The pickup truck is the symbol of rural conservative masculinity. So, it often takes centre stage in the tired culture wars between reactionary neo-populists and liberal moralists. Like today, with Canada’s right crudely embracing the truck–and tweeting furiously about those ‘Laurentian elites,‘ and ‘Toronto columnists‘ who thumb their nose at it. But, if you really want to piss off the libs: don’t just post about it. Why not hang some big veiny nuts from your truck? Today on the show, we talk about the political history of trucks and trucking.
- Matt Christman (@9:23) of Chapo Trap House tells us why conservatives love their trucks, why we love to hate them, and wonders how we might break out of these tired patterns.
- What does the world look like when you see it through a windshield (@26:15)? Chase Barber is a logging trucker in BC, and viral Tik Toker posting about all things transport and green energy. Plus, Justin Martin of Freight Waves breaks down the state of the trucking industry.
- Then, Shane Hamilton (@33:26) argues that you can understand a lot about about modern political economy through the history of trucking. He is author of Trucking Country: the Road to America’s Wal-Mart Economy, which covers the history of long-haul trucking–from its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, to the exploitative debt peonage of today.
- Finally (@57:35), nobody is happy with the state of our roads and highways. But Gabrielle Esperdy tell us, at one point, it looked like it might become a utopia–an autopia. Today, EVs offer us the promise of a new green autopia. Esperdy is author of American Autopia: An Intellectual History of the American Roadside at Midcentury.
——————FURTHER READING, LISTENING, & WATCHING————————-
- Everything you wanted to know about truck nuts, but you were too afraid to ask: Vice’s article on the the truck nuts war, Above the Law’s discussion on the constitutionality of truck nuts, and Slate’s investigation that reveals truck nuts consumers aren’t who you think they are.
- What to make of that ‘freedom convoy?’ Listen to Matt Christman’s extended discussion on the Bottlemen, which also covers some of this 70s trucking culture. Plus, Tanner Mirrlees’ article on the toxic rightwing petro-populism of the convoy.
- There are some great trucking movies we talk about in this episode. Some, less great. Check out the imitable Humphrey Bogart in the classic They Drive by Night (1940). In the 1970s, things got a bit politically weirder: Smokey and the Bandit (1977), and most of all, Convoy (1978), typify the era.
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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. The lead producer is Jay Cockburn. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and we have marketing and video editing from Ian Sowden.
This is a production of Cited Media. This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It is part of a series of episodes on the politics of technology and techno-utopian thinking. We had research advising from Professor Tanner Mirrlees at Ontario Tech University and Professor Imre Szeman at the University of Waterloo.
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.