Welcome to the Ban the Car page. Where you'll find a forthright argument for banning the car in cities, a non-trivial and convincing one I hope. It argues for a ban as the only effective system of solving the danger the car poses, and against any lesser measures. It argues that the removal of urban cars should be treated as the touchstone of environmental survival, the major solution to the critical world environmental, social, administrative and economic problems of today and the next centuries; while other measures, in the absence of cities without cars, will ultimately be futile, overwhelmed by normalized ecologically catastrophic behaviours that ensure disaster in the 21st century.
Motive of this page. Obviously to try to get the world to ban cars. More humbly to attempt to formulate the argument in a coherent and comprehensive way, that is amenable to expansion, augmentation and amendment. I'm an individual not a research institute or activist group so the argument is necessarily heavily concept and logic based, rather than study or statistic or focal point based, I think it's more comprehensive and disinterested for that. In simply addressing my own organic needs and those of all the people I see, know of or logically rely upon it becomes more multidimensional than any "qualified" academic study. The site isn't academically rigorous and any idea or fact source that proved too elusive to easily trace I haven't cited. There are many sites regarding some aspect of the car's impact, that deal better with one aspect or another and I've made some links to these; but I've attempted to bring all the issues together into a logical whole, and propound a systemic solution that accounts, not only for the car's problems, but for foreseeable problems with the solution. The analysis of the current car crisis is more heavily weighted towards those aspects that are not represented elsewhere, such as the space demands of cars, their societal impacts and the opportunity cost of supporting the car culture; but pollution, collisions, fuel crisis and other aspects are not ignored.
Crucially, this is not an attempt to influence drivers' emotions, I'm indifferent to how drivers feel, guilty or triumphal, and will neither promote nor accept blame or responsibility for any halfway measures (to leap the proverbial canyon between the status quo and a sustainable regime) which they impute to environmental concern. I promote neither fuel taxes nor new "green" or "smart" cars or "Intelligent Traffic Systems"; I want cars banned from cities. I'm not trying to make drivers feel guilty, how they deal with truth is their own emotional issue, if it moves them to redoubled symbolic gestures such as walking more or whatever I do not regret this, if they redouble their efforts to discredit the opposing voices or overthrow the few pitiful restraints and taxes currently imposed on them I do not celebrate this.
Once the problems have been outlined and a solution is being propounded this is unashamedly an argument for state regulation and systems, even the current car dominance is regarded as a system, and a poor one, - Adam Smith had some nasty criticisms of men and works of systems -
[The man of system] seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board; he does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislator might choose to impress upon it.
In effect he thought all societal systematizers were megalomaniacs, which is about as true as saying all capitalists are blind with avarice, i.e. a common weakness of the group but not their essence. But as an alternative to central authority he posited "the market" which he believed was governed by an invisible hand that represented the gestalt of human practicality. But this quasi deity couldn't deliver all that is required of an organizational principle, and ended defending its claim to omnipotence ostrich fashion, relegating all pressing concerns it couldn't handle to the realm of "externalities". Particularly it couldn't solve any tragedy of the commons.
Smith failed to recognize that systemic thought other than his own often reflects abstractions in a
descriptive rather than prescriptive way so that one can notice that all these "pieces" each following their
own unique "principle of motion" all wind up doing the same thing anyway, such as in peak hour traffic, so
their uniqueness is somewhat overstated. They can be treated as a mass (and indeed cannot be otherwise
treated, as even road authorities would acknowledge) and mass means can be arranged to effectuate the ends and
reduce the damage and cost of such behaviour. That is, economics can be practiced; and things can be done
economically (costs, even "externalities" reduced in attaining ends) note 1 instead of having this key human capacity sacrificed at the altar of third
rate mysticism. He also failed to acknowledge that, even if only a small percentage are beneficial, systems,
even coercive systems, work and are essential, even intrinsic, to human enterprise, even his own. His mind was
formed by men of systems before him:
- a systems person had divided the circle, by counting in 60s, in ancient Sumer, this had been imposed upon unwilling peoples as a standard by conquerors and from that system he counted the minutes and hours of the day
- a system had imposed, probably much against their will, the English language on his forebears by which communication system he accessed his income stream and audience,
- how he counted the revenues had been an Arabic system, and how his purchases were ordered and delivered in a system of weights and measures likewise imposed by the will of a governing man.
Systems like anything else, are trial and error, and more than 99 percent of them, like 99% of ideas or species adaptations, aren't survival based and vanish, as could this one; but many contribute something to the system which is ultimately conceived by that individual whose system is ultimately accepted. Something I do believe however is that any organized system relies on one organic entity for its origin, for the central idea which makes it workable; where various streams of behaviour must be integrated into a logically coherent nexus by being simultaneously held and balanced in one mind (the human mind is still the best general computer). This only applies to its origin, any development of the system can be collective or corporate. The solution system propounded here emerges from the act of banning cars in cities, which is its central idea, and is workable and can be developed from that core. This is obviously not an original idea of mine; but the system to make it workable is more so and, like all integrated systems must be presented in a form that corporate minded humanity regards as egoist or megalomaniacal. If one despises this fact, and insists that all worthwhile activity has corporate, collective or market origins, then by what right does one rely on a medium conceived and made workable by Tim Burners Lee, perhaps one should desist in using the World Wide Web.
Any comment on the site can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.