To begin, I understand the frustration many people are feeling around the world after 2+ years of a global pandemic. It’s justified. I get the anger and fear for livelihoods many have. I get the concern for government mandates and many of Trudeau’s policies. But I decided to listen to several of the speakers at this so-called “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa and I found that there is an undeniable slant toward far-right, xenophobic and anti-science conspiracy theories. There also appears to be a strain of white nationalism present among a large swath of the protesters. No matter how they spin this, it isn’t just a “few bad apples.” Fascist elements loom large in this group.
But the most important feature of this “movement” are its founders. The leaders of this convoy (and profiteers) include Tamara Lich (Alberta separatist, Wexit Party), Benjamin Dichter (far right People’s Party of Canada), Patrick King (white nationalist). Grifter and peddler of nonsense JP Sears and the weepy chauvinist Jordan Peterson have also thrown in their support. One important thing to note here: not ONE of them is a trucker.
Without a doubt, the far-right has been effective at harnessing the frustrations of the masses. Drumming up support and raising money thanks to a social media ecosystem which often rewards propaganda and disinformation, while disappearing voices of rational discourse. It gives the facade of solidarity, but relishes in manipulating people’s base fears and prejudices which usually leads to scapegoating or worse. We have seen this kind of thing before. In Australia, and Germany, and the UK. And at the US Capitol in Washington a year ago. Is it any surprise, then, that Donald Trump has come out to endorse it?
To be sure, none of this is about support for workers. There are no demands for fair wages for the working class. No demands for more protections or ICU beds. But it has garnered the support of millionaires and billionaires. Elon Musk, Ben Shapiro, Sean Hannity and several more. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the character of this counterrevolution, I don’t know what will.
If there is anything to be learned from this and other demonstrations around the world, it is that the far-right is gaining momentum from the exasperation of ordinary people. It is therefore more important than ever before for the left to come together and respond to it in a coherent way that endorses solidarity with the working class. If we don’t, we will only have ourselves to blame for what ends up happening.
Kenn Orphan, January 2022
*Photo courtesy of Newsweek.