More Than Half the Story…

Almost invariably, even lefties who worry about cars-first transportation fall into talking about the “love affair with the automobile” that supposedly grips the great American masses.

One problem with this habit is that it ignores all the ways in which popular affection for cars is limited, contradicted, and unevenly distributed.

The other massive problem with the love affair trope is that it — sometimes rather blatantly — diverts attention from what I call the shove affair story.

The corporate economy that dominates our lives exists to serve the interests of its primary beneficiaries, the elite households holding large tranches of claims on corporations’ net cash flows. Both these households and the big business economy that fuels their privilege are literally addicted to the continued existence of cars-first transportation in the United States, come Hell or high water.

As a result of this institutional addiction, at no time in automotive-epoch American history has basic transportation policy been permitted to become a major topic in a national election. Cars-first outcomes are simply too important to TPTB to be put at any risk of discontinuation.

Astoundingly, to date, nobody has ever told the shove affair story in anything approaching a proper form. In his great, flawed, now out-of-print classic, Unsafe at Any Speed, Ralph Nader promised, but failed, to do so. American sociology, a natural home to such a thing, has never mentioned the topic, which exists in a different universe than the abstracted empiricist one that, C. Wright Mills notwithstanding, long ago swallowed that discipline. Marxists, meanwhile, have remained too self-stultified to get there, as the overclass automotive shove affair has little to do with falling rates of profit or class boundaries, whatever those are.

Speaking of meanwhile, the time is beyond ripe…

Stay tuned.