James Heartfield on Spiked Online takes a look at how restrictive Covid measures have stirred another wave of anti-establishment revolt.
When Joe Biden was elected US president, it was supposed to mark the end of the great populist revolt of MAGA-hats and Brexiteers. Normal service, if a little battered, was to be resumed.
Yet a year later, normal service has not resumed. Major world cities are now wracked by protest movements outside the mainstream. And they are often met by repressive police violence.
The focal point of many of these protests are the policies that governments around the world adopted to meet the challenge of the pandemic. Over the past couple of weeks, there have been large protests in Helsinki, Brussels, Verona, Rome and Paris. Many of these European cities have faced sporadic protests against vaccine mandates and other measures since last summer. But over the past fortnight, those protests have been galvanised by the example of the Canadian truckers’ ‘freedom convoy’, which drove from one end of Canada to the other, arriving in Ottawa last weekend, in protest against vaccine mandates.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, like most world leaders, embraced the strategy of locking down his country in the face of Covid with gusto. Canadian legislatures declared states of emergency, mask mandates, bans on public gatherings, restrictions on travel and business closures. The particular trigger for the truckers’ protest was the end of an exemption for truck drivers from the need to be vaccinated. The convoy’s journey excited large solidarity rallies in Winnipeg, British Columbia and Ottawa. Perhaps foolishly, Trudeau fled the capital, Ottawa, to avoid meeting the truckers.
It is important to note that none of the protests, either in Canada or in the rest of Europe, could claim to be so popular as to be representative of majority opinion. On the contrary, polling shows that across the world, most people remain supportive of measures to prevent the spread of Covid.
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