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What the right gets right about the trucker revolt

A left-wing writer on the trucker rebellion is fascinating. She looks at the trucker revolt as “right wing”, though I am sure the organizers of the trucker blockade of Ottawa streets have no such conception of themselves, and would reject it if they were called it. It also has a strange flavour of a person who lives in a bubble peering out from it dimly to discern, as Bob Dylan said many years ago, “something happening here an’ you don’t know what it is, do you? Mr. Jones”

Emma Jackson writes:

“Whether we want to admit it or not, there’s a lot that the anti-mandate movement is getting right from an organizing and movement-building perspective.

“For starters, in stark contrast to the Left, the past few days have revealed how much better the Right is at meeting people where they’re at.

“Instead of building an insular movement restricted to people who agree with each other 93 per cent of the time, the Right has successfully tapped into widely held resentment and built a mass on-ramp for people with highly divergent views. It’s why the Freedom Convoy isn’t just being ardently defended by white supremacists on Rebel News, but also by anti-vaccine Green Party supporters in the inboxes of mainstream environmental organizations.”

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Imagine the power that comes from not insisting that everyone agree on everything before you agree to act together! Who knew?

“In the anti-mandate movement, everyone’s participation is welcome. Of course, this also extends to participants brandishing yellow star pins, thin blue line badges, and flags with swastikas—a level of acceptance that should never be tolerated.

“But the degree to which thousands are willing to come to the defense of the movement the second its racist and antisemitic elements are exposed—insisting that they’re just a “few bad apples”—is telling. It proves their commitment to building and defending the biggest possible “we,” against the smallest possible “them”—in this case, the liberal establishment, mainstream media, and those of us naïve enough to be under the spell of both.

It’s also evidence of their collective disdain for any whiff of social elitism—something that is likely only being exacerbated by the urban left’s impulse to wag our fingers at these “backward, selfish people.”

Translating from the wokish, they are open, and anti-snobbish and to borrow her phrase, committed to the biggest possible “we”.

“In order to actively and constantly be recruiting everyday working people into your base (i.e. build power), you actually have to talk to them and ground your recruitment in the everyday institutions and networks they belong to. It’s obvious that the anti-mandate and anti-vaccine crowd is doing just that by engaging in one-on-one conversations with their neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers, and listening to their collective grievances.

“But the anti-mandate movement isn’t just recruiting participants one-by-one, they’re also successfully bringing entire institutions into the movement and providing them with opportunities to visibly show their support. They’ve successfully recruited evangelical churches, private trucker associations, and far-right outlets like Rebel News, all of whom are fueling the movement—whether by distributing ham sandwiches at rest stops or amplifying their message to hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube.”

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They have genuine, broad based support. They build coalitions. Who knew?

Emma Jackson continues;

“Labour’s institutional heft is unparalleled, but those of us belonging to other movement threads—climate justice, anti-racism, Indigenous solidarity— must also reflect on how it is that the far-right is doing a better job of recruiting our own family, friends, and co-workers into their movements, than we are into our own.

“Insularity has prevented the left from reaching the mainstream. We have an opportunity to examine our tendency to build organizations that feel more like exclusive clubs for the “already woke,” than they do welcoming spaces for political education and transformation where people feel deeply valued and needed.”

Emma, Emma, listen to Uncle Dalwhinnie:

  1. There is no such thing as the “far right”. The “right” and “the far right” are left wing mental constructions. Those inside the Marxist thought prison imagine that everyone who opposes them is in their own, equally restrictive, thought-prison.  Not so. The only people inside the thought prison are the political left (in my experience) . Other people are quite free to disagree, argue, and have a beer together.  David Horowitz write about this sudden realization when he left the political Left, which he wrote about it “Radical Son”, which is a must-read for all evolving soon to be former Marxists.
  2. Precisely what makes the political left an exclusionary cult is its false but wholly sincere sense of its moral superiority. If you give up believing in your moral superiority, you realize you are a sinner like the rest of the sinners. Then yu are ready to build broad coalitions politically and even religiously.
  3. Living without moral superiority is really difficult. Millions do it every day. If the political Left tried it, they might find themselves being listened to.

Stuart Parker deserves your attention

Stuart Parker, previously unknown to me, has precisely described the dynamic driving Canadian cultural and ideological conformity.

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As I predicted back in 2008, the people who now hold this belief that anything less than total control and absolute discipline is a sign of weakness and illegitimacy are now what pollsters politely call “the centre-left.”

Sadly, as with all broadly held cultural assumptions, these values concerning control, submission and dissent eventually escape their original context and run rampant through society. If people become convinced of a new moral order for how the world above them should run, it ultimately shakes down to the world below.

And we see this here with centre-left reaction to the national truckers’ protest in Ottawa. No permanent organization is running this protest, which appears to be built around social media, a GoFundMe page and a loose affiliation of local leadership groups developed in provincial protests by truckers over the past few years.

And of course, it does not represent all or even most truckers in the industry. The crew who are in Ottawa are whiter, more rural and more right-leaning than the industry as a whole, which is, in turn, whiter, more rural and more right-leaning than Canadian society as a whole. The folks in Ottawa are also more likely to be “owner-operators,” who have financed their heavy equipment through financial institutions. Those driving trucks owned by extended families or by trucking companies directly are much less likely to be part of the protest.

There is no doubt that a small fraction of these individuals are members of Canada’s tiny fascist militias, the Sons of Odin, the Proud Boys and other far-right political groups and that a disproportionate number voted for the People’s Party. In addition, the spirit of the protest and the issue it is taking up, vaccine passports, have attracted members of right-wing groups that are not themselves truckers but wish to express solidarity or see the protest as an organizing and recruitment opportunity.

Those of us who cut our teeth in the 1980s peace movement know this story well. The Vancouver Peace March used to attract 10% of the city’s population (50,000 protesters at its peak) for its annual walk across Burrard Bridge to support global nuclear disarmament. And, consequently, the vanguard of the march comprised the Trotskyites, Maoists and other communist sectarians and foreign dictator fan clubs who saw this as their big annual opportunity to radicalize and recruit ordinary anti-nuclear activists.

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Because Canadians, as a whole, but especially centre-left voters have now come to believe that the legitimacy of a movement inheres not in its size or the diversity of people and views it represents but rather in its ability to discipline and control its supporters, this protest looks both illegitimate and frightening. Not only is this protest not controlling the speech and signage of its members; it is celebrating its refusal to control these things and instead sticking to the basics of making sure protesters are nonviolent and law-abiding.

And, in progressive, urban Canada, this broad-brush guilt-by-association strategy exhumed from the 1980s appears to be working, no matter how intellectually lazy its journalistic practitioners are being.

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I am not writing this piece to advocate for the protest and its participants. I am writing this piece to ask Canadians like me whether we want our future protests to be judged and covered by standards applied to the truckers today. I am asking us to think about what happens to the horizon of possibility for mass organizing when we throw in with the idea that actual, authentic grassroots protests are a thing of the past and the only legitimate public demonstration is one choreographed from above, its participants carefully disciplined into reading from an identical script or into silence.

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As a person who, because I dissented from the progressive consensus on a single issue, has been smeared as a transphobe, homophobe, pedophile, white supremacist, racist and ableist in the past year and a half, I can no longer simply accept the opinion of centre-left media on whether someone is a dangerous, bigoted member of the alt-right. I can no longer trust the government-financed Canadian Anti-Hate Network on whether someone is a dangerous hatemonger because many of my comrades and I are on their list. And not everyone is going to be like me and check those claims against the facts. Most people will just start ignoring those claims.

There is a high price to pay when you decide to cry “wolf” over fascism in a political situation like our own, where the authoritarian threat is real and society-wide.

More importantly still, I am trying to sound a cultural alarm bell about the exaltation of order, disciple and control as Canadians’ primary political values. The fact is that those values are authoritarian. In a nation wherein rapid, dramatic change is not just a moral necessity but an ecological one, we need to retain the capacity for mass mobilization and our capacity to resist an authoritarian regime, irrespective of whether it calls itself progressive or conservative.

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Amen

Brexit the movie

 

 

This is an altogether a fine movie, filled with political insight. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dominic Cummings, the architect of the victorious leave vote. The credits say that some portions of the movie are fictional, leaving one to infer that most of it is just how it happened. The portion I am sure is fictional is a scene near the end between Dominic Cummings and the head organizer of the Remain campaign, a Tory working for Prime Minister Campbell. They are in a pub after a long day’s work.  It is becoming clear to the Stay side that they are losing and they are surprised and outraged. They would stay that way for four more years. The Tory political professional running the Stay campaign accuses Cummings of undermining the rule of experts and of opening up political life in England to a set of forces that will be impossible to control.

Broadly speaking, the accusation is true. What kept politics manageable for the ruling classes was a consensus that experts in fact knew more than most people and that their rule was legitimate. This is under challenge in the English-speaking democracies.

Curtis Yarvin, of Mencius Moldbug fame, explains this as the rule of the Cathedral. It is a vitally important concept, and Brexit the movie touches upon it in the exchange between Dominic Cummings and the lead organizer for the Stay campaign.

“The mystery of the cathedral is that all the modern world’s legitimate and prestigious intellectual institutions, even though they have no central organizational connection, behave in many ways as if they were a single organizational structure.

Most notably, this pseudo-structure is synoptic: it has one clear doctrine or perspective. It always agrees with itself. Still more puzzlingly, its doctrine is not static; it evolves; this doctrine has a predictable direction of evolution, and the whole structure moves together.”

I am uncertain whether the term “the Cathedral” has to be conceived as Yarvin does. Yet it is stands as a useful metaphor for the collective inertia of received ideas that dominate political discourse these days.

Watch the Brexit movie. It will get you to the core of the issues. As the referendum approached, there was a telling scene during a focus group being held by the Remain side where some frizzy blonde-haired working class woman entirely loses it, and starts screaming that she is absolutely fed up with being told she is a racist for having a dim view of current rates of immigration, and that she has been fed up with this state of repression for the past twenty years. The meeting descends into chaos. At that point the chief organizer for the Remain side knows for sure that he is going to lose.

I wonder when that point will be reached in Canada.

 

 

War after Civilization

Thomas Hobbes - Wikipedia

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

Some redneck speaks the truth (below) about defunding police.  I find that the best exponents of what it would be like to live in the “nasty, short and brutish” world of a sovereign-less world envisaged by Thomas Hobbes are Americans, perhaps because they are so close historically to a world without externally imposed order. Some of them escaped authority at the time of the Revolution and have never been tamed since. The redneck in question bears a surprising resemblance to Thomas Hobbes, portrayed above. Coincidence?

 

 

Base, common and popular

There is an exchange in Shakespeare’s Henry V where Pistol, a soldier of the King’s, asks him who he is, as they await the dawn that will bring on the battle of Agincourt .

Pistol: Discuss unto me: art thou officer or art thou base, common, and popular?

The King: I am a gentleman of a company.

“Base, common and popular” – were terms of insult. Just as “populist” is today. The same snobbery applies. What the people want cannot be disparaged too much these days by the elites: a return to prosperity, reasonable controls on immigration, and end to attacks on white males and conservatives for the crimes of being white, male and conservative. See the previous article today on George Will’s deep distaste for Donald Trump, which amounts to no more than the belief that Trump is too vulgar, too base, too common, too popular. The term “popular” has mutated to “populist” because today we think that it is good to be popular. In earlier times they did not bother to pretend.

The French knights were already dividing the spoils of the English army in the night before Agincourt. We all know how that turned out. I expect to hear more boasting of the same nature this summer from American Democrats.