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This week, Roads & Kingdoms published a fascinating look inside the world of illicit mining in South Africa. New crackdowns by the South African government have pushed some illegal miners to their breaking point; this community is largely made up of people barely scratching out an existence on the margins of a mining industry once worth billions that extracted wealth from the ground without investing in local communities. Now, these people are facing stiff fines and prison time for their activities. As one man profiled in the article puts it, “People must see what we do to survive. Fuck this government.”
There are a lot of ways to say “fuck this government,” and many reasons to do so: economic desperation, political disagreements, the struggle for representation, or sometimes, not wanting to be murdered in the street or sexually assaulted. It is one of the great, unifying phrases that cuts across geographical and cultural borders. It transcends time and ideology. For thousands of years, people have formed governments, and whenever and wherever they did so, at one point or another, someone thought to themselves, “You know what? Fuck this government.”
So this week, here’s a brief look at some different ways this fine notion has been expressed.
I’m thinking about protests as I pack up and head for Washington, D.C. this weekend for the Women’s March on Washington. Technically it’s focused on supporting women’s rights and not protesting a certain grabby Cheeto, but that pretty obviously goes in the tom-a-to, to-MAH-to category. Here’s a guide to how to prepare for the women’s march, plus links to a whole bunch of other guides for the march. (Where to pump? Where to warm up? Lots of good info there.) Here’s an good guide to public transport and other practicalities. As always, know your rights! And you still need to eat: here are some of the restaurants and bars offering deals to those in D.C. And here’s a brief history of women’s marches by the perennially interesting Alexis Coe. Why internal dissent among protesters is not a bad thing.
Want to protest but you don’t live in the U.S.? No problem! You can find the nearest march in a number of different countries here. There’s also a roundup of Facebook pages for global protest marches at the end of this article.
And a few general tips from an organizer friend:
-Have a meet-up plan that doesn’t rely on cell phones
-Bring an extra cell-phone battery or charger case if possible
-Write important contact information on your forearm in Sharpie
-Wear comfortable shoes
More Trump: How California is setting itself up as a bastion of resistance to Trump. To watch the inauguration or not to watch the inauguration? That is not a question I can rouse myself to care about right now, but it’s something to read while you wait for the paint to dry on your protest signs. On the importance of being ungovernable from Kali Akuno of Mississippi’s Cooperation Jackson. The tangled debate over art protests. Should protest in the age of Trump be angry or optimistic?
More protests: Did you follow the massive protests that took place in South Korea last month? Here’s what the world can learn from their exemplary behavior. A good long read on the protests at Standing Rock. This radical dissident artist who just fled Russia is seriously intense. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters are still at it. The murder of a great Mexican environmental activist.
And some general advice on resistance: Masha Gessen’s invaluable rules for surviving an autocracy. Let’s learn why we should all be feminists. (If you’re in Portland, Oregon, get a free copy at this bookstore.) Re-upping this piece on resisting propaganda. Let’s all check out civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis’s graphic novel. Good to remember that freedom is a constant struggle. And don’t forget to read the classics! From the former Soviet Union to apartheid South Africa to Victorian England, there is a robust canon by those who have spun the simple idea of “fuck this government” into a timeless literature of hope.
That’s it for this week! See you next week for more food, politics, and travel. Tweet me the stories you want to see @caraparks.