Tag Archives: Capitalism

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:

  • A download featuring Rodney’s Preface, Chapter 4: “Europe and the Roots of African Underdevelopment – To 1885” (plus a foreword from Angela Davis exploring the book’s lasting contributions to a revolutionary and feminist practice of anti-imperialism).
  • A 30 minute programme from CaribNation TV featuring an interview with Prof Rupert Lewis – author of “Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought”
  • Podcast episodes with Dr Patricia Rodney (discussing her own book on the Caribbean state, healthcare, and women, and labour of preserving her husband’s legacy over the decades), and Asha Rodney (looking at the assassination of her father by the hands of an immensely repressive Guyanese government in 1980, and discussing how to implement her father’s work and legacy today). Both episodes are from the Groundings Podcast, named in honor of Rodney, “whose concept of “groundings” as a form of radical, political, dialogic, and communal education inspires the conversations” .

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.

Surveillance Capitalism (and How to Destroy It)

On Wednesday 28th April we will discuss Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff and How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism by Cory Doctorow. There are links to freely-available pieces we will focus our discussion on below. As ever, it’s great if people are able to read more of the book than the focus texts. Two people with present short introductions to both pieces to place the focus texts in context, and enable anyone attending to hear about the work. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you have not read any of the texts.

This is an online event, which will be held from 7.30-9.30pm 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. 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 text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

For the discussion, please read either or both of:

The Introduction to Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff.

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism by Cory Doctorow. This ha been published in full online, freely available, by OneZero. The word count means it is auto-described as an 109 minute read (roughly two hours) Paperback and e-reader editions of the book, each with an extra print-only chapter, are now available — you can get a copy here.

If you’d like to read more, the full text of Surveillance Capitalism is available online as a free pdf here.

If you prefer to engage through audio/visual material, there are some options below:

Watch an interview with Shoshana Zuboff on Democracy now, in two parts (transcripts are available):

Part 1: “We Thought We Were Searching Google, But Google Was Searching Us

Part 2: “Big Tech Stole Our Data While Democracy Slept

You can listen to an interview with Cory Doctorow on the Srsly Wrng podcast – episode 220 – Stop Techno Dystopia!

There is a 50-minute documentary from Dutch broadcaster VPRO below, where “Zuboff takes the lid off Google and Facebook and reveals a merciless form of capitalism in which no natural resources, but the citizen itself, serves as a raw material” and deals with the questions “What is surveillance capitalism? How can citizens regain control of their data?”

This event is the second in a series on digital technology. You don’t need to come have to the previous session on TechGnosis to attend. You may also be interested in attending the third and final session on the 26th May, Roisin Kiberd’s The Disconnect: A Personal Journey Through the Internet.

September 30th 2020 – The Many-Headed Hydra

As part of our series of discussions exploring Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism (monthly online events till November 2020), on September 30th 2020 we discussed “The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic” by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker.

Read a summary of The Many-Headed Hydra and our discussion on Amplify Stroud.

The full text of The Many-Headed Hydra is available online as a pdf, and as ever we encourage people to read as much of the book as possible.

We focussed our discussion on the Introduction and Chapter 6 – “The Outcasts of The Nations of The Earth” – download this section as a .doc text file.

Marshaling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors of The Many Headed Hydra explore the foundations of our modern global economy, and show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a ‘hydra’ and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fueled the age of revolution. Others, hidden from history and recovered here, have much to teach us about our common humanity.

Chapter 6 explores the the “structure of New York’s commerce”, at a time of slavery and imperialism – part of what the authors call their recovery of a “lost history of the multiethnic class that was essential to the rise of capitalism and the modern, global economy”. As Sukhdev Sandhu writes in his 2001 review of the book for The Guardian: “A central chapter of the book is concerned with what came to be known as the New York Conspiracy. In March 1741, radicals set fire to New York. Fort George, the prime military fortification in British America, was reduced to ashes. Soon, other metropolitan landmarks were torched. These were no random conflagrations. Lying on the west side of Manhattan, Fort George was a site of huge strategic importance for the Atlantic trade and a nodal point of the Britain-Africa-Americas triangle. Slaves and slave products were imported there. It was also populated by a swarm of people whose labours underwrote the city’s wealth, but who themselves were wholly despised.”

The chapter places the events of 1741 in context of a cycle of “multiracial conspiracies” and rebellions of the 1730s and 1740s, and notes how repression of these led to the promotion of “a white identity” in order to “produce new discipline and a different solidarity”.

Content warning: this chapter includes an image of a painting entitled “The hanging of an African in New York”. The book as a whole features other images of this nature, as well as some graphic descriptions of (racist and/or sexual) violence, and quotes historical racist texts.

This event will be followed by two further discussions exploring Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism:

October 28th – “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution” by C.L.R. James

November 25th – “(B)Ordering Britain: Law, race and empire” by Nadine El-Enany.

Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism. SRRG 2020 series 3

Between July 29th and November 25th, Stroud Radical Reading Group will host a series of discussions exploring Racial Capitalism. Each of these events will be held on the last Wednesday of the month, 7.30-9.30pm – online via video call (we will continue to assess when it may be appropriate to host indoor events). You will need to register for the events via Eventbrite in order to access details of the video calls (this is free, will prevent any ‘trolling’ of calls, and enable reminders).

As ever, Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topics. 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 to the discussion. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to know more about how the sessions are run. If you are on Facebook, please also join our Facebook group.

July 29th – Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore

We will start this series by focussing our discussion not on a text but on a 17 minute Antipode Foundation film – “Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore”.

For those who wish to read a short text to accompany this video, we recommend “Black matters are spatial matters: Black geographies for the twenty-first century (pdf)” by Camilla Hawthorne. Referencing the work of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and the Black Radical tradition, this paper explores how “scholars of Black Geographies insist that racism and capitalism are fundamentally intertwined and that this relationship is both structured by and structuring of space”.

September 30th – “The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic” by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker

The expansion of trade and colonization in the early seventeenth century launched the first global economy, a vast, diverse, and landless workforce was born. These workers crossed national, ethnic, and racial boundaries, as they circulated around the Atlantic world on trade ships and slave ships, from England to Virginia, from Africa to Barbados, and from the Americas back to Europe.

Marshalling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a ‘hydra’ and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fuelled the age of revolution. The full text of The Many-Headed Hydra is available online as a pdf. We will focus our discussion on the Introduction and Chapter 6 – “The Outcasts of The Nations of The Earth”, but please read as much of the book beyond this as you are able to. For more details of the event: Many Headed Hydra.

October 28th – “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution” by C.L.R. James

CLR James provides the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803 and the story of the French colony of San Domingo. It is also the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces – helping to form the first independent nation in the Caribbean, and inspiring anti-colonial movements around the world.

The full text of The Black Jacobins is available online as a “.mobi” ebook file. We encourage people to read the whole book, and as much as possible if not. More details of this event: The Black Jacobins. Download the intro and Chapter 2 as a pdf via the link below:

November 25th – “(B)Ordering Britain: Law, race and empire” by Nadine El-Enany.

(B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out.

Bordering Britain argues that – no matter what the law, media and political discourse dictate – people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, should have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.

We will focus our discussion on the introduction to Bordering Britain – available free online (pdf) as a sample chapter from the publishers. You are welcome and encouraged to read more, but we appreciate that the £20 price tag for the hardcover book (and sadly the e-book version as well) may be unaffordable – which is why the focus of our discussion will be on the freely available text.

New summer series – Climate and Environmental Crisis

Our next three events in 2019 form a summer series on Climate and Environmental Crises – see our upcoming events page for more details. We will discuss Down to Earth by Bruno Latour on 15th May, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore on 19th June, and The Challenge for Africa by Wangari Maathai on 17th July (see below for more details).

SRRG2
Poster for Summer Series on Climate and Environmental Crises

Each event will take place at the Black Book Cafe, Nelson St, Stroud from 7.30-9.30pm. 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. A printable pdf of the poster above is available to print, if you would like to help us publicise the events.