From capital's point of view, the motor industry is both a vital element in a modern transport infrastructure, necessary for the expanded reproduction of a variety of sectors of the economy, and a locus of expansion in its own right. From the proletariat's perspective, the freedom offered by the car is merely a formal freedom; the consumer-citizen's freedom of movement has as its premise and its result the atomization and enslavement of the class in work and in leisure.
The notion that capitalism must inevitably decline and, by implication, that history is on our side, has been a dominant idea that has shaped much marxist and revolutionary thought, particularly that of Trotskyists and left communists. In the wake of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc it has become more important than ever to challenge such notions of capitalist decline and decadence. In the first part of our critique we examine the development of the various theories of capitalist decline that emerged out of the collapse of the Second International up until the end of the Second World War.