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Anarchism and Other Essays

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,455 ratings  ·  188 reviews
In the eighteen-nineties and for years thereafter, America reverberated with the name of the "notorious Anarchist," feminist, revolutionist and agitator, Emma Goldman. A Russian Jewish immigrant at the age of 17, she moved by her own efforts from seamstress in a clothing factory to internationally known radical lecturer, writer, editor and friend of the oppressed. This boo ...more
Paperback, 271 pages
Published June 1st 1969 by Dover Publications (first published 1910)
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4.03  · 
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 ·  4,455 ratings  ·  188 reviews

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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I have been an anarchist for twenty years. Twenty years ago I came to understand that I had been raised as an anarchist, under the banner “Anabaptist”, of which group you might be familiar with the Amish. Other words I like to use instead of “anarchist” include ; anarcho-syndicalist, libertarian socialist, anarcho-communist, left libertarian. I understand that you might have difficulty conceiving of that political orientation, but it consists of nothing more than a synthesis of those two great w ...more
The thing which struck me most about these essays is that many of them were still directly relevant in a hundred years time. Red Emma is a passionate critic of puritanical hypocrisy about sex, how those in power incite wars and use patriotism to hide it, or the cruelty of the prison system.

Goldman's anarchism is consistent, perhaps almost to a fault. She lived in the period of self-righteous greed and militarism that was the late Gilded Age and pre-WWI, and saw stunning economic inequality which
Lynne King
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Emma Goldman (1869-1940) expressed it all with the following:

“Poor America, of what avail is all her wealth, if the individuals comprising the nation are wretchedly poor? If they live in squalor, in filth, in crime, with hope and joy gone, a homeless, soilless army of human prey.”

And to think these words were written by a woman, and a young woman at that in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

What do you think you would do, if as an individual in the 21st century, you found yourself in a s
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Nov 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ian by: someone in a black tee
What Anarchism Really Stands For

This is a summary of Emma Goldman's views on Anarchism in her own words.


The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.


The new social order rests, of course, on the materialistic basis of life; but while all Anarchists agree that the main evil today is an economic one, they maintain that the
Oct 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Many of these essays are interesting more for historical perspective than for anything else. Her final essay on the importance of dramatic works for educating and disseminating radical thought is very interesting to read in our age of constant streaming media.

The pieces that felt the most relevant to me are those on women and women's emancipation. Goldman was unpopular with the first-wave feminists of her day because she felt their focus on suffrage was misplaced; that they entrenched class diff
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Man this was a fun read! It was so refreshing to hear her just tear down everything and throw it in the trash and spit on it and not give a crap. I mean, womens suffrage? Garbage. Marriage? Oppressive! Government? Who needs it? I think it would have been fun to be alive during this time when the industrial revolution was changing everything and all these visionaries were just proposing different utopias. She's not wrong on most things. In fact, she's more right now than ever. But I am not convin ...more
Dec 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anarcha-feminists
overall super cool passionate book that brings up important things like um, how to live your life. her language is pretty crass and maybe exaggerated at times. like referring to the catholic church as a heinous black hydra-monster or something. emma goldmans got a revolutionary philosophy even by todays standards. i'd be interested to see what she would have to say about the current shit today, like anarchism as an integral part of the punk scene, the role of women in a globalized world etc. hal ...more
Daniel Lee
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was surprising that in this book towards the end Emma put such a pointed focus on Love. Not just in Love vs. Marriage in many of the essays towards the end of the book she speaks of love of humanity and romantic love as essential elements of the revolutionary mind. I've always thought that any true revolutionary is a romantic at heart. Towards the start of the more revealing and less shared elements of her discussion of Anarchism is her note about its fluidity, the inclusion of anarchist cong ...more
Another one who would supplant one utopian monopoly with one of her choosing. "Anarchy" as a means to a glorious atheistic communism rather than as a philosophical underpinning of a life lived free. Infantile and selective reading of history to support her own cult of personality around herself. Short on any tangible answers except for the rote and populist communist dream of guiding the revolution to a vague paradise in the distant future. Some may find her treatments of marriage, love, prostit ...more
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
"Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyze every proposition; but that the brain capacity of the average reader be not taxed too much, I also shall begin with a definition, and then elaborate on the latter...." ~E.G.

A fabulous introduction to Anarchism, especially for those of us who find reading and understanding political theory a bit daunting.
Late 19th/early 20th-century radical, Emma Goldman was an early advocate of birth control, workers' unions and women's rights. Horrified by the outcome of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago, Emma helped a group of radicals change the way workers were treated, subsequently putting her on a political blacklist and treated as a criminal in any anarchist movement that occurred throughout the country. Outspoken and confident in her beliefs regarding birth control and free love, she was the target for man ...more
Jenny Yates
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I love Emma Goldman. I don’t always agree with her, and that figures, since these essays were written a century ago. So many attitudes have shifted since then. Emma’s statements about women’s nature, her horror of “perversion” – these are limiting beliefs that she didn’t know she had. At one point in her book, she claims that she’s overcome all prejudice.

But so much of what she says is right on, and so much is clarifying. And there’s so much that the world has yet to learn.

It’s sad that this p
Mar 08, 2012 is currently reading it
Shelves: politics
Anyone interested in Goldman's articles in "Mother Earth 1906" onwards can find online versions below. I haven't been able to find downloadable versions of them yet.

Mother Earth

Mother Earth was the name of an anarchist magazine of the early 20th century.
Publication History

Mother Earth began in 1906. A new series, under the title "Mother Earth Bulletin", began in 1917. Publication ceased in 1918, after 7 issues of the new series.

Persistent Archives of Complete Issues

1906-1918: HathiTrust has pag
Sep 10, 2008 rated it liked it
"If I can't dance it's not my revolution" Emma Goldman.
Michael Kress
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1901-1929
Anarchism and Other Essays made me aware of what I think are some common misconceptions about anarchism. Most people probably just associate punk rock with anarchism, but it was and is a legitimate political movement. They also probably think of it as being like a state of nature, but this book focused on progressivism over traditionalism, while hopefully some type of order could be maintained. I agreed with most of Emma Goldman's political opinions and found what she said to be interesting in i ...more
Sreejith Pp
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A true iconoclast visionary. It's hard to believe that this was published in 1910 as many of her ideas have stood the test of time and stood well. Especially her essays on the dangers of nationalism.
Julie Rylie
Emma Goldman is definitely one of the most intelligent human beings that ever walked on earth, and not only she could rationalize her ideas, she would put them in action.

The main topics of this book are the following:

Emma believes the mass is less intelligent than a few individual minds.
"I know so well that as a compact mass it has never stood for justice or equality. It has suppressed the human voice, subdued the human spirit, chained the human body".

The government annuls individualism and
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Going off this text alone, one wonders how it is that Goldman became the Godmother of Anarchism, known throughout the world for her trenchant defense of the poor, the indigent, the huddled masses kept down by "the yoke of capital." Part frothing at the mouth, part political invective, part confused and disorganized rambling, the book greatly disappointed me. Where are the carefully reasoned arguments, the evidence, the organization necessary to convince anyone of her claims? She appeals to a hig ...more
Oct 30, 2015 rated it liked it
After reading this book it seems totally unbelievable to me that Emma Goldman is still that popular. Her views on crime and prisons which represents early positivist criminology is considered to be wrong and outdated. Her fantasies about living in a natural and harmonious order without necessary institutions of human society like property is just dumb. There is absolutely no reference to any neutral sociological or anthropological studies, just to essayists and playwrights like Emerson and lIbse ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book surprised me with its relevance even today and maybe even more so with its measured tone. I'll admit it, in my prejudice against it I expected calls to violence and Molotov cocktail recipes, and accounts of arson wouldn't have surprised me. What I found instead was a deep, searing and multifaceted look at life and what makes it meaningful and worth fighting for, even unto its premature end. Probably not in small part thanks to this very book, the conditions of life for working women an ...more
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Clear, well written, and impassioned essays, all of them worth reading and generally still applicable. Goldman is definitely a victim of some kind of projected infamy because everything she writes is unexceptional, not in the aims and ideals she expresses, but rather that she is so level-headed and articulate. What I see is that anarchism is fallen in general because of a lack of people like Goldman, who if they cannot write a manifesto, can still write about the important topics and critical is ...more
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My review didn't make it here for some reason, so I'm trying again.

For about 6 years I read nothing but anarchist literature, and Emma Goldman then and now is at the top of my list. My first thought upon reading these essays after so many years, is that do-gooder progs and libs would throw a hissy at some of them--particularly Woman Suffrage and The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation. Has women's vote (or anyone's vote for that matter) done anything to improve the country's politics, culture--socie
Sirigiri Vipin
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
Anarchism is impractical, it stands for violence and destruction, hence it must be vile and dangerous. We have judged Anarchism not from a thorough knowledge of the subject, but either from hearsay or false interpretation.

Emma Gold sheds some light on the anarchist views on various topics - hypocrisy of government and church, political violence, women rights - some of them relevant even today. The book captures your attention when some of the present day issues like gender equality, free thinkin
Lamski Kikita
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
how is it that something that was written in the 1800s is still just as true today? have we as a species just stopped evolving? or have we been actually taking speedy steps back towards the cave?
Goldman was such a brilliant thinker, and her work always makes me think of issues on a deeper level, and in ways I have dismissed before. there were so many instances during my reading whence I felt as though she finally put to words what I have thought of for a long time but was not able to process int
Kenny Palurintano
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: freedom
This book made me realize I was an anarchist. Before picking this up at a used book store in Seattle and reading over the weekend, my only points of reference for the word "anarchist" were that of the corporate media, and pissed off punk-rockers I had gone to school with.

Emma not only covers a wide range of topics; including anarchism, education, activism, and women's rights, but she does it all in a way that still resonates beautifully 100 years after these essays were written. This is a beauti
Jon Boorstin
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
A passionate vision of the way life should be. I makes perfect sense, except that somehow it doesn't account for human frailty. If we could all be our best selves, we could live in her world. Of course, Emma would say that living in her world would make us our best selves.
Onyango Makagutu
This is great literature in support of Anarchism. One that should be read by every member of the educated working class and maybe, just maybe we will change things
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Anarchism and Other Essays" is a fascinating book. As Emma Goldman painted it, Anarchism is the ultimate in Western freedom, but at its core it is humanist and not a sociopathic cult of individual advantage (Ayn Rand comes to mind) – and certainly not the cult of terror as it was commonly portrayed. Yet Goldman and her comrades never succeeded in making Anarchism attractive to the public. This was due to constant character assassination by the corporate press, infighting, and whispers that Gold ...more
Filip Boberić
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent anarchist classic! The book is comprised of many brief, concise, vivid and compelling essays. It could be interesting to all the people who want to get acquainted with some of the basic anarchist (libertarian socialist) principles and ideas, especially anarcha-feminism (Emma Goldman was one of the first anarcha-feminists, even though that term was forged much later, and she didn't want mere emancipation of women through suffrage and illusory freedom but full liberation of women ...more
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few can compare to Emma Goldman. Bold and outspoken, her passion is infectious through the written word. I can only imagine what she must have been like in person. Goldman is not about defining systems of thought. Of establishing some order of existence. Those who disagree can easily disregard her positions as inconsistent and lacking structure. Of course, the ready-made quip would be “who expects structure from an anarchist?” But such demands for structure miss the real value in Goldman’s work. ...more
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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 bu
“Anarchism stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion and liberation of the human body from the coercion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. It stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals…” 234 likes
“The philosophy of Atheism represents a concept of life without any metaphysical Beyond or Divine Regulator. It is the concept of an actual, real world with its liberating, expanding and beautifying possibilities, as against an unreal world, which, with its spirits, oracles, and mean contentment has kept humanity in helpless degradation.” 227 likes
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