Emma Goldman

related topics
{son, year, death}
{black, white, people}
{theory, work, human}
{war, force, army}
{woman, child, man}
{government, party, election}
{work, book, publish}
{day, year, event}
{group, member, jewish}
{god, call, give}
{law, state, case}
{album, band, music}
{build, building, house}
{food, make, wine}
{rate, high, increase}
{film, series, show}
{math, energy, light}
{village, small, smallsup}

Goldman's anarchism was intensely personal. She believed it was necessary for anarchist thinkers to live their beliefs, demonstrating their convictions with every action and word. "I don't care if a man's theory for tomorrow is correct," she once wrote. "I care if his spirit of today is correct."[153] Anarchism and free association were to her logical responses to the confines of government control and capitalism. "It seems to me that these are the new forms of life," she wrote, "and that they will take the place of the old, not by preaching or voting, but by living them."[153]

At the same time, she believed that the movement on behalf of human liberty must be staffed by liberated humans. While dancing among fellow anarchists one evening, she was chided by an associate for her carefree demeanor. In her autobiography Goldman wrote:

I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown in my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to behave as a nun and that the movement should 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."[154]

Capitalism

Goldman believed that the economic system of capitalism was inimical to human liberty. "The only demand that property recognizes," she wrote in Anarchism and Other Essays, "is its own gluttonous appetite for greater wealth, because wealth means power; the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade."[155] She also argued that capitalism dehumanized workers, "turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron."[155]

Originally opposed to anything less than complete revolution, Goldman was challenged during one talk by an elderly worker in the front row. In her autobiography, she wrote:

He said that he understood my impatience with such small demands as a few hours less a day, or a few dollars more a week.... But what were men of his age to do? They were not likely to live to see the ultimate overthrow of the capitalist system. Were they also to forgo the release of perhaps two hours a day from the hated work? That was all they could hope to see realized in their lifetime.[30]

Goldman realized that smaller efforts for improvement such as higher wages and shorter hours could be part of a social revolution.

Tactics

Among the tactics that Goldman endorsed was targeted violence. Early in her career Goldman believed that the use of violence, while distasteful, could be effective in achieving a greater good. She advocated propaganda of the deedattentat, or violence carried out to encourage the masses to revolt. She supported her partner Alexander Berkman's attempt to kill industrialist Henry Clay Frick, and even begged him to allow her to participate.[156] She believed that Frick's actions during the Homestead strike were reprehensible and that his murder would produce a positive result for working people. "Yes," she wrote later in her autobiography, "the end in this case justified the means."[156] While she never gave explicit approval of Leon Czolgosz's assassination of U.S. President William McKinley, she defended his ideals and believed actions like his were a natural consequence of repressive institutions. As she wrote in "The Psychology of Political Violence": "the accumulated forces in our social and economic life, culminating in an act of violence, are similar to the terrors of the atmosphere, manifested in storm and lightning."[157]

Full article ▸

related documents
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Harriet Tubman
Carlo Gambino
Margaret Cavendish
William Butler Yeats
Honoré de Balzac
Jack London
Matthew Arnold
Sally Hemings
Francis Bacon
Rhys ap Gruffydd
Luigi Pirandello
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Falcon Scott
Nelson Mandela
Hernán Cortés
Galla Placidia
Richard II of England
David I of Scotland
Oscar Wilde
Ludwig Wittgenstein
John Brown (abolitionist)
Grigori Rasputin
House of Bourbon
D. H. Lawrence
Ethelred the Unready
George III of the United Kingdom
Shakespeare authorship question
Frances Burney
Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark)