2020 Series 2: Debates around social ecology

Our monthly events in spring 2020 will form a series on “Debates around social ecology”. Each of these three events will be held on the last Wednesday of the month, 7.30-9.30pm – online via Zoom. See poster and text below it for more details.

Poster with concentric circles in different colours, "Debates around Social Ecology" title, and details contained in webpage text

29th April: Ecological Marxism and environmental neo-Malthusianism

We will discuss “Ecological Marxism vs. environmental neo-Malthusianism: An old debate continues” (online article) by Brian Napoletano.

Let us know you plan to attend via the Facebook event: Ecological Marxism and environmental neo-Malthusianism

27th May: Social Ecology and Deep Ecology

We will discuss the introduction to “Defending the Earth: A Debate”. Download the 8,000 word introduction as an ODT file (should open in most word processing programmes), the full text is available online. The book is based on a 1989 public debate between social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin and deep ecology activist Dave Foreman.

While we will focus on the Introductory section, I recommending reading more of the text if you are able to. You down the 10,000 word closing section of the book as an ODT file. This is made up of two essays from Bookchin and Foreman on their reflections on the debate, written one year later (10,000 words). This might be of particular interest.

Let us know you plan to attend via the Facebook event: Social Ecology and Deep Ecology

24th June: Green New Deal and Beyond

We will discuss “‘We have a once-in-century chance’: Naomi Klein on how we can fight the climate crisis“, a selection from Klein’s latest book “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal“,  together with a critical review by Angela Mitropoulos, “Playing With Fire: Securing the Borders of a Green New Deal“.

Let us know you plan to attend via the Facebook event: Green New Deal and Beyond.

 

2020 series 1 – Praxis: activism, social movement, and revolution

Our monthly events in early 2020 will form a series on “Praxis: activism, social movements, and revolution”. Each of these three events will be held on Wednesdays, 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange Stroud (GL5 1DF). Dates and links to full information below

SRRG3b.jpg
Poster for Stroud Radical Reading Group first series of 2020

Download the poster above (pdf, 1.25Mb) or a portrait format poster (pdf, 1.25Mb).

January 22nd: Why Social Movements Matter (click for full details)

We will focus our discussion on Chapter 4: “Practice-Oriented Thinking: ‘The Philosophers Have Only Interpreted the World’ (you will need to email us for the text, but are encouraged to read the full book, which can be ordered for next day delivery from Stroud Bookshop, £19.95). Why Social Movements Matter explains social movements for a general educated readership, shows how much social movements are part of our everyday lives, and how in many ways they have shaped the world we live in over centuries.

February 19th: Revolution in Rojava (full details)

We will focus our discussion on Chapter 5 “A Women’s Revolution” (pages 82-102) of Revolution in Rojava – Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan (pdf, 4.7Mb)  by Michael Knapp, Anja Flach, and Ercan Ayboga (translated by Janet Biehl). Since a 2012 revolution, and following the wider civil uprising in Syria beginning in 2011, Rojava is an autonomous region in northeastern Syria with direct democratic ambitions based on an anarchistic and libertarian socialist ideology – promoting decentralization, gender equality, environmental sustainability and pluralistic tolerance for religious, cultural and political diversity. We recommend you also read the Foreword (by David Graeber) and Introduction if you are unfamiliar with Rojava (pages 12-25). Copies of the book are available from Pluto press priced at £17.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook.

March 18th: Fat Activism (full details)

We will discuss “What’s Fat Activism?” (pdf) by Charlotte Cooper, exploring what we can learn from the history of fat activism, as well as touching on how we can unpick the ways we’ve been shaped by harmful, moralising discourses around food and weight that surround us. The article covers similar ground to Cooper’s book Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement (HammerOn press, paperback £16, ebook £10), a rare insider’s view of fat people speaking about their lives and politics on their own terms. As ever, we have selected a shorter text to focus our discussion but recommend readers read the full book if they are able.

Fat Activism by Charlotte Cooper

Due to the necessary social distancing measures and our desire to support the effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19, we will be holding our next sessions online.

We will discuss “What’s Fat Activism?” (pdf) by Charlotte Cooper, as part of our 2020 series on “Praxis: activism, social movements and revolution”.

We will explore what we can learn from the history of fat activism, as well as touching on how we can unpick the ways we’ve been shaped by harmful, moralising discourses around food and weight that surround us.

To accompany the text, we encourage readers to read this short Instagram post by Sofie Hagen, a response to the question ‘but what about health?‘, and watch this short video featuring author Charlotte Cooper on ‘A Walk Around Fat Activist London’ as part of promotion for her book Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement (HammerOn press, paperback £16, ebook £10), a rare insider’s view of fat people speaking about their lives and politics on their own terms. As ever, we have selected a shorter text to focus our discussion but recommend readers read the full book if they are able.

Please share via Facebook: Fat Activism – event page.

Further information:

Charlotte Cooper is a psychotherapist, cultural worker and para-academic living and working in London. She is a founding proponent of Fat Studies. By lifting the lid on a previously unexplored social movement and offering a fresh perspective on one of the major problems of our times, Cooper’s expansive grassroots study:

  • Reveals details of fat activist methods and approaches and explodes myths

  • Charts extensive accounts of international fat activist historical roots going back over four decades

  • Explores controversies and tensions in the movement

  • Shows that fat activism is an undeniably feminist and queer phenomenon

  • Explains why fat activism presents exciting possibilities for anyone interested in social justice.

19th February: Revolution in Rojava

On Wednesday 19th February, 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange Stroud: Revolution in Rojava – Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan (pdf)  by Michael Knapp, Anja Flach, and Ercan Ayboga (translated by Janet Biehl). This event forms part of our 2020 series on “Praxis: activism, social movements and revolution“.

We will focus our discussion on Chapter 5 “A Women’s Revolution” (pages 82-102), and recommend you also read the Foreword (by David Graeber) and Introduction if you are unfamiliar with Rojava (pages 12-25). Download a pdf of these three focus sections.

Please read more if you like – the whole book is available free as a pdf via the link above, and includes chapters on the theoretical influences, the revolution itself, the current political structures, and the geopolitical context, background, and prospects. Copies of the book are available from Pluto press priced at £17.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook.

Please share on Facebook: Revolution in Rojava – SRRG event.

If you prefer audiovisual sources, you could listen to a 50minute podcast from Pluto Press on Rojava and the Kurdish Women’s Movement, or watch the short video from Internationalist Commune, below:

 

https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js Global call to defend the Rojava Revolution! from Internationalist Commune on Vimeo.

January 26th: Holocaust Memorial Day event

On Sunday 26th January, 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange Stroud we will host an event outside of our usual series to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. After a short opening statement from Jeremy Green, we will have an open discussion focused on the questions:

  1. Why commemorate the Holocaust at all?
  2. What have we learned from Holocaust commemoration, and what should we have learned?

  3. Are there any no-go areas in discussing the Holocaust, and should there be?

As an aid to the discussion, we recommend attendees read Primo Levi’s answers to the most common questions he was asked about “Survival in Auschwitz”, first published in 1986.

Share details via Facebook: SRRG Holocaust Memorial Day event.

Our Stroud Radical Reading Group event at The Exhchange, 7.30-9.30pm will follow the annual inter faith HMD event at Rodborough Tabernacle Church URC, earlier the same day – Sunday 26th January at 2.00 pm. Short address by Rev Adrian Slade, plus contributions from many faith groups. All faiths and none welcome. Tea and cake afterwards! (there is very limited parking at the Tabernacle-please walk/cycle/car share)

27 January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) “encourages remembrance in a world scarred by genocide”. They “promote and support Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) – the international day on 27 January to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur

The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must still be resisted every day. Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred must be challenged by us all.

HMD is for everyone. Each year across the UK, thousands of people come together to learn more about the past and take action to create a safer future. We know they learn more, empathise more and do more.

Together we bear witness for those who endured genocide, and honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.”

The HMD website contains pages where you can learn about the Holocaust and genocides, and including resources including life stories of survivors and those who were murdered, schools materials, activity ideas, films, images and more.

22nd January: Why Social Movements Matter

To kick off our 2020 series on “Praxis: activism, social movements and revolution” We will focus on Chapter 4 of Why Social Movements Matter by Laurence Cox, one of Europe’s leading social movement researchers: “Practice-Oriented Thinking: ‘The Philosophers Have Only Interpreted the World’” (email us for the text). We encourage you to read the full book, which can be ordered for next day delivery from Stroud Bookshop, £19.95, though we will focus our discussion on the chapter, and welcome people who have not done the reading to listen to the discussion.

About the book: Social movements and popular struggle are a central part of today’s world, but often neglected or misunderstood by media commentary as well as experts in other fields. Why Social Movements Matter explains social movements for a general educated readership, shows how much social movements are part of our everyday lives, and how in many ways they have shaped the world we live in over centuries. It explores the relationship between social movements and the left, how movements develop and change, the complex relationship between movements and intellectual life, and delivers a powerful argument for rethinking how the social world is constructed. Drawing on three decades of experience, Why Social Movements Matter shows the real space for hope in a contested world.

Author Laurence Cox is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and Associate Researcher at the Collège d’Etudes Mondiales, Paris. He has published widely on different aspects of social movements, including We Make Our Own History: Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism, Voices of 1968: Documents from the Global North, Understanding European Movements, Marxism and Social Movements and Silence Would Be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa.

He has been involved in many different kinds of movement since the 1980s, including ecological, international solidarity, human rights and organising against repression, antiwar, community activism, radical media, self-organised spaces, alternative education and the alter-globalisation ‘movement of movements’.

If you’re not able to read the text, or prefer an audio-visual source, you may be interested in a 36minute podcast from the New Books Network, or the short videos with Laurence Cox produced by the publisher of the book.
Why Women’s Movements Matter” links best with our other readings in this series.

 

20th November – Post-War to Post-Wall, an event with Berliner Zeitgeist

Stroud Radical Reading Group is collaborating with Uta Baldauf and Katharina Child to host a session as part of the Berliner Zeitgeist programme of events.

For our November session we will read and discuss two texts exploring the past and present of Berlin, and how memory of history affects society, in a German context. We will meet at Atelier Stroud, 19A Lower St, Stroud, GL5 2HT, 7.00-9.00pm (there is a small amount of parking at Atelier, alternatively a short walk from Parliament St car park, or a 15 minute walk from Stroud train and bus stations). The two texts we will discuss are

  • “Understanding the City through Crisis. Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin” by Henrik Lebuhn, and
  • “On How Postwar Germany Has Faced Its Recent Past” by Jurgen Habermas.

1. “Understanding the City through Crisis. Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin” by Henrik Lebuhn (read online or download via link). This article discusses how “Two watershed events are crucial for an in-depth understanding of the dynamics at work [in modern Berlin]: The collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1989, followed by a neo-conservative and nationalist, entrepreneurial strategy for the reunified German Capital; and the financial crisis of 2001, which brought a coalition between Social-Democrats and Socialists into power that strongly emphasized Berlin’s (sub-)cultural and cosmopolitan identity, but effectively put the city on a fierce austerity track.”

2. “On How Postwar Germany Has Faced Its Recent Past“, by Jurgen Habermas (word document download via link). Habermas argues that “Since reunification in 1989, Germany’s attitude toward its past has remained ambivalent. Today a New Right calls for the self-confident reassertion of a German nation unburdened by its past. But the past will lose its hold over Germany, Habermas argues, only through the work of a truly faithful memory.” The piece explores what Habermas identifies as four phases of how “postwar Germany attempted to come to terms with its ‘unmasterable past'”

Find out more about the Berliner Zeitgeist programme of events.

This event follows our 25th September session on Insurgent Empire by Dr Priyamvada Gopal, and 23rd October session on Antonio Gramsci.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend but we ask for a donation of £2-3 from anyone who can afford it to cover venue costs. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. 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 even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

23rd October – Antonio Gramsci on Working Class Education and Culture

As part of a series on Culture, Memory and Resistance, Stroud Radical Reading Group will discuss work by Antonio Gramsci on October 23rd at Atelier Stroud, 19A Lower St, Stroud, GL5 2HT, 7.30-9.30pm (there is a small amount of parking at Atelier, alternatively a short walk from Parliament St car park, or a 15 minute walk from Stroud train and bus stations).

We will discuss writings on “Working Class Education and Culture (3.5Mb pdf download)” by Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician, Antonio Gramsci. Included in this pdf download of our focus chapter for discussion is the introduction to the book by Eric Hobsbawm. Much of Gramsci’s writing concerns ideas about the role of culture and ideology in maintaining the status quo through the development of “common sense” values and norms, rather than merely through violence, economic force, or coercion. Radical Readers are encouraged to explore Gramsci’s larger body of work if they wish. Our focus chapter is one set of texts from a larger Gramsci Reader (selected writings, 1916-1935 – 56Mb pdf download), edited by David Forgacs -chapters 6, 7, 11 and 12 are more relevant to questions of culture and “hegemony” for anyone interested in additional reading.

The session with be introduced by Stroud resident and recovering Trotskyist, Jeremy Green.

As people have different styles of learning, we like to include audio and visual materials where possible. You may wish to listen to this Desolation Radio podcast episode on Gramsci (80mins), or watch this short video introduction to key concept ‘hegemony’:

The session is followed by our November session Post-War to Post-Wall, as part of the Berliner Zeitgeist programme, and was preceded by Insurgent Empire – Stroud Radical Reading Group on 25th September.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend but we ask for a donation of £2-3 from anyone who can afford it to cover venue costs. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. 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 even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

Culture, Memory, and Resistance – Autumn 2019 Series

Our Autumn 2019 series explores the way in which the status quo is maintained or resisted through culture and memory, looking at this through different historical contexts: the British Empire, and postwar Italy and Germany.

25th September – Insurgent Empire: anticolonial resistance and British dissent

Insurgent Empire by Dr Priyamvada Gopal “examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire.” (from publishers Verso, who are helpfully selling the book 50% at £12.50 till 23rd September)

23rd October – Antonio Gramsci (reading TBC)

In October we will discuss work by Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician, Antonio Gramsci. A short reading will be chosen ASAP, focusing on Gramsci’s ideas about the role of culture and ideology in maintaining the status quo through the development of “common sense” values and norms, rather than merely through violence, economic force, or coercion.

20th November – Post-War to Post-Wall, an event with Berliner Zeitgeist

Stroud Radical Reading Group is collaborating with Uta Baldauf and Katharina Child to host a session as part of the Berliner Zeitgeist programme of events.

For our November session we will read and discuss two texts exploring the past and present of Berlin, and how memory of history affects society, in a German context:

“Understanding the City through Crisis. Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin” by Henrik Lebuhn, and “On How Postwar Germany Has Faced Its Recent Past” by Jurgen Habermas.

 

Insurgent Empire – 25th September 2019

For September’s session we will be discussing Dr. Priyamvada Gopal’s recently published book: Insurgent Empire: anticolonial resistance and British Dissent (as part of our Autumn 2019 series on “Culture, Memory and Resistance“).

The session will be on Wednesday September 25th at a NEW VENUE: Atelier Stroud, 19A Lower St, Stroud GL5 2HT (just up the road from Black Book, which is sadly now closed).

Download the Introduction and Chapter 1 as a Word document. These are the sections we will focus on, but as ever you are welcome to read more if you have the time!

A summary from the publishers: “Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom.

Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire.

Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Insurgent Empire sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.”

You may be interested in listening to a Modern Myth podcast, Insurgent Empire and the Lost Voices in Colonialism with Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, or watching videos with Gopal speaking about the book, such as the one below:
Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend but we ask for a donation of £2-3 from anyone who can afford it to cover venue costs. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. 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 even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

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