J. G. Ballard’s Surrealist Liberalism
J. G. Ballard was one of the most original writers of the postwar era. Although he has drawn considerable attention from scholars across various fields, the character of his political thinking remains a puzzle. He has been claimed as both a radical and a conservative, while others suggest that his work expresses no distinct political stance. Drawing on a wide range of source materials, I argue that from the 1960s to the early years of the twenty-first century Ballard developed a bold and intriguing account of liberalism grounded in insights drawn from surrealism and Freudian psychoanalysis. This was an idiosyncratic version of the liberalism of fear. The essay analyzes Ballard’s sociopolitical vision, focusing in particular on his account of human nature, social reality, totalitarianism, and the power of the imagination.