As I have said before, cars are a kind of military occupation of the city...
Leon Krier drew it best... (it's not the suburban home, but the number of cars it bombards the city with) pic.twitter.com/bVQ6AdsTZI
— Howard Blackson (@hblackson) April 25, 2014
The suburbs were made for cars, and this is why their once stable future is now in danger. Recall the movie Escape from New York. The urban future imagined in 1981 has been completely reversed in 2014. David Moser at City Tank:
American suburbs are a particularly bad place to be poor. Though poverty poses dire and unjust challenges no matter where it exists, sprawling and auto-dependent land use patterns can exacerbate these difficulties. And this problem is gaining urgency, as more and more of America’s low-income individuals now live in suburbs (or are being pushed there), a phenomenon the Brookings Institute has called “the suburbanization of poverty”
True that. But the thing that no one is talking about is this: Where does American capital go after the death of the suburbs? What we Marxists get is, to use the words of Thomas Piketty (but in another context): The past devours the future. But Piketty is thinking of how, in the long run, inheritance (the past) becomes the dominant form of wealth in advanced capitalist societies. What we Marxists have in mind is how the contradiction of overproduction and repressed wages leads to the opening of the future to conjure up effective demand. In a word, credit devours the future.
The suburbs provided this future for American capital in a way that the inner city never will (which is why it was abandoned in the first half of the 20th century). The core of the city, with its efficient economies of density, does not go into the future far enough. You do not have to borrow a ton of money to own a bike, pay for a public transportation card, or replace shoes worn down from walking. A car throws you into the deep future; other forms of transportation do not. Car culture requires a sprawling and costly infrastructure that must be maintained; this is not the case with pedestrian and public transportation culture. And without this deep future of debt and costs, where will the effective demand needed to satisfy the always-pressing hunger of surplus production come from? The city does not devour enough of the future. No one has properly faced this fact at a time when exactly the inner city is being revived in a capitalist context.