Karl Marx thought the petit bourgeoisie would have a decisive role in the revolution – and I can’t think of better, more salt of the earth, examples of petit bourgeoisie than owner-operator truckers, farmers, and ranchers. To Karl, the petit bourgeoisie were the small merchants, the self-employed artisans . . . folks who owned at least a part of their means of production.
I’ve known quite a few owner-operator truckers, and met a whole lot more. A CDL alone and the driver is a proletariat. A CDL, with a down payment and a bank loan, and you’re looking at a member of the petit bourgeoisie. The social distinction between proletariat and petit bourgeoisie isn’t hard to cross in the trucking business. I doubt if there are a whole lot of haute bourgeoisie in the trucking industry, but the business converts the proletariat to petit bourgeoisie overnight.
And truckers are near-natural participants in Irish Democracy – uncoordinated, wide-spread civil disobedience. The multitude of regulations over the industry create awesome opportunities for civil disobedience. The petit bourgeoisie with a restaurant has to stay put and conform. The trucker, with 18 wheels, is harder to locate.
It is hard to think of an occupation more likely to bring Irish democracy into a political rally. I have often listened to owner/operators who explained the need to keep two separate sets of books to make a living. I recall the popularity of CB radios that announced where the bear was on the road. I recollect radar detectors. “Irish democracy” may be more pervasive among truckers than in Ireland. And the Canadian government decided that they would need to quarantine for two weeks after crossing the US border. If you look at populations (the old demographer talking here) about 70 percent of Canadians live further south than I do in Trego. Somewhere around 85% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border. Geography and demography have a lot of influence on where truckers drive.
Truckers – particularly owner-operators – are an occupation that can be described in Marxist terms. A member of the lumpenproletariat with a commercial drivers license, a bank loan and a used truck moves into the petit bourgeoisie. Equally important, if the truck goes and there is still money owed to the bank, he is back in the lumpenproletariat. Close to the bottom margin of the petit bourgeoisie, the owner operator is in a position where carefully picking which regulations he (or she) observes makes the day more profitable. The two week quarantine would end that trucker’s ability to make the payments on the truck. Heck, a couple of hours beyond the legal allotment helps the bottom line. Trucking is an industry that practices Irish Democracy during the good times.
So I’m watching my northern neighbors – they started with a Freedom Convoy driving to Ottawa, and now trucks and tractors have closed the main 24 hour crossing between Montana and Canada, over by Sweetgrass. By Stalin era definitions, the petit bourgeoisie are right wing – so I can understand the cartoonist who labels the trucks fascist, and how the national media calls the convoy “right wing.” Different ideologies have differing definitions. The libertarian sees a fascist as someone who comes up with, or enforces, rules that interfere with freedom.
It seems a bit strange that left-wing politicians turned out unable to use Marx’ definitions, class descriptions and the dialectic to see that the truckers were the social class, the industry, that could bring the protest to the capitol. The small businessman with the restaurant, motel or grocery store is stuck in place. Eighteen wheels and a diesel engine is a business that makes Irish Democracy more natural than compliance.