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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Griff says; Dear Motorist, a boy needs a bike

Hello, Streetlampers. I've got something for the cycling fraternity tonight - it's an article first published in France in September 1973 under the title "L’idéologie sociale de la bagnole" in the magazine Le Sauvage. Written under the pen name André Gorz it was the work of Gérard Horst, an Austrian and French social philosopher and journalist who was originally an advocate of Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist version of Marxism until after the May '68 student riots in France where he became more concerned with political ecology and environmentalism.

More commonly known under the title of 'Dear Motorist' in English speaking countries, and circulated in pamphlet form, the article delivers a devastating critique of the Western world's ideological obsession with the motor-car and has become a firm favourite in anarchist and cycling circles over the years. Here's a taster:

Why is the car treated like a sacred cow? Why, unlike other "privative" goods, isn't it recognised as an antisocial luxury? The answer should be sought in the following two aspects of driving:

1.    Mass motoring effects an absolute triumph of bourgeois ideology on the level of daily life. It gives and supports in everyone the illusion that each individual can seek his or her own benefit at the expense of everyone else.

2.    The automobile is the paradoxical example of a luxury object that has been devalued by its own spread. But this practical devaluation has not yet been followed by an ideological devaluation.

Interested in reading more? I hope so, as The Streetlamp have got a free pdf of Dear Motorist available for download 'here'. This came about as I was looking for a version of the pamphlet online recently and realised that the site which used to have it was no longer available.  Other sites did have it, but not as an easy to read pdf, so I decided that, given our recent success posting an anarchist cookbook for free download, we might as well give you this as well.

Now, of course, the obvious question is; "What music should you listen to while you're reading Dear Motorist?" Well, we here at The Streetlamp would like to recommend a recent single release by our old friends over at EardrumsPop. For newcomers to the Streetlamp we should explain that EardrumsPop is a netlabel specialising in warm and melodic folk-pop and indie-pop. The label is famous for working in close and sympathetic collaboration with musicians and illustrators to produce unique and beautiful pop artefacts which are all available on a free download basis. What could be better than that? As they say over at EardrumsPop:

"We believe in beautiful things you can see and hear, and we believe in working together, helping each other and getting good music and good art out to the public."

The particular digital single we'd like to recommend was released on September 12th and is by Kids on Bikes. Kids on Bikes is the electronic-surf-folk music project from illustrator, musician, surfer, skateboarder and bike-enthusiast Sean Mahan. For the past 10 years Kids On Bikes has been working on the forthcoming record set “77 songs of cycling”, an epic 4 LP veneration of Schwinn Stingrays, Raleigh collapsibles, and powder blue beach cruisers. Sean writes each song as an introspective adoration of the many wondrous aspects of getting on a bike. So , if you want three sweet and delicate popsongs, all with a bike-theme, look no further.

Kids On Bikes - ePop026 by EardrumsPop

The above digital single can be downloaded 'here'. If you're interested in Sean's work as an illustrator you may also want to visit his site 'here'.

Visual art, indie-pop, cycling, anarchism and creative commons downloads! I believe I've just hit the Streetlamp jackpot.



  1. Great post Griff, i enjoyed Kids On Bikes.
    Been thinking of getting a bike lately :)

    Here's for you (your article reminds me of this music video):

    1. Cheers, Pierre. The last Dinosur video takes me back, I used to be friendly with them on Myspace, about a thousand years ago it feels like.
      Come to Glasgow and I'll get you a nice cheap reconditioned bike from the community bicycle workshop I work in on Saturdays.

  2. Yes i used to have them on myspace too.
    I remember having read something about these bicycle workshops in a newspaper this summer.