Je Suis Volkswagen!

Following the Internationale’s latest blow to the Kraft Durch Freude programme, we must ask ourselves: has an unwieldy socialist dream just come full circle?

Volkswagen have been caught fitting devices to their cars which detect when they are having their emissions tested in a garage. The cars automatically retune their engines to satisfy the legal emissions requirements until they sense they are back on the road, at which point they resume the belching of Cyanide and Prussic Acid that are the natural result of German mechanical excellence. For their enterprising genius in getting their consumers a bit more bang for their buck, Europe’s biggest car manufacturer are now facing a worldwide shit-storm of self-righteous outrage and callings for an international €6.5bn recall.

Come. On.

Who taught Volkswagen – the original, disciplined, state producer of cars – about the law of the jungle? What right have Americans, who have benefitted so much from the cultural phenomenon of Volkswagen, to turn round now and deny some half-a-million of these cars access to their society, as if they had nothing to do with the situation? The reaction has been nothing but closed-minded hostility.

Let's all get in the van together and unite our tolerant vieeeews!

Let’s all get in the van together and unite our tolerant vieeeews!

Let’s check America’s privilege with a bit of historical context here. So until 1945, Volkswagen was a peaceful company which lived in harmony with its parent society – an advanced society which used biofuels and promoted vegetarianism. Then America decided to barge in, joined by their British allies of course, occupying as a peacekeeping force in a situation of unrest for which their presence was itself largely accountable. Some would say they only did it for the resources – commandeering swathes of German industrial know-how and pumping money in to Western oriented capitalist development programmes. Then, having installed more Coca Cola machines than democratic leaders, they pulled out and left Europe to cope by itself. It was bound to turn nasty – what could anyone expect?

When Volkswagen was born, it was the only civilian automobile to be mass produced on government contract; a novel experiment in which client and customer became corporation and state. It was always really the Regierungswagen – the Volk were simply the people in the middle who had to throw taxes at one side and were encouraged to throw savings at the other. Whether you had a Volkswagen or not (and apparently only one chap did by the time they switched to wartime production), everyone was contributing towards the production of cars which were to be possessed by the few who pipped them to the post by saving just a little more.

This economic experiment was interrupted, however, by the patronage of the ascendant free-market American economy, which catapulted Volkswagen into its present global phenomenon – leaving the state out of the game. Now – after 70 years of goodwill, peaceful international cooperation and trans-Atlantic trade – the warm biosphere of the American dream is cooling. Even America are realising that, when the going gets tough, it suits political agendas to regulate trade and industry – especially when neighbours are prepared to pump €400m into Volkswagen’s expansion across North America. The once plump flesh of the global economy is tightening over the skeleton of a programme set up in 1930s Germany – but the extent of that programme is now beyond the wildest imaginings of the embryonic totalitarians who originally conceived it.

By contrast to the Third Reich, we now exist under an international totalitarian system which clamps down on all manufacturers, so every car – even in America – is essentially what Volkswagen was always meant to be – sanctioned by the state, for the state. Unlike Volkswagen’s parent society, however, they haven’t the integrity to admit that they are hostile to foreign competition. So, how does one deal with a vastly superior automobile manufacturer which threatens to beat local companies at their own game? It turns out that, for decades, the international community has been churning out passive aggressive legislation designed to regulate every tiny aspect of civilian motor engineering, protecting big Western manufacturers from competition by preventing reasonably well off countries like Morocco from producing knock-off Ladas, forcing everyone there to drive either an import Merc or a Donkey.

Enter the ‘independent’ Delaware-based EU-backed International Council on Clean Transportation – which  ‘physically brings together senior regulatory officials from the world’s leading countries to… guide policy developments around the world.’ The ICCT has two dozen high level civil servants sitting on its council and receives nearly all of its funding from the ClimateWorks foundation – whose team of ‘strategists and collaborators’ are supported, in turn, by the Ford foundation and the Packard foundation. It was surely with infinite selflessness and largesse, then, that the ICCT sent two employees – the EU’s Peter Mock and the USA’s John German – on a road trip up the American West Coast in a Volkswagen rigged with emissions testing instruments, just to show how chuffed they were that Volkswagens could handle backbreaking mountain roads as cleanly as they could idle in a garage. Imagine the sense of American outrage and betrayal, then, when duo discovered that the Volkswagen’s tailpipe was chucking out gas like a cowboy on beer and beans. If the EU were a proper socio – political entity, our man would immediately have turned on theirs, grabbed the nearest paperweight and #donetherightthing for his country. But no – the secret got out.

“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in a statement on Sunday, before resigning. May America forgive them: a foreign manufacturer of vastly superior automobiles about to be wiped from the US market. The gnashing of teeth can be heard from Washington to Detroit. “We will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused,” he continued. What does that mean? Switch back to military production?

The recall of ‘inadequate vehicles’ (and, judging by the guilty silence from other manufacturers, it won’t end with Volkswagen), has nothing to do with the Volk. The Volk didn’t give a damn about emissions when they put their hard earned cash on the counter. So quit the outrage – the only customer who has been duped here is the state.

And if you though the American pundits were the only ones immersed in narcissistic vicarious outrage, you should see the reaction (you can’t because they operate behind closed doors), of the European Commission. In fairness, it appears that they may have shown a little integrity in protecting Europe’s best interests, but the fact is that the European civil service is chocked to the gunnels with ex-communist apperatchiks who swear an oath of non-allegiance to nation states and are constantly gagging to further their control over every industry and living human being, citing spurious threats from Trotskyism Jews imperialism Catholics capitalism nukes the weather. If Volkswagen’s emissions are legal in Europe, they soon won’t be.

Now is the moment Hitler dreamed of: popular support for people’s cars sanctioned by the people’s government.

Which is the more dystopian model?

  1. Everyone’s taxes go towards kick-starting a centralised motor industry in order that the few people who save really hard can buy a car.
  2. Everyone’s taxes go towards a central government agency in order that the many people who now have cars can have them taken away again.

I really don’t know – but both models have one thing in common: they are designed to cream off the society’s economic surplus to engorge the state sector hoping that, by making enough of a racket about the interest of the volk or the Ozone Layer, nobody will notice. One does it from the producer end, the other from the consumer end – but in any case Marx and Engels are cackling in hell and, closer to home, I also have the slightly uneasy feeling that someone somewhere in the European civil service has risen to his feet and proclaimed: “MEIN FÜHRER, I CAN WALK!”

Finally – assuming that Volkswagen are competing on tight margins with other car companies, and assuming that they are about to be discovered doing the same thing – what will happen when we discover that it is actually impossible to make cars which comply simultaneously with escalating European regulations, escalating European taxation and European market demand? Which will be made to compromise? In fact, we know the answer – because whilst the Volkswagen’s popularity exploded across the West, The Volkswagen dream followed another brief line of evolution in Socialist East Europe. It was a disaster. With full state backing and no free market alternative, civilian vehicles deteriorated in quality and escalated in price, leaving everyone on the tram while their leaders roared around in imported Volvos. But perhaps that’s the whole idea. Such is the fate of a society when the people’s cars become the state’s cars.

Ferdinand Porsche's last gasp in the East: Czechoslovakia's Tatra 603

Ferdinand Porsche’s last gasp in the East: Czechoslovakia’s Tatra 603

The solution is obvious: it is time for the state to stand up for consumers, back down, and deregulate.


Penned @ Caffe Notte, on the strength of a fresh Tuscan Villa Pillo RoséIMG_1752

One comment

  1. There could be another solution: let the things emit whatever they emit, and sell each one a little cheaper, by the price of some little piece of wizard gadgetry.

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