Tag Archives: resistance

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.”

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

November 25th: (B)Ordering Britain – Nadine El-ENany

Please join us online on November 25th, 7.30-9.30pm, to discuss “(B)Ordering Britain: Law, race and empire” by Nadine El-Enany. Register to access the free event via Eventbrite.

(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. The book is currently available from the publishers for £12 for the hardcover book (reduced from £20). You can also listen to the author, Nadine El-Enany, discussing the content and themes of the book with the Surviving Society podcast hosts (53 minutes), or read her blogpost, “Britain as the spoils of empire“.

You will need to register for the event 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.

This book concludes our “Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism” series – but people are welcome to join if they have not attended previous events.

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.

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.


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.