Let us introduce ourselves …
We are Revolutionary Reads, a radical reading collective based in San Francisco. Our group is made up mostly of activists, journalists, academics, and writers. Each month we select a text—current or classical—that has something to do with revolutionary change, read it, and discuss it face-to-face in an informal setting over booze and pizza. We have read David Graeber’s Debt and David Harvey’s Rebel Cities so far, and our book for May is Arundhati Roy’s Walking with the Comrades. Our current meeting place is the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the Mission. In between meetings, we discuss all things revolutionary on our newly launched public forum and via Google listserv.
Inspired by the Occupy movement and the Arab uprisings, we believe that this country needs revolutionary change of the sort we saw during the civil rights era—only bigger. Late in his life, Martin Luther King sought to move beyond civil rights and confront capitalism, economic inequality, and American imperialism. He died before he could gain traction. If he had lived long enough, he might have also targeted ecological devastation.
The arc of the moral universe may be long, but the environmental crisis demands that we make radical changes to our political economy within our lifetimes if our civilization is to prosper. Although environmental concerns force our hand, they are just one interest of the gathering revolutionary movement. We are also fighting to make a happier, just, democratic, egalitarian, and sustainable society that respects each individual and the other peoples of the world. However, the looming ecological crisis demands that we act now and that we succeed. Yes, it will take decades, but that’s why we shouldn’t procrastinate any longer.
How do we even begin to fight for revolutionary change? One thing we can do is study it, and one way to do so is to read books about it and discuss them over food and grog.
Our basic principles …
We don’t need “thought leaders” telling us what to think and what to do. The era of elites of all stripes is over. We all need to become experts about our own lives and our communities, and apply our knowledge, beliefs, and desires to bringing revolutionary change to our world. We are all our own intellectuals, our own leaders, and we must work together in a democratic spirit of cooperation and mutual consent.
Although careful readings of texts and getting interpretations right is important and has its place, it is not our primary goal. Rather the chief aim of our reading group is practical: we seek to engage the texts to derive inspiration, ideas, and perspective towards activism, so that we may be better prepared for revolutionary change.
Reading groups should, first and foremost, be fun. This is not an academic activity. It is a social activity. That’s why we believe alcohol is a must.
How to get involved
We want to build a nationwide revolutionary reading collective. Are you interested in joining us? Here’s what you can do:
(1) Join the discussion on our public forum at RevolutionaryReads dot ORG.
(2) Start a reading group in your area by inviting friends to join you. Read the text of the month and schedule a face-to-face meeting some time in the last week of the month at a place that allows alcohol and lively discussion. We have found that 10–12 people work best, while anything over 20 becomes difficult to manage without a moderator.
(3) E-mail us at revolutionaryreads at gmail dot com to tell us about your new group. We will set up a separate page on our public forum for your location. We will also add you to our Google listserv.
(4) Each text is selected by online voting after group discussion. Participate in that discussion in the “Future Readings” section of the forum and vote in our online polls.
(5) Keep us updated! We are especially interested in activism and writing inspired by the texts we read.
What about the blog?
On the blog we will comment on the latest news related to revolutionary change, provide updates, and aggregate links of interest.
Join us, stay tuned, and prepare for revolution!