CARS; FASCIST MIDDLE CLASS ORIENTATIONS; Resistance Focus
Are we such nihilists as to despise any single issue campaign and favor only an assault on all fronts? Then why pick on the car? Is it that the car is a symbol... it is also a physical reality. Its ceaseless traffic in traffic is what stops us enjoying life. And maybe even what stops us communicating with you. We want to smash your windscreen; we want to break through to you and tell you that there's a world out here. We want to prise your hands from the sweaty steering wheel and gently lift you out of the car. Before we pour petrol on the seat and set light to the ugly thing.
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"Things all got too much for author Kudno Mojesic. He was arrested in the street outside his Belgrade home attacking cars with an axe, yelling 'Away with all cars, they are the devil's work!'" -- SUNDAY MIRROR, LONDON: 11TH JANUARY 1976. Reclaim the Streets!
OF CARS; FASCIST MIDDLE CLASS ORIENTATIONS;
& the FOCUS OF RESISTANCE
Wondering if anyone has considered the fascism of this world's direction? Wondering if anyone wants to reclaim the Greens from their Middle Class (proto-fascist) Orientation?
By Green Means Green: Reclaim the Greens!
ABSTRACT::: A lively examination of thinking, the destructivness of cars and why we oppose all mass transit. Extensive notes and commnetary.
-- Dedicated to our friend who was killed on his motorcycle by a drunk driver with a suspended license turning into a McDonalds...
Here we discuss two of the issues (cars and the evils of all middle classes) that must be addressed by any person, group or ideology that claims to be anti-fascist.
Prisons, cell phones, private property, trade, corporations, single issue campaigns and many more issues must also be addressed.
Unless you think that everyone on the planet can have a car of their own then you must be against all private vehicles OR you are a fascist because you allow/enforce a system where some get things and others are excluded (know their roles).
Unless you think that everyone on the planet has the right to be middle class consumers pursuing the American Dream then either you are against anyone being in the middle (or upper) class or else you are a fascist because you allow/enforce a system where some get things and others are excluded (know their roles).
Fascism exalts the global nation (WTO Trade Regime/Neoliberalism) and the political parties of the bosses (USA/Capitalism/Materialism) above the individual (or the nation/tribe), with the state apparatus (WTO/Trade/Growth) being supreme.
It stresses loyalty to a single leader (the Market), and submission to a single globalistic culture (Globalized Free Trade with the USA exempt from all law).
Fascist ideology engages in economic totalitarianism through the creation of a Corporatist State (multinationals + IMF + World Bank), where the divergent economic and social interests of different races and classes are combined with the interests of the State (WTO/economic growth).
Example of Wealth (cars) vs. Population Growth
When I ride my $40 bike or walk around town, it's not the number of people I see that bothers me or interferes with my experiences. Usually one sees few people when traveling around in a US city or suburb. All the people are in their tinted window cars or snug in their energy intensive cubicle mansions - plugged into computers, cell phones and a way of life that is killing everything and every other concept on the planet.
What bothers me - or anyone with remnant sensibilities - is the money - the blood money squeezed from the planet and the many billions of people living on less than a dollar a day !!! -- The typical US, Western European or unionist makes more in a week than the bottom third of the world makes in a year. Gluttony in the face of mass deprivation is inherently fascist, especially when enforced at the point of a bayonet or a smart bomb.
There are so many cars, fancy cars - cars that have no purpose other than to look cool - snazzy - status dripping like mascara streaks reaching toward hell. Big, stinky and fast they are - just like the uncaring slobs who drive them. Oblivious, crass and demonically demented - everything in the US reflects the mirrors of its sins - and yet like a vampire, the reflection seen by most people is missing the evil and miraculously only reflects a shinning light of prosperity. Even the billions (100 billion? ) worth of drugs gobbled up by the grotesque Amerikons goes unseen - except by the profit merchants of these chemicals.
There could be 10 times as many people in the US and if they had no cars, no palaces, and less mental disease - it would be such a wonderful place of hope and humanness - instead of a psychedelic graveyard of failure.
Few cars would mean less pollution, less expenses, and an end to war. Eventually, there might be cities that breathed and celebrated and shared - cities that loved and honored the rural areas that provide their food, water, building materials, energy and vacations.
Away with all Cars and Mass Transit
The truth is that ecological disaster would be a stroke of luck for those that benefit from the domination of our lives. The destruction of the atmosphere, would entail a massive centralization of political power. The retreat into the silvery domed cities would make physical attacks upon the superstructure of urban life and economic power not only difficult but suicidal. In effect we'd all be living in one huge car and you can't set fire to one when your sitting in the back seat.
Dear Absurd Motorists:
There are these large pieces of metal hurtling around at high speed in residential areas. They are such a menace to life & limb that every journey made by any other means is chiefly spent dodging these monstrous objects. They are the single biggest cause of atmospheric pollution and global warming. They are the largest market for the warmongering oil industry. Their noise is the noise of the city. These cars are so central to the organisation of this society, especially the organisation of work, that an illusion has to be maintained that nobody sees anything wrong with the ever increasing number of cars.
Protecting ourselves from them has become our responsibility as pedestrians. Road safety is the first thing that children are taught. We are all supposed to identify our own interests with that of the economy, that is to say, economic growth. One of the main indicators of a growing economy is rising car sales. The design of our cities asserts that what is convenient for you the driver is convenient for everyone. This is part of a broader assumption that we all live in car sized family units and all want to get where we are going as quickly as possible.
Many people see something wrong with this situation, but most of them are not drivers. Those people who lack the privilege of a car generally lack the rarer privilege of a voice that may be heard. Most of us just mutter darkly about the subject on the bus and wave our arms impotently at pedestrian crossings. Some go further...
Your Journeys, our Bodies
In 1991 a conference of British crime writers was asked "how would you kill someone?" Many ingenious means were proposed, some of which might make excellent mysteries: push them out the porthole, stab them with an icicle. The commonest and most practical method suggested was to run them over with a car. Not only is the criminal already in the getaway vehicle when the crime is committed, but even if caught the punishment is likely to be minor. The leniency shown towards murderous motorists is perhaps related to the dissonance between the declared purpose of penal justice and its practical results. The chief function of legal punishments is not to deter crime but to create, consolidate and train an active criminal class. The spectre of such a subculture makes the rest of society more like a prison in its turn. We become fearful of leaving our cells and begin to regard our warders as protectors rather than oppressors. For criminality to be effectively terrifying it needs the figure of the rapist, the mugger, the burglar, the inexplicable outsider who strikes in the darkness, not the drunken sales rep driving home from the office party. In the US drunk or drugged drivers kill more people than murderers do.
Where fear of the outsider promotes conformity, fear of the sales rep promotes rebellion. So hit-and-run drivers do not get the publicity of serial killers. Their victims are just as dead. The laxity of punitive measures against deadly drivers is just one of a skein of double standards used to belittle the dangers of traffic. Politicians will dismiss a rise in crime figures as "mostly traffic offences", whilst becoming quite apoplectic about car theft and joyriding. Police complain that they wanted to catch villains but have "ended up on traffic duty". A single death in a rail-crash is headline news, meriting a public enquiry and the resignation of transport ministers, whilst the most horrific of motorway pileups is hardly worth a mention in the press.
In India the cow is supposedly a sacred animal to which motorists must give way. Nowhere in the world is the human being similarly sacred. The fact we cannot cross the road if you are coming is so obvious, so banal, that it scarcely seems questionable. Yet surely this was not always the case, there was a time when we had the right of way. So how did this happen? Imagine a world where you always had to stop for us. What would it be like? Would you spend $30,000 on a car under such circumstances? Is this the key to the mystery?
Perhaps we should not ask: how does society tolerate the annual slaughter of 42,000 people a year in the US, 6000 people a year in Britain, or 1.2 million people globally (and 100's of millions seriously injured) ? Perhaps we should ask: how would a society of motorists tolerate anything else? To us, this slaughter is one of the car's many drawbacks. To you, it is one of its many advantages. It is the risk of driving that makes it exciting for you. You consider your car a form of liberty because the only liberty you can imagine is the liberty to kill and maim others. Your life is planned and ritualized in its every detail. Your pension plan, mortgage and sex life are finalized decades in advance. Is it any wonder you hunger for the thrill of reckless driving? Is driving not the only piece of work you do without a supervisor watching over your shoulder? Is it not the only thing you ever do, on your own terms, for your self? Is it even the only time of any sort that you get to yourself?
Could this be why you are so aggressive when you drive? Is it as much a bored kind of desperation as an arrogant kind of machismo? A man's car says a lot about him. But as you edge your way through a traffic jam at less than a walking pace, you have only the potential to reach the dangerous, erotic speed promised in the advertisements. If this is true, then you have been sold danger without excitement. You have the liberty to go anywhere you like, as long as there is a multistory car park at the other end. You have been sold a mere representation of freedom, an individuality that is just like everyone else's, that is just enough to allow you to tolerate your intolerable daily life. We do not weep for you or the time you have spent working to pay for your car and its petrol. We weep for ourselves because drunk or sober you are mutilating and killing us.
Now they promote the internet and the cell phone culture in order to rescue consumer society from the ills of the car culture. But of course while they alleviate a few of the car's shortcomings they create a similar addiction to isolation and endless desires for more toys, more spending and more ways to go more places faster.
The Transformation of the City
"Urban transportation has to do not only with moving people and goods into, out of and through the city but also with spatial organisation of all human activities within it." - John W.Dyckman. Transportation in Cities. Scientific American September 1965
In a former Bus Station in Leeds, UK, there is a notice which says: "National Car parks would like to apologize to bus passengers for any inconvenience caused by the demolition of this bus station and its conversion into a car park." That's OK lads, don't mention it. Simply in terms of passenger numbers, replacing a bus station with parking space for 20 cars is hardly efficient. And there is more to cities than efficiency. The Bus Station was no pleasure-dome but it did at least provide a meeting place with shelter and seats. A car park in contrast is dead space, empty and functional. It is there only to allow work to happen somewhere else. Other examples prove the same point that even if cars could exist without there being traffic - if they could jaunt through hyperspace from A to B without occupying any of the points in between - they would still be a considerable nuisance in terms of their occupation of urban space. They are far larger than the single human being they often carry. They are privately owned and therefore stand idle much time (which makes the short life-span of their planned obsolescence all the more laughable). They take you to work, to the shops, to the cinema and home again, so that each car through parking occupies an area larger than most people's homes.
In any case, cars do not exist independently of traffic; they occupy far more space as moving traffic than as parked objects. They are such a poor mode of transport that they cannot go anywhere without special surfaces called 'roads' to drive on, without workshops to mend them, petrol (gas) stations to refuel them, without insurance offices, bridges, and of course hospitals. Car occupied land takes up shocking proportions of most cities: 23% of London, 29% of Tokyo, 44% of Los Angeles.
This would be a dreadful state of affairs in itself but it is exacerbated by the nature of the urban space that traffic has stolen. Consider a threefold division of non-car space into: Private space (Houses and Gardens); Public spaces (parks, squares, sports fields); and Corporate space: that owned by private firms or rendered inaccessible to public use by the state (police stations, workplaces, shops and colleges). Several tendencies can be seen within the changing economy of space. A gradual conquest of public space by corporate space is in progress. The replacement of city squares by corporately owned shopping centers is an example of this. While private space is not directly affected by the conquest of public areas it is far from equitably distributed between its various users. Lastly car space is in a continuous state of expansion with public space as its chief victim.
These developments do not provide the greatest freedom of movement for everyone. More finely guarded tiers of accessibility ranging from genuinely private (not just family) space through overlapping levels of community specific and use specific space to large expanses of genuinely public (not just traffic dominated) space, would provide far greater freedom of movement and so of activity. Though this could not happen unless everybody had at least the spatial control over their own bodies. Current spatial economies dictate activity by channeling movement along narrow corridors, which link highly controlled environments such as the toy superstore, the workplace and the family home. The prospect that a city could be something more than a convenient set of roads linking controlled spaces seems distant today, at a time when even the most imposing buildings have an air of monetary expedience about them. But even in Victorian England public space was an automatic consideration of any architectural project.
Roads determine not only the relative proportions of each type of space but also their distribution. As more people have cars, or rather as more money is spent by motorists, the more places become out of reach to people who do not have cars, witness the exodus of shops from high streets (neighborhoods) to ring-roads (malls and suburban mega-stores). Ironically the machine that is sold on its ability to bequeath freedom of movement and its ability to cover distances actually creates as much distance as it traverses. So the dominant tendencies in the spatial distribution of urban activities, namely traffic imperialism and urban zoning, are entirely due to the dominance of the motor vehicle over transportation as a whole. The car is replacing things you want to do with things you have to do, whilst simultaneously moving the things you have to do further away from each other. This impoverishes your already debased life, as you must spend longer and longer hours in front of the wheel. It also impoverishes our lives, as more facilities move out of our reach and our movements are channeled along ever narrower predetermined paths. We have more and more roads to cross and they are ever busier and more dangerous.
The final irony is that you can gain no satisfaction from all the space that is being so generously turned over to your use. You do not actually use the space that you pass through even though you prevent us (non-car owners) from using it; all you do is try to mitigate it by passing through it as quickly as possible. As far as you are concerned you are never really in it at all, you just watch it go by, a boring television program projected onto your windscreen. And the more space there is for you to wish that you did not have to drive through, the more unhappy you are because the more obstacles there are to your progress: other cars. You must hate cars, really hate them, more than we, as pedestrians, can ever imagine.
The Necessity of Driving
Driving has been forced on you. Many suburbs of Los Angeles do not even have sidewalks. Life for many people is now impossible without a car. In order to either earn or spend money, the car is a necessity. What is this doing to people? Advertisements claim that driving is a form of freedom, a kind of power. The ads are telling the truth but at the same time they're lying. Because cars are expensive, and speak of the physical control of space, they have become emblematic of wealth. Male sexuality has been constructed as mechanical and thrusting, and because the car is a scale model of the nuclear family, cars have come to represent male power. As a driver you have power over pedestrians and passengers and urban space; so the car represents its own reality: motor power.
But the car can only take you where the car has already been. Driving is like shopping in a big supermarket. You are in a little bubble of your own and accountable to no-one. You can buy (drive to) any product (prefabricated destination) you like, but you can only chose from what is on offer. You are isolated and at the same time re-incorporated into a grand scheme of domination. You feel privileged but you are being used. The powers that be prefer roads to streets because a busy highway is just a prison with mobile cells. A driver can leave the road but can no more influence others to do likewise than a corpse can start an insurrection in a cemetery. A car is an accident looking for somewhere to happen and the more people have cars the more similar everywhere becomes, so the less meaningful is your "freedom of movement".
By arranging the space in which human activity takes place, the road network prearranges our movements. Even a 'Holiday' is nothing but one long journey, a linear sequence of experiences with no connecting structure but "What's next?" Ultimately the prescribing of experiences, prescribes emotions. You have no more power to influence the pictures on the windscreen on your way to work, than those on the television screen at home, so you feel powerless. Separation makes us feel lonely. Endless repetition of the same little rituals, enforced by the intractability of urban geography, makes us feel bored.
We can observe our boredom, just as we can observe a car park and feel as little empowered to do away with one as the other. The boredom is the consequence of the car-park and the car-park is the reification, the translation into the material world, of the boredom. This boredom is nothing less than the boredom of the market itself. It takes place within our tiny bubbles. It is a secret and lonely misery, as hidden as the misery of the widows of the motor-car, dreaming every night of their husbands burning helplessly to death, strapped to a plastic seat on a motorway.
The Transformation of the Planet
This disaster of millions dead or injured for the sake of something that allienates, divides and doesn't work - and could never work for the whole planet - is getting worse. This traffic system can only exist in a state of perpetual expansion. It increases the distances over which goods and people must be transported. Then, ingeniously, it offers a solution to this problem: the car and the truck. It creates unsafe, empty, hateful streets, and then offers the car as a form of safety. It creates a rich world greedy for status lifestyles and endless raw materials, then offers itself as an index of the degree of "development" of the poor world. Just as it is transforming the city it is transforming the rest of the planet.
Mining ores for raw materials carves great opencast scars in the landscape, often dispossessing native pedestrians of their lands and livelihoods at the same time. The ores are processed in huge plants. The metals and components are shipped across the globe in leaky hulks. Lives are warped in factories that assemble components, on plantations that grow rubber, in the mines and in the refineries, in the forges and the crippling foundries. And at every stage, up until throwing the burnt out wreckage of the finished product into a concrete ditch, hauling the used tires out to sea by the barge-load and chucking the acid leaking batteries into a river, pollution is pumping out into the atmosphere, seeping into the hydro-sphere and being buried in the mud.
On top of this, cars need petrol which pollutes at its point of production and consumption and at every point in between: the supertanker, the filling station and the engine of your car (how many barrels of oil to a billion vehicles drip onto the ground each day?). The fumes from burning petrol are the largest artificial source of atmospheric carbon in the world. The main carbon sinks which take carbon out of the atmosphere are the rainforests and the plankton of the southern seas. Unfortunately the rainforests are being destroyed and the plankton threatened by the ozone depletion (a process itself accelerated by car fumes). Even without this destruction, the sinks would be unable to cope with the current number of cars. What is actually at stake here is the ecology of the entire surface of the planet. Global warming and the related expansion of invasive species (both accelerated by cars, trade, travels and mindless governments) are adding new threats and new complexities to the equation of ecocide. Ultimately the car and the havoc it brings will lead to great wars - wars started for the scramble for oil and energy resources and wars that end with a dead planet or billions killed. The "survivors" will be doomed to enclosures and a suffocating authoritarianism (fascism) dependent on the techno-elite.
The Earth's current surface temperature and atmospheric composition have come about through interrelations between organism over the last three thousand million years and are sustained only by the continuance of those interrelations. It's obvious that killing enough of these organisms and pumping enough shit into the air, sea and soil is likely to interfere with these delicate feedback loops. The surface of Earth could easily be made as hostile to life as the surfaces of Mars or Venus. The extinction of our species does not necessarily follow from this. If Moon and Mars bases can be contemplated, if artificial orbital biospheres can be devised, then life could still continue on a devastated Earth. Cities framed by geodesic domes or buried in caves of steel are no less feasible in purely engineering terms than say, the channel tunnel. It is this very feasibility of life in a completely artificial environment that belies the idea that the classes responsible for the Earth's current malaise will eventually be thanked for our salvation.
Experts assure us that they know what they are doing, and that we can all be rich and clean up the planet with a bit of luck and techno wizardry. But such a blind faith that the holders of planetary power are not crazed enough to really allow it to collapse, is no more convincing than in the days of Mutually Assured Destruction. It does not matter which are psychotic and which benevolent, because the holders of power are always beholden to power itself. In a world governed by stock prices the buck stops nowhere. It passes Tokyo to London to New York and back to Tokyo again. Why should they care if the whole world is turned into a radiation soaked desert? If no human being can ever see the light of day with their own eyes? What does it mean for them if every beautiful and useless creature in the world is exterminated forever? If we are reduced to drinking our own piss miles underground, dependent on them for every breath of oxygen we take? And if they are willing to save the biosphere at this late hour then why do the greenest among them proclaim that the rainforests should be rescued in order that the plants be used to make herbal shampoo? If they care about the quality of life that their underlings lead, then why are billions striving in the south of the world to feed the debts imposed by the banks in the north?
The truth is that ecological disaster would be a stroke of luck for those that benefit from the domination of our lives. The car is an effective device for representing and extending power over space. Yet it is still vulnerable. While our air is still just about breathable, while the experience of sunshine on one's face still remains; then anyone can torch a car, pull a statue, burn down a bank or knock five terraced houses together to make a rambling commune. On the other hand the destruction of the atmosphere, would entail a massive centralization of political power. The retreat into the silvery domed cities would make physical attacks upon the superstructure of urban life and economic power not only difficult but suicidal. In effect we'd all be living in one huge car and you can't set fire to one when your sitting in the back seat.
Life Beyond the Windscreen
"Why do people have to dash off somewhere? Just look at your kitten - it's dozing so peacefully! Machines will bring a new oppression of man. They will only stir up envy and competitiveness. The Revolution is in Jeopardy, but it will not be destroyed. If we win, then we shall annihilate these motors. Instead, we shall plant the ..." - Unknown, Moscow, 1921
"We are holding this street to ransom till every car is a flowerpot and every road an allotment"
- Brighton Reclaim the Streets, Valentines Day 1996
We are not bursting with alternative methods of transport for you to go to all your ridiculous shopping centers, office blocks and so on. We are not going to sell you a ticket for the airship or a pony for the tow path. We do not believe in improving public transport. We loathe public transport. We hate paying for it, waiting for it, looking out of its windows at dirty, car choked streets.
Without traffic cities could come alive. If transport were both superseded and liberated then the countryside would become just as unrecognizable. Supersedence would allow vast swathes of public land to be freed towards making a city an exciting and pleasant place to be. Gigantic roundabouts in city centers would become the public forums once more, planted with trees and gurgling with fountains. The broad highways that slice our cities into fragments would become the genuine thoroughfares, linking communities rather than dispersing them. There would be an end to roads and we would have streets to walk down. Perhaps some would have canals cut along their centers with decorative footbridges and beautiful plumed birds stepping gingerly across lily pads.
If activities were less geographically dispersed they might be forced to become smaller in scale. People would be brought into daily contact with one another. Streets would not be deserted, so street crime would become virtually impossible, making trust between diverse individuals and communities a realistic goal rather than empty liberal rhetoric. All of which would make feasible the idea of municipal democracy, the idea of small local areas being directly governed by their inhabitants. Workers councils in a factory would not bring workers control over production, if the factory just made components to be assembled elsewhere into an unknown machine. Similarly in the cities of today municipal democracy would not give people control over the conditions of their lives, they are assembled elsewhere. The supersedence of transport would, at the very least, create a possibility of democracy.
Transports supersedence would open the way to its liberation. No longer bound by the rationalities of traffic, of daily repetition, of time, economy and above all safety; no longer taking place through ravaged lifeless, empty ugliness, all journeys could become pleasurable, even frivolous. All movement could be joyriding. As I write the Crab-apple trees outside my window have just been cut down by the council because drivers thought it a nuisance to find windfalls in their bonnets. It is amazing that you spend so much time cleaning and polishing machines that make every thing else in sight a filthy stinking mess. Crab-apple trees are not a nuisance. Cars are a nuisance. Without cars we could have trees everywhere: Limes, Alders, Rowans, a line of dark poplars instead of freeway ramps, Great Oaks instead of the airport runways. Where do you think oxygen comes from anyway? Out of your f*#@!ing exhaust pipe? These changes would not be guarantied by the abandonment of cars, but the lack of these changes is guarantied by your persistence in driving them. There is nothing revolutionary about anything so rational as abolishing the car, though it might take a revolution to liquidate the multinationaly vested interests that prevents such rationality being achievable.
Rebelling Against The Car
To recap: lots of people hate cars, its just that you don't hear much about it because there is little overlap between people who hate cars and people who own newspapers and TV companies. Campaigning against the car, its spatial domination, its destruction has a peculiar advantage over recent campaigns of direct action. Unlike warehouses, politicians and nuclear rockets, motor cars and their conduits are not hard to find. The thing that is so infuriating about them is also what makes them so vulnerable: they are everywhere!
Traffic is not just an issue to be dealt with by reformist measures like the granting of pedestrian precincts, pelican/deer crossings and so forth. Reform cannot challenge the political power of the Road as an institution, nor the power of Capital which it serves. In fact piffling restrictions on the car only serve to reinforce and legitimate the machinery of motor power, rather like the way that abuse spotting social workers can only legitimate the everyday barbarism of the Family, by picking out its most "dysfunctional" exemplars. We no more recognize the distinction between "green" cars and others, between "green" petrol and its rival products, than the macho distinction of performance between "good" and bad driving.
We hate cars because we are sick of seeing our world around us torn apart, a world where we have no control over anything we do. We are sick of watching ourselves do the necessary. We could be participating in the enjoyable. There is a distinction between watching a spectacle of life and really truly living. Unfortunately those anarchists ( whoops, out of the closet now) who have adopted this distinction as part of their opinions have often obscured practical political activities that tend to confirm their theories.
Luckily though there are many car haters turning their hatred into successful, collective, or playful transgressions of the law of the motor car: the ELF torching SUVs in the US; critical mass cyclist actions in towns across the globe; the thousands who fought the UK's Newbury Bypass; 600 raving car haters reclaimed a major road in Brighton, UK on St.Valentines day, 1996, for 4 hours listening to live bands, dozens of drummers, boinging on a bouncy castle in the middle of the street while eating pink candyfloss and loudly and lavishly proclaiming 'Snog Not Smog!'. There is a growing movement raving and ranting against the car. And then on the other hand there is China...
But if we affect to despise this system so much, as it presents itself as all a society could ever possibly be, if we hate everything that is part of it, if we are such nihilists as to despise any silly little single issue campaign and favor only an assault on all fronts, then why pick on the car? Is it that the car is a symbol? Well symbol it definitely is but it is also a physical reality. Its ceaseless traffic in traffic is what stops us enjoying life. And maybe even what stops us communicating with you. That's why we want to smash your windscreen; we want to break through to you and tell you that there's a world out here. We want to reach out to you and prise your hands from the sweaty steering wheel and gently lift you out of the car. Before we pour petrol on the seat and set light to the ugly thing.
By petrol was it born and by petrol shall it die. So don't say you've not been warned. --
A Few Notes:
Road Safety: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html
An estimated 1.17 million deaths occur each year worldwide due to road accidents. The majority of these deaths, about 70 percent, occur in developing countries. Sixty-five percent of deaths involve pedestrians and 35 percent of pedestrian deaths are children. Over 10 million people are crippled or injured each year. It is estimated that more than 200 U.S. citizens die each year due to road accidents abroad. The majority of road crash victims (injuries and fatalities) in developing countries are not the motor vehicle occupants, but pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists and non-motor vehicles (NMV) occupants.
Killed by Car Accidents: Highway fatalities account for more than 94% of all transportation deaths. There were an estimated 6,289,000 car accidents in the US in 1999. There were about 3.4 million injuries and 41,611 people killed in auto accidents in 1999. The total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 was 42,116, compared to 41,945 in 2000. An average of 114 people die each day in car crashes in the U.S.
Killed by the Common Flu: \The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 35 to 50 million Americans come down with the flu during each flu season. The CDC estimates that in the US more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and more than 20,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year.
Killed in car accidents 42,116* - Killed by the common flu 20,000*
Killed by murders 15,517* - Killed in airline crashes (of 477m passenger trips) 120 (1)
Killed by lightning strikes 90* - Killed by Anthrax 5
(1) Annual average over 19 year period. *Average annual totals in United States.
Murders in the U.S.: 2000 FBI Crime Index figures: There were an estimated 15,517 murders in 2000, virtually no change from the 1999 murder estimate of 15,522. The number of murders was 21 percent less than in 1996 and 37.2 percent less than in 1991.
Killed by Airline Crashes: While there are risks in using all forms of transportation, commercial airline travel is one of the safest. From January 1982 to March 2001, a period of 19.25 years, there were a total of 8,109,000,000 passenger enplanements. During that same time period, there were 2,301 fatalities (120 people killed on average each year), and 348 serious injuries. This amounts to a 0.00003% chance of being seriously injured or killed in a commercial aviation accident. This is far less than any other mode of transportation. [Source: NTSB, Passenger Fatalities, 1982 through March 2001.]
Killed by Lightning: Lightning-related fatality, injury, and damage reports in the US were summarized for 36 years since 1959, based on the NOAA publication Storm Data. There were 3239 deaths, 9818 injuries, and 19,814 property-damage reports from lightning during this period. On average, 90 people are killed every year in the U.S. by lightning. [NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS SR-193]
Killed by Anthrax: As of November 21, 2001, The CDC has reported 18 confirmed cases, 5 suspected cases, and a total of 5 people killed by Anthrax in 2001 - the first confirmed deaths in more than 2 decades. The first victim, Florida-based photo editor Robert Stevens, worked at tabloid newspaper publisher American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida. Two other men worked as distribution clerks in the Brentwood postal facility in Washington. Joseph P. Curseen, 47, died at the Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, Maryland, and Thomas L. Morris Jr., 55, died at the Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington D.C. Kathy Nguyen, 61, died October 31, 2001. She was a New York hospital worker who contracted inhalation anthrax. The latest victim, Ottilie Lundgren, died November 21, 2001 at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Connecticut. Ms. Lundgren was 94 years old.
Drunk Driving Statistics:
Impaired driving will affect one in three Americans during their lifetime. In 2003, 17,013 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, accounting for 40% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. (NHTSA 2004).
Each year, alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost about $51 billion (Blincoe et al. 2002).
Most drinking and driving episodes go undetected. In 2002, about 1.5 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (NHTSA 2004). That's slightly more than one percent of the 120 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year (Dellinger et al. 1999).
*** Final Notes:
a. And now in the name of car/transport safety, we have surveillance cameras everywhere, with robots (computers) designed to issue traffic citations - or shoot kill orders. If this is not creeping fascism and Big Brother in the name of car safety... what is? Considering that cars have killed more people than all wars combined (with WW II excluded) the whole concept of car safety is quite Orwellian.
b. As for the evils of single issue campaigns: There should be no denying that the private ownership of cars is at the base of most of the evils that we protest against. If you are protesting strip mining in Virginia or Venezuela, odds are that some of this ore goes to building cars and their world - either the materials required, the energy to build them or the electricity that could be produced with oil if all the cars were not so hungry. If you are protesting a timber sale, odds are that much of the wood cut is to be used for suburban sprawl, which is made possible by the car and by the wealth produced by the system of endless (?) economic growth that it supports. If you are protesting US imperialist wars - or the brutality and negligence of the Nigerian government - odds are that these are wars to fuel cars or wars of domination to perpetuate the Great powers that be (US - UK - EU - CHINA) and to keep making, loving and accomodating car culture and Motor Power! There are many more examples if you just think.
The car is by no means the only problem that we face. Apathy, selfish materialism, and hopelessness are serious issues. But if we could just slow things down a bit then reason might catch its breath and catch up to the showdown with our rush to oblivion...
For a bizarre example of active fascism see the article and film at:
--------- Some relevant links: The Importance of the Car to the Modern Economy The Ecological Effects of Roads -- Oil and the Future -- Away with all cars ( http://www.eco-action.org/dt/awaycars.html)
-- Dead Trees EF! c/o 6 Tilbury Place BrightonBN2 2G
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