The Peasants’ Revolt by Roger Graves

Of all the things that monarchs in the Middle Ages used to fear, the one that truly gave them nightmares was a peasants’ revolt. Invasion by a foreign enemy? No problem, we’ll meet them on the beaches with our army and crush them as they land. An attempt by one of your barons to claim the crown? No problem, your army is bigger than his. But an uprising by the peasants themselves, those grubby creatures from whom you recruit your army – that truly spelled disaster. And so any hint of a peasants’ revolt was put down with utmost severity, with suitable displays of the dismembered corpses of peasant leaders to convince the rest of the peasants that trying to take matters into their own hands was a very bad idea indeed.

Fast forwarding to today, we don’t have monarchs in the old sense. Yes, Canada has a queen, Elizabeth the second of that name, but bless her cotton socks, she is the very opposite of an absolute ruler. However, we do have a ruling class. Pretty well every nation does, no matter what political system they apparently adhere to. Canada’s ruling class consists of a relatively small number of senior civil servants, media company owners, bank presidents and so on who quietly control things in the background. As a class they are as close to absolute rulers as we are ever likely to get.

Like the absolute monarchs of days gone by, what any ruling class fears at a gut level is losing its powers. Without them they would just be ordinary citizens, lacking the power to control events with a quiet word to the right person. Imagine the horror of it, waking up every morning to the dreadful realization that however large your house and your bank balance, you had no more say in how the world around you revolved than the average Joe you might see walking down the street. You would be just as subject as anyone else to the whims of politicians at all levels of government, and horror of horrors, if you broke the law you might even – gasp! – be punished for it.

As a member of the ruling class your position is normally quite secure, regardless of which party is ostensibly running things in Parliament. You can afford to smile indulgently at the antics of politicians as they jockey among themselves for advantage. After all, very few of them are members of the ruling class. No matter what those little people on Parliament Hill might say, as a senior bureaucrat, for example, you will continue doing what you have always done, running things as you see fit, confident in the knowledge that any annoying little Minister of the Crown can soon be shuffled out and replaced with a more malleable office-holder.

But if someone comes along with a mandate from the peasants themselves and seizes the reins of power in a firm grip, it is time to circle the wagons and present a united front against the usurper. We saw this recently in the US with Donald Trump. He was outside the system, he was not a true member of the ruling class, and the ruling class did their very best to bring him down. Politicians on both sides tried to trip him up, the media were relentlessly and mindlessly against him no matter what he did or what he accomplished, and it was only the shameless politicization of the Covid crisis and some very questionable activities in the last US election that managed to defeat him. In return for his defeat the US now has probably the weakest and most incompetent President and Vice President in their history, but no matter – the ruling class is safe once more.

And so we come to our very own peasants’ revolt, known as the freedom convoy. Our Prime Minister instantly recognized the situation as a peasants’ revolt and denounced it in no uncertain terms. In spite of the enormous size of the convoy, in spite of the cheering crowds of well-wishers as it proceeded across the country, Justin Trudeau saw fit to denounce it as a small minority of deplorables with unacceptable views. But unacceptable to whom? Presumably to the ruling class. Certainly the mere idea that the ordinary Joe’s, the blue-collar workers, could actually take matters into their own grubby hands and demand changes of their lords and masters must have seemed an existential threat to our ruling class. And so, when the protest was finally ended, anyone in any way connected with it was punished with a viciousness reminiscent of peasant leaders being hung, drawn and quartered in the Middle Ages.

The ruling classes are careful to seem tolerant to protests which do not threaten them. Typical woke activities such as pipeline protests or Black Lives Matter demonstrations are not an existential threat to the ruling class, principally because the organizers tend to want to join the ruling class rather than replace it. Steven Guilbeault, Trudeau’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, was originally a Greenpeace activist. The hordes of student activists, perhaps better described as brainwashed children, who can be found at any suitably leftwing protest are probably in the same category of aspiring members of the ruling class. Such people pose no threat to the ruling class, but rather they sustain it and hope eventually to join it.

In stark contrast, when Tamara Lich, one of the freedom convoy organizers was arrested on a charge of public mischief, she was denied bail for two-and-a-half weeks, unlike, say, people accused of violent offences or illegal firearms possession who are routinely popped straight back onto the streets again. When she was finally brought into court for a bail hearing she was forced to wear leg-irons, as if she was a serious flight risk, or perhaps to protect the court officials nearby. (The judge, to his credit, immediately ordered them removed.) Anyone who had anything to do with the convoy, or had donated money to it, was threatened with having their bank accounts frozen. The message from the ruling class came through loud and clear – peasant revolts will not be tolerated, no matter what.

And yet, the worm may be turning. The Conservative Party, once generally viewed as the domain of fusty old dinosaurs, looks as if it might be having a rebirth as the party of the blue collar workers, depending on who we get as the next leader of the Party. Certainly the NDP which was once the political home of the blue collars has deserted them in favour of the latest and greatest leftwing cause, whatever that happens to be this week. Whoever gathers the freedom convoy and its supporters and well-wishers into their fold, and it’s unlikely to be either the Liberals or the NDP, may well find they have acquired a massive support base in this country.