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.