It seems like every day we're being told that the big problem with cars is that they pollute and melt the icecaps and raise the oceans. There's another problem, and you'll be surprised to hear that it's outlined in a nearly 40-year-old essay.P
Don't get me wrong, cars play a part in fucking up our water resources, atmosphere, coasts, deserts, and just about everything else climate change is screwing over. That's just not the one and only problem with cars.P
They are screwing up our lives, from how we live to where we work.P
This essay, "The Social Ideology of the Motorcar," written by French philosopher André Gorz and published in Le Sauvage in late 1973 and recently republished on Copenhagenize, points out how the fundamental design of the car dooms it to hellish traffic, how cars are ruining cities, and even how cars are ruining themselves.P
Gorz opens the essay with the fundamental problem with cars. Cars sell speed, and if everyone has a car, there's no room to go fast.P
The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people. Unlike the vacuum cleaner, the radio, or the bicycle, which retain their use value when everyone has one, the car, like a villa by the sea, is only desirable and useful insofar as the masses don't have one. That is how in both conception and original purpose the car is a luxury good. And the essence of luxury is that it cannot be democratised. If everyone can have luxury, no one gets any advantages from it. On the contrary, everyone diddles, cheats, and frustrates everyone else, and is diddled, cheated, and frustrated in return.P Gorz outlines how driving in traffic makes everyone else your enemy.P
It gives and supports in everyone the illusion that each individual can seek his or her own benefit at the expense of everyone else. Take the cruel and...
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