Science Fiction

Empire of the Green Sun


J.G. Ballard, author of Crash, High Rise, and the immortal short story "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan," defines his politics:

Ballard considers himself a libertarian. "I'm all for free sex, alcohol and would liberalise the drug laws if some way could be found to protect adolescents."

In the same profile, Ballard endorses a character's comment that "Consumerism creates huge unconscious needs that only fascism can satisfy. If anything, fascism is the form that consumerism takes when it opts for elective madness." Which sounds a bit less Reasonesque, though it also brings to mind an essay the author wrote in 1971, collected in his book A User's Guide to the Millennium:

Could Ralph Nader, the consumer crusader and scourge of General Motors, become the first dictator of the United States? The question isn't entirely frivolous….Nader is unloading a powerful sense of anxiety and guilt on to a huge range of commonplace activities. Sooner or later, I would guess, these will crystalize around one major subject, a simple formula of antagonism, unease and wish-fulfillment that will play the same role in the technological landscape that cruder formulas played in the political landscape. Inevitably, I suppose, the consumer society must produce its own unique demagogue, but this sort of dictator may well be difficult to recognize and unseat.

[Hat tip: Joanne McNeil.]