. . . the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.
To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they—unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted—are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.
But these things are illusions. We, unsupervised, untutored, unscripted, are not the masters of our fates. Most of what constitutes our fates is determined by the time and place in which we are born, and the family we are born into. Did you build that car you are freewheeling around in, or invent any of the fifty thousand bits of technical wizardly that make it go? Did you manufacture your own iPod, produce your own electricity, vaccinate yourself against the diseases that used to kill every fourth or fifth child? Somehow I doubt it. We do not stand on our own two feet, but on the vast edifice of our world-spanning civilization.