But Mostly Cars

SFC Ton asked:

Hey Cane, have you given much thought on how immigration, the war on tribalism/ entho nationalism, integration/ desegregation etc has played a part in destroying traditional folk ways/ lead to smaller families and the like?

I have. The restriction of association does play a part in destroying cultures and subcultures. We speak of restriction of association–when we speak of it at all–as if one could only limit it within an ethnicity or other homogenous group. But when the government uses taxes and regulations to shove a business towards hiring a brown woman instead of a white man: That’s also a form of restriction of association; one that erodes the value of men’s labor.

Another way this restriction is done is by low-income housing programs which encourage poor minorities to move into white neighborhoods. Poor minorities bring their pathologies with them; blaring stereos, poor school performance, deteriorated houses, crime, etc. In turn this encourages whites to leave that neighborhood; taking with them their own pathologies of trust, neatness, and quiet. Spare me the equivocations, please. Old Man Jones’ overgrown and dilapidated property is nothing compared to the favela Senor Cardenas has piled up for his wife, kids, parents, Primo Javier, and Tia Rosa.

A similar thing happens in schools, too.

But I believe the main thing that drives social atomization is the mass production of cars.  Cars seduce a man into believing that if he moves across the country, then later he’ll drive back to visit. He won’t, or at least he won’t visit often.

21 thoughts on “But Mostly Cars

  1. Yep.

    We are at this very moment on a trip back to California. We may or may not see relatives we have not seen in almost 5 years, whey my dad died.

    The automobile also crrsted the modern “date.”

  2. I think it is less about cars as a specific technology and more about affluence in general. Wealth seduces one into believing (partially truthfully) that one does not need anyone else. It is called “Financial Independence” for a reason. Pre-welfare, the black family was statistically stronger than white families, primarily because they were under no illusions about how much they *needed* to stick together to survive. When you’re rich, or at least secure financially, you don’t *need* other people in the same way, and it becomes easier to let social relationships corrode.

    Nowadays, if you can afford it, you never have to leave your solo apartment. You can have your groceries delivered via Instacart, and anything else you need via Favor.

    But if you’re poor and not on welfare, you’ll probably need a roommate and a job, which forces some level of human interaction.

  3. In fact, since most technologies exist to make life easier or more fun, you can probably point to *every* specific technology as having a negative effect on social interaction. Even modern phones, nominally designed in order to facilitate social connection, tend to have the opposite effect.

  4. @djz

    I think it is less about cars as a specific technology and more about affluence in general.

    No, it’s cars. It’s not trains, planes, ships, blenders, washing machines, or any other product of wealth. It’s inexpensive, reliable, convenient, choice-polluting cars. When you get in a car and leave you tell yourself you can always come back from there. But once you get there various forces put pressure on you to choose to stay, and to procrastinate a return. After all: You can always come back, right? Except you will procrastinate away most of the times you could. It’s the thermodynamics of automobiles.

    In fact, since most technologies exist to make life easier or more fun, you can probably point to *every* specific technology as having a negative effect on social interaction. Even modern phones, nominally designed in order to facilitate social connection, tend to have the opposite effect.

    Modern methods of communication assuage feelings about atomization, but they don’t cause it; certainly not the way cars do. Modern phones and the Internet can make us feel better about getting in a car and moving away across time and space, but either way we get in that car and go.

  5. > It’s not trains, planes, ships, blenders, washing machines

    Every single one of those things reduces the need for relying on other humans, or makes it easier to change location (and thus sever social ties). All technology, to some extent drives social atomization. Wealth gives access to technology. Thus, wealth fundamentally drives social atomization.

    Your fixation on cars is cute, but even deleting all cars, we’d still be significantly more atomized than we were 100 or even 50 years ago.

  6. I would argue that modern methods of communication do *cause* social atomization to some extent. Because I know I can text my friend whenever, I never call him. Because I know I can call him whenever, I never meet with him. Here we see modern methods of communication contributing directly to social atomization.

  7. Huh.

    Of the girls in the YA range in my church, several have left since I started attending – they were college educated girls with options, and drove their own cars. One in particular was proud of getting a brand new car. (I wonder now if she was expecting more attention from men for it … )

    The ones who are still around? Don’t drive or have cars. More approachable, too, since they have to wait for their ride right after Sunday service.

  8. My people are generally vagabonds because the options are leave Appalachia and be much less poor or stay and live on well fare, grow weed, run shine etc etc

    So I mostly think it’s about seeking better economic opportunities…. of which a car helps

    But our traditions were destroyed by immigration before cars were widely available

  9. For the record: I don’t hate cars, and I’m not against them. I love my Excursion; partly because I can drive from here to Nebraska on a single tank of gas.

    Those things don’t change the fact that the introduction of cheap and independent transportation has released a force which historically had been suppressed by literal inertia. Now we have to make a decision on what to do.

  10. lol someone said you hate cars?

    It’s good to question the impact of technology on culture and I agree cars are a reason folks can move around and leave their family but I think other causes are likely the prime movers while transportation and commo are secondary

  11. Don’t you know, Ton?

    If you ask critical questions about a group, concept, or thing, it means you HATE it!!!!!

  12. Or if you make a list of the good/bad associated with it. Or attempt to point out the pros and cons of it. Or suggest an alternative to it.


  13. @SFC Ton & Scott

    The context of my post is “Why does the atomization of the family occur?” You posted several reasons for why your family has been atomized. In the context of my post, I view these as excuses.

    -First, you snowflaked: “My people are vagabonds”. So what? So are Gypsies and the Traveling People. They are famous for strong family bonds.

    -Then you played the victim card by saying that Appalachians are forced to be poor and criminal if they don’t atomize. (It’s hard to tell if that’s a line from a bluegrass song, or a blues one.)

    -Then you switched tactics (probably in reaction to your own victim statements) and tried to defend atomization as a boot-strap method of bettering one’s circumstances. But the fact is you can plan to move the family. Atomization is not the only choice. “Not so!”, you might say. “We can want to move the family, but we can’t make everyone do it, and by the time we can convince most to wait so we can go together, some have already taken off!” Right, exactly. And the reason why is because they have cars. They can just take off. And they want to.

    -Finally you played the victim again. “Immigration destroyed our traditions.”. This is similar to the argument that falling out of love destroys a marriage. No. Filing for divorce destroys a marriage. Immigration doesn’t destroy traditions. People leaving destroys traditions. People leave because it’s tempting and–with the car–easy. People stay gone because it’s hard to go back. Cars haven’t broken the rules of inertia. They change how we react to it.

    -Before and under your complaint that immigration destroyed traditions is a statement you made several days ago:

    Intresting you don’t feel rooted Cane

    Personally I feel rooted to my people, our blood, soil, faith, traditions. Connected in a 1000 different ways. I look like my grandpaw, smoke the same pipe ny great grandpaw, grandpaw and father smoked. I passed it down to my son when he went to war for the 1st time, like it was passed on before me. My Christmas tree stays up, until we are all home, like my father and his family have done since ww1. I know where my forefathers bodies rest, I know the land that use to be ours before the damnyankees came, I have seen where they fought, here and in Europe. I feel at home in Scotland even if my kin haven’t lived there since the 1700’s. The list goes on and on and still moves me in an emotional way.

    Perhaps the issue is more personal then social/ cultural. As in you did not value your forefathers when you were younger so you don’t feel rooted now.

    But yesterday it was: “Phooey! Immigration destroyed our traditions!” And before that you wrote:

    I can’t see how most traditions can survive in a world that is constantly changing. Back when technology was slow to progress, traditions were slow to change. Traditions dies quickly now that technology has changed at an unbelievable fast rate.

    To which I answer “Yes, and above all it was the technology of inexpensive cars.”

    So instead of saying all that, I tried to remove all doubt that I had something emotional against cars. The hope was that such a removal would cut-off that line of thinking and so redirect others back to thinking about the ways cars encourage people to make up excuses, take off, and so atomize the family.

    Scott, you can think of it as an attempt at Cane sugar.

  14. None of what I wrote are mutually exclusive ideas and all of it is economic/, historic and demographic reality. Those things have created tremendous changes to traditions and cultures here in the usa, yet many family traditions live on.

    Bluegrass and Blues chart the cultural experiences of a group of people. I grew up in americas 6th poorest county. So yeah that is pretty much a bluegrass/ blues song. ( though weren’t any where near the bottom of the food chain)

    Have to wonder if the real problem is those realities I mentioned interfere with your menatal masturbation

  15. @SFC Ton

    Have to wonder if the real problem is those realities I mentioned interfere with your menatal masturbation

    Don’t wonder about that. You need to focus on what you actually observe, and then say/write that instead of writing what you think. We think all kinds of things, but we only see what we see.

  16. I happen to be well read on somethings directly relating to the topics, like how folks saw traditions and cultre change with the immigration waves in the late 1800s and ealry 1900’s.

    I hhave seen how yankees moving South changed our laws, tradtions and culture and seen how the Mexicans moving in has done the same tbing.

    I have seen 1st hand what certain laws have done to the economic base of Appalachia and a whole slew of other things

    That isn’t playing the victim. That is recognizing the tactical reality on the ground.

    And I have observed you as well.

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