The Archetype of the hard-working, dissident Trucker is Making a Comeback
The Snowman: “What the hell do we wanna go to Texas for and haul beer back here?”
The Bandit: “For the good old American life; for the money, for the glory, and for the fun.”
— Smokey and The Bandit, 1977
In December of 1973, when the US was gripped by the OPEC energy crisis, fuel rationing and national speed limits — amongst other limitations and deprivations — were foisted upon the American people. A trucker from Kansas named J.W. Edwards had had enough — he parked his rig on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania, called out to his fellow truckers on the CB radio and began a strike that lasted several months, thus capturing the imagination of the country.
The 1970s were a different America. In the wake of the tumultuous ’60s and the wind-down of The Vietnam War, regular Americans were looking to re-assert a cultural identity rooted in archetypes closer to the founding, representing the frontier spirit that had animated them long before. It was into that cultural void that the American trucker stepped in.
The effect the strike had on the culture of the time, which was already beginning to express a general disdain for ‘The System’, was monumental. Films such as Smokey and The Bandit and Convoy were wildly successful; country music stars churned out songs and ballads about truckers. A relatively obscure singer named Bill Fries Jr. rebranded himself as CW McCall, releasing albums titled Wolf Creek Pass and Rubber Duck, and reached the top of the charts with the legendary song “Convoy,” which was to inspire the film of the same name. People everywhere bought CB Radios to speak with truckers and amongst themselves out on the road.
The American Trucker, specifically the independent owner-operator, glorified in all of this cultural output, was an expressed archetype of what America was supposed to be about — independence, hard work, grinding it out against distant powers while doing right by your family through making an honest living.
In Year of Our Lord 2022, that glorification has turned to denigration and scorn.
On July 1st, 1980, then-President Jimmy Carter signed into law The Motor Carrier Act of 1980. From an economic standpoint, the act was seen as a necessary reform to the trucking industry, whose restrictions on new market entrants and pricing were controlled by the government. While those reforms did open the market up, made transportation of goods cheaper, and can be argued to have had a net positive benefit on the wider economy, they also came at a cost. Increased competition led to a race to the bottom in wages, and further economic liberalism seen under the Reagan administration took its toll on union membership and the wages of many working-class Americans.
As the ’80s rolled into the ’90s, and The Clinton Years saw even more of these types of economic attacks on the working class. Truckers were amongst those who got hit the hardest. Many began to exit the industry in droves, either finding new jobs or taking early retirement. Yet freight still needed to move, and trucking companies had to come up with creative methods to lure new drivers into the business, as a new paradigm of ‘driver churn’ had taken over the industry. Some trucking companies’ entire business model is built around the fact that they will lose over 100% of their drivers annually. How were they going to replace them all?
In his 2016 book The Big Rig: Trucking and The Decline of The American Dream, Penn State Ph.D. researcher and author Steve Viscelli — who had spent a decade studying the labor economics of the business — examined the methods by which large corporate trucking companies continued to operate despite the ridiculous turnover rates. His findings were illuminating: trucking companies often set up their own ‘truck driving schools’ where they tie students up with high-interest loans in order to acquire a license and then force those new hires into exclusivity arrangements, often before it is even clear that the new drivers will make it as truckers. If not, ‘CDL Mills’ take all sorts of government grants and subsidies to pay for all of these new drivers, many of whom wash out, not possessing the skills, intestinal fortitude, nor the particular personality required for a life on the road. This paradigm unnaturally debases everyone’s wages, further eroding the quality of a person who might want to hit the road for a life of whatever adventure is still left to be found in modern times.
Wasting taxpayer money on subsidizing trucking corporations is not the only way in which the state has attacked and undermined the once noble and desired occupation, though. In efforts which are billed as ‘improving safety’, truckers the world over have been subject to intrusive surveillance and enforcement systems — roadside Safe-T-Cameras in Australia, drug screening, driver-facing cameras in many trucks, and most famously, the Electronic Logging Device Mandate in the United States. This mandate was lawyered around the Fourth Amendment of The Constitution, and requires truckers — many of whom live in their rigs, which can be argued to be their homes — to be monitored by federal authorities.
Who would want to continue working in this job, given the suppressed wage floor, and your life being monitored by the worst type of Human Resources Department despots, or the petty tyrants of the administrative state?
Attacks on truckers are also rooted in our deformed and debased modern culture. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 94% of all truckers in the United States are men, many of whom live in ‘Deep Red’ rural America, and thus are perceived largely as Trump supporters, i.e. ‘Deplorables’. Mainstream media has of course no sympathy for people like them, no matter any marginal, nascent nostalgia for the days of masculine Man’s Man type characters like Snowman or The Bandit — who are considered by some to be anachronistic at best, and possibly problematic, especially in light of recent cultural attitudes towards gender. The Biden Administration’s new program of lifting interstate travel restrictions on those with a CDL under the age of twenty-one (of which there are quite a few) appears to be indeed a desperate attempt to encourage the young to pursue a career that has been utterly vilified by the state and the media.
Long before the Wuhan Plague wreaked havoc on the world, signs of fatigue and stress were showing in the world’s logistics networks; the somewhat obscure term ‘Supply Chains’ was about to achieve as ‘viral’ a spread as the virus itself. Truckers are a vital link in all of these chains, taking containers to and from ships at ports and rail facilities, delivering the world’s harvest of food to markets and grocery stores, fuel to your gas stations, and everything else under the sun. Corporate leaders within the trucking industry had done nothing to solve its driver retention problem before Covid-19, and the strain placed on Supply Chains in its wake only exacerbated these pre-existing problems.
As lockdowns began across the West in March and April of 2020, and people who were able to work from home put on their pajamas and settled in for an unknown new paradigm of email jobbing and Zoom meetings, truckers, amongst many other workers, including nurses, warehouse and grocery store employees, and most other members of the ‘Material Economy’, tucked in and kept on doing what they always do. “We Love our Essential Workers!’ was an online meme at the time, repeated ad nauseum by politicians and the media everywhere, and even became a lawn sign in North America, where physical social signaling such as bumper stickers is a cultural phenomenon with a long history.
That was until the Canadian Freedom Convoy came along.
By the time truckers started showing up at the capital, “We Love Our Essential Workers” quickly became “We Love Our Vaccinated and Compliant Essential Workers,” as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial leaders imposed vaccine mandates on various groups of workers, despite all evidence showing that new gene therapies posing as vaccines did not prevent the spread of the virus, did nothing against the Omicron Variant, and even according to Trudeau himself Canada had reached vaccination numbers which would qualify for ‘herd immunity’. The mandates specifically targeted the small number of people who refused to take the shots.
This, of course, was seen by many as nothing more than punishment for failure to comply. It is estimated that the new cross-border mandates have thrown approximately 30,000 Canadian truckers out of work, as well as prevented many unvaccinated American drivers from servicing the cross-border market. What of their businesses and livelihoods? What of feeding their families? What of their bodily sovereignty? What of the additional shortages and delays piled on to a marketplace already experiencing delays and shortages? Trudeau not only has set businesses and families up for financial ruin, but he also had the gall to call those who would protest his government “terrorists.” And now his recent invocation of The Emergencies Act de facto declared them Enemies of The State.
The Freedom Convoy in Canada has lit a fire across the world in fighting back against the Covid Regime. It has also attracted the lies and smears of predictable regime-friendly media. Left-wing outlets have engaged the tired and worn Thought Terminating Cliches we all know and love — i.e. that we are racists, anti-semites, nazis, funded by billionaires, and given time, who knows, maybe we will even turn over baby incubators. These lies and smears were referenced by Trudeau and his government, despite the fact that the protests have turned into parties, attracting people from all walks of life, having family days with bouncy castles for kids, saunas, hot tubs, and techno ravers. Most people can see this, and the polling shows ever more support for The Freedom Convoy and its very reasonable demands.
Canadian truckers, knowingly or not, might be not only on their way to resurrecting the archetype of the honest, hard-working, dissident trucker, but also to potentially saving Western Civilization from itself.