Fall 2022 Reading Groups
In Fall 2022, Metro DC DSA is excited to host 9 different reading groups—and we’d love for you to join one! Reading groups provide an opportunity to share learning and political education in a group setting, allowing members and supporters’ organizing and knowledge to develop alongside comrades.
Reading group meetings will be held virtually, though many groups have scheduled in-person social meet ups. Some groups are topic-driven and read a series of articles, while others are focused on a specific book. All meetings will be held in the evenings except where specified. No experience or knowledge is necessary before entering any group and all readings and materials will be made available online for free! Sign up here!
W.E.B. Dubois Black Reconstruction Reading Group: The Black Reconstruction Reading Group will be reading W.E.B. Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction in America in its entirety. The main goal of the reading group will be to read through the entirety of the book, an accomplishment in itself as Black Reconstruction is over 700 pages long. However, we will also be seeking to use the text to answer some key historical and political questions. For example, what does Du Bois’ analysis of emancipation and reconstruction tell us about the history of the U.S.? In what ways do we believe Du Bois’ understanding of slavery and emancipation is novel? These are just a few of many questions that can guide our reading of what many consider Du Bois’ magnum opus. More information available here.
Eugene V. Debs Reading Group: The Eugene V. Debs Reading Group will be reading Ray Ginger’s classic 1947 biography of U.S. socialist and labor leader Eugene V. Debs, The Bending Cross. The goal of the group will be to become better acquainted with the life and work of one of our movement’s best-known leaders, as well as develop a broader understanding of the history of the U.S. socialist and labor movements. We will seek to discuss the successes and challenges of the early American labor movement and openly socialist electoral policies, as demonstrated in Debs’ times. More information available here.
Socialist Feminist Reading Group: The Socialist Feminist Reading Group will be reading Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, a collection of 14 essays edited by Zillah Einstein published in 1978. As we work our way through Capitalist Patriarchy, the group will discuss the context in which we are reading these essays, the context in which they were written, and all that has transpired in the intervening years. We are looking to ground ourselves in this history and theory to better equip ourselves for the fights of today, while taking a critical eye to thought leaders of the past. More information here.
Stomp Out Slumlords Reading Group: The Stomp Out Slumlords Reading Group will be reading Samuel Stein’s Capital City. Widely read among tenant organizers and housing activists, the book seeks to examine the process of gentrification and the influence of the real estate state through the capabilities and limitations of the urban planning professional. Stein charts the rise of the real estate sector and its entanglement with finance and municipal government, producing urban spaces that are increasingly unlivable for all but the wealthiest residents and postulates the role of planning and social movements in creating a just city. Our purpose is to understand and critique the complex forces and processes that constitute gentrification, how they define contemporary housing politics, and what can be done to change that. We’ll examine how and why the real estate state functions, how people experience the politics of the real estate state, and what organizing can do to create tenant power in a system of elite-driven development. What contradictions have arisen from the rise of the real estate state? What role do planners play in gentrification? How do housing issues manifest in our city’s politics? How does city planning overlap with tenant struggles? Is city planning compatible with tenant power? Over the course of the reading group, we will explore the ways in which housing issues are a fundamental part of class struggle. These struggles have varying characteristics depending on the conditions in which we live: rural or urban, capital intensive or industrial, uneven distribution of investment, concentrations of pollution and other environmental degradation, etc. In discussing a wide range of housing conditions, we will discover the ways that building tenant power can support other struggles. More information here.
We Power DC Reading Group:
The We Power DC Reading Group will be reading How to Blow Up a Pipeline by ecosocialist thinker Andreas Malm. In this book – which is not an instruction manual – Malm considers the tactical orientation of the climate movement and argues that we must consider a broader array of possible actions to disrupt fossil capitalism.
The group will seek to answer the following questions: How should we choose and evaluate tactics in our movements? How are tactics connected to strategy in the climate movement and more broadly? Where should the climate movement go in the US considering the current state of physical and political reality? More information here.
Eco-Socialist Reading Group: TBA
Marx at the Museum Reading Group: The Marx at the Museum will engage closely with Marxist humanist art critic John Berger’s 1972 book and BBC television show Ways of Seeing. First intended as an introduction to the ideological critique of the Western European painting canon from a socialist perspective, it is famous for popularizing such critical terminology as “the male gaze” and pioneering an approach to art history and criticism that took seriously the pedagogical potential of mass media. Reading Ways of Seeing remains an entertaining exercise in active viewership forty years after its initial publication. As we work through Ways of Seeing, John Berger’s classic television series and work of art criticism, the members of this reading group will engage with Berger’s critical re-evaluation of both the Western art historical canon, and the institutions that act as its gatekeepers. Guided by Berger’s text, we will begin to consider the utility of bourgeois art and arts institutions to working class movements. More information available here.
Robin Kelley’s Hammer and Hoe Reading Grou: The Hammer and Hoe Reading Group will be reading historian Robin Kelley’s classic work on the Alabama Communist Party Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression. The goal of this reading group is to expand our understanding of African Americans and their involvement in leftist organizing in the 1930s and look at their responses to racial capitalism. More information available here.
Democratic Socialist Reading Group: The Democratic Socialism Reading Group will be reading “What Then Must We Do?” by Gar Alperovitz. Through engaging with the text we will seek to answer key questions: What constitutes a systemic change versus reform? How does our electoral strategy fit in with systematic change? Can Democratic Socialism be created through Revolution? Why do leftist and liberal governments come and go in South America? What part will the labor movement play? What constitutes our side in this struggle? What is the checkerboard strategy? More information here.