Introduction to “Aberration: The Automobile”

reprint from FE #325, Spring, 1987


Fifth Estate # 368-369, Spring-Summer, 2005

It is said that the automobile created and brought life to the cities, but once again official history dangerously misrepresents and distorts the facts. In reality, it is responsible for the destruction of viable human communities and emblematic of death culture all over the world. The auto industry’s monopolistic power kept Detroit and the rest of the world from creating alternative urban environments and consciously built car cities and a car world–chopped up and destroyed by incredible expressway systems. Cities and a world for cars, not for people.

The automobile is the embodiment of a culture of waste–the waste of human lives, of natural resources, the waste of people’s time and energies.

The car is clearly the focal commodity of capitalism. It purports to free us, but it binds us tightly in to a maniacal mechanical circle that parcels out our time in a frenetic stop and go.

Myopically perceiving the qualities of “speed” and “efficiency” as crucial and valuable, people willingly accept the machine that leads them into a cycle of doom. They mindlessly allow it to control their lives and shape their environment.

This article, “Aberration,” is a clever and poetic treatise on the automobile. It exposes the technological trick played on humankind at the expense of the earth’s natural beauty, at the expense of community, at the expense of our very lives. Although its focus is Europe, it adeptly expresses many of our own sentiments about this commodity that has so thoroughly and so devastatingly transformed our daily existence.