Monday, September 11, 2006

The Social Ideology of the Motorcar

Aquila, posted the following graphic on his blog to indicate the driving statistics of a typical morning trip from his home in Northriding, Johannesburg to his office in Sandton.

This graphic clearly illustrates some of the poignant thoughts of the social philosopher, André Gorz, who argues in an article "The Social Ideology of the Motorcar" that cars "are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people." Paradoxically, however, the motorcar has become a "luxury object that has been devalued by its own spread."

This sounds very theoretical, but what it comes down to, is that it is just not practical for every person to own and drive a motorcar as they wish to. In South Africa only a small portion of the population owns a motorcar, and already the roads are clogged up to the extent that, in some places, it takes 52 minutes to travel 15 kilometres.

Compare this to many other developing countries where a smaller section of the population own cars and many more people drive around on motorbikes not unlike the Gomoto. The streets might seem much busier and slightly more chaotic and noisy, but I would like to presume that the population as a whole experience slightly more freedom of movement than we experience in the South African metropole.

I love my Gomoto 125cc GT motorbike. :-) Your ride to freedom.

(Thanks to Aquila for the picture - he often photographs other cars on the road. Thanks also to Kabir for sharing this very insightful article with me. I will be commenting on some other aspects of what I've read later.)

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