All posts by jbeecherblog

Oct 26th 2022: Living My Life by Emma Goldman


On Friday 21st October 2022, from 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud (GL5 1DF), Stroud Radical Reading Group will discuss Emma Goldman’s autobiography Living My Life (discounted copies are available from a local bookshop – click the previous link/see more details below).

If you do not have time to read the fill book (which approaches 600 pages), please focus on the Introduction, Chapter 42/XLII, pages 311-322 of the Penguin Classics edition (in which she discusses the Mother Earth radical newspaper she published, censorship, Feminism and homosexuality), and/or Chapter 52/LII, pages 403-527 of the Penguin Classics edition (which covers Goldman’s experiences in the early Soviet Union).

Buy a copy of the book with a 12% discount from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop. To claim the 12% discount (which reduces the price by £1.92 from £15.99 to £14.07), add the book to your basket, then click to ‘view your basket’, type “StroudRadical”in the ‘Coupon Code’ box, click ‘apply coupon’ and then proceed.

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 most dangerous woman in America,” as J. Edgar Hoover described her, took pen in hand in June 1928 to write the events of her tumultuous life. “Red Emma” Goldman, who the popular press claimed owned no God, had no religion, would kill all rulers, and overthrow all laws, chose to begin her autobiography on her fifty-ninth birthday, a task she would later say was the “hardest and most painful” she had ever undertaken. As she wrote about her life, she confronted not only her own loneliness but also the disappointment of her political hopes, the dream that anarchism, which she called her “beautiful ideal,” would take root in her lifetime among the people whose benefit she believed she served…

Eight years earlier, in 1920, America, her adopted country, had deported her as a subversive, leaving her feeling “an alien everywhere,” as she wrote to her friend in exile Alexander Berkman (Nowhere at Home, 170). A permanent, often unwelcome guest in someone else’s country, she would infuse her writing with a sense of loneliness and despair. To Berkman she wrote “hardly anything has come of our years of effort” (ibid., 49). On the eve of fascist victories in Europe, she felt as well the nearness of catastrophe, the likelihood that once again, as it had in 1914, Europe would be convulsed by war.

Underlying this sense of impending disaster, she was aware that political radicals on the left were embracing the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, a revolution she believed had betrayed the expectations of the Russian peasants and workers in whose name Lenin’s government served.” – Miriam Brody in the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of the book

The Exchange has step-free access. We will keep windows open for ventilation, hand sanitiser is provided, and we ask people who are ill to stay away (whether they are ill with covid or something else). Attendees do not generally wear masks but we will be respectful to anyone who chooses to and other members may wear masks at request of other attendees – let us know your preferences in advance. Please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.

Freely available resources related to the book are available below. We like to ensure everyone can attendee our sessions and get something out of them even if they can’t afford to buy a copy of the book or the time to read it.

Sept 27th 2022: The Rickard Sisters’ graphic novel version of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists


On Tuesday September 27th 2022, from 8-10pm at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud (GL5 1DF, note the later start time), Stroud Radical Reading Group will discuss Scarlett and Sophie Rickard’s graphic novel interpretation of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (discounted copies are available from a local bookshop – click the previous link/see more details below).

This book has been selected to because of the event our friends at The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop are holding on Saturday 10th September, 5pm (at The Malthouse in Tetbury). The Rickard sisters will introduce their work (click previous link for event details), talk through their approach, and discuss why they felt it was so important to bring the book to a wider audience today. The event is part of Tetbury’s “Big Book Weekend”, which also includes a one-man theatre adaptation of Tressell’s classic novel by Neil Gore of Townsend Productions.

Buy a copy of the book with a 12% discount from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop. To claim the 12% discount (which reduces the price by £1.80 from £14.99 to £13.19), add the book to your basket, then click to ‘view your basket’, type “StroudRadical”in the ‘Coupon Code’ box, click ‘apply coupon’ and then proceed.

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.

“Robert Tressell’s groundbreaking socialist novel ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ tells the story of a group of working men in the fictional town of Mugsborough, and socialist journeyman-prophet Frank Owen who attempts to convince his fellow workers that capitalism is the real source of the poverty all around them. Owen’s spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system, and support for a socialist society in which work is performed to satisfy the needs of all, rather than to generate profit for a few, eventually rouses his fellow men from their political passivity…
Sophie and Scarlett set out to make the novel more accessible, using their passion for graphic novels, and their sensitive and faithful adaptation has been widely acclaimed. Scarlett’s warm and rewarding illustrations, and Sophie’s light touch with the text bring this story to life, while retaining the power and anger with which it was written.”

The Yellow Lighted Bookshop’s information about the book, and the Rickard sisters’ adaptation.

The Exchange has step-free access. We will keep windows open for ventilation, hand sanitiser is provided, and we ask people who are ill to stay away (whether they are ill with covid or something else). Attendees do not generally wear masks but we will be respectful to anyone who chooses to and other members may wear masks at request of other attendees – let us know your preferences in advance. Please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.

Freely available resources related to the book will be added as soon as possible – we like to ensure everyone can attendee our sessions and get something out of them even if they can’t afford to buy a copy of the book or the time to read it. Below you can watch a video of author and illustrator Sophie and Scarlett Rickard discussing the book with Ross Ashcroft of Renegade Inc.

The Purpose of Power – by Alicia Garza. August 2022

On Monday August 29th 2022, from 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud (GL5 1DF), Stroud Radical Reading Group will 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 – click the previous link/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.

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.

The Exchange has step-free access. We will keep windows open for ventilation, hand sanitiser is provided, and we ask people who are ill to stay away (whether they are ill with covid or something else). Attendees do not generally wear masks but we will be respectful to anyone who chooses to and other members may wear masks at request of other attendees – let us know your preferences in advance. Please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.

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).