canadian trucker protests
In early 2022, a group of Canadian cross-border truckers protested a COVID vaccine mandate by occupying Ottawa in their trucks, thereby blocking or otherwise disrupting traffic. Many who opposed the mandate nonetheless disagreed with the methods of the truckers, on the grounds that they were anarchistic and violated the rights of all those whose traffic they disrupted.
The truckers did not violate anyone’s rights, however, because the state had created a conflict of interest between the truckers and everyone else by eliminating the method of protest the truckers might have used in a free society, and in such conflicts, the concept of “rights” does not apply.
It is relevant to the legitimacy of their actions that the truckers were themselves heavy users of the roads they were blocking. In a society that respected property rights, these roads would be privately owned, and those who paid to use them would have influence over their owners. If these owners were suffering financially due to decreased business resulting from a vaccine mandate, then it is possible that they would close their roads as a form of protest.
Regardless of the wisdom of such shrugging, the owners would have the right to engage in it. Government control of the roads makes this impossible, however.
One cannot withhold financial support from the state by refusing to pay to use the roads, which is how one could withhold it from private owners, because regardless of whether one uses the roads, the state will expropriate his wealth to pay for them at the point of a gun through taxation.
Even in a free society, where voluntary contributions to the government replaced taxation, there would still be a difference between the state and a private business. It would be possible to withhold financial support from the government, but the state would still be significantly insulated from economic influence by its monopoly on the use of force, and so its controlling the roads would still either crowd out or diminish the efficacy of legitimate forms of protest.
The introduction of force into society creates conflicts of interest among men by placing them at metaphysical odds with each other. In this case, force in the form of state control of the roads necessitated a conflict between cross-border truckers and the rest of society. It is not wrong for either side to fight for its interests under these circumstances. What is wrong is to create a situation that requires such fighting.