Our big event of the Summer was the launch on June 22 of a marvellous new work, A City of Light: Socialism, Chartism and Co-operation – Nottingham 1844 by local author, and friend of the Nest, Christopher Richardson.
This is the third publication by Loaf on a Stick Press. It concerns the women (lots of them!) and men of Nottingham who were trying to create a better world in the dark days of the 1840s, taking 1844 as a particularly important year for progressives. These were the sorts of people who made possible the establishment of Nottingham’s first Co-operative Society, in 1863. Not only do we love the book for its highly-readable, inspiring and enlightening tales, not least of independent ‘operatives’ libraries, and for the amazing, painstaking research that has gone into it, but also because it points the way to a genuinely radical and class-conscious historical interpretation of the city that is rooted in the original records. Along with the other Loaf on a Stick publications, and the work of Nottingham radical history group People’s Histreh, this work makes a very important contribution to our understanding of the city as it was experienced by people who had little or no voice in their own time, but whose lives and aspirations radical history can shed light on. You can buy your very own copy. We recommend it as a great Christmas present.
The launch itself was a great success. The Nest was full-to-bursting with people who came to listen to Chris talk about the book and see the finished work for the first time. We are sorry that we ran out of wine and, with the modern day Co-op supermarket having deserted St. Ann’s, were not able to replenish your glasses. But we loved having you all here. Not only were lots of copies sold, but the Nest was showcased to a lot of people who would not normal stumble across us, and we made lots of new friends and new contacts.
In late July-early August some of us were in the US and visited Bound Together anarchist collective bookshop in Haight-Ashbury, San Fransisco. It’s a fancy location, but they pay a dirt-cheap rent because of a kindly landlord. They have been going since 1976 (although in a different location previously). That is quite an achievement for a radical bookshop; it’s a long time since every major town in Britain had one. They are run entirely by volunteers (the one we met had worked there for 15 years – commitment!) and are open seven days a week. They also sponsor an annual anarchist bookfair in the ‘Bay Area’ and are active in the Prisoners Literature Project, which is based there.
We gave ourselves a $50 budget and bought:
Two really interesting pamphlets with writings by three nineteenth-century French anarcha-feminists writing about women’s situation and offering pretty hard-hitting critiques of Proudhon. Whatever we make of his economic ideas (Mutualism), he was a chauvinist who wanted women in the kitchen. In our ignorance, we hadn’t come across these reposts, and look forward to reading them. Both are published by Corvus Editions http://www.corvuseditions.com (but without much other publication information). They are Jenny P. D’Hericourts Prouhon, and issue 1 of Black and Red Feminism, containing texts by Jeanne Deroin and Léodile Bera Champseix, who wrote under the name ‘André Léo’.
Louis Patours’ The Anarchism of Jean Grave: Editor, Journalist and Militant (Black Rose Books, 2003). Grave was inspired to action by the Paris Commune (1871) and promoted anarchism until he died in 1939. He wrote works including the Dying Society and Anarchism, Society after the Revolution, both of we we’d love copies of, and edited La Révolte, an important French anarchist paper.
Rafael Uzcategui’s Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle (See Sharp Press, 2010). Translated by Chaz Bufe, it analyses the Chavez regime from an anti-authoritarian perspective, concluding that not only is it not revolutionary, but highlighting how it has disempowered autonomous social and environmental movements.
A lovely hardback edition of Voline’s The Unknown Revolution (Black Rose Books, 1975). We already have a paperback edition of this important commentary on the Russian Revolution, but it is such an important work that we invested. This means that the paperback edition may now be borrowed from us.
Another work that we ashamed not to have known about previously is a very unusual work by Peter Kropotkin. Russian Literature: Ideas and Realities (Black Rose Books, 1991) surveys great Russian authors, including Tolstoy, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky and Gogol, and makes a special case for Russian literature: that its high standing and political nature is the only way that dissident political thinkers were able to express their ideas in the repressive Tsarist environment.
It just remains for us to remind our friends that if you come to our Monday openings for the rest of August, you may well be able to grab a bag of our famous greengages; they will soon be ripe, as will the grapes, and so we expect to be making more ‘Chateau Stannz’ soon too...!
We also spotted an interesting quote in Barbara Tuchman’s essay on Anarchism before WWI, which we just got around to cataloguing. Whilst not exactly sympathetic (!) she notes that the historical relationship between the anarchists and the printing profession arose ‘either because the Anarchist seeks contact with the printed word or because contact with the printed word leads to Anarchism’: ‘The idea and the deed. The Anarchists: 1890-1914’, in The Proud Tower (originally 1966, and of which we have a damaged 1995 Folio Society edition), p. 92.
We have made available on-line for the first time (we think) A Cause for Concern. This is a report by the Nottingham branch of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) on the aftermath of the 1981 riots in Nottingham. It looks at a number of cases of people who were arrested, harassed, attacked, prosecuted and/or sent down by cops and courts. Its findings are not really surprising (police arresting random people, roughing them up etc.). However, this report is very interesting in providing detailed case studies, statistics of people arrested, information about the arrestees, alleged crimes, sentences etc. In short, it provides rich and detailed source materials for anyone looking into these riots.
Finally, we are very sorry to those on the Annual Inclosures Walk who,on a baking hot July day, came to the Nest expecting a much needed loo stop and ice pops, as we had offered this year, as in the past four years. You found us empty! What you don’t know is that we already spotted walkers who identified themselves as being the Inclosures Walk, and steered them to the Nest for refreshments. We thought they looked a bit bemused, and we didn’t recognise any familiar faces, but we looked after them, assumed all was well, and packed up and went home. It turns out that you arrived not long afterwards! What are the chances of there being TWO, entirely unrelated Inclosures Walks on the same day? It will go down in history as one of the strangest things to happen to us (and there have been some strange ones!).