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Thread: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

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    Default The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    46 years old but still true.
    RTS: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar
    --
    T h o m a s

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    That's a good read. You could substitute Air Conditioning for motorcar and tell much of the same story. The Southwest US and Gulf States would have never seen the settlement and growth without air conditioning. Phoenix wouldn't be a city, maybe a truck plaza on I-10. But then again, we wouldn't have I-10 because what would be the point of being in that part of the country anyway. But because we can live in cool comfort, we settle and expand in areas that would be uninhabitable otherwise. Uninhabitable because it's hot, dry, and no adequate sources of water. Now we have Las Vegas and Phoenix, two cities that shouldn't exist.

    And large cities would have never grown to their present size without elevators........
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    I hadn't run across this piece before. Thanks for posting it.

    I'd be very curious for someone to re-run the numbers below for the United States today. I recently read that the average car payment is now around $550/mo, and it wouldn't surprise me that the life-cost per mile has gotten worse, making cycling or just plain old walking even more attractive.

    If the car is to prevail, there's still one solution: get rid of the cities. That is, string them out for hundreds of miles along enormous roads, making them into highway suburbs. That's what's been done in the United States. Ivan Illich sums up the effect in these startling figures: "The typical American devotes more than 1500 hours a year (which is 30 hours a week, or 4 hours a day, including Sundays) to his [or her] car. This includes the time spent behind the wheel, both in motion and stopped, the hours of work to pay for it and to pay for gas, tires, tolls, insurance, tickets, and taxes .Thus it takes this American 1500 hours to go 6000 miles (in the course of a year). Three and a half miles take him (or her) one hour. In countries that do not have a transportation industry, people travel at exactly this speed on foot, with the added advantage that they can go wherever they want and aren't restricted to asphalt roads."
     

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    As someone who actually loves and enjoys cars, (and I love bikes & motorcycles too) the first sentence tells me all I need to know about where the author was heading.

    Further on: "After killing the city, the car is killing the car.".

    Cars killed big cities? Big Cities had their share of problems (disease, social inequality-slums, crime, etc) long before cars were produced.

    Now I realize this was published in the 70s, but even then, not everybody wants to live in a big city for a variety of reasons. To blame cars is silly imo.

    Indoor plumbing was also first originated as a luxury for the wealthy. When I sit on my "throne", should I also feel "a bourgeois privilege" as the author claims car owners did (do)?

    Well, it is classic André Gorz after all. His socialist ways always blamed the wealthy for everything (not much has changed in the world). I had to read some of his stuff in college. Didn't quite agree with him then either.

    But hadn't thought of his writings for a long long time. So thanks for posting and bringing me back to the days of debating my professor!
     

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    When Corso and I agree, it must be a Blue Moon!

    Yeah, right from the first sentence the author's stated as fact a highly debatable position. The automobile was a natural development of personal transportation, from horse & buggy to horseless carriage. It's as problematic as any other technology, and requires that its great advantages and disadvantages be managed.

    Hey, I may live in the middle of a cozy large metropolitan area and take almost daily advantage of mass transit (with all its problems). But tonight I'll be hopping in my personal car, picking up a friend, and motoring out to the suburbs on roads I have to share with many others. And I am grateful to have both of those options!

    We're seeing another shift in personal transportation with Uber and others. And like every shift it will have both intended and unintended consequences that will be debated and negotiated.
    GO!

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    when marxist cultural theory devolves into absurdist primativism this is what you get. i think this article is kind of a post modernist joke that isn't in on itself.

    here's some better stuff:

    Technology is making gestures precise and brutal, and with them men. It expels from movements all hesitation, deliberation, civility. It subjects them to the implacable, as it were ahistorical demands of objects. Thus the ability is lost, for example, to close a door quietly and discreetly, yet firmly. Those of cars and refrigerators have to be slammed, others have the tendency to snap shut by themselves, imposing on those entering the bad manners of not looking behind them. The new human type cannot be properly understood without awareness of what he is continuously exposed to from the world of things about him, even in his most secret innervations... which driver is not tempted, merely by the power of his engine, to wipe out the vermin of the street, pedestrians, children and cyclists? The movements machines demand of their users already have the violent, hard-hitting, unresting jerkiness of Fascist maltreatment'

    Here in my car I feel safest of all
    I can lock all my doors
    It's the only way to live
    In cars

    Here in my car
    I can only receive
    I can listen to you
    It keeps me stable for days
    In cars

    'The cars that fill the streets have narrowed the pavements, which are crowded with pedestrians. If they want to look at each other, they see cars in the background, if they want to look at the building across the street they see cars in the foreground; there isn't a single angle of view from which cars will not be visible, from the back, in front, on both sides. Their omnipresent noise corrodes every moment of contemplation like acid. Cars have made the former beauty of cities invisible.

    We like the cars, the cars that go boom,
    We're Tigre and Bunny and we like the boom.
    We like the cars, the cars that go boom.
    We're Tigre and Bunny and we like the boom.
    Now if your car ain't got it, go out and get it,
    We like the boom and don't you forget it.
    So turn down the treble, and flaunt your bass,
    So your car can be heard almost any place.
    Coz when you're in the street you can't go far,
    Without hearing the boom pouring out your car.
    So if your speaker's weak, then please turn it off,
    Coz we like the cars that sound so tough.
    bamboo, aluminum, wood.

    My name is Craig Gaulzetti.

    www.summercycles.com

    www.gaulzetti.co

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by Corso View Post
    As someone who actually loves and enjoys cars, (and I love bikes & motorcycles too) the first sentence tells me all I need to know about where the author was heading.

    Further on: "After killing the city, the car is killing the car.".

    Cars killed big cities? Big Cities had their share of problems (disease, social inequality-slums, crime, etc) long before cars were produced.

    Now I realize this was published in the 70s, but even then, not everybody wants to live in a big city for a variety of reasons. To blame cars is silly imo.

    Indoor plumbing was also first originated as a luxury for the wealthy. When I sit on my "throne", should I also feel "a bourgeois privilege" as the author claims car owners did (do)?

    Well, it is classic André Gorz after all. His socialist ways always blamed the wealthy for everything (not much has changed in the world). I had to read some of his stuff in college. Didn't quite agree with him then either.

    But hadn't thought of his writings for a long long time. So thanks for posting and bringing me back to the days of debating my professor!
    I think he takes a lot of shortcuts and is a bit stuck in his bad evil capitalism thing. However what I find interesting and very true is how he states that cars have often been advertised as a way to improve your way of living by of getting from a to b faster while in fact its popularity tends to do the opposite. I also find very true how he says cars have transformed many places for the worse by adding arbitrary accomodations.

    I too am a kind of gearhead and love driving on twisty remote roads. Commuting with a car ? I hate it. Everybody hate it. Look at people who come at the office, you can tell who is coming by car or by foot/bicycle just by looking at their face.

    And personnaly as a father and someone who prefer living in a city I'd rather live here :



    than here :

    Last edited by sk_tle; 1 Week Ago at 05:13 PM.
    --
    T h o m a s

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    When Corso and I agree, it must be a Blue Moon!
    Davids: I didn't want to jump on one of your postings from last week, but my oldest daughter just got engaged too! Let's just not push the grandfather thing too fast!

    I've worked in Boston 95% of my adult life. I simply choose not to live there - although I did my time in Somerville, as it's mandatory.
    And have nothing, absolutely nothing against those who choose to live in any large city. I can see the benefits, but it's simply not me.
     

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    daily advantage of mass transit (with all its problems)
    the primary problem of mass transit is, and always will be, the masses
    Dan Fuller, local bicycle enthusiast

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by Corso View Post
    Davids: I didn't want to jump on one of your postings from last week, but my oldest daughter just got engaged too! Let's just not push the grandfather thing too fast!

    I've worked in Boston 95% of my adult life. I simply choose not to live there - although I did my time in Somerville, as it's mandatory.
    And have nothing, absolutely nothing against those who choose to live in any large city. I can see the benefits, but it's simply not me.
    Mazel tov! A Blue Moon indeed.

    I'm still adjusting to the idea of being Father of the Bride. Grandpa can wait a year. Or a decade...

    Quote Originally Posted by 72gmc View Post
    the primary problem of mass transit is, and always will be, the masses
    You're probably joking, but... That's the biggest problem with the automobile, the privilege of privacy and all the entitlement that goes along with that. The lucky individual eating up resources for himself (Or so busy watching a video on their smartphone at a stoplight that the guy waiting behind them needs to honk to get them going. At three lights in a row.)

    Plus it's good to be one of the masses, for better and worse. Familiarity breeds empathy.
    GO!

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    You're probably joking, but... That's the biggest problem with the automobile, the privilege of privacy and all the entitlement that goes along with that. The lucky individual eating up resources for himself (Or so busy watching a video on their smartphone at a stoplight that the guy waiting behind them needs to honk to get them going. At three lights in a row.)

    Plus it's good to be one of the masses, for better and worse. Familiarity breeds empathy.
    But transportation needs are regional. I live in the desert SW, vehicles are a necessity and there isn't enough of a population or industry density to develop an extensive public transportation system. School buses are about it. I think I could do better with my vehicle choice, perhaps a hybrid. I rented a Ford Fusion Hybrid two weekends ago in the DC area and burned 3 gallons of gas for the entire weekend. But then again, part of my commute is on dirt and gravel roads.
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Cars suck, and how the car companies fucked over city planning should have resulted in the corporate death penalty for them. But this is 'merica, so big money rules.
     

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    i love cars. i also love cities.

    it'd be pretty perfect if cities bigger than a quarter a million people were closed to all non-commercial traffic.

    this would pretty much solve all congestion issues- force cities to develop good public transportation- and reduce pollution and make cities a lot more manageable for pedestrians and cyclists and those fukcing stupid electric scooter things....

    we'd have to make some rules about population density- and a quarter million people was pretty arbitrary but I figured that'd ensure there was an ample enough tax base and population to warrant an awesome public transportation system- and any city i've been in much smaller than that doesn't have traffic problems.

    oh- by the way. this crazy idea works. Milan does it I think for their city center and the inner square mile of Milan is awesome for pedestrians.
    bamboo, aluminum, wood.

    My name is Craig Gaulzetti.

    www.summercycles.com

    www.gaulzetti.co

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    But transportation needs are regional.
    Yes, his argument makes little sense anywhere people routinely set the cruise at 70+ mph. A couple years ago, my wife and I drove from LA to Minneapolis in two days. In that context, cars are amazing.

    The argument I see him making is really only applicable to cities and/or areas where traffic moves slowly, but in those areas I don't think his argument has to rely on any of the Marxist categories he uses (and are repellant to many) to make sense: Cars promised us fast movement, and we reoriented our societies around them so that cars became necessary. But then everyone got a car for the promise of speed/comfort/convenience, and driving quickly became less speedy/comfortable/convenient. Now we're in a trap where we have built in all the costs of the car without realizing the promised benefits. Again, not so much in rural areas, but in most big cities.

    I'm very curious what transportation will look like in 25 years or so, as it seems a lot of others are. I don't expect rural areas will change all that much, but it seems like the question of the modern city is whether we double down on the use of private cars through car sharing and eventually autonomous cars, or whether we go in a different direction entirely.
     

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    You're probably joking, but...
    Partly joking. I believe in mass transit as a solution for constrained space and resources, but mass transit is still open to the relative tyranny of individuals and groups and masses who screw it up for the rest of us by taking resources for themselves through everything from loud music to property destruction to theft to groping in crowds--or just not caring enough to take good care of it in small ways, millions of times a day. It is dependent on the common interest in the common good.

    I just want clean trains that are on time, and announced in the station with cute songs as in Japan. But not the white glove, smash you into the crowded train guys. And not the gropers.
     

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    The issue with mass transit is that is basically needs to be subsidized to work. It’s never self-sustaining and many Americans are loathe to subsidize things that don’t benefit them directly. It is hypocritical of course, because we subsidize things all the time that don’t directly affect us, but one reason mass transit is so poor in most of the US. Places that have good transit, like Switzerland and Japan, have decided as a society that it is a cost they’re willing to pay.
    La Cheeserie!

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    Default Re: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

    Quote Originally Posted by 72gmc View Post
    the primary problem of mass transit is, and always will be, the masses
    True story:

    TriMet, Portland police sued for $2 million, accused of failing to prevent deaths of 2 MAX stabbing victims - oregonlive.com
    Kirk MRB | And an inbound Lobster..

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