Emma Goldman

Dr Groove (dr_groove@geocities.com)
Tue, 19 Nov 1996 10:59:50 +0000

Anarchisms greatest hits No.3

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman was a legend in her own lifetime. Born in
Lithuania on 27th June 1869, she emigrated to the United
States with her sister Helena in 1885. Like so many other East
European immigrants, she found work in a clothing factory.
The following year four Chicago anarchists were executed.

They had been prominent trade union activists leading the
struggle for an eight-hour day. Framed for a bombing, the
authorities hoped that this would scare off the emerging trade
union movement, especially its anarchist component. The
international outcry which followed these executions on
trumped up charges helped to shape Emma's radical and
anarchist ideals, which lasted throughout her long life.

Emma Goldman was a formidable public speaker and a
prolific writer. Her whole life was devoted to struggle and
she was controversial even within the radical and anarchist
movement itself. She was one of the first radicals to address
the issue of homosexuality, she was a fighter for women's
rights, and she advocated the virtues of free love. These ideas
were viewed with suspicion by those who placed their faith in
the cure-all solution of economic class warfare and they were
denounced by many of her contemporaries as "bourgeois
inspired" at best.

To mainstream Americans, Emma was known as a demonic
"dynamite eating anarchist". She toured the States, agitating
and lecturing everywhere she went. She was hounded for
much of her life by FBI agents and was imprisoned in 1893,
1901, 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921 on charges ranging from
incitement to riot to advocating the use of birth control to
opposition to World War 1.

A self proclaimed anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, assassinated
President William McKinley in 1901 and this event
unleashed a massive wave of anti-anarchist hysteria
throughout the States. Emma was blamed for his action and
was forced into hiding for a time. She was deported from the
United States, Holland, France, and was denied entry to many
other countries. None of this daunted her, she began
publishing 'Mother Earth' magazine in 1906 and was very
active in the No-Conscription League.

She shared a life long friendship with her political comrade
Alexander Berkman. Both of them were deported from the
USA to Russia in 1919. At first, Emma was excited to see at
first hand the revolution she had fought to bring about all her
life. However, it did not take long for her to realise that the
Bolsheviks were not lovers of freedom nor partisans of
workers' control. What had been created was a massive
dictatorship. The suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion by
the Bolsheviks In 1921 was too much for Emma and
Berkman, and they left Russia in a state of disillusionment.

She spent the next number of years moving from country to
country and writing a long series of articles and two books
about her experiences and struggles. She eventually lived in
Britain for many years where she wrote her autobiography
and continued supporting workers' struggles in different
parts of the world. Suffering from grave illness, Alexander
Berkman committed suicide in 1936. Just a week later an
anarchist inspired revolution erupted in Spain. Over the
next three years Emma committed herself to the support of
the anarchists and their fight against fascism and Stalinism.

Her long and incredible life came to an end in 1940. Only
after her death was she admitted back into America where she
was buried in Chicago near the Haymarket martyrs who had
helped to shape her life.

Patricia McCarthy

            Noam Chomsky on Anarchism

Anarchist Publications at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/2724/anpubdx.html

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