giant symbol crashes and overturns, killing billions of dollars

You thought the Hummer being put on the block was symbolism? This is symbolism: the bloated, militaristic, fuel-guzzling cultural trope itself is being sold to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery. Yes; an unheralded outfit from the deep west, not even Shenzhen or Shanghai. Seeing as its core business is making construction gear, tankers, and off-road vehicles, it may even return to being something roughly designed for a purpose.

It’s probably worth mentioning that the Humvee, in its post-2004 up-armoured version, and its later, baroque replacements, get singled out in David Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerrilla. Specifically:

As Steve pointed out, this is truly an urban submarine – we drive around in an armoured box with three-inch thick windows, peering out through our portholes at the little Iraqi fish swimming by. They can’t see us, and we don’t seem human to them. We are aliens, imperial stormtroopers with our Darth Vader sunglasses and grotesque and cowardly body armour. The insurgents have done to us what we said they would do to them – isolated us from the population…

An artefact is an ideology made manifest; the caricature America we’ve known since the 1980s could hardly be better illustrated, whether outwards in its violent and paradoxically vulnerable military sense or inwards in its lumbering, debt-bloated, hyper-capitalist civilianised sense. Both of which relied upon the engine technology of the 1950s.

3 comments

  1. Sir S

    I remember reading an article about a left-wing band – maybe it was Greenday? – being offered a small fortune for one of their songs to be used to advertise the Hummer. They were new at the time and they turned down a fortune and permanent recognition because of its military/wanker associations. Who knows if ever I could be so committed to my politics…

    how perfect that an unknown chinese outfit should buy it…

  2. Fellow Traveller

    Cowardly body armour? Flashback to Orwell in Shooting an Elephant describing the white man’s need to always keep a stiff pose of power before the natives.

    It’s just not the done thing, old boy. You’ve got to show the coolies that you’re not afraid of a few bullets.

    America needs more bare chested Kilgore types on the front lines, obviously.

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