I just received an email from the transportation research department of the state university where I teach sociology. It was an announcement of an upcoming conference called “Leading the Charge.” Its theme? “To prepare for the arrival, deployment, and adoption of electric vehicles.” Attendees include the University President and one of the state’s U.S. Senators, plus a phalanx of capitalist promoters. Not exactly the usual faculty chalk talk. In fact, exactly zero faculty members from our school will be speaking. This, you see, is the bosses coming down to tell us what’s next, not some search for truth and democracy.
Debate? Public input? A chance to consider whether it’s sane to continue to accomplish daily locomotion via 3,500-pound machines that sit idle 95 percent of their lives?
Nah. We don’t do that here, never have. The public will “take the charge,” which is coming whether they like it or not. Arrival, deployment, and adoption are what the 500-pound parrot wants, so “prepare,” ye of humble wallet and voice.
The “leadership” does, of course, make sure to peddle the illusion that it’s all public. The capitalists laying out the terms, for instance, make sure to do so via shell groups with “.org” extensions. Such as the conference attendee electrification.org, for instance. Feast your eyes on that .org’s grassroots nature…
Naturally, the diagnosis of these men — and we do mean men: look again at that line-up — of the people is that the problem at hand is “our nation’s dependence on petroleum.”
The cars-first transportation system that explains 80 percent of that dependence, and also guarantees vast and massively unsustainable waste of whatever “alternative fuels” our overclass eventually manages to cobble together and force upon us? That’s a major business opportunity, so we certainly won’t be talking talk about that.
In America, you spell “transportation” c-a-r-s, the planet and the society be damned.