While I agree that we need to do away with our dependence on car culture in the US, don't you feel that it played some necessary part in us actually being able to transition to a car free culture? I say this while thinking of Marx and his view that capitalism was a necessary stage for the era of communism. I mean if we just walked everywhere we probably would never have had that video "Google Google Maps Maps" lol. Cheers, NickThe demolition of extensive existing, useful, and used urban and transcontinental passenger rail infrastructure preceded the emergence of Car Culture. Commutes in many American cities via public transportation were quicker and more convenient over a century ago than they are today. The destruction of this working system was sponsored by big oil and burgeoning car manufacturers that had gained extraordinary ascendency and vast industrial plant in the effort to supply tanks and planes and munitions first to Britain and then to Russia via FDR's Lean-Lease and then our own improved technologies after we entered World War II.
Like the redemptive post-Hiroshima promise (another disastrous deception) of nuclear energy too cheap to meter, the proposals were futurological in my sense of the term -- a marketing initiative to amplify the profits and authority of incumbent elites through the mobilization of techno-transcendental wish-fulfillment fantasies in which the deceptive, hyperbolic norms and forms of advertizing and promotional that already suffuse our public life take on the coloration and intensity of outright organized religiosity -- full of promises of sleek hyper-individualizing air conditioned muscle/missile cars coursing through empty lanes slashing through Emerald Cityscapes and Green Monoculture like caped sooperhero avatars through cyberspace.
The postwar creation of Eisenhower's vast interstate highway system (modeled on the Nazis' autobahns), slashed through thriving neighborhoods of color in many cities, enabling the white surburban flight that destroyed the urban tax base through the mid-century postwar boom and incubated the famous late 20C crisis of the inner cities (a crisis that became the pretext for the first neoliberal looting proposals mislabeled "development"), while establishing the environmental catastrophe and racial divide and sociopathologizing anomie of surburban sprawl.
Car ownership was on the rise in any case between the wars, and rural transportation was importantly inadequate prior to the 1920s, and it is likely that cars would have become an everyday part of life in any case and, hence, it would be the responsibility of accountable government to generate infrastructural affordances for that reality as a public good. But the prioritization of freeway construction over passenger rail, the zoning of cities for parking rather than walkability, the support of costly suburban sprawl over affordable mixed use urban housing development were the deliberate and disastrous choices that created not car use but Car Culture in the United States. These choices were driven by parochial profit taking on the part of incumbent elites and both expressed and facilitated white racism every step of the way. Futurological discourse was their enabling rhetoric.
By way of conclusion, I will say that of all the things to take from Marx, his technological determinism and historical determinism more generally are probably the worst possible theses to take seriously. The corporate-militarists of international capitalism weren't the only ones with a weakness for futurological nonsense, you know. I will agree, however, that the world would be a poorer place without "Google Google Apps Apps," so here it is again: