Originally Posted by rebel1916
I am aware of the pony/manure legend. Godwin's law is as follows (to plagiarize Wikipedia) Godwin's law (or Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1" — that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.
So the corollary I am proposing would be a similarly ridiculous comparison to slavery.
First of all, Godwin's rule of nazi analogies has the effect of uncritically dismissing such an analogy without seriously considering how accurate it may or may not be. It's like the rule of always dismissing anything that could be labelled 'conspiracy theory' simply because people are paranoid of being labelled paranoid conspiracy theorists.
Second, if you would have actually thought critically about what I wrote, the point wasn't so much to compare automobilism to slavery as it was to compare the political evolution of abolitionism and the eventual polarization between north and south to what could in all likelihood happen in the US. Let me spell out the reasons:
1) In the ante-bellum period, slavery was losing popularity and legality globally so logically people were migrating to the US as a potential stronghold against abolishing slavery. Slavery had been protected as a sovereign state's right by the Kansas-Nebraska act so that a popular majority of a state or new territory could maintain slavery in that region.
2) Now think about the status of the US globally with regards to automobilism: Even while many cities globally are recognizing the need to replace driving for most if not all people, there is a strong opposition in US politics against recognizing the need to reduce CO2 emissions or even just to reduce the unsustainability of sprawl growth in urban planning. Probably like those people who migrated to the US out of optimism for maintaining slavery as a means of attaining economic prosperity, there are people either migrating or wishing to migrate to the US because they believe in automobilism and sprawl-growth as a superior form of transit and economic engine.
Also, like with slavery, global capitalism gets a huge boon from the widespread dependency on personal automobiles in the US. Think about how much international diversity there is in auto manufacturing and how most global auto makers market their vehicles as premium brands worthy of higher pricing than American brands. Have you ever considered what would have happened to those other brands if Cash4Clunkers and the auto-maker bailouts wouldn't have saved the US auto industry? Who would provide the price-floor from which other global auto makers could differentiate their products if there was no US oligopoly? The auto-bailouts and cash4clunkers weren't just economic interventions to save US automakers; they were to protect the international auto industry against revenue-diminishing price competition.
3) Now consider the north-south polarization prospect: Basically you already have more northern cities doing more to facilitate and promote alternatives to driving than southern cities. As this trend continues, driving is going to grow increasingly less popular in cities where large traffic flows can get around without driving. As this trend continues, people who prefer driving are going to seek out smaller cities and rural areas where they can drive with less traffic. Many northerners already migrate to southern cities for the climate, and since affluence helps with such migration, they tend to sort of 'collude' with affluent southerners to promote a dominate lifestyle of driving around in air conditioned vehicles between air conditioned indoor spaces. Even poor people in the south tend to look at driving and air-conditioning as more of an entitlement than the luxury it is, so it is very possible the south will unify against any larger trend, whether national or global, toward more public transit use and cycling, since both require more exposure to outdoor air when it's hot.
So you see, Godwin, there are multiple similarities between the evolving conflict between automobilism and alternative transit and the conflict between pro-slavery and abolitionism in ante-bellum times. Both issues were/are about class-privilege, comfort, and economic dependency.
Finally, it may at first seem a reversal that the republican party seems to be the one favoring sprawl-growth and automobilism whereas the democrats are promoting alternative transit and multi-modal (dense) urban development; whereas the parties were reversed with regards to slavery. If you look closer, though, the reason the republican party takes the stances it does today is often because democrats who used to be for states' rights are now libertarians who attempt to achieve states' rights by reducing federal government in every way possible.
Whereas the anti-slavery republicans of the civil-war era were in favor of using federal power to override abuses of freedom at the local level, that type of republicanism is now attacked from both parties, 1) because the libertarians are for states' rights and other means of deregulating private abuses of freedom and 2) because the democrats take a diversity approach that basically involves using government spending to support freedom without doing much if anything to curtail popular abuses of freedom within a growing economy, which seems to be their primary interest, even if it means more sprawl-growth and the means to maintain automobilism as dominant transit.
If today's democratic party would have taken the same approach to slavery, they would have spent loads of money on creating programs for slaves to buy their freedom, which would have given a boon to the slave economy when the slaves paid the money to their masters, who would then have gained a controlling interest in 'free' slave plantations. This is what is happening today with federal money spent on promoting progress, which ultimately ends up funding continuing growth of the old economic paradigm they're trying to produce alternatives for.