Tag Archives: Fascism

24th February: Twilight of Democracy

On Wednesday 24th February, we will discuss “New Years Eve” and “How Demagogues Win” – the first two chapters of Anne Applebaum’s 2020 book “Twilight of Democracy”. Download the chapters via the link below. As ever, it’s great if people are able to read more of the book than the focus text, which we have picked primarily because it is freely available. Chas de Whalley, a regular attendee who recommended the book, will introduce it for us and place the chapters we will discuss in context.

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 even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends” (or, in the US “The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism“) discusses democratic decline and the rise of right-wing populist politics with authoritarian tendencies in Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. You can buy Twilight of Democracy from Hive for £12.65 (reduced from £16.99) and Stroud Bookshop or the Yellow Lighted Bookshop will surely be able to order it in for you.

“When politics becomes polarized, which side do you back?

If you are a journalist, an intellectual, a civic leader, how do you deal with the re-emergence of authoritarian or nationalist ideas in your country?

When your leaders appropriate history, or pedal conspiracies, or eviscerate the media and the judiciary, do you go along with it?

Twilight of Democracy is an essay that combines the personal and the political in an original way and brings a fresh understanding to the dynamics of public life in Europe and America, both now and in the recent past.”

– From the Publisher’s webpage (Penguin Books)

If you prefer to engage through audio, you can listen to a 50 minute Talking Politics podcast with the author discussing the book. This looks at Poland, Trump and Brexit, Hungary and Spain – asking the questions “What explains the prevalence of conspiracy theories in contemporary politics? Why are so many conservatives drawn to the politics of despair? Is history really circular? And is democracy doomed?”

Anne Applebaum is the author of the 2004 Pullitzer Prize-winning “Gulag: A History”, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe” (2012), “Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe” (1994), and “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” (2017). She is a historian and journalist (at one time on the editorial board of the Washington Post, she now writes for The Atlantic). She was born in America and has been a Polish citizen since 2013 (she is married to Radosław Sikorski, who has been Poland’s Defence Minister, and Foreign Minister).

27th January 2021: Holocaust Memorial Day – Silent Starry Night by Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg

This is an online event, which will be held from 7.30-9.30pm on Wednesday 27th January, via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us.

27 January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is held each year on this date. The theme for HMD 2021is “Be the light in the darkness” and it encourages everyone to take action to ‘be the light’.

We will discuss “Silent Starry Night” – Chapter 4 of Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg’s Revolutionary Yiddishland. The chapter addresses “the image of the Jew in the face of Nazism that history has retained”, one “not that of the Resistance fighter but that of the victim”. It asks, and answers the following questions:Was there really a Jewish Resistance?
How was the action of the Yiddishland revolutionaries continued – or interrupted – by the war?
Did the figure of the Jewish combatant acquire a sufficient profile to stand against that of the victim and martyr who accepts his lot as the blow of fate?

Find out more about Revolutionary Yiddishland at the Verso website, where you can buy the full text at £6.99 paperbook+ebook (30% off at the moment). You can download chapter 4 via the link below, but you are encouraged to read more of the book if you are able.

Revolutionary Yiddishland - a history of Jewish Radicalism

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.