Gestures Will Get Us Nowhere

strike-a-pose New York City is making the McKibbenite gesture of no longer receiving any of the profits from corporate production of fossil fuels. To what effect? More money for other cities and capitalists, and not much else, on one side. On the other, something truly harmful — perpetuation of self-satisfaction and delusion among the very people who ought to be pushing for ecological reconstruction of our towns and our society.

Anton Davis explains the point well on today’s CounterPunch:

Divestment [from fossil fuels corporations]…is the equivalent of the patient being told diet and exercise can cure their late stage cancer. The patient must be given a clear diagnosis and asked if they wish to undertake the treatment which will save them. The survival of the planet will then be for its inhabitants to decide.

DbC isn’t sure if divestment is even that strong a medicine, actually, though Davis’s point is a good one. How does divesting from massively internally profitable businesses do anything to hurt those businesses? It’s not like Exxon is or soon will be a money-losing operation.

Call us here at DbC when NYC says it is going to ban automobiles and advocate nationalization of energy corporations. Until then, here’s hoping Houstonites enjoy the cash New Yorkers won’t be getting as they continue to smugly skirt the topic of cars-first transportation…

Foxes Planning New Henhouse

fox guarding henhouseFord Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett is at the Consumer Electronics Show — the “Global Stage for Innovation” no less! (nobody ever said decrepit elites learn humility as they necrose) — today revealing some info about how his corporation is planning to keep selling its massively outdated product and, incidentally, to thereby keep the American population ensconced in market totalitarianism. As ever, the bedrock material basis for that latter outcome, so vital to our runaway overclass, is perpetuation of cars-first transportation.

Doing that, of course, requires deepening the already huge primacy of the automobile in urban planning, at a time when doing so is patently ecocidal and sociopathic.

At this point, this is going to require a new level of explicitness, as one can tell by this Automotive News headline:

Hackett says Ford expanding mobility vision beyond cars to cities

In order to peddle the “self-driving” products they obviously see as the next trick to make cars look modern rather than archaic, the automotive industrialists know they’ll have to build massive computing power into the physical features of towns and cities. Hence, this kind of stuff.

Of course, DbC remains more than a little unsure any of this will actually ever come to much fruition, as it would require huge breakthroughs in technological capability and reliability, as well as in theories of legal non-liability.

Luckily for people like Mr. Hackett, the automobile remains sacrosanct in this society. Even our concerned scientists and sputtering proto-social-movements still fear to mention it, as they scramble to euphemize their way around its catastrophic portents.

Pickup Anthropology

cliff-drive Quasi-official, occasionally sponsored dogma holds that “Americans are having a love affair with the automobile” is all anybody needs to know about the sociology of transportation in the United States. In this familiar view, cars are, in the words of Heritage Foundation house economist and CNN employee Stephen Moore, the spontaneously-chosen “exoskeleton” for the “rugged individualists” who constitute the great American majority.

Funny, then, that those who make and sell the “exoskeleton” we allegedly demand as an expression of our primordial freedom seem to have such trouble receiving our commands. According to yesterday’s edition of Automotive News, one of the things the Ford Motor Company does to keep selling the pickups that are “so important” to its profit stream is this:

To coax devotees into the greener future, the company won’t be stressing the benefits of cutting back on carbon-dioxide emissions or the costs of tanking up. Instead, the marketing will go something like this: The battery in the hybrid F-150 not only feeds the electric motor, it’s a mobile generator that can keep the beer cool at a tailgate party, charge your miter saw and run the coffee maker on a camping trip. “It still may be a hard sell,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Autotrader, “but they’ve got to have this in their lineup.”

The company came up with it after researchers spent a year on an anthropological mission, embedding for thousands of hours with hundreds of F-150 owners. “We immersed ourselves in their lives,” said Nadia Preston, the research team’s project leader. “That meant going camping with them, tailgating, going to rodeos, even spending the night.” They were looking for what CEO Jim Hackett calls “bungee-cord solutions” — workarounds for tasks the F-150 couldn’t perform. They found owners often in need of portable power.

AutoNews, in a sideways acknowledgement that embedded anthropology designed to discover the basis for new marketing tricks is rather hard to square with the claim that cars are freedom machines, subtitles its piece “Key to selling truck no one asked for”.

World Scientists Go Vague

knifeQuestioning the reign of the car is, if done with a modicum of skill, a direct assault on capitalism. Hence, such questioning is one of the most taboo and underdeveloped of all possible intellectual and political pursuits in today’s world. Little wonder, then, that the world scientists couldn’t, despite their science, bring themselves to mention the word “automobile” in their renewed warning to the world.

Where cars ought to have been, we get instead the usual pablum about green energy and fossil fuel “subsidies.”

Dear scientists everywhere: We aren’t going to hint and euphemize our way to progressive survival.

NYT Repeats 70-Year-Old Disney Ideology

So, The New York Times devotes its Sunday magazine this week to the future of the automobile in the United States. The introductory editorial refers to the video below, with the comment “Disney couldn’t have foreseen, in 1958, the political realities of today that would make their imagined future impossible.”

This asks us to overlook the main point and content of the video, which was certainly not serious projection, but ham-handed promotion of the notion that cars are somehow about science and efficiency, rather than profit and behavioral compulsion. That the NYT misses the point that techno-hype has always helped sell capitalism’s cars-first dictatorship speaks volumes, and explains the thoroughgoing lameness of this pathetic edition of this always tame magazine.

Self-Driving Cars are Evil Incarnate

satanvolt Since they will likely reduce the number of households with automobiles parked in their driveways, why is the automotive industrial complex so happily tolerating the advance of autonomous (driverless) cars? The answer is explained by Stan Cox.

The key is boosting overall automotive vehicle miles traveled, above the existing wildly unsustainable level. Pretty much everybody who’s studied this topic is finding what car capitalists have obviously already figured out. Cox mentions the pertinent findings:

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) increased in all seven models (range of +12% to +68%)

Case-study results indicate that a system of SAVs may well save members ten times the number of cars they would need for self-owned personal-vehicle travel, but would incur about 11% more travel.

The overall point is that robotic cars are a move to perpetuate cars-first transportation by tricking individuals into thinking the problem — which has yet to be acknowledged as a political issue in the United States — goes away when one doesn’t personally own a car. In our society of sponsored solipsism and mis-perception, this is a major, clever, very evil trick.

Automotive Propaganda

“Americans are having a love affair with the automobile” has long been the quasi-official explanation for why, here in America, we never discuss our suicidal, waste-maximizing way of arranging everyday locomotive. Problem though: If this thesis were accurate, would the phrase itself not be quite old vis-a-vis the ascendance of the automobile itself? It isn’t:

Mexican Auto Industry Association

This post is no endorsement of any of the extreme dangers nationalism, Trumpism, or automobile manufacturing. Nevertheless, get a load of the membership of the “Mexican” auto industry’s trade group:

logo of MAIA

It would be fascinating to see a proper accounting of how money flows into and out of this industry, and to whose benefit.

But its speaks volumes about our world that such groups exist.