The car culture is both a state and a state of mind. It currently physically dominates the urban landscape (more 1), popular culture and government economic and transport policies. It has determined that a car ban is unthinkable, marginalizing and impoverishing all environmentalists who suggest it until they return, with their logic dealing with "sprawl" and consumerism erased, spouting "green car" sophistry.
Much car culture is the enthusiasm of private individuals: but plane and train enthusiasts don't result in a mass ownership or dominance of the culture. Most of the political activism comes from vested interests, chiefly car manufacturers and any downstream clients thereof like the advertising industry, also land speculators (more 2), (note 1), and latterly government roads departments.
Its state of mind has some real elements stressing convenience and security expressing true human desires, and also the practical necessity of some such vehicle for activity in rural and remote locations. But illusionary elements dominate; these are articles of faith, distortions of history, obfuscation and denial of ecological facts, blinkered interpretations of financial reality and outright perversions of natural logic. The worst illusion al effect is the irresponsibility of "Mobility Culture". The principal article of faith is expressed as "The Freedom to Drive" and involves distortions of history. The cry of the car culture to be overtaxed, and that they more than pay their way, is resolutely untruthful, refusing to look at the true "Fiscal Black Hole". The main perversion of natural logic is their constant blaming of victims, the support of the unspoken assertion that cars are safe, by accusing motorcycling, cycling, walking, running and, for children, playing, of being dangerous.
The state of mind is supported by an active propaganda operation, the elements of which are Hollywood (more 3), spontaneous or corrupt intellectual charlatans (more 4) and overt saturation advertising and marketing. Motorsport keeps the industry profile high but isn't a major element (more 5).
Of more concern are the sinister underhand propaganda elements. The first is the outright perversion of natural logic which car culture consistently propagates in blaming its victims; cars, according to it, are not dangerous; motorcycling and cycling are dangerous because a cyclist can't withstand being hit by a car, children playing in open space (roads) is dangerous, walking is dangerous because its mostly pedestrians that get killed; by extension the human race should never have evolved because playing and walking are so dangerous they should all have died out; the perversion of natural logic is clear and obvious yet the entire car culture persists in asserting its warped version of things! The plain natural unperverted truth must be injected into discussion at all times, cars aren't safe. The whole culture need acknowledge the danger to others that the car poses and learn to treat, and acknowledge, cars as extremely dangerous things.
The next worst aspect is conscious conspiracies, whose magnitude can only be guessed, to degrade public transport and influence governments to structure space to necessitate the car; thus depriving populations of transport options by putting them "out of sight - out of mind". One early conspiracy was discovered in blatant form in the USA (note 2); it's not credible that such activity subsequently vanished; it must merely have become more sophisticated and politically protected (more 6). Indicative of this is that only countries without a car industry, such as Denmark, have done anything to counteract car culture.
In countries with a car industry repressive desublimation of alternatives is commonplace, ex-politicians, who are probably still complicit with the car industry from past mutual favours, use their status and influence to infiltrate and subvert any anti-car sentiment emerging in organizations like public transport users associations. (more 7). Various, often industry funded, "consumer groups" such as the American Highway Users Association, the British Automobile Association, run orchestrated pressure campaigns on media to repress any negative opinion or information concerning cars (more 8).
Last Revised 2009-07-09 JM