Tag Archives: Class

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.”

July 21st 2021: Zami by Audre Lorde

Our next session will be on Wednesday 21st July, 7.30-9.30pm on Zoom (contact us for details).

We will discuss Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde on 21st July. This is the second in a series of three texts on Feminism, to be followed by Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici (August 18th). Full details for that session to be added to the website ASAP. In June we discussed Lola Olufemi’s Feminism, Interrupted – Disrupting Power (click to catch up with free excerpts/audio-visual content).

Order the book from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop. Once you’ve ordered the book(s) you want, enter “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout, click “Apply Coupon” – and the bill will be reduced by 10%. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (£3.50 for delivery.

Audrew Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. Zami is a “biomythography”, a term coined by Lorde that combines “biography” and “mythology”. As well as Lorde’s life, the book explores racism, lesbianism, mother-daughter relationships, and McCarthyism (accusations of treason related to Communism, named after the US Senator and the ‘red scare’ era of 1940s and 1950s America).

“A little black girl opens her eyes in 1930s Harlem, weak and half-blind. On she stumbles – through teenage pain and loneliness, but then to happiness in friendship, work and sex, from Washington Heights to Mexico, always changing, always strong. This is Audre Lorde’s story. A rapturous, life-affirming autobiographical novel by the ‘Black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet’, it changed the literary landscape.”

– from the Penguin Classics edition

There is a 50 minute audio recording of Audre Lorde reading excerpts of the book and speaking about her life available on YouTube (at the link and embedded below).

Want to read more? You can read Lorde’s 1980 paper “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” (pdf) at the link.

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.

“Natives: race and class in the ruins of Empire” by Akala

Our second reading of 2019 will be on Wednesday 20th February, 7.30-9.30pm at Black Book Cafe at the bottom of Nelson St: “Natives: race and class in the ruins of Empire” by Akala. We ask for a donation of £1-3 to cover the costs of the venue, and – though anyone is welcome to listen – we request that the discussion is focused on and mainly involves those who have read the text.

The reading forms a part of our mini-series: “Britain: Class, Race and Gender in past, present and future”.

In Natives, Akala takes his own experiences – with education, the police, identity and everything in between – and uses them to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers; race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook.

We will focus on Chapters 5 and 6 (“Empire and Slavery in the British Memory (pdf)” and “Scotland and Jamaica (pdf)”, pages 123-168) of this best-selling book by BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur Akala.

A PDF of the full text of Natives can be read and downloaded online.

Facebook event page: Natives by Akala.

There is a wealth of material from Akala online, including his music and a number of lectures, in the video below, Akala presents Natives at the Edinburgh International Book Festival:

Britannia Unchained?

The first sessions of Stroud Radical Reading Group in 2019 will form a mini-series: “Britain: Class, Race and Gender in past, present and future.” We’ll meet at the Black Book Cafe at the bottom of Nelson St (next to the Laundrette), 7.30-9.30pm, usually the third Wednesday of the month.

Our first session will focus on “Britannia Unchained: Global Lessons for Growth and Prosperity”, written by several British Conservative Party right-wing MPs (Chris Skidmore, Kwasi Kwarteng, Dominic Raab, and Priti Patel). It was released in September 2012, arguing that Britain should adopt a different and radical approach to business and economics or risk “an inevitable slide into mediocrity”. We will focus on the title chapter “Britannia Unchained” and the conclusion, pages 100-116.

To offer insight and alternative perspectives, we have also selected
* Molly Scott Cato’s BadBoysOfBrexit website, and
* Paul Kingsnorth’s “Brexit & the culture of Progress”.

Readers may elect to focus on one of the three, or dip into each.

Additional notes:

Molly Scott Cato is Green Party MEP for the South West (including Stroud). Readers may also like to browse the section of Molly’s website devoted to Brexit.

Paul Kingsnorth’s views were also covered in “The lie of the land: does environmentalism have a future in the age of Trump?” published in the Guardian in March 2017.

The following events in the series – Britain: Class, Race and Gender in past, present and future are:

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala – 20th February
Why I’m No Longer Talking (To White People) About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge – 20th March
“Me And White Supremacy Workbook” – Layla Saad – 17th April