Consumerism as a dystopian reality.
Ballard’s central idea is that consumerism slides into fascism when politics simply gives the punters what they want, becoming a matter of consumer-style choices, choosing not to have a mosque next door, for example. Along the way, there’s an almost satirical indictment of contemporary life, or what would be an indictment in a writer with less futuristic sympathies than Ballard. ‘This was a place where it was impossible to borrow a book, attend a concert, say a prayer, consult a parish record or give to charity,’ says Richard Pearson: ‘In short, the town was an end state of consumerism. I liked it and felt a certain pride that I had helped to set its values.’