Democracy Comes On Eighteen Wheels

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Half Canadian

I need to begin by mentioning that my mother was Canadian. She was a missionary in Japan after the Second World War, and there she met my dad, an American naval officer, in the course of his involvement in the Korean War. How they got together is quite the story, but let us not get sidetracked. What matters for us today is that a Canadian and an American did in fact get together, and so I grew up in a home that was very much aware of “all things Canada.”

As a result, I have to say that I had been quite dismayed and astonished at the apparent docility of Canadians when it came to the recent shenanigans and mountebankeries of their government. There was an occasional pastor here and there who kicked the way a Christian pastor ought to kick, and I was really proud of them, but for the most part, everybody up there seemed to have graduated from their compliance seminars, their HR training, their North Vietnamese struggle sessions, or whatever it is we are supposed to call them now.

And then . . . and then . . . thousands upon thousands of trucks in Ottawa, just a-tooting their horns.

What happened? What caused this? What was the occasion that enabled the Canadian side of me to turn to my American side with a sneer and say, “Not only did we fill up our nation’s capital city with eighteen-wheelers and cabs, and not only did we send our head of state scrambling into hiding, with a lame excuse to boot, but we did it way before you guys did. Gadsden flag, bah!”

Preference Cascade

So how did this happen?

This whole thing is a textbook example of a preference cascade.

To summarize, a preference cascade happens when a person who believes that his dislike of the regnant nonsense is a dislike that is limited to “just him.” Even so, even if he is the only crazy one, he finally gets to the point one day where he is not going to take it any more, and so he declares himself. One day he erupts, and hoists the Jolly Roger. Much to his astonishment, there was a host of people around him who had also just about had it.

In an act of solitary courage, Martin Luther finished nailing his theses to the door of the church, only to turn around to see a good half of Europe standing there, cheering and waving their hats.

A preference cascade looks like nothing is happening but a slight drizzle, and then some more drizzle the next day, and the next also, but at some point the whole California hillside comes down and buries your car. The thing comes to a head slowly, but it makes its appearance suddenly. It does not arrive quickly, but when it arrives, it is sudden.

An American Version

A bunch of American truckers were irritated by the way my Canadian side was mouthing off the way it was, and so naturally they decided that we needed to do something comparable. I think that is fair enough, but it is important for us to acknowledge the sheer brilliance of the tactic, and admit on all hands that we here in Gondor are greatly indebted to the Truckers of Rohan.

So of course, plans are now afoot to put together a convoy of trucks here in America to do the same thing to the District of Columbia, and perhaps we ought to use the plural and say convoys, and from what I am reading online they are planning for these multiple convoys to head toward the Trouble Spot no later than March 1.

What to Demand

This began over vaccine mandates at the Canadian/US border, with unvaccinated truckers being required to isolate for a couple weeks when they came back, which of course makes it impossible for them to earn their living, which of course was the point. The point was compliance, and not public safety. The point has been made quite tellingly that the last two years have not taught us all that much about how viruses behave, but it has taught us a great deal about how governments behave.

The Canadian truckers will have won if they obtain a simple revocation of the border-crossing requirements. That is what moved them to act, and if they go back with anything less than that, then they will have been thwarted. But if they get that, and they must not leave until they get that, then it will be a victory simpliciter.

Inspired by events to the north, the American convoys are in a position to insist on a bit more. They should demand an end to all measures related to the COVID panic—passports, mandates, lockdowns, masks on airplanes, censorship, travel restrictions, all of that hoohah. They should seek a presidential proclamation that calls on all Americans to go back to 2018 behavior virus-wise. They should require the formation of a presidential task force to report back to the American people the true costs of the lockdowns and the vaccine reactions, and no one who had a hand in any of this should be eligible to serve on that task force. That task force must be structured in such a way as to make a whitewashed report impossible. And the last thing they should demand is not one more peep out of Dr. Fauci, unless it concerns his deposition before a grand jury.

And they should say that the honking will continue until morale improves.

The Culprit: Our Technocratic Elite

When I use the word elite here, let us begin with the recognition that there is not very much that is elite about them. But they are clean and bright, and well-to-do, and they graduated from some Ivy League college or other, and early on they were persuaded of the “neutrality of competence” by the whole process of indoctrination that they went though. They have come to believe that what counts is computer modeling, and data supplemented with more data, and managerial expertise, and decisions by the qualified, and centralized control so that enlightened decisions might be made.

These blue collar truck drivers, “who know not the law,” represent a grand mystery to the managerial elite. Instead of viewing them as eyewitness testimony of the actual downstream consequences of the government’s inept decrees, they are instead viewed as interlopers—people who want to waltz into the decision-making process without having obtained the requisite expertise.

These two groups are divided by a chasm, and across this chasm there is no possibility of communication. According to one group, the other is too uneducated to know what they are talking about. According to the other group, the opposing group is too credentialed to know what they are talking about. They are credentialed well beyond the limits of their intelligence.

And because their foundational assumptions make communication impossible, and because in addition the two groups have developed a deep antipathy for one another, there is only one possible outcome—conflict.

And when it comes down to the point of conflict, the truckers are discovering—because they are the ones who deliver food to everybody, including to high-end Georgetown restaurants—that they have the upper hand. Not only do they have the upper hand with regard to the logistical realities, on this particular question, they have the upper hand when it comes to reason, intelligence, and the actual facts on the ground.

But as the BLM riots demonstrated, there is nothing particularly virtuous about a mob. Direct democracy of this sort might result in good stuff happening, but it might also result in terrible stuff happening. One crowd is calling out “Hosanna to the Son of David,” while another crowd is screaming “crucify Him.” The two groups do not share any kind of “crowd solidarity.” In the same way, there have been good kings and there have been evil kings. The mere fact of monarchy justifies nothing. As has been recently argued, the Christian faith is a patriarchy, with the ultimate object of our worship being God the Father. But the devil’s kingdom is also a patriarchy—he too is a father, albeit the father of lies. There is nothing inherently virtuous about the mere fact of patriarchy.

The Perils of Direct Democracy

So the Founders of our Republic founded a republic, not a democracy. The idea of a pure democracy gave them the constitutional fantods. They built our civic house with a special rumpus room for democracy to play in, that padded room being the House of Representatives—but for the rest, they were extremely cautious to surround everything with hedges and protections . If it wasn’t a check, it was a balance, and if it wasn’t a balance, it was a check.

At the same time, they budgeted for a strong aristocratic element, with those elements placed behind firewalls also. Of necessity, a ruling class was going to develop over time, and nobody should resent it. That is just the way the world is, and as long as you keep a close eye on it, things can run smoothly. But aristocracy means “rule by the best,” and I would ask you to follow me closely here, aristocratic elements work best when the best who rule actually are the best. It has to be actual competence, and not a conceited assumption of competence, swollen beyond all normal bounds by large amounts of Harvard helium.

So it is possible for a ruling class to become so diseased and so corrupt that it might even provoke a scion of well-bred aristocrats—someone like William F. Buckley—to say that he would rather be governed by the first two hundred names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard University. The reason he would prefer this is that he would do a lot better under the governance of the former than under the governance of the latter.

But mobs are made up of sinners also, and in the history of the world, mobs have done any number of bad things. Each situation must be weighed on the merits, and evaluated distinctly. However, in this conflict, the truckers represent a common sense ethos that has been insulted in countless ways over a number of years, and the ones doing the insulting have been living inside a bubble. They have been living inside gated communities—let us call them Hollywood, Manhattan, and Martha’s Vineyard—for so long that they have no idea what the world outside is actually like. They run their computer models, they formulate their big ideas, they scratch their fellow Yale classmates between the shoulder blades, they receive the same in turn, and they have their food and other necessities trucked in.

One Final Caution

We are in a pretty predicament. Depending on just how diseased the establishment is, and how entrenched they are in their attachment to that disease, we have to be prepared for two possibilities, both of which would put the fat in the fire.

One is that they might try a power move, attempting to crack down on the truckers the way they cracked down on the J6 protesters. The fact that there are thousands of hours of surveillance videos from Capitol security on that day that have not been released, and which the authorities are fighting to keep from being released, is simply wicked. If they attempted anything comparable in this situation, then we will be in full-blown crisis mode. And we should make no mistake. In my estimation, they are evil enough, and cornered enough, that if they thought they could do something like that and get away with it, they would do it. They have already done multiple things that have been transparently awful, and have sought to brazen it out. We should not assume that they will be restrained by any innate sense of nobility. No, they will be restrained, if at all, by how many trucks there are.

The other possible consequence is a bit more of a wild card. This convoy protest is being planned as a protest, and it is not an attempt at a coup. But it will be represented as an attempted coup, just like J6 was, and sometimes purveyors of propaganda can spook themselves. They believe that white supremacists are actually driving their misogynistic rigs toward the Temple of Equality in order to burn it down. So in circumstances like this, we should not rule out the possibility of a simple governmental collapse. Justin Trudeau has actually given us a glimpse of how that could happen. But it is one thing if he goes to ground, pretending to have COVID, or to have twisted his ankle, whatever it was.

It would be quite another if he flew to Ecuador and asked for asylum.