Understanding Backlash Against Car-Free Advocacy
I have noticed that when car-free living is promoted as a solution to social-economic problems, there is a tendency for backlash. At first, this backlash seemed as simple as any other form of backlash against criticism of status-quo. The roots of this kind of backlash would be as simple as, "I drive therefore anyone doing otherwise is implying that my choice to drive isn't the best choice and therefore denigrating and threatening me."
Now, however, I have started to think that the cause of backlash could go even deeper, having to do with the mainstreaming of motor-transit itself. Basically, it seems the expansion of motor-car popularity occurred together with the creation of New Deal economics, which had the goal of generating a more robust consumer economy where higher wages and more social spending would make it possible for more people to afford Ford's new mass-producable motor-cars along with all the other goods and services faster (automotive) transportation would give people access to.
So the modernizing economy of the 20th century was sort of a synergy between economic growth policies and practices that expanded automotivism/consumerism and the expansion of cities and intercity/interstate infrastructure that facilitated the ensuing growth in travel and commerce. Part of this growth involved intensifying economic pressure for people to participate in the economy in order to facilitate the benefits that everyone else would receive by them doing so. In other words, a culture emerged in which economic freedom began to be viewed as a threat to maintaining large-scale growth and consumerism. Compounding this was the problem that the idea of economic freedom itself became associated with serving and benefiting from the growing mass economy.
People who grew up in the 20th century culture of nearly-imperative economic participation also grew up with pressure to relinquish any beliefs or fantasies that they could be free to get around except by driving. While many rode bicycles as children and some people used public transit if they lived in areas where that was available and it wasn't made culturally taboo in their minds, growing up was construed as a process of 'biting the bullet' and submitting to making economic investments in motor vehicles and housing that would subjugate oneself to a life of debt-servitude. People who questioned and/or resisted this were scolded and badgered into conformity and sometimes ostracized or otherwise maltreated for exercising freedom.
So now that green consciousness is causing widespread rethinking of economic patterns and practices that were pushed on so many people so forcefully throughout the 20th century, the backlash may be due to the fact that people unintentionally or intentionally internalize the social pressure that was applied to them and pass it on to others. Compound this with the fact that taking personal responsibility for living more sustainably is also being pushed in the same way that unsustainable economic practices were before and the likelihood of emotional frustration is that much greater. As a result, they take out their frustration against the culture that seems to be in conflict with the one pushed on them at first.
Ultimately, I think people who are able to see and understand the reasons some economic practices become unsustainable and why others become more promising for the future are able to deal better with conflicting social pressures due to economic/cultural shifts. On the other hand, if a person is just trying to respond to social pressures in a way that keeps them out of trouble, such a situation must be more difficult to deal with. Because such people are confused, they attack difference in an attempt to eliminate any form of choice. I.e. they think that life is simpler if any alternative to the must-drive economy is unimaginable so they attack anyone that promotes the growth of alternatives.
Is this logic too cultural-psychological to be significant or do you think this describes and explains a general pattern in the anti-green backlash? Also, do you think that such backlashing can subside without resulting in substantial setbacks and delays in continuing the pursuit of more sustainable transit and economic patterns? Or do you think that the culture behind the backlash is so strong that it will perpetually work to undermine any alternatives that threaten its absolute dominance? If it does, what do you think the next test of its sustainability will be? More economic crashes? Wars? Gridlock and chaos?