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Emma Goldman (27 June 1869 – 14 May 1940) was an American anarchist political activist and writer. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
- I feel sure that the police are helping us more than I could do in ten years. They are making more anarchists than the most prominent people connected with the anarchist cause could make in ten years. If they will only continue I shall be very grateful; they will save me lots of work.
- Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful moulder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?
Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere.
- "Marriage and Love" in Anarchism and Other Essays (1911)
- The custom of procuring abortions has reached such appalling proportions in America as to be beyond belief... So great is the misery of the working classes that seventeen abortions are committed in every one hundred pregnancies.
- "Mother Earth" (1911)
- The average mind is slow in grasping a truth, but when the most thoroughly organized, centralized institution, maintained at an excessive national expense, has proven a complete social failure, the dullest must begin to question its right to exist. The time is past when we can be content with our social fabric merely because it is "ordained by divine right," or by the majesty of the law.
- Ladies and gentlemen, I came here to avoid as much as possible treading on your corns. I had intended to deal only with the basic issue of economics that dictates our lives from the cradle to the grave, regardless of our religion or moral beliefs. I see now that it was a mistake. If one enters a battle, he cannot be squeamish about a few corns. Here, then, are my answers: I do not believe in God, because I believe in man. Whatever his mistakes, man has for thousands of years past been working to undo the botched job your God has made.
As to killing rulers, it depends entirely on the position of the ruler. If it is the Russian Czar, I most certainly believe in dispatching him to where he belongs. If the ruler is as ineffectual as an American President, it is hardly worth the effort. There are, however, some potentates I would kill by any and all means at my disposal. They are Ignorance, Superstition, and Bigotry — the most sinister and tyrannical rulers on earth. As for the gentleman who asked if free love would not build more houses of prostitution, my answer is: They will all be empty if the men of the future look like him.
- Responding to audience questions during a speech in Detroit (1898); as recounted in Living My Life (1931), p. 207; quoted by Annie Laurie Gaylor in Women Without Superstition, p. 382
- Every daring attempt to make a great change in existing conditions, every lofty vision of new possibilities for the human race, has been labelled Utopian.
- "Socialism: Caught in the Political Trap", a lecture (c. 1912), published in Red Emma Speaks, Part 1 (1972) edited by Alix Kates Shulman
- When we can't dream any longer we die.
- I hope I shall never live to see Anarchism become thoroughly respectable, for then I shall have to look for a new ideal.
The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation (1906)
- If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and a minus.
- Corruption of politics has nothing to do with the morals, or the laxity of morals, of various political personalities. Its cause is altogether a material one. Politics is the reflex of the business and industrial world, the mottos of which are: "To take is more blessed than to give"; "buy cheap and sell dear"; "one soiled hand washes the other." There is no hope even that woman, with her right to vote, will ever purify politics.
- The right to vote, or equal civil rights, may be good demands, but true emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in courts. It begins in woman's soul. History tells us that every oppressed class gained true liberation from its masters through its own efforts. It is necessary that woman learn that lesson, that she realize that her freedom will reach as far as her power to achieve her freedom reaches. It is, therefore, far more important for her to begin with her inner regeneration, to cut loose from the weight of prejudices, traditions, and customs. The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved. Indeed, if partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being slave or subordinate. It will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism of the sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds.
- Pettiness separates; breadth unites. Let us be broad and big. Let us not overlook vital things because of the bulk of trifles confronting us. A true conception of the relation of the sexes will not admit of conqueror and conquered; it knows of but one great thing: to give of one's self boundlessly, in order to find one's self richer, deeper, better. That alone can fill the emptiness, and transform the tragedy of woman's emancipation into joy, limitless joy.
What is Patriotism? (1908)
- Speech given in San Francisco, California
- What is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place of childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it the place where, in childlike naïveté, we would watch the passing clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not float so swiftly? The place where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest each one "an eye should be," piercing the very depths of our little souls?
- "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels," said Dr. Samuel Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our time, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment in the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the honest workingman.
- Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.
The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course, with the result that from early infancy the mind of the child is provided with blood-curdling stories about the Germans, the French, the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood he is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition.
An army and navy represent the people's toys.
- We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that she will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations.
Such is the logic of patriotism.
- Our writer claims that militarism can never become such a power in America as abroad, since it is voluntary with us, while compulsory in the Old World. Two very important facts, however, the gentleman forgets to consider. First, that conscription has created in Europe a deep-seated hatred of militarism among all classes of society. Thousands of young recruits enlist under protest and, once in the army, they will use every possible means to desert. Second, that it is the compulsory feature of militarism which has created a tremendous anti-militarist movement, feared by European Powers far more than anything else. After all, the greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism. The very moment the latter is undermined, capitalism will totter. True, we have no conscription; that is, men are not usually forced to enlist in the army, but we have developed a far more exacting and rigid force--necessity. Is it not a fact that during industrial depressions there is a tremendous increase in the number of enlistments? The trade of militarism may not be either lucrative or honorable, but it is better than tramping the country in search of work, standing in the bread line, or sleeping in municipal lodging houses. After all, it means thirteen dollars per month, three meals a day, and a place to sleep. Yet even necessity is not sufficiently strong a factor to bring into the army an element of character and manhood. No wonder our military authorities complain of the "poor material" enlisting in the army and navy. This admission is a very encouraging sign. It proves that there is still enough of the spirit of independence and love of liberty left in the average American to risk starvation rather than don the uniform.
- Thinking men and women the world over are beginning to realize that patriotism is too narrow and limited a conception to meet the necessities of our time.
- The spirit of militarism has already permeated all walks of life. Indeed, I am convinced that militarism is a greater danger here than anywhere else, because of the many bribes capitalism holds out to those whom it wishes to destroy.
- When we have undermined the patriotic lie, we shall have cleared the path for the great structure where all shall be united into a universal brotherhood — a truly free society.
A New Declaration of Independence (1909)
- When, in the course of human development, existing institutions prove inadequate to the needs of man, when they serve merely to enslave, rob, and oppress mankind, the people have the eternal right to rebel against, and overthrow, these institutions.
- Government exists but to maintain special privilege and property rights; it coerces man into submission and therefore robs him of dignity, self-respect, and life.
- The history of the American kings of capital and authority is the history of repeated crimes, injustice, oppression, outrage, and abuse, all aiming at the suppression of individual liberties and the exploitation of the people. A vast country, rich enough to supply all her children with all possible comforts, and insure well-being to all, is in the hands of a few, while the nameless millions are at the mercy of ruthless wealth gatherers, unscrupulous lawmakers, and corrupt politicians.
The reign of these kings is holding mankind in slavery, perpetuating poverty and disease, maintaining crime and corruption; it is fettering the spirit of liberty, throttling the voice of justice, and degrading and oppressing humanity. It is engaged in continual war and slaughter, devastating the country and destroying the best and finest qualities of man; it nurtures superstition and ignorance, sows prejudice and strife, and turns the human family into a camp of Ishmaelites.
Anarchism and Other Essays (1910)
Anarchism: What It Really Stands For
- Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think. The widespread mental indolence, so prevalent in society, proves this to be only too true. Rather than to go to the bottom of any given idea, to examine into its origin and meaning, most people will either condemn it altogether, or rely on some superficial or prejudicial definition of non-essentials.
- Crime is naught but misdirected energy. So long as every institution of today, economic, political, social, and moral, conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and all the laws on the statutes can only increase, but never do away with, crime.
- Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fullfilled only through man's subordination.
- Direct action, having proven effective along economic lines, is equally potent in the environment of the individual. There a hundred forces encroach upon his being, and only persistent resistance to them will finally set him free. Direct action against the authority in the shop, direct action against the authority of the law, direct action against the invasive, meddlesome authority of our moral code, is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism. Will it not lead to a revolution? Indeed, it will. No real social change has ever come about without a revolution. People are either not familiar with their history, or they have not yet learned that revolution is but thought carried into action.
Minorities Versus Majorities
- The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought. That this should be so terribly apparent in a country whose symbol is democracy, is very significant of the tremendous power of the majority. [...] Evidently we have not advanced very far from the condition that confronted Wendell Phillips. Today, as then, public opinion is the omnipresent tyrant; today, as then, the majority represents a mass of cowards, willing to accept him who mirrors its own soul and mind poverty. That accounts for the unprecedented rise of a man like Roosevelt. He embodies the very worst element of mob psychology. A politician, he knows that the majority cares little for ideals or integrity. What it craves is display. It matters not whether that be a dog show, a prize fight, the lynching of a "nigger," the rounding up of some petty offender, the marriage exposition of an heiress, or the acrobatic stunts of an ex-president. The more hideous the mental contortions, the greater the delight and bravos of the mass. Thus, poor in ideals and vulgar of soul, Roosevelt continues to be the man of the hour. On the other hand, men towering high above such political pygmies, men of refinement, of culture, of ability, are jeered into silence as mollycoddles. It is absurd to claim that ours is the era of individualism. Ours is merely a more poignant repetition of the phenomenon of all history: every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass. Today, as ever, the few are misunderstood, hounded, imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
- The principle of brotherhood expounded by the agitator of Nazareth preserved the germ of life, of truth and justice, so long as it was the beacon light of the few. The moment the majority seized upon it, that great principle became a shibboleth and harbinger of blood and fire, spreading suffering and disaster. The attack on the omnipotence of Rome was like a sunrise amid the darkness of the night, only so long as it was made by the colossal figures of a Huss, a Calvin, or a Luther. Yet when the mass joined in the procession against the Catholic monster, it was no less cruel, no less bloodthirsty than its enemy. Woe to the heretics, to the minority, who would not bow to its dicta. After infinite zeal, endurance, and sacrifice, the human mind is at last free from the religious phantom; the minority has gone on in pursuit of new conquests, and the majority is lagging behind, handicapped by truth grown false with age.
The Psychology of Political Violence
- Obviously, Anarchism, or any other social theory, making man a conscious social unit, will act as a leaven for rebellion.
- Anarchism, more than any other social theory, values human life above things.
- Compared with the wholesale violence of capital and government, political acts of violence are but a drop in the ocean. That so few resist is the strongest proof how terrible must be the conflict between their souls and unbearable social iniquities.
Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure
- With all our boasted reforms, our great social changes, and our far-reaching discoveries, human beings continue to be sent to the worst of hells, wherein they are outraged, degraded, and tortured, that society may be “protected” from the phantoms of its own making.
- I do not mean to deny the biologic, physiologic, or psychologic factors in creating crime; but there is hardly an advanced criminologist who will not concede that the social and economic influences are the most relentless, the most poisonous germs of crime.
- Those who have a spark of self-respect left, prefer open defiance, prefer crime to the emaciated, degraded position of poverty.
- The methods of coping with crime have no doubt undergone several changes, but mainly in a theoretic sense. In practice, society has retained the primitive motive in dealing with the offender; that is, revenge.
- The natural impulse of the primitive man to strike back, to avenge a wrong, is out of date. Instead, the civilized man, stripped of courage and daring, has delegated to an organized machinery the duty of avenging his wrongs, in the foolish belief that the State is justified in doing what he no longer has the manhood or consistency to do.
Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty
- Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.
- The contention that a standing army and navy is the best security of peace is about as logical as the claim that the most peaceful citizen is he who goes about heavily armed. The experience of every-day life fully proves that the armed individual is invariably anxious to try his strength. The same is historically true of governments. Really peaceful countries do not waste life and energy in war preparations, with the result that peace is maintained.
- Has not authority from time immemorial stamped every step of progress as treasonable?
- When we have undermined the patriotic lie, we shall have cleared the path for that great structure wherein all nationalities shall be united into a universal brotherhood, — a truly FREE SOCIETY.
Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School
- For eighteen hundred years the Catholic Church has preached the gospel of peace. Yet, when the people actually wanted to make this gospel a living reality, she urged the authorities to force them to bear arms.
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism
- With Puritanism as the constant check upon American life, neither truth nor sincerity is possible. Nothing but gloom and mediocrity to dictate human conduct, curtail natural expression, and stifle our best impulses.
- It repudiates, as something vile and sinful, our deepest feelings; but being absolutely ignorant as to the real functions of human emotions, Puritanism is itself the creator of the most unspeakable vices.
- So long as one can use scented candy to abate the foul breath of hypocrisy, Puritanism is triumphant.
The Traffic in Women
- It is a conceded fact that woman is being reared as a sex commodity, and yet she is kept in absolute ignorance of the meaning and importance of sex.
- Human nature asserts itself regardless of all laws, nor is there any plausible reason why nature should adapt itself to a perverted conception of morality.
- Society creates the victims that it afterwards vainly attempts to get rid of.
- As of old, the most enlightened, even, hope for a miracle from the twentieth-century deity, — suffrage. Life, happiness, joy, freedom, independence, — all that, and more, is to spring from suffrage. In her blind devotion woman does not see what people of intellect perceived fifty years ago: that suffrage is an evil, that it has only helped to enslave people, that it has but closed their eyes that they may not see how craftily they were made to submit.
- The poor, stupid, free American citizen! Free to starve, free to tramp the highways of this great country, he enjoys universal suffrage, and, by that right, he has forged chains about his limbs. The reward that he receives is stringent labor laws prohibiting the right of boycott, of picketing, in fact, of everything, except the right to be robbed of the fruits of his labor.
- Needless to say, I am not opposed to woman suffrage on the conventional ground that she is not equal to it. I see neither physical, psychological, nor mental reasons why woman should not have the equal right to vote with man. But that can not possibly blind me to the absurd notion that woman will accomplish that wherein man has failed. If she would not make things worse, she certainly could not make them better. To assume, therefore, that she would succeed in purifying something which is not susceptible of purification, is to credit her with supernatural powers. Since woman’s greatest misfortune has been that she was looked upon as either angel or devil, her true salvation lies in being placed on earth; namely, in being considered human, and therefore subject to all human follies and mistakes. Are we, then, to believe that two errors will make a right? Are we to assume that the poison already inherent in politics will be decreased, if women were to enter the political arena?
- What would become of the rich, if not for the poor? What would become of these idle, parasitic ladies, who squander more in a week than their victims earn in a year, if not for the eighty million wage-workers? Equality, who ever heard of such a thing?
- I do not believe that woman will make politics worse; nor can I believe that she could make it better. If, then, she cannot improve on man’s mistakes, why perpetrate the latter?
- There is no reason whatever to assume that woman, in her climb to emancipation, has been, or will be, helped by the ballot.
The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation
- The motto should not be: Forgive one another; rather, Understand one another.
- The right to vote, or equal civil rights, may be good demands, but true emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in courts. It begins in woman’s soul. History tells us that every oppressed class gained true liberation from its masters through its own efforts. It is necessary that woman learn that Iesson, that she realize that her freedom will reach as far as her power to achieve her freedom reaches. It is, therefore, far more important for her to begin with her inner regeneration, to cut loose from the weight of prejudices, traditions, and customs. The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved. Indeed, if partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being slave or subordinate. It will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism of the sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds.
Marriage and Love
- Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful moulder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?
- Free love? As if love is anything but free!
- Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere. In freedom it gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. All the laws on the statutes, all the courts in the universe, cannot tear it from the soil, once love has taken root.
The Modern Drama: A Powerful Disseminator of Radical Thought
- It has been said of old, all roads lead to Rome. In paraphrased application to the tendencies of our day, it may truly be said that all roads lead to the great social reconstruction. The economic awakening of the workingman, and his realization of the necessity for concerted industrial action; the tendencies of modern education, especially in their application to the free development of the child; the spirit of growing unrest expressed through, and cultivated by, art and literature, all pave the way to the Open Road.
The Failure of Christianity (1913)
- Essay in the Journal Mother Earth (April 1913)
- Everywhere and always, since its very inception, Christianity has turned the earth into a vale of tears; always it has made of life a weak, diseased thing, always it has instilled fear in man, turning him into a dual being, whose life energies are spent in the struggle between body and soul. In decrying the body as something evil, the flesh as the tempter to everything that is sinful, man has mutilated his being in the vain attempt to keep his soul pure, while his body rotted away from the injuries and tortures inflicted upon it.
The Christian religion and morality extols the glory of the Hereafter, and therefore remains indifferent to the horrors of the earth. Indeed, the idea of self-denial and of all that makes for pain and sorrow is its test of human worth, its passport to the entry into heaven.
- The reward in heaven is the perpetual bait, a bait that has caught man in an iron net, a strait-jacket which does not let him expand or grow. All pioneers of truth have been, and still are, reviled; they have been, and still are, persecuted. But did they ask humanity to pay the price? Did they seek to bribe mankind to accept their ideas? They knew too well that he who accepts a truth because of the bribe, will soon barter it away to a higher bidder...
Proud and self-reliant characters prefer hatred to such sickening artificial love. Not because of any reward does a free spirit take his stand for a great truth, nor has such a one ever been deterred because of fear of punishment.
- Christianity is most admirably adapted to the training of slaves, to the perpetuation of a slave society; in short, to the very conditions confronting us to-day.... The rulers of the earth have realized long ago what potent poison inheres in the Christian religion. That is the reason they foster it; that is why they leave nothing undone to instill it into the blood of the people. They know only too well that the subtleness of the Christian teachings is a more powerful protection against rebellion and discontent than the club or the gun.
- The Fathers of the Church can well afford to preach the gospel of Christ. It contains nothing dangerous to the regime of authority and wealth; it stands for self-denial and self-abnegation, for penance and regret, and is absolutely inert in the face of every [in]dignity, every outrage imposed upon mankind.
Intellectual Proletarians (1914)
- Those who are placed in positions which demand the surrender of personality, which insist on strict conformity to definite political policies and opinions, must deteriorate, must become mechanical, must lose all capacity to give anything really vital. The world is full of such unfortunate cripples. Their dream is to “arrive,” no matter at what cost. If only we would stop to consider what it means to “arrive,” we would pity the unfortunate victim. Instead of that, we look to the artist, the poet, the writer, the dramatist and thinker who have “arrived,” as the final authority on all matters, whereas in reality their “arrival” is synonymous with mediocrity, with the denial and betrayal of what might in the beginning have meant something real and ideal. The “arrived” artists are dead souls upon the intellectual horizon. The uncompromising and daring spirits never “arrive.” Their life represents an endless battle with the stupidity and the dullness of their time. They must remain what Nietzsche calls “untimely,” because everything that strives for new form, new expression or new values, is always doomed to be untimely.
- Those who will not worship at the shrine of money, need not hope for recognition. On the other hand, they will also not have to think other people's thoughts or wear other people's political clothes. They will not have to proclaim as true that which is false, nor praise that as humanitarian which is brutal.
- The Kropotkins, the Perovskayas, the Breshkovskayas, and hosts of others repudiated wealth and station and refused to serve King Mammon. They went among the people, not to lift them up but themselves to be lifted up, to be instructed, and in return to give themselves wholly to the people. That accounts for the heroism, the art, the literature of Russia, the unity between the people, the mujik and the intellectual. That to some extent explains the literature of all European countries, the fact that the Strindbergs, the Hauptmanns, the Wedekinds, the Brieux, the Mirbeaus, the Steinlins and Rodins have never dissociated themselves from the people.
- Our whole civilization, our entire culture is concentrated in the mad demand for the most perfected weapons of slaughter. Ammunition! Ammunition! O, Lord, thou who rulest heaven and earth, thou God of love, of mercy and of justice, provide us with enough ammunition to destroy our enemy. Such is the prayer which is ascending daily to the Christian heaven.
- the jingoes and war speculators are filling the air with the sentimental slogan of hypocritical nationalism, "America for Americans," "America first, last, and all the time."
- The pathos of it all is that the America which is to be protected by a huge military force is not the America of the people, but that of the privileged class; the class which robs and exploits the masses, and controls their lives from the cradle to the grave. No less pathetic is it that so few people realize that preparedness never leads to peace, but that it is indeed the road to universal slaughter.
- Forty years ago Germany proclaimed the slogan: "Germany above everything. Germany for the Germans, first, last and always. We want peace; therefore we must prepare for war. Only a well armed and thoroughly prepared nation can maintain peace, can command respect, can be sure of its national integrity." And Germany continued to prepare, thereby forcing the other nations to do the same. The terrible European war is only the culminating fruition of the hydra-headed gospel, military preparedness.
- Since the war began, miles of paper and oceans of ink have been used to prove the barbarity, the cruelty, the oppression of Prussian militarism. Conservatives and radicals alike are giving their support to the Allies for no other reason than to help crush that militarism, in the presence of which, they say, there can be no peace or progress in Europe. But though America grows fat on the manufacture of munitions and war loans to the Allies to help crush Prussians the same cry is now being raised in America which, if carried into national action, would build up an American militarism far more terrible than German or Prussian militarism could ever be, and that because nowhere in the world has capitalism become so brazen in its greed and nowhere is the state so ready to kneel at the feet of capital.
- Like a plague, the mad spirit is sweeping the country, infesting the clearest heads and staunchest hearts with the deathly germ of militarism.
- militarism, the destroyer of youth, the raper of women, the annihilator of the best in the race, the very mower of life.
- Woodrow Wilson has now joined his worthy colleagues in the jingo movement, echoing their clamor for preparedness and their howl of "America for Americans." The difference between Wilson and Roosevelt is this: Roosevelt, a born bully, uses the club; Wilson, the historian, the college professor, wears the smooth polished university mask, but underneath it he, like Roosevelt, has but one aim, to serve the big interests, to add to those who are growing phenomenally rich by the manufacture of military supplies.
- To uphold the institutions of our country-that's it-the institutions which protect and sustain a handful of people in the robbery and plunder of the masses, the institutions which drain the blood of the native as well as of the foreigner, turn it into wealth and power
- The very proclaimers of "America first" have long before this betrayed the fundamental principles of real Americanism...the other truly great Americans who aimed to make of this country a haven of refuge, who hoped that all the disinherited and oppressed people in coming to these shores would give character, quality and meaning to the country.
- You cannot conduct war with equals; you cannot have militarism with free born men; you must have slaves, automatons, machines, obedient disciplined creatures, who will move, act, shoot and kill at the command of their superiors. That is preparedness, and nothing else.
The Philosophy of Atheism (1916)
- Essay in the journal Mother Earth (February 1916)
- It is characteristic of theistic "tolerance" that no one really cares what the people believe in, just so they believe or pretend to believe.
- Do not all theists insist that there can be no morality, no justice, honesty or fidelity without the belief in a Divine Power? Based upon fear and hope, such morality has always been a vile product, imbued partly with self-righteousness, partly with hypocrisy. As to truth, justice, and fidelity, who have been their brave exponents and daring proclaimers? Nearly always the godless ones: the Atheists; they lived, fought, and died for them. They knew that justice, truth, and fidelity are not conditioned in heaven, but that they are related to and interwoven with the tremendous changes going on in the social and material life of the human race; not fixed and eternal, but fluctuating, even as life itself.
- Atheism ... in its philosophic aspect refuses allegiance not merely to a definite concept of God, but it refuses all servitude to the God idea, and opposes the theistic principle as such. Gods in their individual function are not half as pernicious as the principle of theism which represents the belief in a supernatural, or even omnipotent, power to rule the earth and man upon it. It is the absolutism of theism, its pernicious influence upon humanity, its paralyzing effect upon thought and action, which Atheism is fighting with all its power.
- The God idea is growing more impersonal and nebulous in proportion as the human mind is learning to understand natural phenomena and in the degree that science progressively correlates human and social events.
My Disillusionment in Russia (1923)
- Existing in manuscript as "My Two Years in Russia" this work was published as My Disillusionment with Russia (1923), and My Further Disillusionment with Russia (1924) and finally as a complete one-volume edition (1925)
- The STATE IDEA, the authoritarian principle, has been proven bankrupt by the experience of the Russian Revolution. If I were to sum up my whole argument in one sentence I should say: The inherent tendency of the State is to concentrate, to narrow, and monopolize all social activities; the nature of revolution is, on the contrary, to grow, to broaden, and disseminate itself in ever-wider circles. In other words, the State is institutional and static; revolution is fluent, dynamic. These two tendencies are incompatible and mutually destructive. The State idea killed the Russian Revolution and it must have the same result in all other revolutions, unless the libertarian idea prevail.
- The dominant, almost general, idea of revolution — particularly the Socialist idea — is that revolution is a violent change of social conditions through which one social class, the working class, becomes dominant over another class, the capitalist class. It is the conception of a purely physical change, and as such it involves only political scene shifting and institutional rearrangements. Bourgeois dictatorship is replaced by the "dictatorship of the proletariat" — or by that of its "advance guard," the Communist Party. Lenin takes the seat of the Romanovs, the Imperial Cabinet is rechristened Soviet of People's Commissars, Trotsky is appointed Minister of War, and a labourer becomes the Military Governor General of Moscow. That is, in essence, the Bolshevik conception of revolution, as translated into actual practice.
- Revolution is indeed a violent process. But if it is to result only in a change of dictatorship, in a shifting of names and political personalities, then it is hardly worth while. It is surely not worth all the struggle and sacrifice, the stupendous loss in human life and cultural values that result from every revolution. If such a revolution were even to bring greater social well being (which has not been the case in Russia) then it would also not be worth the terrific price paid: mere improvement can be brought about without bloody revolution.
- Our institutions and conditions rest upon deep-seated ideas. To change those conditions and at the same time leave the underlying ideas and values intact means only a superficial transformation, one that cannot be permanent or bring real betterment. It is a change of form only, not of substance, as so tragically proven by Russia.
- In its mad passion for power, the Communist State even sought to strengthen and deepen the very ideas and conceptions which the Revolution had come to destroy. It supported and encouraged all the worst antisocial qualities and systematically destroyed the already awakened conception of the new revolutionary values.
The sense of justice and equality, the love of liberty and of human brotherhood — these fundamentals of the real regeneration of society — the Communist State suppressed to the point of extermination. Man's instinctive sense of equity was branded as weak sentimentality; human dignity and liberty became a bourgeois superstition; the sanctity of life, which is the very essence of social reconstruction, was condemned as unrevolutionary, almost counter-revolutionary. This fearful perversion of fundamental values bore within itself the seed of destruction.
- With the conception that the Revolution was only a means of securing political power, it was inevitable that all revolutionary values should be subordinated to the needs of the Socialist State; indeed, exploited to further the security of the newly acquired governmental power.
- This perversion of the ethical values soon crystallized into the all-dominating slogan of the Communist Party: THE END JUSTIFIES ALL MEANS. Similarly in the past the Inquisition and the Jesuits adopted this motto and subordinated to it all morality. It avenged itself upon the Jesuits as it did upon the Russian Revolution. In the wake of this slogan followed lying, deceit, hypocrisy and treachery, murder, open and secret. It should be of utmost interest to students of social psychology that two movements as widely separated in time and ideas as Jesuitism and Bolshevism reached exactly similar results in the evolution of the principle that the end justifies all means. The historic parallel, almost entirely ignored so far, contains a most important lesson for all coming revolutions and for the whole future of mankind.
- There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another, This conception is a potent menace to social regeneration. All human experience teaches that methods and means cannot be separated from the ultimate aim. The means employed become, through individual habit and social practice, part and parcel of the final purpose; they influence it, modify it, and presently the aims and means become identical.
- The great and inspiring aims of the Revolution became so clouded with and obscured by the methods used by the ruling political power that it was hard to distinguish what was temporary means and what final purpose. Psychologically and socially the means necessarily influence and alter the aims. The whole history of man is continuous proof of the maxim that to divest one's methods of ethical concepts means to sink into the depths of utter demoralization. In that lies the real tragedy of the Bolshevik philosophy as applied to the Russian Revolution. May this lesson not be in vain.
- No revolution can ever succeed as a factor of liberation unless the MEANS used to further it be identical in spirit and tendency with the PURPOSES to be achieved. Revolution is the negation of the existing, a violent protest against man's inhumanity to man with all the thousand and one slaveries it involves. It is the destroyer of dominant values upon which a complex system of injustice, oppression, and wrong has been built up by ignorance and brutality. It is the herald of NEW VALUES, ushering in a transformation of the basic relations of man to man, and of man to society.
- Its first ethical precept is the identity of means used and aims sought. The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and wellbeing. Unless this be the essential aim of revolution, violent social changes would have no justification. For external social alterations can be, and have been, accomplished by the normal processes of evolution. Revolution, on the contrary, signifies not mere external change, but internal, basic, fundamental change. That internal change of concepts and ideas, permeating ever-larger social strata, finally culminates in the violent upheaval known as revolution.
- The period of the actual revolution, the so-called transitory stage, must be the introduction, the prelude to the new social conditions. It is the threshold to the NEW LIFE, the new HOUSE OF MAN AND HUMANITY. As such it must be of the spirit of the new life, harmonious with the construction of the new edifice.
- To-day is the parent of to-morrow. The present casts its shadow far into the future. That is the law of life, individual and social. Revolution that divests itself of ethical values thereby lays the foundation of injustice, deceit, and oppression for the future society. The means used to prepare the future become its cornerstone.
- Witness the tragic condition of Russia. The methods of State centralization have paralysed individual initiative and effort; the tyranny of the dictatorship has cowed the people into slavish submission and all but extinguished the fires of liberty; organized terrorism has depraved and brutalized the masses and stifled every idealistic aspiration; institutionalized murder has cheapened human life, and all sense of the dignity of man and the value of life has been eliminated; coercion at every step has made effort bitter, labour a punishment, has turned the whole of existence into a scheme of mutual deceit, and has revived the lowest and most brutal instincts of man. A sorry heritage to begin a new life of freedom and brotherhood.
- It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that revolution is in vain unless inspired by its ultimate ideal. Revolutionary methods must be in tune with revolutionary aims. The means used to further the revolution must harmonize with its purposes. In short, the ethical values which the revolution is to establish in the new society must be initiated with the revolutionary activities of the so-called transitional period. The latter can serve as a real and dependable bridge to the better life only if built of the same material as the life to be achieved.
Living My Life (1931)
- The free expression of the hopes and aspirations of a people is the greatest and only safety in a sane society.
- At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.
I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal. (p. 56)
- This incident was the source of a statement commonly attributed to Goldman that occurs in several variants:
If I can't dance, it's not my revolution!
If I can't dance, I don't want your revolution!
If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
If there won't be dancing at the revolution, I'm not coming.
- This incident was the source of a statement commonly attributed to Goldman that occurs in several variants:
- No sacrifice is lost for a great ideal! (p. 135)
- America had declared war with Spain.... It did not require much political wisdom to see that America's concern was a matter of sugar and had nothing to do with humanitarian feelings. Of course there were plenty of credulous people, not only in the country at large, but even in liberal ranks, who believed in America's claim. I could not join them. I was sure that no one, be it individual or government, engaged in enslaving and exploiting at home, could have the integrity or the desire to free people in other lands. (p. 226)
- The people are asleep; they remain indifferent. They forge their own chains and do the bidding of their masters to crucify their Christs. (p. 304)
- Nothing would prove more disastrous to our ideas, we contended, than to neglect the effect of the internal upon the external, of the psychological motives and needs upon existing institutions. (p. 402)
- I spoke after Sasha, for an hour. I discussed the farce of a government undertaking to carry democracy abroad by suppressing the last vestiges of it at home. I took up the contention of Judge Mayer that only such ideas are permissible as are "within the law." Thus he had instructed the jurymen when he had asked them if they were prejudiced against those who propagate unpopular ideas. I pointed out that there had never been an ideal, however humane and peaceful, which in its time had been considered "within the law." I named Jesus, Socrates, Galileo, Giordano Bruno. "Were they 'within the law"?" I asked. "And the men who set America free from British rule, the Jeffersons and the Patrick Henrys? The William Lloyd Garrisons, the John Browns, the David Thoreaus and Wendell Phillipses-were they within the law?" (chapter 45)
- My life — I had lived in its heights and its depths, in bitter sorrow and ecstatic joy, in black despair and fervent hope. I had drunk the cup to the last drop. I had lived my life. Would I had the gift to paint the life I had lived! (chapter 56)
"On Zionism " (1938)
- I have for many years opposed Zionism as the dream of capitalist Jewry the world over for a Jewish State with all its trimmings, such as Government, laws, police, militarism and the rest. In other words, a Jewish State machinery to protect the privileges of the few against the many. Reginald Reynolds is wrong, however, when he makes it appear that the Zionists were the sole backers of Jewish emigration to Palestine. Perhaps he does not know that the Jewish masses in every country and especially in the United States of America have contributed vast amounts of money for the same purpose. They have given unstintingly out of their earnings in the hope that Palestine may prove to be an asylum for their brothers, cruelly persecuted in nearly every European country. The fact that there are many non-Zionist communes in Palestine goes to prove that the Jewish workers who have helped the persecuted and hounded Jews have done so not because they are Zionists, but for the reason I have already stated, that they might be left in peace in Palestine to take root and live their own lives. (‘Palestine and Socialist Policy’ article)
- I have been taught that the land should belong to those who till the soil. With all of his deep-seated sympathies with the Arabs, our comrade cannot possibly deny that the Jews in Palestine have tilled the soil. Tens of thousands of them, young and deeply devout idealists, have flocked to Palestine, there to till the soil under the most trying pioneer conditions. They have reclaimed wastelands and have turned them into fertile fields and blooming gardens. Now I do not say that therefore Jews are entitled to more rights than the Arabs, but for an ardent socialist to say that the Jews have no business in Palestine seems to me rather a strange kind of socialism.
- In conclusion, I wish to say that my attitude to the whole tragic question is not dictated by my Jewish antecedents. It is motivated by my abhorrence of injustice, and man’s inhumanity to man. It is because of this that I have fought all my life for anarchism which alone will do away with the horrors of the capitalist régime and place all races and peoples, including the Jews, on a free and equal basis. Until then I consider it highly inconsistent for socialists and anarchists to discriminate in any shape or form against the Jews.
The Individual, Society and the State (1940)
- The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime. The wholesale mechanisation of modern life has increased uniformity a thousandfold. It is everywhere present, in habits, tastes, dress, thoughts and ideas. Its most concentrated dullness is "public opinion." Few have the courage to stand out against it. He who refuses to submit is at once labelled "queer," "different," and decried as a disturbing element in the comfortable stagnancy of modern life.
- Perhaps even more than constituted authority, it is social uniformity and sameness that harass the individual most. His very "uniqueness," "separateness" and "differentiation" make him an alien, not only in his native place, but even in his own home. Often more so than the foreign born who generally falls in with the established.
In the true sense one's native land, with its back ground of tradition, early impressions, reminiscences and other things dear to one, is not enough to make sensitive human beings feel at home. A certain atmosphere of “belonging,” the consciousness of being “at one” with the people and environment, is more essential to one's feeling of home. This holds good in relation to one's family, the smaller local circle, as well as the larger phase of the life and activities commonly called one's country. The individual whose vision encompasses the whole world often feels nowhere so hedged in and out of touch with his surroundings than in his native land.
Quotes about Goldman
- "Emma was my education," Alix Kates Shulman said; "she connected me with a radical world." Goldman's conflicts over the problem of individualism, dissent, minority voice, authority, hierarchy, and her great issues-"the relation between the sexes, the organization of society, and most profoundly, the connection between the two"-paralleled Shulman's own, and Goldman's life immediately gave Shulman a context in which to understand the unfolding women's liberation movement. From Goldman, she learned that "an idea, a cause, a movement could give meaning to a life," a lesson she was beginning to draw from her own life and came to inspire several of her novels. Another parallel lay in their attitudes toward Judaism, which each discarded as a formal identity but remained connected to in characteristically Jewish ways. An atheist, Goldman never criticized Judaism as harshly as she did Christianity, and she considered Jews to be "the mainstay" of "every revolutionary endeavor." Her oratory often contained biblical references, and her radical style was rooted in the prophetic tradition."
- Joyce Antler Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women’s Liberation Movement (2020)
- They were always busy, always thinking of America and their friends there, and longing for wider activity.
- Miss Goldman is a communist; I am an individualist. She wishes to destroy the right of property, I wish to assert it. I make my war upon privilege and authority, whereby the right of property, the true right in that which is proper to the individual, is annihilated. She believes that co-operation would entirely supplant competition; I hold that competition in one form or another will always exist, and that it is highly desirable it should. But whether she or I be right, or both of us be wrong, of one thing I am sure; the spirit which animates Emma Goldman is the only one which will emancipate the slave from his slavery, the tyrant from his tyranny — the spirit which is willing to dare and suffer.
- Voltairine de Cleyre, In Defense of Emma Goldman and the Right of Expropriation (1893)
- Although many social workers like Jane Addams, Florence Kelley, and Sophonisba P. Breckenridge, and socialists like Emma Goldman advocated the rights of immigrants and working women, in most instances during the 1890 to 1910 period their advocacy had little or no effect on the suffragist movement's attitude toward minority or working-class women
- Martha P. Cotera, "Feminism: The Chicano and Anglo Versions-A Historical Analysis" (1980)
- My interest in Magón led me to read Emma Goldman's autobiography. She told about meeting Magón in 1911: “I found California seething with discontent... The revolution in Mexico was the expression of a people awakened to the great economic and political wrongs in their land. The struggle inspired large numbers of militant workers in America, among them many anarchists and the I.W.W. [Industrial Workers of the World], to help their Mexican brothers across the border. Thoughtful persons on the Coast, intellectuals as well as proletarians, were imbued with the spirit behind the Mexican revolution.” Emma Goldman's autobiography contained another observation that impressed me: "However they may dislike the idea, professors are also proletarians; intellectual proletarians, to be sure, but even more dependent upon their employer than ordinary mechanics." Soon I began organizing graduate teaching assistants and professors into a faculty union.
- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Outlaw Woman (2001)
- Mollie Steimer and Emma Goldman were deported to Russia. Many of these women, if not all, are now dead. But in a great crisis they stood staunch and true in defense of peace and democracy.
- Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1906-1926)
- The most interesting women in modern European history appear in the ranks of radical political movements. It is difficult to find conservative or traditional counterparts equal to Louise Michel, Emma Goldman, and Rosa Luxemburg. Even Isadora Duncan, creator of modern dance, flirted with communism. More thoughtful and articulate and certainly as politically active as any of these women is the lesser known Spanish anarchist, Federica Montseny. On asking what attracted these women to radical politics, one discovers in each a commitment to feminism. No person, not even Emma Goldman, explored this necessary relationship between feminist and socialist principles more provocatively than did Federica Montseny.
- Shirley Fredricks in European Women on the Left edited by Jane Slaughter and Robert Korn (1981)
- The Spanish Civil War shaped the political consciousness of a whole generation, which overwhelmingly saw it as representing heroic resistance to Fascism. Goldman and J. C. Powys did not belong to that generation – they belonged to the generation of its parents or, even, grandparents. And rather than resistance to Fascism, it was the social achievements of the Spanish Revolution that inspired them. In that they stand alone, among figures of the front rank, with Read and Orwell...
- David Goodway, in Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow (2006), p. 129
- The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 acted as a catalyst for the protracted workers' rights struggles and widespread sociopolitical change that would define much of the twentieth century. Transformative figures like anarchist organizers Emma Goldman and Lucy Parsons, socialist labor leader Eugene V. Debs, Knights of Labor head Terence Powderly, and AFL founder Samuel Gompers were all inspired by the massive forty-five-day railroad strike that cost hundreds of millions in damage, resulted in one hundred casualties, and saw a thousand people imprisoned.
- Kim Kelly (journalist) Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor (2022)
- Odonanism is roughly identifiable with anarchism. I think it is a fairly identifiable form of the anarchist lineage of Kropotkin, Emma Goldman and, to a large extent, Paul Goodman. It's pacifist anarchism, an identifiable tradition, not Bakhunism. It's just that nobody else had ever used it for fiction-it seemed such a pity.
- 1980 interview in Conversations with Ursula Le Guin (2008)
- I read Goodman and Kropotkin and Emma and the rest, and finally found a politics I liked. But then I had to integrate these political ideas, which I'd formulated over a good year's reading, into a novel, a utopia. The whole process took quite a while, as you might imagine, and there were hundreds of little details that never found their way into the novel.
- 1982 interview in Conversations with Ursula Le Guin (2008)
- I fear my anarchists are not as free from sexual inhibitions and confusions as Emma Goldman and others expected. The intersection of personal sexuality and social community seems to always be a dangerous one, with a lot of red lights and sideswipes.
- 2006 interview in Conversations with Ursula Le Guin (2008)
- Recent scholarship has brought to light the important role played by Emma Goldman and other feminist women in the socialist and anarchist movement. Goldman lectured widely on birth control from 1910 on and served sixty days in jail for distributing pamphlets which offered advice on birth control methods and devices. She was one of the earliest influences on Margaret Sanger, who later sought to deny the socialist roots of her inspiration.
- Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History’’ (1979)
- As early as 1825 American working girls had organized in trade unions for economic demands and, briefly, used political as well as economic means to advance these demands. But their movement remained generally isolated from the woman's rights movement. Among the advocates of other forgotten alternatives to the woman's rights movement were Frances Wright, Robert Dale Owen, Ernestine Rose, John Humphrey Noyes, Henry C. Wright, and later Charlotte Gilman, Victoria Woodhull, Emma Goldman, and Margaret Sanger. These radicals had in common the convictions that the institutions of society were as oppressive to women as were its laws, that the patriarchal family was a questionable institution, and that sexual morality as hitherto defined would have to change. Their methods for attack and their specific programs varied, but they made the connection between religion, the family, sexual mores, and the social status of women. They pointed out, even if not always in specific terms, that merely constitutional changes would not basically alter the position of women.
- Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History’’ (1979)
- women's marginalization in the process of History-making has set them back intellectually and has kept them for far longer than was necessary from developing a consciousness of their collectivity in sisterhood, not motherhood. The cruel repetitiousness by which individual women have struggled to a higher level of consciousness, repeating an effort made a number of times by other women in previous centuries, is not only a symbol of women's oppression but is its actual manifestation. Thus, even the most advanced feminist thinkers, up to and including those in the early 20th century, have been in dialogue with the "great men" before them and have been unable to verify, test and improve their ideas by being in dialogue with the women thinkers before them...Emma Goldman argued for free love and a new sort of communal life against the models of Marx and Bakunin; a dialogue with the Owenite feminists Anna Wheeler and Emma Martin might have redirected her thinking and kept her from inventing "solutions" which had already proven unworkable fifty years earlier...Simone de Beauvoir's erroneous assertion that, "They [women] have no past, no history, no religion of their own," was not just an oversight and a flaw, but a manifestation of the basic limitations which have for millennia limited the power and effectiveness of women's thought.
- Gerda Lerner The Creation of Feminist Consciousness (1993)
- Emma Goldman lived at the Anarchist's House too. Describe Emma Goldman? Her interest to Meridel Le Sueur was as "the first sexually 'free' woman" she met. "The women and feminists of that period never dealt with sex. They were Puritans."
- From "Freethinker Meridel Le Sueur" by Annie Laurie Gaylor (1982)
- When Emma Goldman declared, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution," she was talking about the necessity of joy. Joy, hope, love, healing, are powerful forces. Just because at times these ideas have been manipulated to reinforce individualism doesn't make them sentimental distractions.
- Aurora Levins Morales Medicine Stories: Essays for Radicals (2019 edition)
- Don’t go through life without reading the autobiographies of Emma Goldman, Prince Kropotkin, Malcolm X
- Grace Paley, "Some Notes on Teaching" (1970)
- Emma Goldman, fearless champion of human rights, in Madison Square Garden. Short-sleeved, her fists clenched, she vehemently opposes our entry into the world holocaust, and is threatened with arrest. "I defy the police, when the lives of millions are at stake!"... Alexander Berkman also speaks: "The men of this great land will never let themselves be led by the nose into an imperialist war!"
- Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters (1945)
- Looking well in spite of her advancing years, Emma Goldman now made her home in London. She had known great hardship, and had led a fighting life, in behalf of the right of the masses to lead decent lives, but she still had an astonishing fund of energy. Some inner fire seemed to sustain her. The blue eyes were mellowed with age, but her face remained smooth, and she still had the fair complexion that had so impressed me two decades earlier. Lately she had returned from Spain. And as an eye-witness, who had spent much time in both the Spanish cities and the rural districts, she gave us a compelling picture of those who were valiantly defending their republic, the industrial workers and peasants who had so few friends in France, England, and the Americas. She told also of the co-operative movement which had grown strong in many cities and towns, particularly in Catalonia, the care given to children, and the rise of women, who were coming into their own after centuries of Oriental subservience. When one remembered that all this was achieved while the Spanish people were fighting off a powerful and relentless enemy, one was awed...I found Emma busy with Spanish refugee children, visiting authorities, conferring with heads of numerous organizations in their behalf, publishing a newspaper, and lecturing. At the time she was busy preparing an exhibition to demonstrate pictorially what the war had done to the Spanish people. Declaring that the English newspapers had misrepresented their struggle, she had a collection of photographs of co-operative factories, and of co-operative farms with peasants working on them, that impressed her in Catalonia. In odd contrast to my mental picture of Emma as a public figure, I was pleasantly surprised to discover, in that miserable flat, that she was an excellent cook and a thoughtful hostess...No American would believe what she and others ate in Russia during the famine there, to sustain life. The memory of that period was still sharp in her mind. "What's happening now is only a beginning," she said, as the talk reverted to Spain. "Any day war may spread across Europe, and it will be more terrible than anything the world has ever seen. There will be suffering here and on the Continent comparable only to the days of the Black Plague."
- Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters (1945)
- Like the women civil rights activists, Jewish radicals have historically had a range of responses to Jewish identity. Emma Goldman, for example, balanced the universalism of her anarchist philosophy with an appreciation for Jewish culture and a clear commitment to speaking out against anti-Semitism. Revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg, on the other hand, was hostile to any attempts to link her politics to her Jewish identity and was particularly critical of the Jewish socialist Bund.
- Debra L. Schultz Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement (2002)
- Emma Goldman was one of the most influential radical speakers and thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A native Yiddish speaker who was born in Kovno, Lithuania, she regularly gave speeches in Yiddish even after gaining fame as an English-language orator.
- "La mujer," one of the articles that Luisa Capetillo published in 1912 in Cultura obrera, was later included in the anthology, Voces de liberación (Voices of Liberation), published in 1921 by Lux Editorial from Argentina. Printed for the purpose of gathering the libertarian voices of the most progressive women in the world, the book contains short essays by Rosa Luxembourg, Clara Zetkin, Emma Goldman, Louise Michel, and various Latin American women including Margarita Ortega, a Mexican revolutionary, María López from Buenos Aires, and Rosalina Gutiérrez from Montevideo. The editorial note introducing the authors states, "These voices of liberation are a call to women by their own compañeras to think more and act together with men in the struggle for human emancipation."
- Norma Valle-Ferrer, Luisa Capetillo, Pioneer Puerto Rican Feminist
- Emma Goldman, legendary anarchist and advocate of women’s rights and sexual freedom...Born to a Jewish family in Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire, she emigrated to the US, where she became known as "Red Emma." She was an electrifying public speaker and an extremely competent propagandist, who was arrested countless times for her activism and was described by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as the "most dangerous woman in America"...She was eventually deported from the US because of her activities to Russia, where she joined the revolution, although she became critical of the Bolshevik state when they began repressing workers' strikes and protests. Later she travelled to Spain to aid in the fight against fascism during the Spanish civil war, and remained active until the end.
- One evening I went to hear Emma Goldman, out of curiosity. She was an emotional speaker, but not nearly so dangerous looking as she had been pictured by the newspapers. Her talk was a bit bookish, and she looked like a hausfrau, and more maternal in appearance and manner than destructive. She carried her audience along with her like a mother hen followed by a brood of chicks. Sometimes, however, she rose to heights of flaming anger as she cited crimes of the police against workers or the use of federal or state troops to break strikes.
- Art Young - His Life And Times (1939)
Anarchist Women, 1870-1920 by Margaret S Marsh (1981)
- In the United States Communist-anarchism appealed mostly to working-class immigrants or their children, who felt cheated by false promises of the American dream. Although some declassé intellectuals and American craftworkers joined the communists, the majority of the movement was composed of Eastern European Jews who worked in the sweatshops of New York's garment district, of Italian factory workers, and other immigrants with few skills and little hope of advancement. The two most important figures among them were Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. Originally followers of Johann Most, they emerged from his shadow in the early nineties to become the foremost advocates of revolutionary anarchism.
- No brief description can capture the ideas or the personality of Emma Goldman, the Russian Jewish seamstress whose criticisms of American capitalism earned her the epithet "Red Emma," whose free speech fights led to the creation of the American Civil Liberties Union, and whose refusal to bow to conventions of womanly social and sexual behavior brought her the admiration of young artists and writers struggling to make their own break from middle-class values and norms. Deported from the United States after World War I, she continued to the end of her life to wage, as her biographer Richard Drinnon has remarked, "an unrelenting fight for the free individual." Goldman's chief collaborator in her work as publicist, publisher, and agitator was Alexander Berkman.
- While Goldman took the anarchist message to middle-class audiences, Berkman retained his faith in the revolutionary potential of the working class...Berkman and Goldman personified anarchism to Americans who read accounts of their speeches in the press or followed the news of their trials. The police persecution that they faced, the fear that they aroused, the relief with which the nation greeted their deportation-all testify to the sense of power and fierce determination that the two conveyed. And yet, during the first and second decades of the twentieth century, when the anarchists' notoriety was at a peak, their influence among American radicals was actually on the wane. Socialism, not anarchism, had become the dominant radical ideology, and some understanding of the reasons for the rejection of anarchism is necessary for any interpretation of its significance.
- While Voltairine de Cleyre had argued that the ballot served no useful purpose for either men or women, Emma Goldman went further and called it absolutely harmful: "Suffrage is an evil, . it has only helped to enslave people, it has but closed their eyes that they may not see how craftily they were made to submit."
- Margaret Anderson trivialized Emma Goldman and displayed the limits of her own view of the latter's criticism of capitalist society when she said of Goldman, "She spoke only in platitudes, which I found fascinating."
- For many young women Goldman came to be viewed as the symbol of liberation. That Goldman herself was not insulted by some of the views of her admirers demonstrated the extent of her misunderstanding of her own appeal. One woman compared a Goldman speech to "a glass of fine, old wine," under the influence of which the listener grew "more and more excited and stimulated... until finally I feel I can sit quietly no longer, but just must give expression somehow to the surge of thought and feeling she awakens." Louise Bryant likened Goldman to "the other good things that come to us, like the spring and the rain and the sunshine," and referred to her lectures as "inspirational messages" of "healing and life-giving qualities."...Goldman provided entertainment; perhaps her young admirers expected little more. Nevertheless, the relationship between Goldman and these women had a more serious and more disturbing aspect. Goldman was a remarkable figure who may have given these women a sense of being included in "the Cosmic secrets of nature," but they misinterpreted emotional experience as revolutionary commitment. In return for their admiration, the young bohemians expected Goldman to shoulder for them the burden of the consequences of political activism. Nearly the whole of anarchist philosophy was reduced to hero-worship of those few individuals who were willing to do the things that others were prepared only to imagine-to endure the unwelcome attention of the authorities, to accept prison, to act as surrogates for those who wished to have something in which to believe but not necessarily to emulate.
- Emma Goldman referred to Thoreau as "the greatest American Anarchist" and quoted approvingly his antigovernment statements."
- Voltairine de Cleyre rendered Goldman's words (in August 1893) as follows: "Ask for work; if they do not give you work ask for bread; if they do not give you work or bread, take bread." Goldman insisted that she simply told the audience to "protect what belongs to you-what you yourselves have produced, and in the first place you ought to take bread." But the police officer who caused Goldman's arrest testified that she had told her audience to "take it by force," which convinced a jury to send her to Blackwell's Island prison for a year.
- Goldman disagreed with Rebekah Raney. She felt that birth control was "a tremendously important phase, first because it is tabooed and the people who advocate it are persecuted. Secondly it represents the immediate question of life and death to masses of people."
- In the twentieth century de Cleyre and Goldman elaborated Lizzie May Holmes's ideas. Their views provided the theoretical foundation for the Modern School, the first full-scale anarchist educational experiment in the United States…Although de Cleyre's years as a teacher helped to form her educational ideas, both she and Goldman became associated with the Modern School movement as a result of their involvement in the cause of Francisco Ferrer.
- Goldman was the moving force behind the founding of New York's Modern School in 1911. Having contended as early as 1906 that American education destroyed the minds and spirits of children, she believed that "if education should mean anything at all, it must insist on the free growth and development of the innate forces and tendencies of the child. In this way alone can we hope for the free individual and eventually also for a free community, which shall make interference and coercion of human growth impossible." Goldman wanted the Modern School to encourage the spontaneous development of the child; the teacher should not direct, but "should be a sensitive instrument responding to the needs of the child as they are at anytime manifested." Teachers should not discipline their pupils because "to discipline a child is to set up a false moral standard," which would inhibit the child from developing his or her own moral nature.
- Both de Cleyre and Goldman looked forward to a society in which gender did not form the basis for differences of personality, temperament, or intellectual interests.
- Emma Goldman's biography of de Cleyre, published in 1932 and until recently almost the sole source of readily available information about her, contributed to the myth. This biography is especially interesting because, although it was set almost in the form of a eulogy, Goldman used both subtle and overt comments to belittle her old rival...On the subject of de Cleyre's attitude and appearance, Goldman was unkind and inaccurate.
- Carl Nold, a friend of both women, touched on the essential distinction between the two women. "Emma Goldman tried to attract her hearers with a bass-drum. Voltairine de Cleyre has done it with a violin."
- In the final analysis, neither woman was successful in her most cherished goal: to bring about a revolution that would crush capitalism, topple male supremacy, and usher in new freedoms for men, women, and children. In another sense, however, both were great successes. Goldman felt that despite her defeats, her life was indeed worth living...Because of anarchist-feminists, we can understand far better what it meant to choose to live in contradiction to the larger society, and to be aware of the costs and consequences of such a choice.
- I first met Alexander Berkman in New York City in the late Fall, 1919, at the home of Stella Ballantine, Emma Goldman’s niece. We discussed the Russian Revolution and the need to expose the atrocities of the Bolsheviks against the anarchists, socialists and all who dared to criticize their new dictatorial regime in Moscow...Emma said that we should not come out against the Bolsheviks at this time when they are fighting so many enemies of the revolution....Our second meeting with Sasha and Emma took place in Berlin four years later, November, 1923, where they had been living for two years, since January, 1922. They had left Soviet Russia greatly disillusioned with the Bolshevik regime. Sasha and Emma were each writing about their experiences in Russia.
- Life was difficult for everyone in Germany after World War I and particularly so for the political refugees. Many of us felt that we had to leave Germany. A number of us went to France, including Sasha and Emma.
- When Emma found a tiny house in St. Tropez in the south of France, she offered one room to Sasha for his residence...Emma wrote her memoirs, Living My Life, at that time. She would work late into the night and Sasha would serenade her early in the morning with the sound of the handmill grinding coffee for breakfast. This was the signal for Emma to wake up. Music to her ears. The morning would start with the greeting, “Bon Esprit” (“lively spirit”, “good cheer”) and Emma named her little hut “Bon Esprit”.
- Emma and Sasha worked together harmoniously. When guests and reporters came to the house, or even friends of friends, Sasha would welcome them in a warm, friendly manner. He filled the house with a joyful spirit and his discussions were marked with authoritative facts and information...Everyone who knew or talked about Emma and Sasha could not speak of one without mentioning the other. Although they lived their own separate lives, they were inseparable emotionally and spiritually. Neither of them ever wrote a major article or a book without consulting the other. They knew and shared every event in their lives; there were no secrets between them. Their friendship and companionship were the finest. Those of us who were privileged to know them will never forget them...A great part of Emma’s life was lost to her with Sasha’s death.
Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States
- it is impossible to know the number of individuals whose political awakening-as with Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, long-time revolutionary stalwarts of the next generation came from the Haymarket Affair.
- Emma Goldman's autobiography, Living My Life, conveys the anger, the sense of injustice, the desire for a new kind of life, that grew among the young radicals of that day.
- Emma Goldman was not postponing the changing of woman's condition to some future socialist era-she wanted action more direct, more immediate, than the vote.
- Emma Goldman: "Our modern fetish is universal suffrage." After 1920, women were voting, as men did, and their subordinate condition had hardly changed.
- Emma Goldman in the Anarchist Archives
- Anarchism and Other Essays Full text in various formats at Project Gutenberg · 3rd edition (1917) pdf & epub
- Quotes at Positive Atheism
- What is Patriotism?
- Emma Goldman Reference Archive at Marxists.org
- My Disillusionment with Russia (1925 edition),
- The Emma Goldman Papers (DL SunSITE) - University of California at Berkeley