Monday, 26 May 2008

A brief socialist history of the automobile

by Rob Rooke from LINKS - International journal of socialist renewal No single commercial product in the history of capitalism has had a greater effect on the economy and politics than the automobile. No other product has been such a lever to increase consumption and increase markets in the developed world. It could be argued that the car, more than any other product, was at the very heart of the 20th century’s economic expansion. In US society, for over a century, the car has been raised on a cultural pedestal worshipping individuality and defining big business’ vision of freedom. The car hastened the massive sprawl of suburbia and in itself shaped US urban planning like no other product. Today, in the United States, public transport plays a distant second fiddle to the car with nine out of ten workers using their cars to travel to work. In people’s everyday life, the car is now their second biggest household expense, next to housing. The car has reached its zenith. This brief socialist history of the automobile will attempt to give some background and context to today’s car-dominated world. It will attempt to explain how the automobile and the mad chase for profits has shaped the world, and helped in turn lead humanity to its current fork, where one road indisputably will lead to global destruction.

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