Emma Goldman

Truth: Emma Goldman

 

Emma Goldman 

Anarchist, Feminist, Labor Advocate

(1869-1940)

…The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism.

 

Additional Quotes by Emma Goldman

  • All claims of education notwithstanding, the pupil will accept only that which his mind craves. 
  • Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces for individual and social harmony. 
  • Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another. 
  • Crime is naught but misdirected energy. 
  • Direct action is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism. 
  • Every daring attempt to make a great change in existing conditions, every lofty vision of new possibilities for the human race, has been labeled Utopian. 
  • Free love? as if love is anything but free. Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love.  
  • Heaven must be an awfully dull place if the poor in spirit live there. 
  • I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. 
  • Idealists are foolish enough to throw caution to the winds. They have advanced mankind and have enriched the world. 
  • Idealists foolish enough to throw caution to the winds have advanced mankind and have enriched the world. 
  • If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution. 
  • If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and a minus. 
  • If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal. 
  • In the true sense one's native land, with its background of tradition, early impressions, reminiscences and other things dear to one, is not enough to make sensitive human beings feel at home. 
  • It is essential that we realize once and for all that man is much more of a sex creature than a moral creature. The former is inherent, the other is grafted on. 
  • Merely external emancipation has made of the modern woman an artificial being. Now, woman is confronted with the necessity of emancipating herself from emancipation, if she really desires to be free. 
  • Morality and its victim, the mother - what a terrible picture! Is there indeed anything more terrible, more criminal, than our glorified sacred function of motherhood? 
  • No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time. 
  • No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure. 
  • All claims of education notwithstanding, the pupil will accept only that which his mind craves. 
  • Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces for individual and social harmony. 
  • Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another. 
  • Crime is naught but misdirected energy. 
  • Direct action is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism. 
  • Every daring attempt to make a great change in existing conditions, every lofty vision of new possibilities for the human race, has been labeled Utopian. 
  • Heaven must be an awfully dull place if the poor in spirit live there. 
  • I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. 
  • Idealists are foolish enough to throw caution to the winds. They have advanced mankind and have enriched the world. 
  • Idealists foolish enough to throw caution to the winds have advanced mankind and have enriched the world. 
  • If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and a minus. 
  • If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal. 
  • In the true sense one's native land, with its background of tradition, early impressions, reminiscences and other things dear to one, is not enough to make sensitive human beings feel at home. 
  • It is essential that we realize once and for all that man is much more of a sex creature than a moral creature. The former is inherent, the other is grafted on. 
  • Merely external emancipation has made of the modern woman an artificial being. Now, woman is confronted with the necessity of emancipating herself from emancipation, if she really desires to be free. 
  • Morality and its victim, the mother - what a terrible picture! Is there indeed anything more terrible, more criminal, than our glorified sacred function of motherhood? 
  • No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time. 
  • No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure. 

 

Biography

Emma Goldman was born in Kovno, Russia and emigrated to live with a sister in Rochester, New York, when she was fifteen. Her family’s financial hardships had forced her to leave school and work in a factory, and her first work in America was as a seamstress in a clothing factory.

Her political consciousness was shaped by reading (Cherychevsky, Kropotkin) as well as by first-hand knowledge of miserable working conditions and, most dramatically, by the violent outcome of the Haymarket demonstrations on behalf of the eight-hour workday (1886), following which four Anarchists were executed for allegedly causing the deaths of seven policemen. In 1889 Goldman moved to New York where she first became a protegee of Johann Most, editor of an Anarchist paper. From 1906 until 1917, she and her partner, Alexander Berkman, edited and published their own paper, Mother Earth. She wrote five books: Anarchism and Other Essays (1910); Social Significance of the Modern Drama (1914); My Disillusionment in Russia (1923); My Further Disillusionment in Russia (1924); Living My Life (1931).

In her writing and public speaking Goldman was a gadfly. She championed free speech, birth control, women’s equality and labor unions. She said: “The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man’s right to his body, or the woman’s right to her soul.” Today we take these rights for granted, but a century ago her words challenged the national conscience. Another bold statement on behalf of labor is meaningful today: “…if the production of any commodity necessitates the sacrifice of human life, society should do without that commodity, but it can not do without that life.”

Emma Goldman was arrested and detained several times for her activism, but her most severe punishment, two years in prison, was for obstructing the draft during World War I. In 1919 she and Berkman were deported to Russia where she was able to witness the consequences of the 1917 Revolution. At odds with Bolshevik dictatorship, she left in 1921. She was permitted to re-enter the United States on a speaking tour in 1924. Marriage to a Welshman gained her English citizenship, and London was her base during the Spanish Civil War. She visited Spain several times, sought refuge for women and children displaced by the war and spoke out against the forces of Fascism. She died in Toronto in 1940 and is buried in Chicago, not far from Haymarket Square.

 

Subscribe to Emma Goldman