Due to the threat of alien invasion, characters in Ender’s Game show a willingness to suspend individual rights and freedoms. For example, there are population limitation laws, certain individuals are monitored from birth to determine whether or not they are capable of defeating the alien menace, and global governments control military functions. By the way, don’t mess with Ender Wiggin.

Big Government“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. This is primarily a story about a lunatic who traps people on his island and hunts them for sport. General Zaroff rules the island. General Zaroff is the only one on the island with a gun. This is what happens when only the government owns guns. These lesson plans for “The Most Dangerous Game” will help you intelligently approach ideas from the short story.

The Giver by Lois Lowry. I don’t really like this book, but most people do. And it’s been so long since I’ve read it that I hardly remember what it’s about. I recall it has something to do with a lack of individual rights.

Divergence by Veronica Roth. In this dystopic novel, a highly regimented society has been put in place in order to save the citizenry from itself. It doesn’t work as one group attempts to take over by controlling the minds of others. The movie sucks, by the way.

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