April 20, 2022

Weaponizing Traffic Disruption: A Tactic for Left and Right

Both the extreme Left and Right (to use overly general categories) seem to have gravitated towards the same protest mechanism.

Here’s the Right:

 

Here’s the Left:

 

Canada’s contribution has gone viral:

Bloomberg discusses:

It’s not new:

Using machinery as a force multiplier in protest speech, in various ways, is almost as old as internal combustion itself. In the 1930s, Teamsters and taxi workers engaged in labor strikes made their points by refusing to drive; more recently, drivers of everything from Bay Area Ubers to Peruvian buses have found it effective to take their vehicles into the streets. After the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, U.S. truckers also convoyed against high gas prices and low speed limits, spawning a pop culture moment, a CB radio craze, and some hit songs.

But the Freedom Truckers and the Progressive Left inspire each other with variations:

The recent surge in right-wing traffic spectacles may have an unlikely inspiration: progressive protesters, far removed from the anti-vaxx fringe, who weren’t driving at all. …

Whether on foot or in the driver’s seat, demonstrators who take to the highway all recognize something similar: the centrality of the road and the right of movement. Interstate occupations make it impossible for people to ignore a given cause. And in a car-centric society where many towns and cities don’t have central parks and plazas, the street — the drag, the strip — serves as the public square. Those who want to thwart vaccine mandates and immigration policies or fossil fuels and climate disaster can agree that this commons is the best place to set up a soapbox. …

It’s likely a matter of time before the sides meet in the street.  It won’t be pretty:

…  the roads are raging, as an increasingly fractious populace takes out its frustrations on each other from behind the wheel — with partisan leaders such as Abbott not just egging them on but embracing their tactics. The streets are where scores are being settled …

Governments have no choice but to act in response to such tactics regardless of ideology.  The classic definition of the state – a monopoly on force – is challenged with the use of the truck as a weapon and the body as an obstruction to ‘peace, order and good government.’  Regardless of the issue or place on the political spectrum, these disruptions are a form of insurgency: the activists want to bypass or force elected representatives to do what they want outside the institutional and democratic systems of governance, or to overturn them.

That can’t end well.

 

 

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Comments

  1. A few bodies blocking traffic for 15 minutes until they’re arrested and carried away is annoying but isn’t quite the same as the joint QAnon / Canadian National Socialist Party intimidating capital residents for weeks on end. I think it’s a stretch to equate these two things.

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