"The world is at a loss for a way out. Parliamentarism and democracy are on the decline. Salvation is being sought in Fascism and other forms of "strong" government."
Accessible, humorous, impassioned, and strangely relevant to our present day: here are collected some of the best short pieces by Emma Goldman, once famously regarded as "the most dangerous woman in America."
To a world grown weary of financial inequality, endless wars, rampant injustice, and atrocities committed in the name of profit and along our borders, Goldman still offers a very different vision for human societies, at once wildly idealistic, profoundly humane, and firmly rooted in the practical matters of daily life. Now is the perfect time to revisit this most radical of American dreamers.
Emma Goldman was a feminist anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.
Born in Kovno in the Russian Empire (present-day Kaunas, Lithuania), Goldman emigrated to the US in 1885 and lived in New York City, where she joined the burgeoning anarchist movement.Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket affair, Goldman became a writer and a renowned lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women's rights, and social issues, attracting crowds of thousands.
She and anarchist writer Alexander Berkman, her lover and lifelong friend, planned to assassinate Henry Clay Frick as an act of propaganda of the deed. Although Frick survived the attempt on his life, Berkman was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. Goldman was imprisoned several times in the years that followed, for "inciting to riot" and illegally distributing information about birth control. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth.
In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring to "induce persons not to register" for the newly instated draft. After their release from prison, they were arrested—along with hundreds of others—and deported to Russia.
Initially supportive of that country's Bolshevik revolution, Goldman quickly voiced her opposition to the Soviet use of violence and the repression of independent voices. In 1923, she wrote a book about her experiences, My Disillusionment in Russia. While living in England, Canada, and France, she wrote an autobiography called Living My Life. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, she traveled to Spain to support the anarchist revolution there. She died in Toronto on May 14, 1940, aged 70.
During her life, Goldman was lionized as a free-thinking "rebel woman" by admirers, and derided by critics as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution.Her writing and lectures spanned a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women's suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. After decades of obscurity, Goldman's iconic status was revived in the 1970s, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest in her life.
Some excellent criticisms but just a little bit too dogmatic with anarchist rhetoric and easy answers. Critiques the status quote well, but then leaps to a utopia as the answer. Would have been a better book just with the criticisms and leaving the reader to ponder the complex outcomes of these problems, rather than going “this is all solved through anarchism”. Unfortunately, Reads more like a rousing speech or propaganda than a measured and nuanced book. Similar to how Lenin’s books involve great social criticism but his rhetoric and dogmatic answers, or even outright propaganda, ruin it.