The families mesmerized by the television are being controlled by an outside source, echnology, and giving up their free will, whether they know it or not. Nothing can move forward if everything remains the same. If people are kept shut up in their houses, eyes illuminated by the multicolored lights of pixel screens, without interaction and problems to keep themselves creatively inclined, there can be no progress. There is a point where technology moves from being something useful, to being a crutch.
In this short story, there aren’t even any policemen, and the one car still on patrol is controlled by a robot, eliminating any chance for human progression. Humans thrive on challenge, as evidenced by the desolate neighborhoods of The Pedestrian and the examples of the failed Soviet Russia, it’s obvious that shoving everyone down to the same level isn’t going to work, nor is keeping them stalled and uneducated. This story mentions that “there was only one police car left… crime was ebbing, there was no need now for the police. (pg 49) This city seems to have sacrificed one extreme for the other; crime for freedom. Crime brings grief and sadness upon its victims, yes; however without that contrast of despair, joy and happiness mean nothing. Without the ability to choose, either bad or good, they’ve enslaved themselves to technology. Leonard Meade, the main character of The Pedestrian is almost the only character; the rest are inside their tomblike houses, watching the television, the focus of their world.
In fact, the automaton police almost interrogate him, using his lack of viewing screen and the fact he’s out of his house as a cause to take him to a psychiatric ward. The populace is being controlled and ‘equalized’, essentially no one is any greater than each other because there is no interaction. Essentially, his is a Marxist society, with everyone equal and no exploitation of the lower class.
However, it coincides with totalitarianism, with every bit of life controlled and consumed by viewing screen, and deviants being dealt with by local enforcement. Marxism is far from a perfect system, an almost impossible with a little fear of retribution. People are simply too selfish and the need to acquire wealth is ingrained into the human psych.