Review

Why Don’t We All Rise Up?

Thinking About Resistance with Nangwaya and Truscello

Why aren’t people outraged?” is not a question I often ask myself—it seems that outrage is everywhere, overheard in conversations and witnessed in public life. On the other hand, “Where is the collective expression of this outrage? Where is the collective struggle?” are questions that perpetually niggle at my mind. Living on the edges of the continent, in an isolated rocky province with a near unbroken legacy of poverty, a horrifying colonial history and present, and currently in the midst of yet another economic crisis, I often ask where the collective struggle is to fight the existing state of affairs? In times such as these, as dire as they often seem, concerted collective action is notable here for its absence. Why is there no unrest? Why are “the poor” (the vast majority of the province’s population) not “rising up?” And, even if they are, as individuals, what can—and must—organizers do to translate general discontent and anger into sustained collective action? As an often lonely organizer on these shores, I picked up Ajamu Nangwaya and Michael Truscello’s edited collection, Why Don’t the Poor Rise Up? I wanted to see if and how I could apply its myriad lessons to my own struggle in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)—an isolated province with a small population bearing little politically in common with economic centres like Toronto or Vancouver.

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