Anarchism Other Essays Emma Goldman Review

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For over a half century, she articulated an anarchist vision of a strong, free, self-creating individual within an egalitarian, participatory society.

While anarchists are often dismissed as the lunatic fringe of the Left, Goldman presented anarchism as the most practical approach to human liberation.

Like many young people of her generation, she was galvanized politically by the trial and execution of several young anarchists who were framed for the killing of police at the Haymarket riots in Chicago in 1886.

She subsequently moved to New York City and joined the anarchist movement, rapidly rising to become one of the best known speakers in the lively radical landscape of the time. Initially supporting the Bolsheviks, she soon came to view the Communist Party as the murderers of the revolution.

She was arrested countless times – legend has it that she took a book with her to her own lectures so she would have something to read in jail – and served three terms in prison: one year for urging unemployed workers to “take bread,” a few weeks for providing information on preventing conception, and two years for opposing conscription during World War I. She and Berkman left Russia and eventually settled in the south of France.

Anarchism Other Essays Emma Goldman Review

After her third prison term, she and her comrade Alexander Berkman, along with 247 other radicals, were sent into exile to the newly-formed U. Goldman continued her lecturing and writing in Europe, England, and Canada; she strongly supported the anarchist revolutionaries in Spain in the 1930s, and was still an active speaker, writer and agitator when she died following a stroke in 1940.She focused her feminism on women’s bodies, demanding that women control their own reproduction, find their own sexual autonomy, claim equality in relations with men, and work with men to overthrow the prevailing authorities and create new relations of equality and freedom. Additionally, she gave many thousands of lectures and wrote enormous numbers of letters to other anarchists and to a range of other progressive figures, including Rebecca West, John Dewey, Jack London, and Bertrand Russell. Ferguson is Professor in Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of Hawai`i and author of a forthcoming book on Goldman titled “Emma Goldman: Political Thinking in the Streets” (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011).MORE THAN six decades after her death, the anarchist Emma Goldman still stirs passionate political debate.Her brief formal education was enhanced by exposure to nihilist revolutionaries and Russian radical literature.Immigrating with her sister to the United States in 1885, she settled originally in Rochester, New York.Born in 1869, Goldman’s life and career as a public figure spanned a period when anarchism claimed a following in the tens of thousands, including thousands of workers.Until she died in 1940, Goldman either lived through, or participated in, all of the major events that mark the anarchist calendar of that era–the Haymarket affair of 1886—87, the assassination attempt on Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead Steel strike of 1892, the Industrial Workers of the World free speech fights, anti-conscription organizing during the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and, finally, the Spanish Revolution in the 1930s.Schools undermine children’s natural curiosity and turn students into automatons regurgitating the orthodoxies they are taught.Into this sweeping critique of established authority, Goldman introduced the aesthetic sensibility of the American romantic movement, Nietzsche’s spirit of rebellion, and her own unique feminism.Sections of the women’s movement claimed her as their own. And a number of feminist institutions have taken her name, such as the main women’s health clinic in Iowa City.For someone who had a fearsome reputation–she once joked that the press made her out to be someone who ate little children and built bombs in her spare time–historians have generally been kind to her. But like much discussion of romantic historical figures such as Goldman, a lot of what we think we know about her is myth, or at least selective memory.


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