Canada’s trucker protest has been inspiring. Americans, though imagining themselves a freedom-loving people, have been quiet compared to Europeans, Australians, and now Canadians standing up against draconian Covid restrictions. The truckers’ protest has a combination of good optics, big numbers, a clear message, and it is causing substantial distress to the centers of power.
The truckers’ protest is designed to make a mess of things. By tying up critical roadways in Canada’s capital and blocking ports of entry, it imposes economic pain across the country and brings attention to the cause.
But it is a peaceful protest, the kind of civil disobedience about which authorities used to wax poetic, when they agreed with the message and when the conflict was located in the distant past.
A True Protest
Real protests challenge the powerful. You can tell the truckers’ protest has some teeth, because Canada’s rulers have responded without mercy.
First, the Canadian media have unfairly maligned the protesters as extremists and racists. Then, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared an emergency, using Canada’s renamed war powers act. This would permit greater restrictions, even though local authorities have already threatened the freedom, livelihoods, and even the pets of the protesters. Finally, the banking industry has been given immunity to do the regime’s bidding, cutting off access to accounts and blocking transfers of funds from those supporting the protests.
The last point is the most ominous and the most instructive. For many years, one of the stated goals of globalist technocrats has been the end of paper money. Paper money supposedly is the fuel for black market transactions, money laundering, and other nefarious activities. It may be connected to all of those things, but critics cannot deny that it is the only means of true financial privacy.
Not merely a lack of financial privacy, but a lack of financial independence is the now explicit goal of the so-called Great Reset. In the words of managerial class cheerleaders: “You will own nothing, and you will be happy.”
The Dangers of the War on Cash
We have seen the consequences of this amorphous “terms of service” economy already in software, where many programs cannot work reliably without frequent updates, continuous internet connections, and yearly license fees. Similarly, enthusiasts hailed the rise of Uber and the gig economy as the harbingers of a new world of fluid contracts and ad hoc arrangements. But workers are more economically insecure than they were in the age of pensions and long-term employment.
Unlike the old ownership system, if you run afoul of the political-media-economic managerial class, your ability to eat, clothe yourself, and obtain shelter can all be taken away. What is happening in Canada is simply a clumsy way of doing what will become institutionalized if cash disappears.
Right now, the crackdowns are devoted only to a small number of troublemakers, where the chief enforcers are private companies doing the bidding of the managerial class. Thus, Alex Jones was removed from all social media in a combined action, and politically disfavored industries, like firearms dealers, find banks unwilling to accept their deposits or conduct transactions. The fundraising platform GoFundMe now picks and chooses causes based on its own leadership’s politics, allowing campaigns to raise bail for left-wing rioters in 2020, while cutting off funding for Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense and the Canadian truckers’ protest.
Canada is taking this approach further, inviting banks to freeze funds for everyone involved in the nonviolent truckers’ protest. If this precedent is embraced, dissidents in Western democracies will suffer the same fate as dissidents from communism in the last century. Then, political dissidents’ ability to obtain jobs, housing, and ration cards would be taken away, long after Stalin’s gulag system shut down. Deprived of all access to the economy—which was controlled by and inseparable from the Communist Party—dissidents were effectively unpersoned and impoverished, dependent on the charity of friends and family.
Their fate was a cautionary tale to those who might have otherwise found them persuasive.
Financial and Political Independence
Our lack of civic education has led to a grave misunderstanding of the role of private property in a free society. Property is not some fetish, a means to avoid zoning laws or taxes. Rather, it is supposed to enable a man and his family to have a small sphere of independence, where they can make a living and be shielded from the many rules and restraints of the public square.
Independence—financial, mental, and political—is the precondition of effective self-government. Without independence, voters are merely the tools of those who control them, by controlling access to jobs, housing, the financial system, or any other necessity.
One of the key features of the managerial system noted by James Burnham is that ownership and control of property are separated. While not having ownership, the managers end up having the real power, as property itself becomes more inchoate and abstract in advanced capitalism, such as corporate stock or electronic deposits in a financial institution. This fact of managerial control evolved into a philosophy of technocratic benevolence, as exemplified by the current mantra of “trusting the science.”
The managerialism that began as a Progressive Era reform to address the economic crises of the mid-20th century evolved into a system designed to crush financial and political independence. As I wrote after the lack of widespread protest following the 2020 election,
Part of the American people’s recent quiescence comes from their lack of economic independence. Over the last 100 years or so, we went from a nation of small farmers and shopkeepers to a nation of employees. The higher-paid employees are the managers. But all of their jobs depend upon the system—that is, on others. . . . Early America’s numerous small proprietors, farmers, and tradesmen were people who did not want to be ruled by anyone other than themselves and their laws. It turns out the new American system and the people it has produced are not terribly attached to these principles. They instead value predictability, safety, and status.
Being cut-off from the system of credentials, ladder-climbing, and steady income after being dependent upon it is to lose status and wealth. And the requirements of that system are increasingly onerous and humiliating, as anyone who has endured a diversity training session can attest. Over time, one’s expressed thoughts, opinions, and views tend to mimic and anticipate the ideological turns at the top. There is a reason so little interesting or useful comes out of corporate middle management, universities, or the government these days.
The Power of the Powerless
The courage of the Canadian truckers in the face of significant pressure is remarkable. One thing they reveal is that while the system has a lot of tools at its disposal—the freezing of money, arrest powers, and the power of propaganda and shame—it depends on obedience from people not much like those at the top, the truckers and power company lineman and nurses and other genuinely essential workers. When these workers do not comply and join forces, they can do grave damage to the system. After all, it was a worker’s strike in Poland that set in motion the downfall of Eastern European communism.
Political dissidents at every level must cultivate as much financial independence as possible. The more one must interface with the system, the more one’s personal and political independence is in jeopardy. For all of us on the dissident Right, maintaining independence comes from hard cash, low debt, modest habits, independent employment, and financial anonymity. These habits of life insulate one from the regime’s preferred mechanisms of control.
The venom and hostility of the Canadian regime should be a warning to us all. This is what the managerial Left in power will do to all of us if we do not begin to wrestle some control from them and preserve the little islands of independence we have, such as property rights, the right to bear arms, the right to use cash, and the right to self-employment.
In other words, we must resist this Great Reset with all our might, because the ultimate goal is greater control of our lives, conducted with even greater indifference to our concerns and desires.