Middle Class Angst: The Politics of Lemmings Part 1 By Stan Goff

Dandelion Salad

By Stan Goff, Part I
Speaking Truth to Power
Sunday, 18 November 2007

Suburbia is also a spiritual wasteland, a place where the wonder of nature is desecrated ubiquitously with corporate logos and all the artifacts of late technological society.

There is a common misconception among environmentalists and peak-oilers (I count myself among both) that cars created the suburbs. The car suburb, however, became what it is with regard to cars only incidentally. The real motive for the suburbs was plain garden-variety white supremacy. Cars simply became necessary to facilitate the spatial segregation that simultaneously confined African America largely to decaying urban spaces and built the ‘burbs as white enclaves. It’s not that simple any more, of course. All things change all the time – as we’ll see momentarily – but it was white fear and loathing of the Dark Other that set the whole process in motion.

The sudden discovery – still ongoing – that most of us (more than half the US now lives in Suburbia) are trapped here if and when our private automobiles run out of gas (or the money to buy it), came after suburbanization was a fait accompli. This is the stage in any historical process where people begin to indulge themselves in disambiguation of the past – simplifying what has happened until it appears that it was predictable all along. Since we believe this – that things are predictable – we are easily convinced that correlation equals causation in our reconstructions of history; and we apply those correlatives that are familiar and comfortable. Ergo, because oil companies and auto manufacturers participated in the development of Suburbia, they were the conscious agents of it all along. White environmentalists and many white peak-oilers are not well-versed in the history of race, and they have shitty heuristics for understanding how it is constituted.


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