After months of uninterrupted growth in state power, what we are now witnessing in the disputes rocking the Australian Open, Spotify, Marvel and the trucking world are spontaneous meeting engagements in the culture wars. It’s like a chain reaction of angry people setting off other angry people. The singular thing about this development is that it would have been impossible six months ago. A psychological barrier has been breached and a taboo has fallen. The potential of this to create a cascade is considerable.
Most people psychologically want to get along, especially nonpoliticals, unless grievance passes a threshold. People are reluctant to complain about bad food in a diner but once it starts, if the grub stinks, a chorus soon erupts. The name for this phenomenon is preference falsification. According to the economist Timur Kuran, it is the act of misrepresenting one’s wants to avoid giving offense. We lie to preserve the peace until we can lie no longer. “A common effect of preference falsification is the preservation of widely disliked structures. Another is the conferment of an aura of stability on structures vulnerable to sudden collapse.”
When the sham collapses it crumbles catastrophically because the psychological inhibitions are down. A textbook example is the Canadian trucker convoy which began as a protest against border crossing vaccine mandates. The news blacked it out until it grew so big that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau evacuated to an undisclosed location to avoid what only hours before the Narrative didn’t admit existed. Ironically the blackout legitimized the protest. By then the convoy had become a vehicle not only for vaccine grievances but a general outpouring of discontent. As the New York Times wrote, “Thousands of protesters gathered in front of Canada’s Parliament on Saturday in a raucous demonstration, which began as a movement by truckers to challenge a government vaccination mandate but spread to include a wide array of antigovernment grievances.”
It was the gigantic, vague, and leaderless character of the protest in the West that put pundits on edge. They didn’t know what to make of it — they’re not even sure what “it” is. Facile conspiracy theories cannot explain “it”; and although there are personalities associated with recent events, the usual suspects are not obviously in charge. They too are hanging on in the wings awaiting developments and wondering where it will go. In the absence of any cogent identification, the establishment has fallen back on stock epithets: ‘Nazi’ and ‘racist’. The BBC reports:
Mr Trudeau said: “Freedom of expression, assembly and association are cornerstones of democracy, but Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials are not.” The prime minister refused to meet protestors.
But he acknowledged them. Whether or not the Canadian truckers are successful in obtaining their demands, they have already undeniably wrung from the establishment the right of recognition, emerging from the shadow of a news blackout to an entity worthy of prime ministerial hatred. PMs don’t hide from something they’d scrape off their shoe. Whatever they may tactically signify, the truckers are almost certainly part of something larger abroad in the world, the full extent of which we have not yet seen, still taking shapes unguessed.
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