emma goldman

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 it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations. Such is the logic of patriotism.
—  Emma Goldman, “Patriotism, a Menace to Liberty” (1911)
Emma Goldman

I want to share one of my favourite people with you.

This is Emma Goldman, and not only does she look killer in a pair of pince-nez specs, but she was speaking radical politics when that still came with a prison sentence. In fact she was arrested several times.
To tell just one short tale, in 1901 president McKinley was assassinated by a man who claimed to have been inspired by one of her speeches, which resulted in her being detained and interrogated for two weeks. After her release she spent time giving medical care to the assassin, who was suffering from mental illness and had previously tried to befriend her and other anarchists, describing him as “merely a human being” and criticising her comrades for abandoning him by condemning him. That’s both a severity and a kindness you don’t come across very often.

I could tell stories all day, but let me give you this, taken from a letter to Magnus Hirschfeld;

“Among my male and female friends, there are a few who are of either a completely Uranian [transgender] or a bisexual disposition.
I have found these individuals far above average in terms of intelligence, ability, sensitivity, and personal charm. I empathize deeply with them, for I know that their sufferings are of a larger and more complex sort than those of ordinary people.
It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals, is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life.”

She wrote that in 1923. She got it nearly one hundred years ago. If that doesn’t bare admiration and respect I honestly don’t know what does.

It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals and is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life.

Emma Goldman - Jewish American Anarcho-Communist in a letter written in 1923

This activist was advocating for various genders and sexual orientations in NINETEEN TWENTY-THREE  and almost a century later you have people still saying there are only two genders determined by biology and that being gay is a sin.


An intellectual discussion.

Nietzsche leaves no space for selfappraisal, a crystalline, relentless reflection emerges on every conclusions horizon and ever again he employs a ball-peen hammer of critique to shatter his newly won being into a million pieces, receding from the very hook of his existence and plunging into a new nothing.

Would he not have gone mad for us… we would have no reason for sanity in this society of the spectacle

“What will you do with the lazy ones, who would not work?’

No one is lazy. They grow hopeless from the misery of their present existence, and give up. Under our order of things, every men would do the work he liked, and would have as much as his neighbor, so could not be unhappy and discouraged.”
― Emma Goldman

Noe Ito, prominent Japanese anarcha-feminist. After a failed arranged marriage, she was Jun Tsuji’s wife for 4 years. They had 2 sons. She was the editor of the feminist cultural magazine Seito, which frankly discussed topics like free love, sex work, and abortion. She translated many articles by Emma Goldman on “the woman question” (as it was then known) into Japanese. She also wrote novels. Later, she became infatuated with Sakae Osugi, ending the relationship with Tsuji. She, Osugi, and their nephew were murdered in a wave of brutal anti-anarchist repression by the Japanese state following the Great Kanto Earthquake.

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was an 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 20th century.

Born in Kovno, Russian Empire (present-day Kaunas, Lithuania), Goldman emigrated to the United States in 1885. 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 industrialist and financier Henry Clay Frick as an act of propaganda of the deed. Frick survived the attempt on his life in 1892 and Berkman was sentenced to 22 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 her native Russia. Initially supportive of that country’s Bolshevik revolution, Goldman reversed her opinion in the wake of the Kronstadt rebellion and denounced the Soviet Union for its violent repression of independent voices. In 1923, she published 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 denounced by detractors 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.

So we all know Emma Goldman was a feminist, Anarchist writer, and activist, but she was also:
*A seamstress; she arrived in New York from Lithuania with one set of clothes and a sewing machine
*A polyglot; she spoke fluent English, German, Russian, and Yiddish
*A sexual assault survivor
*A queer activist; she was arguing for the rights of minority sexualities and gender identities in 1910. Which makes sense, because she was also
*Ace af