Cars and individualism

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Wed Nov 1 07:46:53 MST 1995


At 6:36 AM 11/1/95, Marcus Strom wrote:

>What bothers me is identifying the car per se as individualist. I
>drove to work today - I don't own a car, I'm looking after it for a
>couple of weeks - and I actually enjoy the flexibility it gives me -
>is this individualist? If I could afford it, I would certainly buy a
>car.

Of course cars aren't "individualist," though they give that illusion.
They're manufactured and sold socially, and they drive on roads that are
largely funded by public money. In the US, cars are deeply subsidized by
government spending; fully internalizing the social and environmental costs
of driving would probably quadruple the cost per mile. Moreover, as
Horkheimer pointed out, the sense of freedom that drivers feel is also
largely a delusion; they're constantly following orders to "stop" or
"yield." Which is freer - concentrating your mind on the challenges of road
& traffic, or sitting in a train reading the Grundrisse?

Doug

--

Doug Henwood
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