The Purpose of Power – by Alicia Garza. August 2022

At the end of August 2022, from 7.30-9.30pm on a date to be confirmed, Stroud Radical Reading Group discuss Alicia Garza’s book The Purpose of Power: How to build movements for the 21st Century (discounted copies are available from a local bookshop – see below).

Our events are free to attend, though we will collect donations to cover the costs of venue hire on a donate-what-you-can-afford basis. We try to ensure the discussions are welcoming to new people, including people who have never been to a reading group before – and you don’t have to have been to university. You don’t even have to have read any of the book – you can just come along and listen to the discussion. Some free resources including a sample chapter we’ll focus our discussion on are included below though, and we’d encourage people to read/listen to as much as they can ahead of the session.

Please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.

Black Lives Matter began as a hashtag when Alicia Garza wrote what she calls ‘a love letter to Black people’ on Facebook. But hashtags don’t build movements, she tells us. People do.

Interwoven with Garza’s experience of life as a Black woman, The Purpose of Power is the story of how she responded to the persistent message that Black lives are of less value than white lives by galvanizing people to create change. It’s an insight into grass roots organizing to deliver basic needs – affordable housing, workplace protections, access to good education – to those locked out of the economy by racism.

It is an attempt not only to make sense of where Black Lives Matter came from but also to understand the possibilities that Black Lives Matter and movements like it hold for our collective futures. Ultimately, it’s an appeal to hearts and minds, demanding that we think about our privileges and prejudices and ask how we might contribute to the change we want to see in the world”

– Publisher information about the book

We will focus our discussion on Chapter 1 – which is available free. We encourage people to buy a copy of the book and read as much as possible, but appreciate not everyone can afford this in terms of either money or time – or may prefer audio/visual content. Below we provide links to another excerpt from the book, and two interview with Alicia Garza (one a video, the other text), which are all freely available.

Resources

The Black Panther Party – a graphic novel history. 23rd July 2022

On Saturday 23rd July 2022, from 7.30-9.30pm, Stroud Radical Reading Group will meet at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud to discuss David F. Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s graphic novel history of The Black Panther Party (discounted copies are available from a local bookshop – see below).

Our events are free to attend, though we will collect donations to cover the costs of venue hire on a donate-what-you-can-afford basis. We try to ensure the discussions are welcoming to new people, including people who have never been to a reading group before – and you don’t have to have been to university. You don’t even have to have read any of the book – you can just come along and listen to the discussion. Some free resources including a sample chapter we’ll focus our discussion on are included below though, and we’d encourage people to read/listen to as much as they can ahead of the session.

The Exchange has step free access, but please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.

“Founded in Oakland, California, in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was a revolutionary political organization that stood in defiant contrast to the mainstream civil rights movement.

This gripping illustrated history explores the impact and legacy of the Panthers, from their social, educational, and healthcare programs that were designed to uplift the Black community to their battle against police brutality through citizen patrols and frequent clashes with the FBI, which targeted the Party from its outset.

Using dramatic comic book-style retellings and illustrated profiles of key figures, The Black Panther Party captures the major events, people, and actions of the party, as well as their cultural and political influence and enduring significance.”
– Publisher information about the book

We’ll focus our discussion on Chapter 3: Birth of the Panthers, which you can read online or download as a pdf below (some of the text may be a little blurred, apologies). The sample chapter is made freely available under fair use rules to ensure everyone can participate. However, we’d encourage everyone to read as much of the book as possible, if you are able to afford a copy.

Resources

Click to buy a copy from The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop – add the book to your basked, click to ‘view your basked’, where you’ll see a ‘coupon code’ option – enter code “StroudRadical”, then proceed to the checkout where £1.92 will be taken off the RRP of £15.9 to make the price to pay £14.07 (before any delivery costs – you can pick up for free from Nailsworth, Chalford or Tetbury).

If you prefer audio, or would like to add to your reading, try this podcast where David F. Walker speaks about the book with Alyssa Milano for her Sorry Not Sorry podcast.

Chapter 3 – together with the cover and some of the introductory pages:

May 25th 2022: Working Class History

On Wednesday 25th May 2022 at 7.30pm we will discuss “Working Class History: Everyday Acts of Resistance & Rebellion”, an “On This Day” format book by the Working Class History project.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. We will meet face-to-face for this session for the first time in over two years at the Exchange, Brick Row, GL5 3DF), but will attempt to also enable people to join via video call. Anyone is welcome, but we keep video call details private – please contact us for the Zoom details. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. Free resources are listed below, but if you can, please buy a copy from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop who are offering a £2.04 discount from the standard £16.99 price (12% off) if you enter the coupon code StroudRadical when viewing your basket. An ebook version is available from PM Press for $8.95 .

We will focus our discussion on the entries for May, the month of International Workers Day – or May Day – marked since 1886 when a general strike took place in the USA in pursuit of an eight-hour limit on the working day, and the several innocent anarchist workers were framed on false charges of throwing a bomb at police breaking up a demonstration in involving 400,000 workers in Chicago that started May 1st 1886, and later executed.

A preview of the ebook is available online, and covers the foreword introduction, and first 5 daily entries. Daily entries can be read as indidivual posts on the WCH Facebook page, or via @wrkclasshistory on twitter.

You may like to listen to some of the podcasts associated with the project. One episode linked below features a discussion with the authors about the book, while two short series cover topics relevant to our most recent previous sessions on LGBTQ+ people and movements.

About the book:

“Working Class History presents a distinct selection of people’s history through hundreds of “on this day in history” anniversaries that are as diverse and international as the working class itself. Women, young people, people of color, workers, migrants, Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ people, disabled people, older people, the unemployed, home workers, and every other part of the working class have organized and taken action that has shaped our world, and improvements in living and working conditions have been won only by years of violent conflict and sacrifice. These everyday acts of resistance and rebellion highlight just some of those who have struggled for a better world and provide lessons and inspiration for those of us fighting in the present. Going day by day, this book paints a picture of how and why the world came to be as it is, how some have tried to change it, and the lengths to which the rich and powerful have gone to maintain and increase their wealth and influence.

This handbook of grassroots movements, curated by the popular Working Class History project, features many hidden histories and untold stories, reinforced with inspiring images, extensive references and further reading, and a foreword from legendary author and dissident Noam Chomsky. Founded in 2014, Working Class History is an international collective of worker-activists who launched a social media project and podcast to uncover our collective history of fighting for a better world and promote it to educate and inspire a new generation of activists. Despite our small size and minimal budget, we have grown to become the most popular online people’s history project in English, reaching an audience of tens of millions each month. We do not receive any institutional or corporate funding or backing of any kind.”

March 30th 2022: We Can Do Better Than This

On Wednesday 30th March 2022 at 7.30pm we will discuss “We Can Do Better Than This, 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ Rights” edited by Amelia Abraham.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend, online events, be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. Free resources are listed below, but if you can, please buy a reduced copy from The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop (RRP is £14.99 but add coupon “StroudRadical” at the checkout to buy a copy for £13.19 – saving £1.80 or 12%). An ebook version is available via publishers Penguin.

We will focus our discussion on 4 essays in particular. We welcome people who are not able to read the book in full, or even a single one of the 35 essays.

  • Crystal’s Make-Up by Tom Rasmussen
  • Leaving Bangladesh by Mazharul Islam
  • Kissing in Public by Shura, and
  • Kito Diaries by Vincent Desmond

Read these below or click to download 4 essays (pdf) from We Can Do Better Than This. Please be aware that the essays feature accounts that may make for difficult reading. The issues covered in the book include hate crimes, mental health, medical treatment, sex and relationships, and substance abuse. Some of these are covered in the four essays we will focus on too.

“We talk about achieving ‘LGBTQ+ equality’, but around the world, LGBTQ+ people are still suffering discrimination and extreme violence. How do we solve this urgent problem, allowing queer people everywhere the opportunity to thrive? In We Can Do Better Than This, 35 voices explore this question. Through deeply moving stories and provocative new arguments on safety and visibility, dating and gender, care and community, they present a powerful manifesto for how – together – we can start to create a better future.”

Read the four focus chapters below:

The following articles by authors of the chapters are available free online:

Queer: A Graphic History, Wednesday 23rd February 2022

On Wednesday Feb 23rd from 7.30pm, we will discuss “Queer: A Graphic History” online via video-call. Please click to contact us for the details. You can buy a reduced copy from The Yellow Lighted Bookshop (RRP is £14.99 but add coupon “StroudRadical” at the checkout to buy a copy for £13.19 – saving £1.80 or 12%).

“Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Jules Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action…”

“A kaleidoscope of characters from the diverse worlds of pop culture, film, activism and acaedia… guide us on a journey through the ideas, people and events that have shaped queer theory. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do, and how culture can shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’.” – book jacket

It’s harder than usual to create a focus text this month, but as ever we welcome people who are not able to read the book (or read it in full). If you can’t access the book, please try to watch the videos below. People are always welcome to come along and listen if they’ve not had time to engage with any of the content

The first video is under 3 minutes and offers a very quick glance and overview of the book:

The second, 20 minute, video features an interview with Meg-John Barker on a tour of places that are important to them –  queer and trans friendly hairdressers Open Barbers, LGBT health and well-being centre London Friend where Meg-John works as a counsellor once a week, and the Open University branch in Camden where Barket often attends events or hosts meetings. They talk about “lots of topics including therapy, love, gender, sexual and relationship diversity, the need (or not) for labels, kink, and what kind of cake I prefer!”

February is LGBTQ history month in the UK, coinciding with a major celebration of the 2003 abolition of Section 28 (which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities – effectively banning discussion and presentation of resources).

26th January 2022: bell hooks – All About Love

On Wednesday January 26th, we will discuss bell hooks’ All About Love: New Visions (wikipedia link). This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details.

bell hooks was an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist. She died on December 15th 2021, and we will discuss her work to mark her passing. bell hooks published more than 30 books and many scholarly articles, and taught at Stanford and Yale universities. Her work explored race, capitalism, and gender, and the ways in which systems of oppression and class domination are perpetuated. All About Love was published in the year 2000. Through personal anecdotes and discussion of psychological and philosophical ideas, hooks argues that our culture has lost the true meaning of love, and believes it is because we have no shared definition.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. Free resources are listed below, but if you can, please buy a copy of the book from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop using the following link (adding the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the standard price). Order a copy of All About Love.

We will focus our discussion on the opening chapters of the book (Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 – Clarity: Give Love Words, and Chapter 2 – Justice: Childhood Love Lessons). Download a pdf version of these chapters for free below. We encourage people to read more of the book if possible (you can also read the full text of the book free as a pdf). If you prefer audio/visual content to reading, you may prefer to listen to a 10 minute interview where bell books discusses the book, or watch/listen to a 70 minute video of bell hooks speaking about love at a library in Harlem from the year 2000 (full captions are provided).

“A visionary and accessible book, bell hooks’s All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love. Here, hooks, one of our most acute social critics, takes the themes that put her on the map – the relationship between love and sexuality, and the interconnectedness between the public and the private – and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is more important than all other bonds.”

“All About Love is a blueprint for finding myriad types of love, which hold the redemptive power to change our minds and lives.” – Publisher jacket text

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa – Nov 17th 2021

On November 17th, we will discuss Walter Rodney’s 1972 classic book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”. This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details. The book is part of a series on how modern inequality was built which included Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch, David Graeber’s Debt and Jason Hickel’s The Divide – but you do not need to have attended preceding events to join us to discuss Rodney’s book.

Walter Rodney was a leader of Black Power and Pan-African movements, including the Guyanese Working People’s Alliance. He was internationally reknowned as a historian of colonialism – and for linking struggles for independence on the African continent with struggles of working class Black people in North America and the Caribbean.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, Rodney makes the unflinching case that African “mal-development” is not a natural feature of geography, but a direct product of imperial extraction from the continent, a practice that continues up into the present. Meticulously researched, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa remains a relevant study for understanding the so-called “great divergence” between Africa and Europe, just as it remains a prescient resource for grasping the multiplication of global inequality today.” – publishers, Verso

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. Free resources are listed below, but if you can, please buy a copy of the book from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop using the following link (adding the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the £16.99 standard price): How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney.

You can access the following free:

Chapter 4 audio:

CaribNation TV featuring an interview with Prof Rupert Lewis:

The Divide – Jason Hickel

We will discuss Jason Hickel’s book “The Divide” on Wednesday October 20th. This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. You can access the following free:

Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

You can buy a copy of The Divide by Jason Hickle from the local Yellow Lighted Bookshop and get a 10% discount on the £9.99 standard price by entering “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (delivery charges may apply).

The Divide : a brief guide to global inequality and its solutions” was published in 2017. According to the publishers, Windmill Books, it “tracks the evolution of global inequality from the expeditions of Christopher Columbus to the present day – offering a provocative, urgent and ultimately uplifting account of how the world works, and how we can change it for the better.”

The book is part of a series on how modern inequality was built which will include How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney on November 17th (using the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the £16.99 standard price), and included Debt by David Graeber on September 15th, and Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici (both links take you to pages which include further links to purchase discounted copies of these books).

September 15th – Debt by David Graeber

Last September 2nd, David Graeber died unexpectedly, aged 59. He was an influential American anthropologist and anarchist activist, known particularly for his role in the Occupy movement and his book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. We felt it would be appropriate to mark his death – and his life and work – with an anniversary event.

We will discuss Graeber’s book “Debt” on Wednesday September 15th. This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. We will focus our discussion on Chapter 7: Honour and Degradation, and there is also a 90 minute video recording below for those who have limited time but would like to engage with the book. Below are links to buy the book at a reduced price, access a full pdf for free, download the chapter we will focus our discussion on, or watch the video of Graeber discussing the book. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

You can buy a copy of Debt by David Graeber from the local Yellow Lighted Bookshop and get a 10% discount on the £17.99 standard price by entering “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (delivery charges may apply).

Debt: The First 5,000 Years was published in 2011. Graeber maps out the history of debt from ancient civilisations to current times, suggesting it has been one of the great catalysts for social and political strife throughout. Social institutions such as barter, marriage, friendship, slavery, law, religion, war and government are explored through the lens of Debt. The book draws on the history and anthropology of a number of civilizations, large and small, from the first known records of debt from Sumer in 3500 BC until the present.

The book is part of a series on how modern inequality was built which will also include The Divide by Jason Hickle on October 20th (click the link for 10% off the £9.99 standard price via Yellow Lighted Bookshop), and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney on November 17th (again, using the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the £16.99 standard price). Further details on these events will be added to the website ASAP.

You can access a full pdf of the book ‘Debt’ via libcom.org, but it is a long book. We will focus our discussion on Chapter 7: Honour and Degradation – in order to make it easier for people with limited time to participate (please read more of the book if you are able!

Below is a video recording of David Graeber in conversation with Jonathan Conning, Associate Professor of Economics at Hunter College at the Graduate Center, CUNY

David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist based in New York, and London, where he holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of six books, including Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value, Lost People: Magic and History in Central Madagascar, Direct Action: An Ethnography, and most recently, Debt: The First Five Thousand Years, alongside popular and political writings that have appeared in venues like Harpers, The Baffler, and The Nation. He is currently working on two books: one on bureaucracy, the other about his involvement in the formation of Occupy Wall Street.

Jonathan Conning joined the economics department in the fall of 2002. His research and teaching interests include Development Economics, applied microeconomic theory and financial contracting, as well as trade and modern political economy. His research has explored the structure and operation of rural financial markets, microfinance and social investment, as well as topics in agrarian production organization, property rights, economic history, and impact evaluation.



Aug 18th 2021: CALIBAN AND THE WITCH

We will discuss Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici on Wednesday August 18th, from 7.30pm.

We encourage people to read the full book (see links to buy the book/read a free pdf below), but appreciate not everyone will have time. Please read the Preface and Introduction if you can, or engage with either the video or podcast interview below. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content.

“A cult classic since its publication in the early years of this century, Caliban and the Witch is Silvia Federici’s history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages through the European witch-hunts, the rise of scientific rationalism and the colonisation of the Americas, it gives a panoramic account of the often horrific violence with which the unruly human material of pre-capitalist societies was transformed into a set of predictable and controllable mechanisms.

It is a study of indigenous traditions crushed, of the enclosure of women’s reproductive powers within the nuclear family, and of how our modern world was forged in blood.”- Book jacket text from the publisher

This is an online event, which will be held via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us. Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

Download the Preface and Introduction below, and read on for other content options include link to buy the book and details of how to get a 10% discount.


We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we welcome people who have not read the book but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

This is the third in a series of three texts on Feminism, and the first in a series on the makings of modern inequality. You are welcome to attend this event standalone, but may be interested in catching up on the preceding events discussing Lola Olufemi’s Feminism Interrupted, and Audre Lorde’s Zami.

Silvia Federici is an Italian and American scholar, teacher, and activist from the radical autonomist feminist Marxist and anarchist tradition. She has taught at several universities in the US and also in Nigeria, and is the author of many works, which also include Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle. She was co-founder of the International Feminist Collective, an organizer with the Wages for Housework Campaign.

Stroud Radical Reading Group meets once a month. Here you can find details of sessions, links, and further information