Millennium People (2003) J.G. Ballard

Millennium People

Ballard writes of middle-class revolutionary movement sweeping Britain. Well done. A fun read.. pretty straight forward rejection of mass consumerist alienating conformist modernity.. but without much politics. Makes it very fun and reckless. No one really knows what is going on. The French Revolution anyone? Big middle-class revolution. I thought of this a few times, not sure. I am sure that the writing is very inviting. Have a look at two passages.

“I watched you in court this morning. The magistrates were faced with something they hate above anything else – a responsible citizen ready to sacrifice himself for his principles.’ ‘I hope I am. Aren’t we all?’ ‘Alas, no. Protest is one thing, action another. That’s why we need you on the project.’ ‘I’m with you. What exactly is the project? Picketing travel agencies? Banning tourism?’ ‘Much more than that. We aren’t defined by Kay’s obsessions.’ Aware that this might sound harsh, he took Joan’s hand. Sitting forward, he massaged his cheeks, trying to bring colour into the gaunt bones. ‘Look at the world around you, David. What do you see? An endless theme park, with everything turned into entertainment. Science, politics, education — they’re so many fairground rides. Sadly, people are happy to buy their tickets and climb aboard.’ ‘It’s comfortable, Stephen.’ Joan traced a Chinese character on the back of his hand, a familiar symbol at which the clergyman smiled. ‘There’s no effort involved, no surprise.’ ‘Human beings aren’t meant to be comfortable. We need tension, stress, uncertainty.’ Dexter gestured at the film posters. ‘The kind of challenge that comes from flying a Tiger Moth through zero visibility, or talking a suicide bomber out of a school bus.’ Joan frowned at this, her eyes losing their focus. ‘Stephen, you tried that in Mindanao. You nearly got killed.’”


“Visiting Chelsea Marina in the week after our Twickenham expedition, I listened to the doorstep meetings, trying to catch any hint of involvement in the Heathrow bomb. I was surprised by the growing number of protest groups. Leaderless and uncoordinated, they sprang up at dinner parties and PTA meetings. One committee planned a sit-in at the offices of the management company responsible for Chelsea Marina’s abysmal services, but most of the residents were now set on a far more radical response to the social evils that transcended the local problems of the estate. They had moved on to wider targets – a Pret A Manger in the King’s Road, Tate Modern, a Conran restaurant scheduled for the British Museum, the Promenade Concerts, Waterstone’s bookshops, all of them I exploiters of middle-class credulity. Their corrupting fantasies had deluded the entire educated caste, providing a dangerous pabulum that had poisoned a spoon-fed intelligentsia. From sandwich to summer school, they were the symbols of subservience and the enemies of freedom.”


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