Superficially, litter and the rusting carcasses of salvaged cars are both an affront to the eye. But while litter exemplifies that lack of stewardship that is the ethical core of a throwaway society, the visible presence of old cars represents quite the opposite. Yet these are easily conflated under the environmentalist aesthetic, and the result has been to impart a heightened moral status to Americans’ prejudice against the old, now dignified as an expression of civic responsibility.
Repair stigmatized as an affront to aesthetic sensibilities. Who makes bank from that?
Later in the essay, Matt writes:
Among the sacrifices demanded by the new gods may be your ten year old car that gets 35 MPG, requires zero new manufacturing (with its associated environmental costs), and may be good for another ten years. As Rene Girard points out, ritual violence is usually directed against a scapegoat who is in fact innocent, onto whom the sins of the community are transferred. In our pagan society of progress, it seems anything old and serviceable can serve this role.
Yep. Just the other day, responding to another post by Matt, I said that I want to keep my own 10-year-old car for another ten years. We’ll see whether I can hold out.