The Warning: Truckers Up North

A blog writer, among other things, returns from a hiatus forced by family and domestic circumstances beyond his control and anybody’s nightmares. And what does he find?

A bunch of truck-drivers and others going nuts clogging streets and making mayhem in, of all places, Canada. The location wouldn’t be surprising if it were a demonstration over rights or freedoms because Canada’s Left has always been a powerful and super-active one.

This thing is over vaccine mandates. That’s the phony issue of the day for the fascist movement and, while there were undoubtedly some misguided people who were “genuinely concerned” about mandates (who wouldn’t be?), these demonstrations were organized by fascist organizations up north and funded in part by fascists from the good ole U.S.A.

The Canadian cops have dispersed the demonstrators but not before they spent two full weeks wreaking havoc on traffic in major Canadian cities while also harassing resident and passers-by who were wearing masks with insults, threats and, in some reported cases, minor assaults.

A picture emerges. This wasn’t just a demonstration like the ones we do aimed at the powerful who are wielding their power unjustly; this was aimed at just plain people to make a point, a threat, a warning. This was an exercise in muscle-flexing and, I fear, a trial run for what we are going to see here in Canada’s southern neighbor. Soon.

We’re not prepared for it.

What’s worth thinking about?

Well, obviously these people are acting like complete nincompoops, blind and deaf to any information that might contradict their paranoid vision of reality. In short, as we say down here in Sunset Park, “they acting crazy”. With people in this state, there can be no conversation because debate requires a commonly held set of facts or at least the willingness to review each other’s. You’re not getting that from this crowd. At this point, “dialogue” with the Right just isn’t possible or, at least, worth the time.

I learned a long time ago: if you can’t find a way to talk to some people, find a way to protect yourself from them.

That’s relevant because the other thing that I picked up is more practically ominous and more threatening to us: these are people who are critical to the supply chain and products of a massive change that is taking place in how that supply is moved.

There was a time when product movement was in the hands of an army of truckers and freight movers (including dock-workers) who were employed by companies and unionized. For sure, there were independent truckers but they, too, enjoyed the benefits and protections of the “covenant” negotiated the trucking industry by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as well as the dock-workers unions on both coasts. This was in the 1970s.

But capitalism was changing and it was seeking a more flexible and much less costly supply line. It had already greatly advanced the automation of production, lowering costs and practically destroying the strength of the industrial working class. Now it turned its attention to consumption by turning product sales into adventures in ever-larger stores (and malls!!) and depending on individually contracted truckers while cutting the power of trucking companies and the union that organized them.

It did this in part by busting the Teamsters, arresting its most important leader (Jimmy Hoffa) and putting several of its most important locals into receivership. Then it went about pushing more and more product transport assignments to independent truck-drivers: they were cheaper, easier to exploit and more “independent” of collective thinking.

Now, mind you, Hoffa was a power-hungry thug and he was definitely mobbed-up. He was not the kind of labor leader we need. But he was a great labor leader who built a union that was, at its height, in virtual control of the movement of products.

Revolutionary socialists have always said that if workers could take control of production, we’d have a revolution. Well, what if they could take control of product movement? If we didn’t get that point at the time, the capitalist class surely did and they busted that Teamster union with speed and viciousness.

Without union product control, transport companies could now hire independent truckers for less money and more hours. Independent labor has two characteristics: it’s isolated and weak and, to the point, is susceptible to extreme fascist thinking. In fact, some truckers have established a culture within transport of extreme right-wing thinking, conspiracy mongering and fascist activity. The neo-fascist organizations you see around today have an inordinate percentage of members who are truckers. Listen carefully when the news identifies some of these people, like the Jan. 6 attackers: in every batch of names and livelihoods mentioned, it seems like at least one is a truck-driver.

Well, then, what if? What if what happened was not only a demonstration against the Trudeau government (which is certainly was) but a rehearsal or maybe a test-run for what the Right might do in the United States? I’m not only talking about bringing traffic to a halt in U.S. cities. I’m talking about disrupting supply of goods in order to punish people and beat us into some kind of submission. That’s what fascists do; it’s in their play-book.

What if what we saw on the streets of Canadian cities was, in part, a dry-run for one of the tactics of the coming civil war? What if the civil war in this country isn’t a huge war with two discernible sides (like the one we had in the 19th century). What if it’s a series of roving, disrupting and increasingly threatening events and conflicts? What if it’s like that demonstration?

Tell me. Have you ever thought of a more compelling argument for organizing people and supporting union organizing? The Teamsters, by the way, have just elected a new leadership that promises are least some reform and more militancy.

Well, we’ll see but I have to tell you: if that’s even remotely true, it could not come at a more appropriate time.

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