The Gathering Storm in the West

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

Canada is now governed by absurdism, and it is symptomatic of an ailing Western elite.

Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week invoked martial law to arrest and financially destroy truckers on the charge that their largely peaceful protests are “dismantling the Canadian economy” that had already been dismantled for two years under some of the most draconian lockdowns in the world. The trucker “sect,” Trudeau added, is guilty of felonious “unacceptable views.” But his rhetoric still cannot square the circle of demonizing vital workers while conceding he cannot run his country without them. 

He has invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in the law’s 34-year history, even as the highly infectious Omicron variant wanes after spreading natural immunity and yet proving relatively mild in its effects. Trudeau has neither science nor good governance on his side, especially given how civil the protests have been. The truckers, who more or less work in solitary cabs, are better informed about the “science” and are themselves mostly vaccinated.

Whether by accident or intent, the truckers have now become iconic of far larger issues. Their resistance to government vaccination mandates transcends them. And so, they are playing the role of the proverbial straw that may break the back of a once compliant Canadian citizenry, burdened by over two years of masks, lockdowns, and vaccination mandates. 

They are Howard Beales yelling, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” or the iconic Tunisian peddler Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi whose self-immolation prompted the Arab Spring, or Tank Man who stood erect in Tiananmen as an oncoming tank finally swerved around him. The truckers are saying to the Canadian people, “Watch and we will kindly show you why you always privately suspected that this prime minister and his ilk were frauds.” As in the case of earlier exasperated rebels, we do not know the exact consequences that will follow, only that the leaders who targeted the dissidents will likely end up worse than their targets. 

The North American public has endured almost daily nonsensical changes in “follow the science” state edicts, as well as vast asymmetries between those who profited and those who were hurt by the government reactions to the pandemic. On the one hand, Trudeau threatens to use his state powers to ruin financially the protestors and their supporters. On the other hand, the prime minister brags that he participated in the Canadian versions of the BLM protests in summer 2020. Here in the United States, the combined BLM/antifa riots of summer 2020 caused the greatest property damage claims of any riot in U.S. history, around $2 billion. The violence eventually led to over 35 deaths, the torching of a federal courthouse, police precinct, and historic Washington D.C. church, over 1,500 police injuries–and, mysteriously, very few indictments of the some 14,000 people arrested. Is Trudeau’s point to stress that destroying things make protestors more authentically left-wing and thus exempt, while mostly peaceful protests lose deterrence and therefore can be crushed? 

The North American Left justifies such asymmetry both in crude terms and in ideological gobbledly-gook. A Trudeau official called the truckers “Trump supporters,” as if that label has any relevance other than to justify the government’s violation of civil liberties. Does Trudeau think a “Trump supporter” necessarily polls worse than a “Trudeau supporter”? The foppish man who in his youth thought it cool to be photographed sporting blackface is quick to demonize a multiethnic and multiracial protest as “racist”?

Left-wing administrations in Toronto and Washington feel that the supposed higher social goals of the antifa and BLM violent protests (that purportedly advance their own political agendas) warrant exemptions of every sort. More than 1,000 U.S. healthcare workers went on record in 2020 justifying street protestors’ flagrant violations of strict COVID-19 lockdowns, at the height of the pre-vaccination pandemic.  

We were lectured that curbing any BLM protest might cause mental health problems. Should noncomplying truckers and their boosters try that ruse?  

The asymmetric application of punishment depends solely on the degree to which any given violation aids or detracts from left-wing agendas. A postelection Time magazine piece by Molly Ball gave the game away. She bragged how CEOs and plutocrats conspired to modulate the pulse of the Antifa/BLM violence to ensure calm for Joe Biden’s election—and more or less summed up the larger progressive elite impulse (“There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans.”)  

COVID accentuated a larger and growing cultural, political, social, and economic split in the West. Partly, the fissures were brought on by the displacements of globalization. Partly they appeared with the final dominance of a huge class of credentialed government apparatchiks. And partly the split derives from the paradox of governments inviting millions of non-Western immigrants into Europe and North America from impoverished, and dystopian societies. Their inequality upon arrival, supposedly predicated on race rather than class, then becomes political nourishment for progressive redistributive agendas that otherwise had little political support among their citizen populations.  

Again, the truckers symbolize this gap, in an age when elites do not care much for class divides, only racial distinctions as a way of demonizing the less well-off.

After all, those who smear the truckers are mostly of the zoom and laptop class. Their chief agendas during the last two years of crisis were sheltering in place to avoid contact with anyone, while zooming and skyping to maintain and boost their already generous incomes. Few like Trudeau ever wondered how the elite remained fully employed, but rarely present at work—much less why millions of others were expected to scoff at the virus and come physically to work, while their incomes often dived or ended due to government lockdown policies.  

The muscular classes enjoyed no such exemptions. Their kids went to public schools that were shut down or required masks. Parents lost incomes as they stayed home to watch children that tenured teachers would not teach. Truckers had no such margin of safety or security, but were out among the public delivering food, fuel, clothing, and the appurtenances of the Western comfortable lifestyle. In our current inflationary spiral, they earned a bit more, while inflation made them poorer, while those they served earned far more.  

The truckers remind Western audiences that modern progressivism equates muscular labor and hourly wage compensation with a sort of Neanderthalism. That is, the unfortunate clingers supposedly never quite understood globalization, much less how an 8-billion-person market rewards those who type on keyboards and, in relative terms, punishes the supposedly less aware who physically deliver, fix, make, and repair things.  


DAVE CHAN via Getty Images

We can almost reduce the divide to the embarrassing optics of a pouty-face pajama-boy prime minister, with a pompadour coiffure, issuing threats to calm, but beefy and calloused workers. Each time Trudeau speaks to his nation, the visual message is that any of the truckers could do a better job than he in both setting and explaining policy, while he would become a helpless weeping child if placed behind the wheel of a big rig. 

Somehow the elite class extrapolates moral worth from its rigged superiority in financial compensation. And given its economic and cultural leverage—social media, entertainment, academia, professional sports, the corporate boardroom, Wall Street—it has institutionalized the idea that, in circular fashion, the more the credentialed and better compensated, the more the elite deserve even more influence on how societies should run in a manner that mostly benefits themselves.  

Paradoxes arise constantly. Government grandees are caught without masks at tony restaurants. Climate change demagogues fly private jets. Pro-teacher union, anti-charter and anti-home school zealots ensure their children stay in private schools. The gated estate crowd ridicule the fossilized idea of a border wall. Professional bureaucrats routinely lie under oath to Congress and to federal investigators without any consequences whatsoever—as John Brennan, James Clapper, Anthony Fauci, and Andrew McCabe can attest. 

To explain California Governor Gavin Newsom sporting about without a mask at elite gatherings, we are supposed to assume that his class deserves exemption from the ramifications of its ideology—in order to travel faster, sleep better, have a larger support network, and relax in deservedly larger homes and gardens—all so that they could better save us chumps and clueless dregs from ourselves.

Our elites like Trudeau and Newsom seem angry they are unfairly underappreciated by their clueless beneficiaries. The latter supposedly never appreciate the needed remedies for climate change, the thought cleansing required to eliminate systemic racism, and the mind reprogramming demanded for true diversity, equity, and inclusion thinking.

Instead, the losers cling to unwoke and incorrect notions that class, not race, remains the real postmodern divide, that printing money does not make us richer, that a nation without a border is an amorphous nothing, that affordable gasoline and diesel fuel (not wind and solar) for now keep the West alive, that a fetus is alive at conception, that biology largely determines gender, that assimilation and integration are the only cures for tribalism, and that the law reflects a natural innate morality, and should not be applied on the basis of perceived victims manipulated by it, or the supposed victimizers manipulating it. 

That wound of an imperious but counterfeit elite has suppurated too long beneath a smooth scab. And abruptly, the truckers at least tore some of it off.  

What is now following is amplification and clarification of the Western divide. We the public are at the global theater. And we are watching a tragicomedy. On stage, a petulant cast of clueless Justin Trudeaus and bumbling Joe Bidens simply cannot fathom why few anymore are listening to them. More and more North Americans are perplexed why anyone would wish to follow such unimpressive mental and physical figures along with all the toxic hypocrisies they embody and weaponize.

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33 thoughts on “The Gathering Storm in the West”

  1. Problem is the same of the Soviet so-called citizen 30 yrs ago. What is the matter if we all know their theater and see though their lies? They just treat the reality as if their narrative is the only valid and nobody is doing too much about it.
    I always use the Soviet Citizen sample because the people behind USSR and European Soviet Sphere of the 20th century’s second half are the same ppl behind international forums and or their pupils.

  2. I don’t understand why the truckers have not responded to the government harassment -especially meddling with their finances- with a general strike (and with lawsuits against the banks)? Remember how Western Europe was almost paralyzed after WWII and then it was simply about wages in the face of post-war inflation. Why no comparable response over confiscation (!) of bank accounts?

    I do not understand the helplessness of so many in the a face of such an overt existential threats. I mean, once they confiscate your money what is left to lose to keep you out of the streets? Are we now all citizens of Nero’s Rome?

      1. Lack of legal recourse is not a problem whatsoever. If Canadian truckers simply refused to work, the rapid collapse of Trudeau’s government would extract far far more compensation for the nation than any court could grant.

  3. Yes, incisive and brilliant . . . I feel a little guilty that, for my part, I’ve mostly just switched from the Times to the Wall Street Journal . . . every now and then, I reveal my switch to colleagues (so far, so good) . . . I wish to retain my friendships . . . I’m fairly sure I’ll get more opportunities . . . All the Best, JG

  4. Bravo, Mr Hanson! Very, very well said!! The technocrats have revealed their contempt for those who do not toady to them and dare to challenge their theater of the absurd.. I dare say none of them have most likely done an honest days work in their lives as they used to say, but have become the “New Aristicracy” and we are their subjects. Im continuously reminded of the French Revolution as these effete snobs of our present so called “ruling class” set themselves up to discover how real men and women whove become fed up have dealt with their types through thousands of years of human society.. and it aint gonna be pretty…

  5. This article by VDH really goes to the underlying issues. But we do need to name this phenomenon: Justin Trudeau is a true Communist. He admires Castro and the rulers of China. His father was a Communist. He was elected Prime Minister, but only received a fraction of the popular vote. Under a parliamentary format, minority parties can form a government and elect a PM. Moreover, we now see why it is wrong to violate the constitution even in the face of a virus emergency. Once you give such power to the government, the government will not stop with the emergency. The government will use this power again based on how it defines an emergency. The use of government power in Canada is scary and it forebodes what could happen in the U.S. based on how the U.S. Government has increased it power and reach during the Covid lockdown. But VDH has pointed out above that the communism in Canada and the U.S. is American Communism, or American Marxism (via Mark Levin). Just as Mao reinvented communism and Marxism for China, Trudeau and Biden are reinventing communism here and now.

  6. Tragically, what is so crystal clear to so many of us, what Prof. Hanson articulates so well, is apparently lost on enormous numbers of the very victims of elite disdain who should be most infuriated by it. Polls reportedly show that a majority of Canadians have, against all logic, accepted Pajama Boy’s characterization of the truckers and support his violent and illegal crushing of their protest and destruction of their lives. Australians have quietly accepted the return of their magnificent society to its penal colony origins. And once-proud and individualistic Americans have, in incomprehensible numbers, allowed our lives to be upended and our civil society destroyed by a class of morally bankrupt and scientifically illiterate, smug, self-righteous and utterly incompetent fools, “led” by the nastiest, most corrupt, most pathologically dishonest and stupidest creature ever to infest the Washington swamp.

    We desperately see, in Loudoun County, in the Virginia 2021 election, in Democrat resignations from Congress, a sign that Americans are coming to their senses. Lord, I hope so. But there are far too many who remain utterly narcotized by “progressive” claptrap, too subservient to Fauci’s ridiculous nonstop panic porn, to blinded by Trump derangement, who will obediently vote “D” in November. Our survival is by no means assured.

  7. This a very accurate, straight-forward portrayal of our current political
    environment; couple this situation with its potentials to the aggressive
    apparent plans of foreign adversarial nations, and we certainly now face
    multiple very serious challenges to the peaceful, status quo with only, in
    response – mostly a confused, weak and self-centered, leadership – aloof
    to the general, broadly held public concerns. Disasters aplenty are afoot,
    and now in play, with very troubling potential outcomes for us all at this
    very moment. Victor Davis Hanson is sounding the Clarion Call – here…

  8. Thank you Professor,

    All of this seems to fit neatly with the WEF Great Reset. Language and thought are programmed. This produces socially “acceptable” reasons to censor, or exclude otherwise well respected neighbors.

    Klaus wrote the “Great Reset”, and “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. He presciently references exactly the term “SkyNet” in it.

    Look into WEF “Shapers”. The 10,000+ pedigreed professionals at every level of corporate/government positions. Trudeau is one, so is his Deputy PM and Finance Minister Christia Freeland. So is Pete Buttigeig.

    Soft totalitarianism.

  9. Outstanding, thank you. Always a pleasure and an enlightenment to read the latest from VDH, the foremost and most essential public intellectual of our time. Your book The Dying Citizen is the one I recommend the most.

  10. Up until Trudeau imposed the Emergency Act, the only offences committed by the truckers were municiplal by-law offences related to parking and noise. I live in Ottawa and went down every other day. I saw a party atmosphere, smiling people, laughing, dancing in the street, speeches children in bouncy castles. A most unusual demonstration with no violence or damage to property. The Parliament buildings just a stone’s throw away remained untouched. The leftist elite were expecting a Jan 6th style asssult on Parliament. When it didn’t happen I believe they were actually disappointed. The passivity of the truckers ruined their expectations! The lack of violence proved a greater indictment of the government’s moral authority then any physical attack might have been. Eventually Trudeau had to manufacture a crisis to justify the police crackdown. How many lives of ordinary Canadians will now be destroyed because of that?

  11. “We the public are at the global theater. And we are watching a tragicomedy. On stage, a petulant cast of clueless…”
    Tell that to the supposedly laughing victims!

  12. Mr. Hanson,

    This is all great to discuss the topic but what do freedom loving people do about the ever enlarging State and tyranny?

    In order to defeat the opponent, the opponent must be named. Trudeau is a puppet for the Great Reset / New World Order. Tucker, Rogan, Glen Beck and so many others have awaken to the global agenda to turn the West into technologically advanced authoritarian states like China with a social credit score, which Canada is implementing now with the ability to freeze bank accounts of “wrong thinkers.” Please, call the opponent out by name: The Great Reset / New World Order under the World Economic Forum.

    The World Economic Forum and Davos Group do not hide their intentions. Go listen to Klaus Schwab talk about how the group has “infiltrated” Western democracies. Canada, Austria, Australia and New Zealand are testing grounds for dictatorships with the ultimate goal of bringing the US under the same regime.

  13. Thank you for your intentional style of writing, I am in a constant state of awe at the quality you can produce considering the quantity of your production. Each word appears chosen to balance within the article’s concept, your observations and maintaining the enthusiasm of your readers to challenge themselves to become more eloquent in their own statements of opinion.

    The magic line today “suppurated too long beneath a smooth scab” I am certain, will be clumsily mishandled in various attempts of re-use. I gladly admit that on first read, I thought it a mistype, but then upon consideration of the source and its author I reread the line with more focus, and then reached for a dictionary to become familiar with the newest word in my vocabulary! Suppurate

    Thank you for elevating commentary on our societal condition to an honorable profession.

  14. Thanks VDH for your perspective. I’m sure that this was written before the more ominous event occurred yesterday. The Canadian Parliament voted by a wide margin to EXTEND Trudeau’s emergency powers. Thus the problems for Canadians are much worse than I perceived. Hopefully this protest will awaken their citizens to exactly what perils lie ahead, if changes, big changes, are not made.

  15. The fact that the Canadian parliament just confirmed the “emergency” is a true confirmation of the sad state of democracy in Canadastan.

  16. We should understand that this process initiated in 1913 with the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which is a private bank serving the interest of the bankers. Moreover, in the past 2 years a massive NLP (Natural Language Programming) has been feed to the public. This is Not Natural Language Processing, but Programming. This NLP have been developed and perfected in the 1980’s by the CIA and the KGB. So when you understand these two factors you will understand what is happening now. It is the narrative or narratives…….We got to fight it! Thanks Victor Davis Hanson for being with us. I read some of your books.

  17. This reminds me a little of Julius Caesar. At the end of the Roman Republic there were crises that supposedly arose that threatened Rome and Caesar responded by declaring himself dictator and ended the triumvirate. Trudeau has effectively done the same. The end result was the fall of the Republic because Caesar was assassinated and his nephew Octavian later renamed Augustus took control and reformed Rome into an empire. It will be curious to see if Trudeau follows in a similar path

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