War and shopping – an extremism that never speaks its name

Source: John Pilger

Looking for a bookshop that was no longer there, I walked instead into a labyrinth designed as a trap. Leaving became an allusion, rather like Alice once she had stepped through the Looking Glass. Walls of glass curved into concentric circles as one “store” merged into another: Armani Exchange with Dinki Di Pies. Exits led to gauntlets of more “offers” and “exciting options”. Seeking a guide, I bought a lousy pair of sunglasses: anything to get out. It was a vision of hell. It was a Westfield mega mall.

This happened in Sydney – where the Westfield empire began – in a “mall” not half as mega as the one that opened in Stratford, east London on 13 September. “Everything” is here, reported the architectural critic Jonathan Glancey: from Apple to Primark, McDonalds’s to KFC and Krispy Kreme. There is a cinema with 17 screens and “luxurious VIP seats”, and a mega “luxury” bowling alley. Tracey Emin and Mary Portas lead the Westfield “cultural team”. The biggest casino in the land will overlook a “24-hour lifestyle street” called The Arcade. This will be the only way into the 2012 Olympic Games for 10m people attending the athletics. The simple, grotesque message of “buy me, buy me” will be London’s welcome to the world.

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