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The War on Cars - Jordan Peterson Calls That a Way to Identify Totalitarians

I have been debating the war on cars for quite a while in my career. The first journalism prize I won was for an article asking why cars have to be eliminated for some people to be happy. Those guys think only walking, biking, or public transportation are acceptable. Jordan Peterson also seems to be concerned about that. In a recent tweet, he added a new perspective to the hatred for automobiles: it would be a way to identify totalitarians.
Advertisement Shows Runners Being Flashed Due to 30-kph (19 mph) Speed LimitsAdvertisement Shows Runners Being Flashed Due to 30-kph (19 mph) Speed LimitsAdvertisement Shows Runners Being Flashed Due to 30-kph (19 mph) Speed LimitsAdvertisement Shows Runners Being Flashed Due to 30-kph (19 mph) Speed LimitsAdvertisement Shows Runners Being Flashed Due to 30-kph (19 mph) Speed Limits
According to the famous Canadian professor and clinical psychologist, totalitarians hate comedians and private automobiles. That would make Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” outrage for these folks. In short, a capital sin. As absurd as that may sound, that sadly makes a lot of sense.

Just check what totalitarian leaders demand in the countries that failed to avoid them: making fun of the "capo di tutti capi" leads to prison time. Preventing the regular Joe to have access to passenger cars allows them to control how people move around. In some sense, it also gives these leaders the power to rule where citizens can go. For them, people are just sheep – or cattle.

An excellent example of what that restriction represents came with the international health crisis. Air companies are canceling multiple flights because pilots and crew members are getting sick. For some folks, that will just mean they will have to travel by car. In a society with no automobiles, it would mean they are stranded, and they would just have to accept that. Offering options for society is healthy. Demanding people to do as they are told is totalitarian. The war on cars is really heading that way, even if in more subtle ways.

Paris had already shown that by imposing ridiculous speed limits in its streets. A sporting goods store made that pretty evident with ads that showed runners being flashed for exceeding the speed limits. Bike riders have reported the same situation. The practical effect is making life in cars so miserable at such low speeds that people will give in and walk or adopt public transportation. Good luck avoiding the frequent strikes they face.

If that were not enough for France, carmakers there will be obliged from March 1, 2022, to change all advertisements on the TV, radio, or movies. They will have to include one of these three recommendations in them: “for short journeys, favor walking of cycling,” “think about carpooling,” or “use public transport every day.” Every day?

To sound more modern and up to date with Instagrammers, these guidelines will also have to bring the hashtag #SeDéplacerMoinsPolluer, something like “move, pollute less.” Any company that fails to comply will have to pay €50,000 ($56,915 at the current exchange rate) for each presentation infringement.

If this rule reminds you of cigarette packages, rest assured it is not by chance. Although the new French law recommendations are just common sense, the fear is that future messages will try to demonize personal transportation. It is already accused of being selfish and senseless. People used to say something like this would eventually happen. Seeing those predictions come true is really concerning. It means that even stable democracies are leaning toward making cars – regardless of what powers them – something as stigmatized as smoking. But it would be very, very wrong.

Smoking has no purpose. Cars transport goods and people. Electric vehicles do that without emitting pollutant gases, which is one of the primary purposes of the electric shift apart from energy efficiency. Automobiles – regardless of combustion engines or motors – help people discover what lies in other cities, countries, even some continents. They expand perspectives.

When public transportation is efficient, constantly using it to go to work should be the ideal option. You save money on fuel (if you don’t drive an EV), parking, and other fees associated with cars. There would not be traffic jams, and we would not see so many vehicles carrying only the driver. You don’t have to worry about where to stop, traffic, other drivers, and so forth. However, COVID-19 also made that change.

Many are now working from home, and only office landlords are complaining about that. Getting in crowded buses or trains is never a good idea in the middle of a pandemic, which made cars the safest option to move around when distances that could not cover on foot were at play. Just think about what would have happened if everybody depended on public transportation when the pandemic first struck, especially physicians and medical staff.

Predictably, Peterson was heavily attacked by haters, including left-wing, progressive car writers that apparently want to write about buses. Some just hate the man because he refuses to use gender-neutral words. Others detest cars. We have not seen a single answer that tried to refute him with proper arguments.

Regardless of your opinion about Peterson, it would be helpful just to read his tweet and reflect on it. It may not be the case that everyone that hates cars is totalitarian, but all authoritarians hate automobiles.

If you are among them and refuse to be classified among Stalin or Mussolini worshipers, consider your real reasons against personal transportation. While you claim to be against climate change, white privilege, or in favor of cities for people, think what is truly underneath the virtue-signaling attempt. It may be the case that you support a Big Brother or a populist savior, and you were not even aware of that.

Cars are indeed an ode to individuals and their decision power. They allow people to drive anywhere they want. Thankfully, some voices will raise to defend them and what they represent, whether you like them or not. Some of them can’t be ignored. Trying to vilify them is clear evidence that they matter.

Editor's note: The gallery shows images of runners being flashed in Paris due to the ridiculously low speed limits.


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