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Anarchy and the Sex Question:
Essays on Women and Emancipation, 1896-1917
By Emma Goldman
Edited by Shawn P. Wilbur
Available from PM Press, August 1, 2016

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Emma Goldman (1869 – 1940) remains one of the best known figures of the political tradition known as anarchism, and with good reason, as few writers have so convincingly explained the evils of authority in government. But Goldman’s anarchism extended beyond the political realm, and arguably found its most essential expressions in her writings on matters more directly connected to everyday life. For Goldman, anarchism was not just an ideology, but a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions.” Still, there was another force that she considered “the most elemental force in human life:” Sex.

“The Sex Question” emerged for Goldman in the most varied of contexts, and we find her addressing it in writing on subjects as varied as women’s suffrage, “free love,” birth control, the “New Woman,” homosexuality, marriage, love and literature. It was at once a political question, an economic question, a question of morality and a question of social relations. However, despite the obvious importance of the question to Goldman, it has been hard to assess the precise nature of her answers to it, because the various elements of her analysis of that most elemental force remained fragmentary, scattered across numerous works and conditioned by numerous contexts.

Anarchy and the Sex Question draws together the most important of those scattered sources, uniting both familiar essays and archival material, in an attempt to recreate the great work on sex that Emma Goldman might have given us. In the process, it sheds light on contemporary questions such as Goldman’s place, or lack thereof, in the history of feminism.


Contents:

  • Introduction: “Let Us Not Overlook Vital Things” (Shawn P. Wilbur)
  • Anarchy and the Sex Question
  • What Is There in Anarchy for Women?
  • The New Woman
  • “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation
  • The White Slave Traffic
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Her Tragic Life and Her Passionate Struggle for Freedom
  • The Hypocrisy of Puritanism
  • Jealousy: Causes and a Possible Cure
  • Victims of Morality
  • Woman Suffrage
  • Marriage and Love
  • The Social Aspects of Birth Control
  • Again the Birth Control Agitation
  • The Woman Suffrage Chameleon
  • Louise Michel: A Refutation Addressed to Dr. Maynes Hershfeld
  • Emma’s Love Views
  • Feminism’s Fight Not Vain
  • The Element of Sex in Life

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Emma Goldman, “Simion Koldofsky, the Friend” (1936)

I first met Simion Koldofsky in Moscow in 1920, during the so-called military communism. Life was cruelly hard and the struggle bitter… Russia, surrounded by four fronts,–blockaded by all the European powers–was not in the mood for sociability. In the face of hunger, epidemics and death, the life of everyone was grim and self-centered; no-one cared for the tragedy of the other.

My old pal, Alexander Berkman, and I, had been in Russia only a short time. We naturally felt the tragedy of the Revolution that was being played in the day-by-day struggle. We missed close comradeship and the fellowship that had been ours for many years in the United States. It was then that Simion Koldofsky appeared on the scene; he had come to Russia as the representative of the Joint Board. He brought help and support for thousands of Jews who at that time were even more devoid of the means of subsistence than many of the Gentiles. Koldofsky worked day and night alleviating the hunger and the misery confronting him at every step. Yet he did not overlook the needs of individual people in the welter of the mass devastation. He came to us with generous feeling and willingness, thus bringing into our lives some of the warmth and comradeship we had known in the past. He did more; he helps in a measure to save the health of Alexander Berkman.

My comrade became ill almost immediately after we landed in Russia. He developed ulcers of the stomach because of the black bread which he could not digest. It was necessary to find some kind of nourishment that would help to restore him to his former strong phsysical condition. It was our newly-found friend, Simion Koldofsky, who brought the relief. However, it was not only the material side of the assistance we received from our friend. It was more his kindness and his fellowship, which went a long way to keep up our morale in the first period of our experience in Russia.

It was some years before I met Simion Koldofsky again. It was at a reception given me on my return to London in ’32. I did not know that my good friend was among the people who had come to greet me. When he was called upon to speak, I at once visualized our small room in Moscow and the many interesting talks we had with (Koldofsky ?) as well as the hope and cheer he had always brought with him. I was deeply moved by his fine tribute to me and my work and by the same friendliness which had not changed during 12 years.

I was living under very trying conditions in London during a bitter winter in a room that had a temperature below zero, and with all sorts of difficulties which made it extremely hard to reach people interested in my work here. It was Simion Koldofsky and his lovely wife, Lisa, who came to my rescue. They invited me to their house, as if I were flesh of their flesh and blood of their blood and they fairly lavished on me their friendship and their devotion. Both came like a ray of light from a dark sky. I had never felt acclimatized in England nor was I ever able to take root in this country. The struggle to be here was often beyond my power of endurance; but it was the devotion of my friends, Simion and Lisa, that raised my spirit many times which it was quite in the depths.

Since that time, our friendship has continued until this day without the least shadow. Always I found their home open to me, and always I returned to them as to my own.

November 1935, I again returned to England and again enjoyed the hospitality of the Koldofskys. It was during my stay there that Simion became so violently ill. Like all proletarians, he continued on his feet and at his task as a journalist until he collapsed. I felt then (as I have since) that if our friend had been in a position to give up his job, go to a southern climate and take the necessary leisure to “invite his soul,” he would now be a stronger and healthier man. But he is one of the many in our world, bound by economic necessity to work when his health is so poor. Fortunately, he is blessed with a partner in life who by her love and consecration has helped our friend over the gravest moments of his illness.

There are few people who retain their interest in others and their friendship, when they themselves are physically stricken. Most sick people are frightfully self-centered; the rest of the world and its tragedies and comedies cease to exist for them. They live in their own world, limited by their physical ailments and exclusive of the world at large.

Simion Koldofsky is among the few great exceptions, close to his sick-room, at the time when he suffered such agonies as would break the strongest will, Simion Koldofsky never ceased to be the same gracious host and friend; never permitted his own illness to exclude his concern and his interest in the desperate struggle that was going on in the outside world. For his own sake, it would be better if he quite required from his activities in the social and humanitarian world–but it would be very unlike Simion Koldofsky, whose whole life has been dedicated to the masses whose hopes and aspirations he has always shared.

The workers were never more in need of such devoted spirits as Simion Koldofsky. Time on end, they have been neglected–often betrayed–by their so-called friends and leaders. It is therefore inspiring to know the few who remain staunch through all the years of disappointments, disillusionments and vicissitudes.

Let us rejoice, therefore, that Simion Koldofsky has never failed the workers, never failed the social struggle for human betterment, kept up whether by Jew or gentile.

For myself, I greet Simion Koldofsky, the Friend, the Comrade, ever ready to encourage and sustain one at all times. I wish him renewed strength and complete recovery. We need you, Simion Koldofsky. We need your continued work, we need you as our Friend!

 

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Emma Goldman, “Has My Life Been Worth While?” (1933)

emmamylifeHAS MY LIFE BEEN WORTH WHILE?

Have I wasted my life?

Measured by the ordinary standards of value, my life may be considered wasted. I have nothing in social prestige, wealth and power—that holy alliance commonly called success—to show for my struggle of forty-three years.

But then, I had never aspired to those treasures. I am therefore spared the bitter disappointment of those who had considered them fixed and unchangeable for all time.

Station, power, wealth—how inadequate they have proved! How useless and insecure!

The mighty of yesterday now standing before the world as the most successful failures of our age.

***

I had the good fortune at an early period to discover other values than the worship of mammon and might.

The ideal of human kinship that would brook no injustice or social wrong agave the only meaning and purpose to my life.

This ideal I found in anarchism. Not, to be sure, in the distorted image of anarchism presented in the Press and by pseudo-social economists or hounded and persecuted by the powers that be.

I found anarchism the moving spirit of beauty—of social harmony—of a free and untrammeled growth of the individual. This became my inspiration and my highest goal.

True, the light of anarchism now seems somewhat diminished by the bleakness of reaction so widespread in all lands. It’s clarion voice is almost drowned by the hosannahs to the new diety come to redeem mankind—dictatorship, the complete subjection of man to its all-embracing dogma.

Yet anarchism has never before been proved so prophetic and true in its claims as now. The collapse of our industrial system and the complete failure of the State to cope with the miseries and suffering of vast millions have vindicated anarchism much more than we anarchists had hoped, even it our wildest dreams.

***

Production for profit is at last being challenged by conservative economists even. They now sing the refrain advanced by the great teachers of anarchism fifty years ago, to wit—that the genius of man in every field would in time do away with hard and exhausting toil. Two hours a day. A few days a week, they had insisted, would suffice to produce enough for all human needs.

Theirs were voices in the wilderness.

Now their thoughts have been taken up by the technocrats as their great discovery.

In the political field, too, advanced minds are at last realizing the growing danger of the State in its encroachment upon the rights and liberties of man. Autocracy, democracy, or social-democracy. All are proving the Justice of our repudiation of them as unmitigated evils upheld by organized coercion and force.

***

With such living proofs to sustain my ideal I cannot consider my life wasted.

“And your disillusionment in Russia?” I am so often asked. “The failure of the revolution you had worked for all your life?”

I can only repeat what I have written or spoken of my Russian experiences. I never expected anarchism to spring from the lines of Czarism. I had expected that the Russian masses would be granted the much-heralded Bolshevik promise of the right of self-determination.

The peasants had possessed themselves of the land. The workers had taken over the factories. Together with the soldiers and the sailors they had organized as free Soviets.

They had achieved this mot as the world has been made to believe on October 25, but in the period between the March and October revolutions. Verily, they had deserved well of the right of self-determination.

***

Instead they were given a dictatorship deadly in its effect on the revolution and the free initiative of the Russian masses.

In addition, they are not made to serve state, capitalism no less relentless and enslaving, than its step-brother in other lands.

Again I found anarchism vindicated in its faith in the innate possibilities of the people who alone can articulate the aims of revolution and direct it into constructive channels.

Having always worked towards that end my life has certainly not been wasted.

Then I have been asked: “Would not children and a home have helped you to achieve a greater happiness and satisfaction in your life?”

***

It is true that parents today are learning to enhance the physical qualities of their children. But their minds and characters they cannot mould. The antiquated system of education and our perverse social influences unfortunately do that.

In view of the numerous misfit and marred children these institutions have created, I am quite content not to have contributed any of my own.

Besides, my live for children has nothing to do with possession.

***

In point of truth I have a larger brood of children than the most prolific mother could have borne. The children of my comrades and friends and those of my family are as mine. I have their love and confidence and they have mine.

Motherhood in the true sense should embrace all children. Because so few realize this truth, child life is so empty of warmth, of love, of color, and beauty.

A home—what is it to-day but a cage from which most of its inhabitants wish to escape?

No, I should never have found happiness in such a place.

My ideals, the struggle for them, and whatever hardships and suffering they have brought, far from wasting my life, have enriched it a thousandfold.

To me it has been a grand adventure which I should not have missed for all the wealth in the world.


London Daily Express, January 30, 1933.

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Newspaper Clippings: Beer for Baptism (1901)

Beer for Baptism.

Emma Goldman Mocks Religious Rite in Mining Town.

Milwaukee, Wis., Sept. 16. – A curious story of Emma Goldman, which is vouched for by a Milwaukee man is being told.

It was in 1897 that the man in question happened to visit the mining town of Spring Valley, Ill., one of those forlorn, prairie mining towns where there is a good deal of actual misery and lots of underground hard work.

At the time of the visit of the Milwaukee man Emma Goldman was there, holding nightly meetings and drawing large crowds. Just before leaving the town, an anarchist family went to her and said they had a child they wanted christened. She announced to her street corner auditors that on the following evening she would christen an anarchist baby at the curbstone. The little innocent was brought into the crowd by the smiling parents, and Emma took it into her arms. Then she made a speech, saying it was an anarchist baby and that she was called upon to confirm it in the anarchist faith.

Meanwhile the father had disappeared for a moment and was seen returning from a nearby saloon. He elbowed his way back to the anarchist seeress’ side and handed her a pail. There was a tell-tale foam in the pail  Emma swooped her hand down into the depths of the pail and then deliberately sopped the little poll of the infant with – beer! The crowd cheered approvingly, the baby cried and the ceremony being over, the child was handed back to its parents and Emma launched forth into her regular evening talk.

The Wichita Beacon 36 no. 124 (September 17, 1901): 8.

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Frank Harris, “Emma Goldman, the Famous Anarchist (1923)

368px-Frank_Harris,_Vanity_Fair,_1913-11-12Men stone the prophets still, and persecute those sent to them to point the upward way! In prison oft, this female St. Paul, an exile now and outcast from her own, living in Berlin even on sufferance from six months’ permission to six months, and no asylum, no place of rest in the wide world, if this be denied her; yet courageous still, and uncomplaining, full, indeed, of joyous energy and pregnant with plans of work.

Think of it. She might be rotten to the teeth with self-indulgence, one foul infectious sore, leprous or syphilitic, and men would take her to their pity, nurses would wait on her by night and day, doctors would minister to her with all their skill; but try to teach and guide mankind, be brave and true, hearken only to the God-given inspiration of your soul, live resolutely to the highest in you, and men will treat you as they treat a mad dog and, in their fear and hate, drive you from pillar to post, hound you through the world, to punish and torture and kill.

“What harm have I done?” cries the victim.

“None; you have tried to do us good—to Calvary with you.”

As she comes towards me in the hall of the hotel, I scan her with curious sympathy, reverence even. Clearly not for ornament, this unpretentious, quick-moving little person; her hat “looks as if it had been stuffed in her pocket,” I tell her, laughing; “my head,” she counters, smiling, “is made for a rope, not for a hat.” Very short, some inches less than five feet high; but strongly built, and carrying herself sturdily. No one would take her for a Jewess, this Gretchen, with her grey-blue eyes, brown hair, and undetermined features. She is very short-sighted, too, and has to wear glasses at all times. Her unprepossessing appearance, I imagine, must have had its influence in strengthening her character. But she would not have it. “In youth,” she said, “my fair skin and eyes brought me more suitors than I knew what to do with, and even now,” she added, “I manage to get all the love I want.”

One notices at once that she has a pleasant voice of good range, and is wholly free of any affectation or mannerism. She is herself alone, as greatness can afford to be. In a little while you remark that her eyes always meet yours openly, and if you get her to talk of her experiences in Soviet Russia, or in American prisons, she will astonish you with the width and depth of her knowledge and the uncanny impartiality that shines through all she says. Verily those who live with truth have their reward: their words carry conviction.

“A most remarkable woman,” you catch yourself saying at the end of an hour; and when you have known her for fifteen years, as I have, you will understand why I write of George Eliot, Emma Goldman, and Olive Schreiner as the three greatest women I have ever met. Two out of the three are Jewesses; and, if I added three more heroines to my list, the proportion would not be altered, for I would name Sarah Bernhardt, Miss Schuster, and Christine Rossetti. And why should I hesitate to confess it: the greatest of them all, in my opinion, is Emma Goldman.

I know many well-meaning people will hold up their hands at this, and pedantic critics will wonder whether I have the right to compare a mere agitator and journalist with an artist like George Eliot. “What has Miss Goldman done,” they will ask, “that can be compared with ‘Silas Marner’ or ‘The Mill on the Floss’?”

Well, I have the advantage of having known and admired George Eliot; yet I am sure that she who always called herself Mrs. Lewis was far inferior to ‘Emma Goldman in courage, and there is no page in George Eliot that for sublimity can compare with Emma Goldman’s confession of how she lost her sympathy with Bolshevism and the Russian revolutionaries. In due course I will put it before my readers, and they shall judge. Here I can only say that the love of truth and high loyalty to the ideal revealed in this change of attitude puts Emma Goldman among the heroic leaders and guides of humanity for ever.

She is now fifty-three years of age, having been born in 1869 in Kovno, on the German-Russian border—a product of the best in Germany, Russia, and Jewry. I have been deeply interested in her ever since we first met in New York—in 1909, I think; my book, “The Bomb,” having given her the wish to know me. “The trial of the Chicago Anarchists,” she confessed, “was the decisive influence in my life: that made me an Anarchist, a revolutionist; and your book is the Bible of that movement.”

I asked her what were the earlier formative influences of her life, and she was good enough to write them down for me herself; so I have nothing to do but transcribe her notes, for it will be well for all of us to follow the growth of a great character, and study its development.

“At the age of six my father carried me, comfortably seated astride his shoulders, to an election meeting. It was in the Baltic village of ——-, where we lived. For years my father had been in charge of the Government stage, there being no railroad in our part of the country at that time. The position was decided by election. Father had always been victorious in the electoral contests.

“The town hall was thick and ill-smelling with smoke from bad tobacco. The peasants were drunk. Barrels of vodka supplied an endless stream. It was a vile, brutal scene, the peasants gesticulating, screaming, and swearing as only Russian peasants can. Presently the results of the votes were announced. My father was defeated. Hooting, yelling, and jeering followed him out of the hall. On the way out, I asked him why the other man had been chosen. “Because we are Jews, dear child, and the other man gave more vodka.’ I was puzzled: ‘Jews’? and ‘more vodka’?

“Years later, when I attended the first election meeting in America, this scene in the Baltic village came back in a flash. Again I saw that drink or bribery decided the issue. The mass of men, debased and brutalised, had no conception of faithful service and unselfish work. I think it was this election experience which saved me from putting any trust in politics—social democratic politics included. I had looked behind the scenes, so could never be deceived by the Punch and Judy show which beguiles and misleads the stupid public. – “Another episode of a graver character made me see militarism in all its naked savagery. My father kept an inn, where the military officials and doctors would gather annually to draft the young peasants of our neighbourhood. Strapping boys, often the mainstay of the whole family and needed on the land, came as sheep to the slaughter and were put in the military yoke and sent out, sometimes never to return. Their unfortunate mothers would go down into the very dust to lick the boots of the drafting commissioners, begging them to release their sons. When that failed, the peasant women would turn to my mother for help. She must see the Barina (masters), give them honey, butter, money—in fact, anything—only to leave their sons on the land. Often my mother would succeed. She was a very beautiful woman, vivacious, and a born diplomat. Then the peasant women would fairly prostrate themselves before her. But more often mother would fail. Then the heart-broken mothers would tear their hair, beat their breasts, and fill the air with their plaints and lamentations. Frantically they would hold on to their boys, covering their faces with wild, passionate kisses, while the officers would order the soldiers to use the knout in order to separate mother and child.

“Then there was the brutality of the officers to the soldiers. I remember especially a frail orderly who was polishing the boots of his superior. For some reason he incurred the displeasure of the officer, who, without a word, rushed at the boy and whipped him across the face, bringing forth a stream of blood. My sister Helena, eight years older than I, and usually a very timid girl, threw herself on the officer and pounded his chest with her small fists. The affair came near landing our whole family in prison, and possibly causing a pogrom against the Jews. Fortunately, the Colonel had known my father for some time, and smoothed matters over. But the heart-breaking scenes of drafting and the brutality of the officers had a decisive effect upon my sympathies; they marked the beginning of my hatred of militarism and my struggle against it as an inhuman institution.

“Another deep impression of my childhood was in a different field. My mother, very German, had a perfect obsession for German nurse-girls for our ‘culture.” These girls were never permitted to remain with us for very long. The Baltic nobility, depleted in station but not in sensuality, were hot after our nurse-girls, and soon the human—all too human—result would take place. Then, in moral indignation, mother would send the girl away, and rush off to Königsberg for another importation. One girl had wound herself around my heart. Amalia was her name. She was a lovely creature, and could tell the most marvellous Maerchen. One evening I saw my adored Amalia in tears. What had happened? ‘Ach, Ich muss fort.’ I flew to mother. “Mutter, liebe Mutter, why must Amalia go away?’ Mother was scandalised. ‘Amalia ist ein schlechtes Madchen, und muss weg, sonst wirst du auch schlecht.” (Amalia is a bad girl, and must go, otherwise she’ll make you bad too.) I begged and pleaded with mother, but she was obdurate. That night I slept with my arms around Amalia’s neck. The next morning I stole into mother’s room while she was at breakfast, emptied her purse of part of its contents, and dashed off with it to Amalia.

“The injustice and harshness shown Amalia cured me, as soon as I could understand what had happened, of the stupid morality which confines motherhood in the straight-jacket of legitimacy. A friend of mine used to say, ‘There is no morality in the belly.’ I believe he was right. I cannot remember ever having had a moral attitude towards life and love. I remember an episode when I was eight years of age. My sister was sixteen and desperately in love with a Gentile. She almost died of longing for the man, but she would not even see him. As a Jewess, she could not marry him, and the idea of love justifying itself never entered her head. Her arguments against her love were Greek to my child’s fancy. In my romantic vision, love stood out clear and radiant: religion, marriage, parents—what could they have to do with love? I could not understand it then, and I have never understood it since. Evidently I was born deficient in what the Puritans call the moral sense. I have no morality in my belly.

“That is the more remarkable because my childhood and adolescence were completely obsessed by so-called German morality: the Marlit, Lindau, Gartenlaube morality. Indeed, I was so very German that I wept bitter tears when my people decided to remove to St. Petersburg. We were living in Königsberg at that time, where I had attended school for six years, and where I had been spoon-fed on German sentimental and patriotic literature, not to speak of the hatred inculcated against Russia—the country of those terrible “barbarians’ and dreadful Nihilists | No, I wanted to remain in Germany, continue my studies; medicine was then my dream. One year in Russia changed my very being and the whole course of my life.

“We arrived in the winter of 1881, the historic year in the Russian revolutionary life. Tsar Alexander had just fallen, and the blackest reaction followed. Every breath of life was suppressed, yet the passionate youthful desire for ideals could not be stifled. The air was hot with it; secret reading circles and discussion clubs were everywhere. My spirit caught the white flame of Russian idealism; Marlit and the Gartenlaube were abandoned for Tchernyshevsky, Turgeniev, and Gontcharoff. The good German Queen Louisa, once my ideal, was given up in favour of Sophia Perovskaya and Jessie Helfman. I was too young to understand and grasp the theories that carried Russia’s youth onward. But my soul became imbued with the humanitarian ideas everywhere in the air. Added to this was the hatred and the persecution of the Jews, which I could not help but see, and which stirred me profoundly. Judith became my ideal, instead of the Gretchen or Louise. I too, would become a Judith, and avenge the cruel wrongs of my race.

“All these vague dreams and ideals were soon to be crystallised into one overpowering purpose. In 1886, with my sister Helena, I went to America—free, glorious America, as I solemnly believed it to be. I still remember the ecstasy that took possession of me as we passed the Statue of Liberty. So must my forebears have felt when they were permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. Soon, however, there was a rude awakening. The sordid grind, the drabness of factory life in Rochester, and then the trial of the Chicago Anarchists— which I followed with bated breath—made me see America in a new and blinding light. Night after night, at the end of ten hours of exhausting work in a clothing shop, for $2.50 per week, I would bury myself in the papers and spell out, word for word, the story of the Haymarket trial.

“Then I learned of the existence of a Socialist Club in Rochester. I went there to have the dreadful story explained to me. I found quite another version of the facts than that told in the daily American press. I was given German Socialist and Anarchist papers which related the whole ghastly conspiracy against labour and against the Chicago Anarchists. Lingg, Parsons, Spies, and the others became my heroes, and when the fatal day arrived—that Black Friday, November 11, 1887– I promised myself to take up the ideas of the men done to death there and carry them to the four corners of the earth until the end of my life.

“That very day an event happened which strengthened me in my determination. A relative came to visit my mother. I was too numb with the terrible strain of the weeks before the execution and the horror of that morning. I paid no attention at first to the conversation of my elders. Suddenly I heard the relative say: “Them Anarchist criminals were hanged at last!” I was stabbed to the quick: blind with fury, I snatched up a glass filled with water and dashed it in the woman’s face. The glass fell to the ground, and my agony found relief in hysterical weeping. That was my baptism in the Anarchist creed.

“Two years later, in 1889, when I was just twenty, I entered the Anarchist movement; took the thorny road that leads up the long hill to Calvary.”

The girl-child, it appears from these outpourings, is the mother of the mature woman. In her hatred of coercion and force, her sympathy with all forms of suffering, her understanding of poverty and its soul-searing humiliations, her intense enthusiasm for ideals, and above all, her heroic personal courage, that child is essentially Emma Goldman, the Anarchist of to-day. I shall now give some of her later experiences in the United States, just to show how this woman’s soul was steeled time and again by injustice and by punishment, till it reached the heroic temper.

Soon after she took the decisive step and became an Anarchist, inspiring influences crowded Emma Goldman’s life. First of all, she became the friend of John Most, the notorious Communist lecturer. His impassioned eloquence and tireless energy, together with the persecution he had endured for the cause, combined to excite her enthusiasm. At this time in New York, too, she met Alexander Berkman, the Anarchist, whose friendship has played an important part in her mature life.

The murder of the innocent Chicago Anarchists failed to satisfy the growing power of the greedy capitalists of Wall Street. In 1892 came the great strike of the steel-workers in Pittsburg. Everyone in America has read of the Homestead struggle; the defeat of the Pinkertons and their detective forces; the calling out of the Militia; and the final suppression of the strikers. Stirred to the soul by the pitiless vengeance exercised even on the families of the workmen, Alexander Berkman resolved to sacrifice himself to the cause. He went to Pittsburg and shot Frick, the Gessler of the struggle, in his own office. Fortunately for him, none of his three shots proved fatal, yet the youth of twenty-two was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. Seven years was the utmost penalty for such a crime as Berkman’s, but capitalism was mad with fear, and the judge was not ashamed to discover and punish five offences in this one crime, and the “kept” press of America was even more incensed than its pay-masters, and wrote of Anarchists as devils and idiots combined. Berkman’s act was condemned even by Most and his followers among the German and Jewish Anarchists.

The police used every effort to implicate Emma Goldman in Berkman’s act; it was only the fact that she was hundreds of miles away, in New York, that saved her from arrest and the outrageous torture of the “third degree.” But for months Emma Goldman, because she had been Berkman’s friend, could find no decent lodging in New York City; for some time she had to sleep in the parks in the open, and at length she was glad to get a room on Third Street, in a house occupied exclusively by prostitutes. No wonder her health broke under the strain, and for some time she had to give up her work as a lecturer and take refuge with her beloved sister Helena in the family home at Rochester.

But soon she was again called to the front. There was a great strike of cloakmakers in New York, and a monster demonstration of the unemployed took place in Union Square. Emma Goldman was one of the invited speakers. She delivered an impassioned speech, pictured the sordid misery of the wage-slave’s life, and roused the wild applause of the crowd by quoting the famous words used a little while before in London by Cardinal Manning: “Necessity knows no law, and the starving man has a natural right to a share of his neighbours’ bread.”

The capitalist press began to scream its protest. If these Socialists and Anarchists were allowed to preach robbery, the wage-slave might awaken to the misery of his servitude. The Chief of Police of New York, one Byrnes, procured a court order for the arrest of Emma Goldman. In October, 1893, she was tried in New York on the charge of inciting to riot. The “intelligent” jury would not accept the testimony of the twelve witnesses for the defence, preferring the evidence of the single detective, Jacobs. Emma Goldman was convicted and sentenced to one year in the Penitentiary.

Since the foundation of the Republic, she was the first woman—Mrs. Surratt excepted—to be imprisoned for a purely political offence.

Her whole year in prison was spent in studying English and in reading Whitman, Thoreau, and Emerson; it is characteristic of her that she still prefers Thoreau.

In August, 1894, she left Blackwell’s Island and returned to New York, a woman of twenty-five now, intellectually mature, passionately determined to devote all her energies and give her life, if need be, to the uplifting of the poor and the emancipation of the ignorant. She found herself welcomed at once and acclaimed by the best heads as a leader in the Liberation War of Humanity.

In 1895 she went for a lecture tour in England and Scotland and afterwards to Vienna, where she entered the Allgemein Krankenhaus, to prepare herself as midwife and nurse and study social conditions. In this year she mastered modern literature, and learned to know Hauptmann and Ibsen, Nietzsche and Shaw, as few know them.

In 1897 she undertook her first great lecture tour in America, crossing the continent. Again in 1899 another great tour, and at the close of the year she visited the International Anarchist Conference in Paris.

When the Boer War broke out, she was drawn to England to protest, and several of her meetings were broken up by patriotic mobs. But the visit was made ever memorable to her because she met in London Tom Mann and the sisters Rossetti, the daughters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, then publishers of the Anarchist review, The Torch. She also became a friend of Prince Kropotkin and Louise Michel.

But such periods of peaceful development in Emma Goldman’s life were dovetailed in, so to speak, as breathing spaces in the long conflict. In September, 1900, President McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz at Buffalo. At once a campaign of slander and persecution was begun against Emma Goldman as the foremost Anarchist in the country. She was arrested in Chicago, kept in close confinement for several weeks, and subjected to the fiercest kind of cross-examination and even personal injury. A policeman threw two young men, who had been badly clubbed by his fellows, into the Black Maria, and when Emma told him he had no right to use violence to handcuffed prisoners, he struck her in the mouth and knocked out one of her front teeth!

All the efforts of the police failed; she had no sort of connection with Czolgosz; but the brutal violence of the police and the insults and libels of the “kept” press had left her bruised and sick at heart. For the first time, she says, she realised the bestial stupidity and ignorant prejudice of the average American, and for the first time she saw that enlightenment would not come in her lifetime, if ever; and for months the sad understanding of human savagery depressed her almost to despair. But the courage in her was like that of Milton:

“Never to submit nor yield,
And what is else not to be overcome!”

She published an article on Czolgosz, in which she tried to explain his deed: tout comprendre est tout pardonner, she pleaded; but, though the ordinary Frenchman knows that perfect understanding involves forgiveness, governing America has not yet reached that height.

The rage of persecution broke out afresh. Once.more Emma Goldman was unable to find lodgings, and was hounded like a wild beast. She had to take the name of “Miss Smith,” and earn her living by practising her profession of nurse on the quiet.

Fortunately, about this time Paul Orlenoff and Madame Nazimova came to New York to acquaint the American public with Russian dramatic art, and “Miss Smith’’ was selected as manager of the enterprise. She succeeded in raising funds and in introducing the Russian artists to the theatre-goers of New York and Chicago.

The weekly Anarchist publication, Free Society, had had to suspend publication because of the nation-wide fury that swept America after the death of McKinley. But Orlenoff and Nazimova gave a benefit performance, and handed the proceeds to Emma Goldman, who therewith, in March 1906, brought out the first number of Mother Earth, which she has continued uninterruptedly up to her imprisonment in 1917.

In May of this same year Alexander Berkman was released after fourteen years in his prison-hell. No one can say what the renewal of friendship meant to both; henceforth they were practically inseparable. Of course, the breakdown of the Russian Revolution in 1905 had driven many of the Russian Anarchists to America, notably Tchaikovsky and Madame Breshkovskaya: they were welcomed and helped by Miss Goldman.

In 1907 she took part in the second Anarchist Conference in Amsterdam, and, with Max Bajinski, published a sort of defence of Anarchist ideas, which I shall give later.

But now Miss Goldman, when nearing forty, was destined to meet the man who could be lieutenant and press-agent and business representative all in one, and so helped her to achieve nation-wide notoriety, if not fame. Again I let her tell her own story.

“In March, 1908, I was booked to deliver fourteen lectures in Chicago. Two days before my arrival, a young Russian boy, who had been brutally clubbed by the police during the unemployed demonstrations of that year, went to the house of the Chief of Police, evidently with the intention of taking his life. The son of the Chief riddled the boy with fourteen bullets the moment he opened the door.

“I had never in my life seen the boy. I certainly knew nothing of his plans. Yet my meetings were immediately suppressed and my name was, as usual, connected with the attempt upon the life of the Chief. Not only that, but when I arrived in Chicago I found the station full of detectives, who from that moment, and for weeks after, never let me out of their sight.

“The whole city was, as usually, terrorised, and no hall-keeper could be induced to rent his place for my lectures; not even the Socialists, who, as a matter of fact, were more violent in their attacks upon the Anarchists than the kept press. At the last moment a man came to the fore, offering a store which he was using for the Hobo Welfare Association. I could speak there, he said. That man was Dr. Ben Reitman, who had played an important part in the unemployed activities in Chicago, and who had himself been clubbed by the police. But the Chicago authorities were determined that I should not speak in Chicago. They sent men from the Building and Fire Department to Dr. Reitman’s hall, to declare it unsafe.

“We decided upon another method to test the right of free speech. A radical organisation arranged a social meeting. My name was nowhere mentioned as speaker. On the evening of the affair, I managed to slip out of the back entrance of the house where I lived, which was carefully watched by detectives; I got safely to the hall and to the front of the platform. After someone played a violin solo, I got on the platform and began to speak. Immediately the police, who lined the hall, rushed to the platform, dragged me off by force, almost tearing my clothes off my back, and threw me out into the street. That ended the attempt at free speech on my visit in 1908.

“The violence of the police, however, had some good results. It aroused tremendous interest in Anarchist ideas and in my work. It brought the Chicago Inter-Ocean to the front. I was offered the columns of that paper for a series of articles, which I promptly accepted, thereby reaching vast numbers of people I could not possibly have reached by my lectures.

“Up to that time, my work had to be carried on along limited lines, mostly through the assistance of small Anarchist groups, who had no possibilities and perhaps were not efficient enough to make my lectures widely known in the different communities. But after my experience in Chicago, Ben Reitman became my manager, and from that time dates the tremendous success of the work we did all over the country until I was deported from America.

“After the Chicago experience, I went to Winnipeg, Canada. On the way back to America I was held up at the border, taken off the train, and questioned about my citizenship. I gave the necessary information, and was permitted to go on. But this experience had some serious and wholly unexpected results which I may relate here.

“In 1909 the Federal authorities sent two detectives to Rochester, New York (my home town); these men worked for months, succeeded in bribing the parents of the man to whom I had been married, perhaps also terrorised them; but, in any event, the old people went on the witness stand and testified that their son, on taking out his citizen’s papers, had not been five years in the country, and was not 21 years of age himself. Goldman, my husband, was absent, no one knew where, yet he was thus disfranchised; needless to say, that was done, not to strike him, but in due time to get rid of me.

“In 1909, after the murder of Francesco Ferrer, I went to Philadelphia to speak. I found the hall surrounded by police on horseback and foot, and the entrance barred to me, although the audience was permitted to attend. The next day, at the suggestion of some Single Tax friends of mine, we carried the action of the police into court.

“Of course, the court decided against me, and, for a long time after that, free speech was abolished in Philadelphia.

“The same year I came to San Francisco, California, for a series of eight lectures. All went well the first evening. On my arrival at the hall the next evening, I found it surrounded by police. Two detectives presented me with a warrant, ordering my arrest. In the patrol waggon I found my manager and William Bu waldo, the soldier who had received five years’ military prison for shaking hands with me the year before. His sentence had been commuted by Roosevelt. He had just come out of prison, and we had dinner together before going to the hall. Eight charges of conspiracy were preferred against Reitman and myself, and we were held under $16,000 bail, which friends promptly furnished. It took six weeks before we could get to trial. The trial was, of course, a farce, and we were acquitted. But I lost valuable time and considerable money, without getting the least redress from the authorities.

“However, the advertisement which our arrest gave us helped tremendously with my meetings in Portland and Seattle. I never had had such large audiences before. At the last moment, I was arrested in Seattle, held overnight without excuse, and then set free. We then went to Everett, Washington.

“In the next eight or ten years, as my popularity grew, the persecution of the police increased. After the world-war began, the people became more violent even than the police. Two or three incidents will tell the story of the next ten years of my work.

“I had real fun once at Ann Arbor, Michigan. When I arrived there I found a Bedlam. Five hundred students, with whistles, bells, horns, and every other imaginable device to make noise, howled and screamed and insisted they would not permit me to speak. There was only one other woman save myself who had ventured into the hall. It looked very threatening. Some of the students suggested that we call the police, to which I did not consent. I decided to pull through the meeting, or to die in the attempt. When I began to speak, the students howled like wolves. I then told them that it was a contest of endurance; that I happened to come from a race which owed its survival to endurance, and that I had all the patience in the world to wait until they should have had their fill of noise. That seemed to have affected them, because they let me go on, with only occasional interruptions. Before I was half through they became intensely interested, and when I finished they gave the College yell for Emma Goldman. From that time I had won the heart of the students, and of Ann Arbor, which I revisited several times a year.

“Between 1910 and 1914 I carried on my work, published Mother Earth, and prepared a series of lectures on the drama for publication, without much interruption. But in the summer of that year new trouble began. It was during the free speech fight of the I.W.W. in San Diego, and while I lectured in Los Angeles, that groups of the boys came back to Los Angeles, after they had been cruelly beaten, tarred and feathered, and rushed out of the city. They were in a terrible condition. It was also during that time that one of the boys, Mikolechek, was riddled by bullets by the Vigilantes, and other I.W.W. boys by the hundreds were put into prison. I therefore decided to throw in my lot with them, to go to San Diego, and to take a hand in the fight. I chose as my subject,

“The Enemy of the People,’ which seemed to me very appropriate to the San Diego situation. I went there with Ben Reitman. On our arrival we found a mob of a thousand people. I had no idea that they came to ‘welcome’ me. We quietly pushed through and went to the auto-‘bus of the Grand Hotel. I must have been recognised, because a wild rush for the ‘bus was made. Well-dressed women stood up in their automobiles and screamed:

“‘Turn her over to us; we’ll tear her rotten tongue out of her; we’ll tear her to pieces.’

“Fortunately, the driver retained his presence of mind. He dashed along the street like mad, so we managed to escape the wild mob for the moment. Arriving in the hotel, we were rushed up to the top floor, and locked in rooms. We knew it was dangerous to communicate with any of our friends, and there was no way of getting in touch with anybody, so we simply waited on events. At seven o’clock in the evening the manager of the hotel came to my room to say that the Police Chief wanted to see me. Accompanied by Reitman, I went down to the office, but there found seven men standing about in a circle. I was told that the Chief and the State Attorney were in the next room, and that they wanted to see me, and not Reitman. When I reached the room, I found a lot of officials; one of them pointed to the street, black with people, and then said:

“‘We have no way of controlling the mob, so, if you value your life, you will have to get out of town.’

“I asked the man to let me address the audience from the window; that I was sure I could pacify it. But he would not have it. I then said that I would not leave the city, and that I wished to go back to my room. There was no interference. On the way to the elevator, I passed the room where I had left Reitman. It was empty. I demanded to know what had become of him; but no one would give me information. I paced my own room until two in the morning, trying to decide what to do, when again the manager of the hotel came to me. He assured me that Reitman was safe and now on the way to Los Angeles. He said that he had given me protection as long as he could, but if I remained I would jeopardise his life, as the Vigilantes had threatened him if I did not leave town. Of course, I decided to go. At the station I had an encounter with some of the Vigilantes, and would probably have lost my life if the railway men had not come to my rescue. They almost carried me to the compartment of the train, locked the doors, and stood guard in front of it.

“When I came to Los Angeles, there was no Reitman. But during the day I received a long-distance telephone that he would arrive in the evening. He had to be taken off the train on a stretcher. He was in a terrible condition, bruised all over, and with the tar and feathers still sticking to him. We then heard his story:

“As soon as I left the room, it appeared, the seven men threw themselves on Reitman, gagged and bound him, dragged him out through the back entrance into a waiting automobile, with seven occupants. On the outskirts of the city there was another automobile, also with seven occupants. Reitman was driven thirty miles out of San Diego, was then stripped, terribly beaten, the letters I.W.W. burned on his back with a lighted cigar, then he was subjected to appalling humiliations, finally tarred and feathered, and told never to return to San Diego. The men said to him:

“‘You think we are working men; we are bankers, lawyers, doctors, American patriots; we will teach you damned foreigners.”

“That closed the first San Diego experience. “And worse was to come. Early in 1916 I was arrested for birth-control activities. I had lectured on birth-control for many years; in fact, was the first woman in America to treat the subject before large audiences; but I had never discussed methods publicly. In 1916. I decided to go to the limit. I was arrested, placed under bail, and held for trial for disseminating knowledge on birth-control. I conducted my own trial, but was convicted, of course, and given either $100 fine, or two weeks in the Queen’s County jail. I preferred the latter. I needed the rest badly; besides I had to prepare a number of lectures on the war and on some literary subjects. The jail was the best place to work in.

“After my release, I went on my annual tour, which took me to California. San Francisco was always a very good field for my work. The first week of this visit was record-breaking; then, on the 22nd of July, a bomb was thrown in the Preparedness Parade. Immediately Alexander Berkman’s and my name were connected with the act. Berkman, who had lived in San Francisco for a year, and was publishing The Blast, had his place raided, and was “grilled” for hours as to the bomb; needless to say, neither he nor I knew anything about it.

“I continued for three weeks longer after the explosion, but my meetings were attended mostly by detectives.

“The strain and the anxiety affected my health. I left San Francisco, determined to take a vacation—the first in many years. I went to Provincetown, Mass., where my niece had a cottage. But the situation in San Francisco, and the condition of the arrested people—Mooney and the others—necessitated immediate action. No San Francisco lawyer would take their case at the time. I was bombarded by letters and telegrams to go to New York to secure an attorney for Mooney. There was nothing else to do but to give up the vacation and again throw myself into work. It was a terrible year, and we all expected that Mooney and the others would lose their lives. Indeed, they came near doing so; that they remained alive is due, to a large extent, to the incessant activities of Alexander Berkman, who travelled up and down the land, knocking at every labour organisation, arousing the liberal and radical elements, and making of the Mooney case an international affair.

“My work grew steadily more difficult, more dangerous.

“In 1917, when there was talk of America’s entering the war, we organised a Non-Conscription League. That was on the 9th of May; on the evening of the 18th, just after Wilson had declared war on Germany, the League held its first large meeting. In June, Mother Earth magazine came out with a cartoon portraying democracy as a corpse. Mother Earth declared itself against registration, conscription, and the war. On the 4th of June, the eve of registration, we had a large meeting in the Bronx. For blocks the people crowded to get into the hall. The police came out with machine guns, searchlights, and every other means to create a riot; but the people kept perfect self-restraint. The only rioters were drunken sailors and soldiers. Then, on the 14th of June, we had another meeting on the East Side. There were no serious disturbances anywhere, bus there were large crowds who hated America’s entry into the war, and who were enthusiastic about those who had the courage to give voice to their opposition.

“The 15th of June, fourteen detectives came to the office of Mother Earth and The Blast (which, by the way, had been removed to New York). Both places were raided, most of our literature, manuscripts and documents confiscated, and Berkman and I were arrested. The rest everyone knows. What I have written here gives merely the bare facts of the difficult life I have led for many years. In fact, I can say that for twenty years I never knew, until the last minute before getting on the platform, whether my meeting would take place or whether I should be dragged off to prison. But, as I have often said, if you have a sense of humour, you can survive everything. Besides, the art of an agitator of unpopular ideas consists in the ability to accept the station-house or a hotel with the same grace.

“Nietzsche said that ‘the criterion of love is the power of endurance.’ If so, America deserves my passionate love, for it has made me endure a thousand hells, but it has also given me what is best and finest in America —men and women of ideas, of character, and of a passionate devotion to the struggle for liberty; so I have no complaints to make.” Thus ends Miss Goldman’s story.

Now, what are the dangerous ideas which so-called free America punishes with imprisonments and torturings and banishment, though its very Constitution pledges its judges and its people never to interfere with freedom of speech or of the press or of public meeting? Miss Goldman is in favour of birth-control; but birthcontrol is preached by the State in Denmark, and can be advocated in any European country except Great Britain, without let or hindrance.

She speaks against militarism, too, and Government; but throughout Christendom that is allowed, save in the Benighted States.

The truth seems to be that she speaks very simply and plainly, in language understanded of the people, and has the popular gift of getting large and enthusiastic audiences. Here is the gist of what she says:

“The State is not an organism, but an arbitrary institution cunningly imposed on the masses. The schools, too, are barracks where the child is drilled into submission to various social and moral spooks and thus fitted to continue our system of exploitation and oppression. . . .” An organism in the true sense cannot be composed of nonentities, but of self-conscious intelligent individualities.” On reading this I ventured to question Miss Goldman and tried to find out exactly what she understands as Anarchy, and how the co-operative Commonwealth of the future can be made to function.

Her ideal, it seems to me, is based on the assumption that the majority of individuals constituting the State are intelligent and reasonable. One would have thought that her experiences at San Diego alone would have been sufficient to convince her of the absolute falsity of this premise. She herself tells how bankers, lawyers, doctors, and business men turned fiends and torturers when excited by the herd-sentiment. She would be the last person to expect sweet reasonableness from the many: but the fault in her reasoning only throws into clearer light her dauntless courage and noble idealism.

I then asked Miss Goldman for an account of her activities in the United States after 1917, when she and Berkman were again sentenced to prison. She was tried in New York. At the outset Miss Goldman said to her judge: “For the first time, the accusation against me is true. I advised the people not to register; I begged them not to engage as soldiers: I am against all war, and hate all conscription.” A Jewish judge, Mayer, to his eternal disgrace, gave her the maximum penalty of two years, though she protested that she did not believe in trying to overthrow the Government by force, but by persuasion. She has told herself what she suffered in prison, though blessed with a most intelligent and humane warder. The under-warder, however, was a woman who took pleasure in punishing, and did her best to make the prison into a hell. But Miss Goldman’s courage and selfcontrol brought her safely through.

The one reward of the heroic soul is that the tasks grow harder, the thorny, upward way ever more arduous to the end. At long last Emma Goldman was to be tried as with fire. After serving two years in prison, Emma was deported, with Alexander Berkman and some 247 Anarchists, in the crazy leaky Buford to Russia. She went, she tells us, full of enthusiasm: she had admired the Soviets from a distance; they were the embodiment of the Russian Revolution, she believed; all the idealism of the Russian character had come to power in them; surely now they would establish a Communist Commonwealth, the Kingdom of Man upon Earth.

For nearly two years her friends in the United States heard nothing of much value from her; rumours, it is true, of discontent, but nothing precise or positive. Then with infinite difficulty she and Berkman got out of Russia, and at once the first authentic picture of the Soviet Government came to us; and, to our surprise, it held an absolute condemnation of Lenin and his methods. Her articles on the Soviet rulers constitute perhaps the noblest act of Emma Goldman’s heroic life. Two points stand out for ever undeniable in her tremendous indictment of the Soviet leaders she had defended time and again, and praised when it was disastrous to her to praise them.

Lenin, she declares, destroyed the co-operative movement in Russia and shut up its 15,000 shops; Lenin invented the infamous Tcheka, and gave it more power than the secret police of the Tsar to torture, imprison, exile, and murder without form of law or the formality even of a hearing. Lenin, the pinchbeck Robespierre, went even further in tyrannical misuse of power than any Tsar or even than the capitalist despotism of the United States. In November, 1921, the Tcheka began to deport native-born Russians, chiefly the intelligentzia, and make outcasts of Russia’s noblest. The whole story is the most impressive account yet written of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet despots.

Naturally Miss Goldman begins with the massacre of the revolutionary Russian sailors at Kronstadt, the very men who put Lenin in power, “the heart and hands,” as Trotzky called them, of the Revolution. When they ventured to take sides with the Petrograd proletariat and to ask for free elections, Trotzky led the Red Army against them and slaughtered 18,000 of his most convinced and honest supporters.

One would have thought that the mere publication of these facts, the reverence they show for the truth, as she sees it, at all costs, would have reinstated Miss Goldman in the eyes of the American authorities. But, alas ! these men take their orders from Wall Street, and money has no entrails of pity, but only of greed.

Will England too be obdurate, or will she, the old home of individual freedom, honour herself by affording an asylum to the greatest woman of this time—a second and greater St. Paul—or is Emma Goldman going to her crucifixion? Who shall say?

When I read her this, she laughed: “You may call me a female Paul,” she said, “but Saint Paul was a Puritan, and at any rate I am not so foolish as that.”

Thank God there is no trace of folly in her, or prudery; she has warmed both hands at the fire of life, and, in spite of having spent herself in the service of her fellows, she has had a full, warm, pulsing life of her own.

What a life she has lived!—a life of change, adventure, and constant danger; a life of astonishing vicissitudes, all gilded with love. Emma Goldman makes no scruple of confessing it: she tells you that all her life she has loved love, and she boasts with sufficient justification that, though she may have changed her lovers, they are all faithful to her still, after twenty or thirty years. And all the while she has been learning; she now knows Russian, as well as English, German, and French, and is versed in their literatures: Emma Goldman is probably the best-read woman I have ever met, and though persecuted as few have ever been persecuted, she remains kindly, tolerant, full of excuses even for her tormentors. In a letter to me from prison in 1919 she gave her real faith: “In our age there is nothing so useless as a spirit of white-heat with a vision of a glorious future, a spirit which cannot and will not accept an inglorious present. But my ideal is ever real to me. What, then, does prison matter? What do all the other follies and stupidities of those who have power matter? I have four months still to pass in my cell, then to the larger prison, which does not give much more breathing-space to the soul.”

I have told her life of struggle and insult in the States at perhaps undue length because I wished Americans to realise how far they have deserted the ideal of individual liberty established in the Constitution by Washington and Jefferson and consecrated by Lincoln. Under Wilson the American Republic sank lower in despotic violence than any tyranny yet known among men. And it has not recovered since the war: in this year 1923 Upton Sinclair was arrested and thrown into prison for reading a part of the Constitution on a vacant plot of land. A short time ago an innocent Italian threw himself from the 14th story of the Municipal Building in New York to escape the tortures of the infamous “third degree” inflicted on him by American policemen.

The chief difference between the tyranny of Wilson and that of Lenin is that the one uses violence to prevent wrong from being righted and the other uses violence in a wild attempt to right the wrong.

Emma Goldman has been savagely maltreated by both to her eternal honour !


Contemporary Portraits, Fourth Series, 1923: 223-251.

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Phrenological Examinations of Emma Goldman and Marie Louise (1895)

CHARACTER IN UNCONVENTIONAL PEOPLE.

A PAIR OF ANARCHISTS.

From Personal Examinations By The Editor.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 7.37.36 PMWe trust that the readers of The Journal will not be alarmed at the introduction of the two somewhat noted opponents of the existing order of society which we present herewith. We can vouch for their harmlessness in the shadows we print, however dangerous they may be in person and at short range.

As it is only by carefully studying and comparing all the elements of human nature, both agreeable and disagreeable, that we can hope to acquire accurate and comprehensive knowledge, we propose here to make a little excursion into the realm of unconventional mentality. Our purpose is to show a relation between peculiar ideas of life and certain types of organization. Of course we shall enter on no discussion as to the merits of the views held by the two subjects we have chosen, although it is only justice to say that both these women, especially Marie Louise, repudiate the commonly accepted idea that they advocate violence as a means of reform. Emma Goldman who recently served a year in one of the New York prisons for alleged utterances inciting to riot, is no doubt the more aggressive of the two, and is probably a fair representative of the radical class of anarchists. Marie Louise, on the other hand, professes to be what she calls a “scientific” anarchist. She is undoubtedly a scholar, while Miss Goldman is an enthusiast. Having recently interviewed and examined these two women, we hope to be able to point out certain facts about them which will be of interest.

Emma Goldman professes to be a Russian Jewess, although it is difficult to see anything in her face or head which we are accustomed to associate with the Hebrews.

She is still a young woman, probably not over twenty-six or eight. She is only five feet in height but weighs about one hundred and twenty-five pounds. She has rather fine, soft, light brown hair, and blue-gray eyes of which the expression is very peculiar. Her head measures twenty-one and a half inches in basilar circumference, and the principal developments are above this line. The back head is rather long, showing friendship, domestic attachment and love of the opposite sex. There is considerable width just over the ears at destructiveness and appetite for food which the portrait does not clearly show, as it is copied from a crayon drawing. But with the further exception of the upper forehead, which in this picture is not square enough at causality, the likeness is remarkably correct. This is especially true as to the expression of the eyes and mouth. The facial signs of destructiveness and alimentiveness are very pronounced in the form of the mouth, and it is chiefly in the mouth and eyes that we may detect the signs of quality and temperament which account for the woman’s disposition to attack the present social fabric.

There is a very considerable development in the rear of the crown. Approbativeness and firmness are especially strong. Conscientiousness is difficult to define. There is a latent sense of justice, but every thing in the organization points to a lack of discipline, and there are evidences of what might be called a habit of wilfulness; an abandon to the dominant impulses. In that form of chin and mouth, with the large firmness in the brain, we have the phase of persistence that may be called tenacity, and which is often referred to in popular parlance by a comparison with the bulldog. It means a deep-seated, ineradicable instinct to hold to an opinion, a purpose, or a passion. It is a vehement clutch which is never relaxed, and it differs from obstinacy or perseverance of the ordinary type in being independent of opposing forces or other external conditions. It nurses its joys or griefs whether anybody else is present to contradict or not. It does not depend on moods. It is always present in its activity and stamps the character with an indelible dye.

The incorrigibility of such a nature is also greatly augmented, as in the present instance, by the almost utter lack of reverence and faith. Hope is also weak. This combination leaves the intellect without incentive to search for evidences of optimism, and as such a nature readily finds itself at war with the conventionalities, ill adapted to compete in the struggle for existence with those more harmoniously constituted, a pessimistic view of life with a consequent desire to alter the existing conditions is the almost inevitable result. Of course there are thousands of people who have many of these peculiarities of feeling, but who are endowed with very ordinary intellect, so that they make no outcry, no protest, and indeed have few opinions beyond the consciousness that they are uncomfortable. But Emma Goldman, although obviously of a lineage far from aristocratic in tone, is endowed with a philosophical cast of mind which is very rare. Her upper forehead is beautifully developed and our portrait utterly fails to do her justice in this respect.

The development of causality and comparison, stimulated by her pessimistic emotions, renders her a radical thinker upon social problems. In her conversation she manifests that familiarity with the vocabulary of philosophy which is ordinarily expected only among cultivated professional men. However, her lower forehead is almost as defective as the upper portion is fine. The eyebrows are almost straight, and the space between them (the glabella) is depressed much more than appears in the engraving. This shows a want of observation, precision, accuracy and specification in her collection or application of data. In other words, she will reason profoundly but often upon insufficient evidence. After assuming certain premises she follows the rule of the syllogism in the most consistent, logical manner, but she is in danger of starting with premises which are false. As may be seen by the flattened outer angle of the eyebrow, she has scarcely a trace of order; and the eyes are deep set, showing little fondness for words or fluency in speech.

There are, doubtless, certain biases or tendencies in this woman which she owes to some marked peculiarities or habits of her ancestors. She says that her father was a man of an almost tyrannical disposition, and that her mother was very weak willed. Thus there is quite a difference between the indications in her head and those in her hand as regards firmness. Her hand is quite small, very flexible, but with a very poorly developed thumb, the first or nailed phalanx being very short. It is in this first joint that cheirognomists locate willpower, while the second phalanx is, according to its length, a sign of logic. This imperfect first joint of the thumb is often found in people who are undeveloped or askew in some particular. This peculiarity in Miss Goldman shows how important it is to study the brain and not to rely upon any one isolated or remote sign.


Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.35.27 PMIn the head of Marie Louise nearly all the developments seem to have been inherited from the father. She is a large woman, being five feet six inches in height and weighing 175 pounds. She has dark brown hair and gray eyes, a combination which is very favorable to strength of character and logical judgment. Her hands and feet are large. She wears a N0.8 glove and a No. 7 shoe. Her hand is of the square type, which indicates practicality and a sense of utility. She has excellent health. All the nutritive functions are strong. Her head measures 21 1/2 inches in circumference by 13 1/4 from ear to ear over the top.

In this head, also, there are many contrasts of strength and weakness. The cerebellum is large, and she is naturally a strong lover; but it is easy to see that the distance from the top of the ear backward is short to the region of attachment, either for a conjugal partner or for friends. It will also be observed that the opening of the eye is rather flat, which agrees with the form of the head as to attachment in love. Philoprogenitiveness is rather well developed and gives rise to much tenderness of feeling for all weak or helpless creatures there is not much continuity; that is to say, she is very restless and impatient as to her methods of working. She loves variety in almost everything, and in this respect she is like the majority of the French. Self-esteem is also very small.

Combativeness and destructiveness are moderate. The lack of aggressiveness is also plainly shown in the concave bridge of the nose. Acquisitiveness and secretiveness must be marked at the bottom of the scale, and the same is true of the two faculties in the top of the head which produced submissiveness, confidence and trust. In this sloping top head, which may be seen on the line of the part in the hair, accounts for much of the woman’s rebelliousness and irreverence for the old ideas. A line from The ear to the top of the head shows a good degree of conscientiousness. Firmness is a little less than it appears in the portrait. There are signs of honesty about the mouth and chin, but not the phase of firmness already pointed out in Miss Goldman. Benevolence is rather larger than it appears in the engraving. Indeed sympathy and kindness are among her most active qualities. Imitation is moderate, and the position of the eye and lack of expression in that organ show indifference to language. Although she is something of a linguist, her ability to acquire languages depends upon her mechanical faculties. Constructiveness is remarkably developed. There is also a very great distance between the eyes and the eyebrows. Observation and sense of form are thus very strong. The perceptives as a whole are exceptional, and the reflectives are about equally active.

From comparison up to where the hair begins there is a slope over the sense of human nature. She is not a good detective, and will often be imposed upon by designing people. She has really a very capacious and well-balanced forehead, well-adapted for science, art, or philosophy. She could have accomplished a great deal in sculpture. As the photograph was taken purposely to show the profile the forehead was sacrificed to some extent.

Marie Louise is unquestionably a woman of vigorous intellect, although as a result of the angularities of her organization she uses her intelligence in a somewhat original and decidedly unconventional manner. Thinking that it would be interesting to have her tell the readers of the Journal something of her life history, we invited her to write a sketch of her experiences. At first we were disposed to prune down a few sentences, but the article as she wrote it is so much more temperate and sensible than most people would expect from her, that we concluded to let it stand as it was. We publish it as an aid to the study of character as an expression of organization, and we are certain that a striking correspondence will be seen between what she says of herself and what is to be inferred from her head.

The following is the story she has furnished:

A Sketch Of My Life.

BY MARIE LOUISE.

I WAS born in the east of France, on the chain of mountains called Yura, which divides French territory from that of Switzerland. To the best of my knowledge my ancestors were born and lived in that locality for several generations. Their massive frames and peculiar features leave no doubt as to their connection with the atmospheric influence of the lofty Yura mountains whose bold and towering peaks dart forth to meet the clouds.

Each province in France has its own idiosyncracies, but none have native characteristics more emphasized than the inhabitants of Lorraine and Franche-Comte, whose territory stretches along the line dividing France from Germany on the north, and Switzerland on the south. These people, like the Germans, are noted for their physical sturdiness as well as their mental balance and depth; the former being enlivened and the latter clarified by the use of generous wines as an ordinary beverage.

The central portion of the east of France has given birth to numerous men of large mental caliber, such as Dr. Louis Pasteur, Jules Grevy, Alphonse de Lamartine, Victor Hugo, P. J. Proudhon, Chas. Fourrier, Victor Considerant, Etienne Cabet, J. J. Rousseau, Blaise Pascal, etc. The provinces in the south and center furnish brilliant orators, great warriors and ardent revolutionists of the type of Chas. Barbaroux, Napoleon Bonaparte and Leon Gambetta, while those of the west produce sailors, men of religious and conservative tendencies,of whom Larochejaquelion and Chateaubriant are types.

My ancestors and myself were born Roman Catholics, but when I was four years of age, my father, who had intense observing power and great depth of thought, met a man who had severed his connection with the Roman Catholic church because he found her dogmas at variance with the teachings of the Bible. He soon prevailed upon my father to read the unabridged Bible, and the result was another desertion from the fold of the church. There being no secular school in that part of the country, I was obliged to attend a Catholic one managed by nuns. From these and the parish priest I received very bad treatment, and but for the extreme kindness of the sister under whose direct tuition I was, I would not have been able to stand the ordeal. The memory of that woman is enshrined within my heart with all that is noble and lovely on earth.

Thus, at an early age, I was a heretic and called upon to battle with my surroundings and to batter on the angular corners of tradition and convention. My god-father, who was one of my father’s brothers and was childless, once called on us and said to me:

“Marie, I have always contemplated making you my heir, but 1 cannot do it unless you return to the Roman Catholic church.”

“Money could not induce me to become a Roman Catholic,” I replied.

“Our forefathers were all Roman Catholics,” continued my god-father; “it is our duty to tread in their steps.” (C’est notre devoir de marcher sur leurs traces.)

“Had our forefathers been thieves, ought I to be one also?” I gravely questioned.

I was then about eight years old. That I had already suffered and bravely borne my suffering was evidenced in my speech.

The first years of my infancy were passed in the tumultuous agitation and repeated insurrections which shook France between the overthrow of King Louis Philippe in 1848 and the beginning of 1852, when Louis Napoleon strangled the second republic and erected his imperial throne. My father was a republican; was so, I think, from the pressure of environment, for his mind was more directed toward the study of the Bible and the worship of Cod than toward political movements. I, though so young, was a republican by the force of my nature. When the people shouted, Vive la republique!—every tissue of my body seemed to hear it and thrill. I was seven years old when a red flag, the emblem of the republican party called The Mountain (La Montagne), was placed in my hands to carry it a long way at the head of a column returning from a political banquet in a forest. I shall never forget the joy I felt when I grasped the pole of the flag and saw its crimson folds wave over my head. My father was one of the many thousands whom Louis Napoleon imprisoned at the Coup d’Etat on December 2, 1851, and during the following month. He was arrested at night and when in the morning I found him missing, I divined where he was. Had not I during several preceding nights heard the tramping of horses and the rattling of chains in the street? Going to my window, I had seen gendarmes on horseback leading, or rather dragging along, prisoners who were manacled and sometimes chained to the horses. These prisoners had been arrested in the surrounding villages, in the dead of the night, and were hauled to the prison of the town. I knew that my father’s turn had come. I went straight to the prison gate and asked to see him, but was referred to the military commander, for France was under martial law. That important individual received me brusquely and, with a look full of hatred, refused my request. My heart sank within me, for I adored my father and could not reconcile myself to being parted from him. But to the look of hatred of Napoleon’s officer, I replied with another just as intense and more weighty, for that man was in the decline of life, while I was in the dawning of it, and the insignificant little girl might become a significant woman. Do oppressors realize what there is in trampling on the tender nature of a child? Napoleon went to Sedan in 1870 surrounded by hundreds of thousands whose infantile eyes had gazed on the horrors of the Coup d’Etat, and he never returned.

After his release from prison, my father left our native province and went to settle in Paris. The suburb Saint Antoine, famous in the history of Paris for its intelligent laboring population and revolutionary character, was selected for our abode. On my arrival at the capital, that which, above all other things, impressed me most was the houses wrecked and pierced by the bullets of the soldiers on the days of the Coup d’Etat.

A few months later, my father fell dangerously ill and was taken to a Protestant hospital connected with an Institution of Charities managed by sisters called Diaconesses. I was placed in the apprentice department of the same institution. Mechanical talents were soon discovered in me and, before the age of eleven, I was installed as head of the shirt workrooms, where I instructed the girls (every one older than myself) in the art of producing a perfect shirt, all by hand work. Having served about a year in that capacity, I was removed to the dressmaking department, where I was intrusted with taking measures, cutting, fitting and superintending the sewing girls. My superiors, who were charmed with my mechanical talents, were still more delighted to find me possessed of knowledge of the Bible and capable of making a good speech at prayer meetings. As was to be expected, they sought to retain me in the

establishment as postulant to the sisterhood. But there was too much about me that did not exactly tally with their teachings, and I candidly informed the director that I could not join the Order. This was another step in heresy, another protest against established powers. I did not fail to reap the fruit of my rebellion, and the words of praise previously bestowed on me were transformed into burning censure. Through my exaggerated timidity and slowness to defend myself, slanderers always got the best of me.

At the age of twelve I left the house of the Diaconesses and went home. A man born in FrancheComte used to visit my father and have with him long and animated discussions on the merit of the Bible. He was a university graduate and a Voltairian of the nineteenth century. With the advantage of his education, he overthrew my father at every turn, though he never conquered him. I sat hour after hour, silently listening and eagerly drinking every word of that man’s logic, and a few months of that experience made of me what is termed an infidel. One more step in heresy; nay, a leap!

On Sundays, my father compelled me to read the Bible for hours consecutively, but soon discovered my skepticism and assumed toward me an attitude akin to estrangement. At the age of eighteen 1 graduated. The minister of the church I attended desired me to take charge of the girls’ school of his parish. In an interview with him on this subject I inquired: “Shall I be obliged to teach the Bible to my pupils?” To his affirmative answer I rejoined: “Then let us drop the subject; I cannot teach the Bible.”

This latter step in heresy blighted all my future prospects. Aside from my infidelity, my father could not forgive me for having thrown away a lucrative position and alienated influential friends. From that time onward, I was left at the mercy of the storm, tossed here and there, sometimes disabled, sometimes nearly shattered by angry, opposing winds. Under the plea that I was not capable of taking care of property, my father undertook to strip me of the property left me by my mother. Loving him dearly, and not suspecting his designs, I was easily led to sign the documents annulling my rights of possession. When 1 discovered the truth and realized what little chance a woman has to get justice in the courts of France, and of what little consequence she was in all matters, I departed from Paris and settled in London, England.

During my sojourn in that city, 1 joined several progressive societies, French and English; was a member of the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association, also of several sections of the Reform League under the presidency of Mr. Edmond Beales, in 1868. I readily learned how to write English, but during several years was unable to speak that tongue; this I attribute to my native timidity in the presence of strangers. A few months previous to the outbreak of the Franco-German war I came to America. In my spare time I studied physiology, economics, sociology, and was greatly interested in phrenology. From the study of the latter I concluded that man’s power of volition was severely limited by propensities, innate or developed, which are indicated by special forms of brain. This gave a swing to my former standard of social ethics. I had been taught that children must be severely chastised and transgressors of the law sternly punished. This could not be wholly reconciled with the idea of limitation in volition. I dropped the theories of severe chastisement and entered a line of thought more in keeping with the law of love in human relations. Owing probably to superficiality in my new mode of reasoning, I hailed the doctrines of equality and altruism as expounded by State Socialists and remained several years under that fascinating delusion.

Soon engaging in business, I gave to my work all my time and my energies. In a harassing and ceaseless labor I passed several years, dead to all thought, save that of getting money to pay notes matured, and preserving the means for earning an honest and independent livelihood. But adversity cheated me of my hopes, and misfortunes fell upon me fast and swift. I was too good a mechanic in my trade not to disturb the equanimity of my competitors; independent and self-willed, to suit the narrow views of the people around me. Conspiracies against my person and my belongings soon sprang up, and one night my store was burglarized of nearly all its valuable contents. This heavy disaster inevitably generated many others, and, within three years, I was reduced to poverty. Single-handed, how could I fight against my numerous assailants? My enemies chuckled and scoffed and jeered. Never had I suspected that so much of wickedness lodged in the human breast.

I had now reached that point in misfortune when the victim curses society; when criminals are evolved. But in my case the cruel ordeal begot opposite results. Though my reason had received a severe shock, my mind refused to become distorted. I began to question whether those persons who had so injured me were conscious of the depth of their wickedness, and whether motives personal with them did not present their conduct, to their own judgment, in a light very different from that in which it appeared to me—and the verdict of my own conscience was in their favor. I further questioned whether my own position and relation to them were not, in themselves, the provocator of their evil deeds—and I found another verdict against myself.

The measure of evil, then, is dependent on the way we look at it, and this confirms the axiom that we love a man in proportion to the good, and hate him in proportion to the harm, we do him. The conclusions which forced themselves upon me were that injustice, hatred and severity were fatal to the general welfare of society, while equity and benevolence contrived to perfect man and cement social relations. The injunction of Christ, “Love one another; love your enemies,” presented itself in all its beauty and usefulness. Our enemies are lovable, for it is not the man that is bad; it is the conditions about him that force him to do evil. What the human creature needs is opportunities to do good and freedom to develop his potential qualities.

Of the philosophy I have just outlined I am a zealous advocate. My writings on Economics, Sociology and History have placed my name on the roll of advanced thinkers and defenders of human liberty. My principles logically involve a supreme regard for life. Partly not to destroy life wantonly, partly not to inflict suffering, and partly for hygienic reasons, I am a vegetarian. Meat eating, I maintain, familiarizes us with cruelty, blunts our sensibilities, excites and develops animalism.

This is a synopsis of the general incidents of my life and their bearing upon my mental unfoldment.


The Phrenological Journal and Science of Health 99 no. 2 (February, 1895): 88-96.

 

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Filed under Marie Louise David, phrenology

Margaret C. Anderson, “The Challenge of Emma Goldman” (1914)

mcanderson3EMMA GOLDMAN has been lecturing in Chicago, and various kinds of people have been going to hear her. I have heard her twice — once before the audience of well-dressed women who flock to her drama lectures and don’t know quite what to think of her, and once at the International Labor Hall before a crowd of anarchists and syndicalists and socialists, most of whom were collarless but who knew very emphatically what they thought of her and of her ideas. I came away with a series of impressions, every one of which resolved somehow into a single conviction: that here was a great woman.

The drama audience might have been dolls, for all they appeared to understand what was going on. One of them went up to Miss Goldman afterward and tried, almost petulantly, to explain what she believed in property and wealth. She was utterly serious. No one could have convinced her that there was any humor in the situation; that she might as well try to work up a fervor of war enthusiasm in Carnegie as to expect Emma Goldman to sympathize in the sanctity of property. The second audience, after listening to a talk on anti-Christianity, got to its feet and asked intelligent questions. Men with the faces of fanatics and martyrs waved their arms in their excitement pro and con; some one tried to prove that Nietzsche had an unscientific mind; a suave lawyer stated that Miss Goldman was profoundly intellectual, but that her talk was destructive — to which she replied that it would require another lawyer to unravel his inconsistency; and then some one established forcibly that the only real problem in the universe was that of three meals a day.

Most people who read and think have become enlightened about anarchism. They know that anarchists are usually timid, thoughtful, unviolent people; that dynamite is a part of their intellectual, not their physical, equipment; and that the goal for which they are striving — namely, individual human freedom — is one for which we might all strive with credit. But for the benefit of those -who regard Emma Goldman as a public menace, and for those who simply don’t know what to make of her — like that fashionable feminine audience — it may be interesting to look at her in a new way.

To begin with, why not take her quite simply? She’s a simple person. She’s natural. In any civilization it requires genius to be really simple and natural. It’s one of the most subtle, baffling, and agonizing struggles we go through — this trying to attain the quality that ought to be easiest of all attainment because we were given it to start with. What a commentary on civilization! — that one can regain his original simplicity only through colossal effort. Nietzsche calls it the three metamorphoses of the spirit: “how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.”

And Emma Goldman has struggled through these stages. She has taken her “heavy load-bearing spirit” into the wilderness, like the camel; become lord of that wilderness, captured freedom for new creating, like the lion; and then created new values, said her Yea to life, like the child. Somehow Zarathustra kept running through my mind as I listened to her that afternoon.

Emma Goldman preaches and practises the philosophy of freedom; she pushes through the network of a complicated society as if it were a cobweb instead of a steel structure; she brushes the cobwebs from her eyes and hair and calls back to the less daring ones that the air is more pure up there and “sunrise sometimes visible.” Someone has put it this way: “Repudiating as she does practically every tenet of what the modern state holds good, she stands for some of the noblest traits in human nature.” And no one who listens to her thoughtfully, whatever his opinion of her creed, will deny that she has nobility. Such qualities as courage — dauntless to the point of heartbreak; as sincerity, reverence, high – mindedness, self – reliance, helpfulness, generosity, strength, a capacity for love and work and life — all these are noble qualities, and Emma Goldman has them in the nth power. She has no pale traits like tact, gentleness, humility, meekness, compromise. She has “ a hard, kind heart “ instead of “ a soft, cruel one.” And she’s such a splendid fighter!

What is she fighting for? For the same things, concretely, that Nietzsche and Max Stirner fought for abstractly. She has nothing to say that they have not already said, perhaps; but the fact that she says it instead of putting it into books, that she hurls it from the platform straight into the minds and hearts of the eager, bewildered, or unfriendly people who listen to her, gives her personality and her message a unique value. She says it with the same unflinching violence to an audience of capitalists as to her friends the workers.

And the substance of her gospel — I speak merely from the impressions of those two lectures and the very little reading I’ve done of her published work — is something of this sort:

Radical changes in society, releasement from present injustices and miscries, can come about not through reform but through change; not through a patching up of the old order, but through a tearing down and a rebuilding. This process involves the repudiation of such “spooks“ as Christianity, conventional morality, immortality, and all other “myths“ that stand as obstacles to progress, freedom, health, truth, and beauty. One thus achieves that position beyond good and evil for which Nietzsche pleaded. But it is more fair to use Miss Goldman’s own words. In writing of the failure of Christianity, for instance, she says:

I believe that Christianity is most admirably adapted to the training of slaves, to the perpetuation of a slave society; in short, to the very conditions confronting us today. Indeed, never could society have degenerated to its present appalling stage if not for the assistance of Christianity… . No doubt I will be told that, though religion is a poison and institutionalized Christianity the greatest enemy of progress and freedom, there is some good in Christianity itself. What about the teachings of Christ and early Christianity, I may be asked; do they not stand for the spirit of humanity, for right, and justice?

It is precisely this oft-repeated contention that induced me to choose this subject, to enable me to demonstrate that the abuses of Christianity, like the abuses of government, are conditioned in the thing itself, and are not to be charged to the representatives of the creed. Christ and his teachings are the embodiment of inertia, of the denial of life; hence responsible for the things done in their name.

I am not interested in the theological Christ. Brilliant minds like Bauer, Strauss, Renan, Thomas Paine, and others refuted that myth long ago. I am even ready to admit that the theological Christ is not half so dangerous as the ethical and social Christ. In proportion as science takes the place of blind faith, theology loses its hold. But the ethical and poetical Christ-myth has so thoroughly saturated our lives, that even some of the most advanced minds find it difficult to emancipate themselves from its yoke. They have rid themselves of the letter, but have retained the spirit; yet it is the spirit which is back of all the crimes and horrors committed by orthodox Christianity. The Fathers of the Church can well afford to preach the gospel of Christ. It contains nothing dangerous to the regime of authority and wealth; it stands for self-denial and self-abnegation, for penance and regret, and is absolutely inert in the face of every indignity, every outrage imposed upon mankind… . Many otherwise earnest haters of slavery and injustice confuse, in a most distressing manner, the teachings of Christ with the great struggles for social and economic emancipation. The two are irrevocably and forever opposed to each other. The one necessitates courage, daring, defiance, and strength. The other preaches the gospel of nonresistance, of slavish acquiescence in the will of others; it is the complete disregard of character and self-reliance, and, therefore, destructive of liberty and well-being… .

“The public career of Christ begins with the edict, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Why repent, why regret, in the face of something that was supposed to bring deliverance? Had not the people suffered and endured enough; had they not earned their right to deliverance by their suffering? Take the Sermon on the Mount, for instance; what is it but a eulogy on submission to fate, to the inevitability of things?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit. …”

Heaven must be an awfully dull place if the poor in spirit live there. How can anything creative, anything vital, useful, and beautiful, come from the poor in spirit? The idea conveyed in the Sermon on the Mount is the greatest indictment against the teachings of Christ, because it sees in the poverty of mind and body a virtue, and because it seeks to maintain this virtue by reward and punishment. Every intelligent being realizes that our worst curse is the poverty of the spirit; that it is productive of all evil and misery, of all the injustice and crimes in the world.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

What a preposterous notion! What incentive to slavery, inactivity, and parasitism. Besides, it is not true that the meek can inherit anything.

“Blessed are ye when men shall revile you … for great is your reward in heaven.”

The reward in heaven is the perpetual bait, a bait that has caught man in an iron net, a strait- jacket which does not let him expand or grow. All pioneers of truth have been, and still are, reviled. But did they ask humanity to pay the price? Did they seek to bribe mankind to accept their ideas? … Redemption through the Cross is worse than damnation, because of the terrible burden it imposes upon humanity, because of the effect it has on the human soul, fettering and paralyzing it with the weight of the burden exacted through the death of Christ… .

The teachings of Christ and of his followers have failed because they lacked the vitality to lift the burdens from the shoulders of the race; they have failed because the very essence of that doctrine is contrary to the spirit of life, opposed to the manifestation of nature, to the strength and beauty of passion.

And so on. In her dissolution of other “myths“ — such as that of morality, for instance, — she has even more direct things to say. I quote from a lecture on Victims of Morality:

It is Morality which condemns woman to the position of a celibate, a prostitute, or a reckless, incessant breeder of children.

First as to the celibate, the famished and withered human plant. When still a young, beautiful flower, she falls in love with a respectable young man. But Morality decrees that unless he can marry the girl, she must never know the raptures of love, the ecstasy of passion. The respectable young man is willing to marry, but the Property Morality, the Family and Social Moralities decree that he must first make his pile, must save up enough to establish a home and be able to provide for a family. The young people must wait, often many long, weary years… . And the young flower, with every fiber aglow with the love of life? She develops headaches, insomnia, hysteria; grows embittered, quarrelsome, and soon becomes a faded, withered, joyless being, a nuisance to herself and every one else… . Hedged in her narrow confines with family and social tradition, guarded by a thousand eyes, afraid of her own shadow — the yearning of her inmost being for the man or the child, she must turn to eats, dogs, canary birds, or the Bible class.

Now as to the prostitute. In spite of laws, ordinances, persecution, and prisons; in spite of segregation, registration, vice crusades, and other similar devices, the prostitute is the real specter of our age… . What has made her? Whence does she come? Morality, the morality which is merciless in its attitude to women. Once she dares to be herself, to be true to her nature, to life, there is no return; the woman is thrust out from the pale and protection of society. The prostitute becomes the victim of Morality, even as the withered old maid is its victim. But the prostitute is victimized by still other forces, foremost among them the Property Morality, which compels woman to sell herself as a sex commodity or in the sacred fold of matrimony. The latter is no doubt safer, more respected, more recognized, but of the two forms of prostitution the girl of the street is the least hypocritical, the least debased, since her trade lacks the pious mask of hypocrisy, and yet she is hounded, fleeced, outraged, and shunned by the very powers that have made her: the financier, the priest, the moralist, the judge, the jailer, and the detective, not to forget her sheltered, respectably virtuous sister, who is the most relentless and brutal in her persecution of the prostitute.

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? The woman, physically and mentally unfit to be a mother, yet condemned to breed; the woman, economically taxed to the very last spark of energy, yet forced to breed; the woman, tied to a man she loathes, yet made to breed; the woman, worn and used-up from the process of procreation, yet coerced to breed, more, ever more. What a hideous thing, this much-lauded motherhood!

With the economic war raging all around her, with strife, misery, crime, disease, and insanity staring her in the face, with numberless little children ground into gold dust, how can the self and race-conscious woman become a mother? Morality cannot answer this question. It can only dictate, coerce, or condemn — and how many women are strong enough to face this condemnation, to defy the moral dicta? Few indeed. Hence they fill the factories, the reformatories, the homes for feeble-minded, the prisons… . Oh, Motherhood, what crimes are committed in thy name! What hosts are laid at your feet. Morality, destroyer of life!

Fortunately, the Dawn is emerging from the chaos and darkness…. Through her re-born consciousness as a unit, a personality, a race builder, woman will become a mother only if she desires the child, and if she can give to the child, even before its birth, all that her nature and intellect can yield … above all, under, standing, reverence, and love, which is the only fertile soil for new life, a new being.

I have talked lately with a man who thinks Emma Goldman ought to have been hanged long ago. She’s directly or indirectly “responsible“ for so many crimes. “Do you know what she’s trying to do?“ I asked him.

“She’s trying to break up our government,” he responded heatedly.

“Have you ever read any of her ideas?”

“No.”

“Have you ever heard her lecture?”

“No! I should say not.”

In a play, that line would get a laugh. (It did in Man and Superman.) But in life it fares better. It gets serious consideration; it even has a certain prestige as a rather righteous thing to say.

Another man threw himself into the argument. “I know very little about Emma Goldman,” he said, “but it has always struck me that she’s simply trying to inflame people — particularly to do things that she’d never think of doing herself.” That charge can be answered best by a study of her life, which will show that she has spent her time doing things that almost no one else would dare to do.

In his Women as World Builders Floyd Dell said this: “Emma Goldman has become simply an advocate of freedom of every sort. She does not advocate violence any more than Ralph Waldo Emerson advocated violence. It is, in fact, as an essayist and speaker of the kind, if not the quality, of Emerson, Thoreau, and George Francis Train, that she is to be considered.” I think, rather, that she is to be considered fundamentally as something more definite than that: — as a practical Nietzschean. I am incapable of listening, unaroused, to the person who believes something intensely, and who does intensely what she believes. What more simple — or more difficult? Most of us don’t know what we believe, or, if we do, we have the most extraordinary time trying to live it. Emma Goldman is so bravely consistent — which to many people is a confession of limitations. But if one is going to criticise her there are more subtle grounds to do it on. One of her frequent assertions is that she has no use for religion. That is like saying that one has no use for poetry: religion isn’t merely a matter of Christianity or Catholicism or Buddhism or any other classifiable quantity. Also, if it is true that the person to be distrusted is the one who has found an answer to the riddle, then Emma Goldman is to be discounted. Her convictions are presented with a sense of definite finality. But there’s something splendidly uncautious, something irresistibly stirring, about such an attitude. And whatever one believes, of one thing I’m certain: whoever means to face the world and its problems intelligently must know something about Emma Goldman. Whether her philosophy will change the face of the earth isn’t the supreme issue. As the enemy of all smug contentment, of all blind acquiescence in things as they are, and as the prophet who dares to preach that our failures are not in wrong applications of values but in the values themselves, Emma Goldman is the most challenging spirit in America.


The Little Review 1 no. 3 (May 1914): 5-9.

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Guido Bruno, “Anarchists in Greenwich Village” (1916)

havel-brunoHave you ever seen a real live anarchist? Just to be honest, you never wanted to see one. Is it because the B follows the A in the alphabet or because of a close association of ideas for which you are not responsible, you think immediately of bombs? Bombs and anarchists are inseparable in the minds of most of us. Mysterious destroyers of life and of property, merciless men who have pledged their lives, their knives, or their guns to some nefarious cause or another, who assemble in cellars lighted with candles or in road-houses which seem uninhabited and in reality are dynamite storehouses and bomb factories—aren’t these the anarchists of your imagination? Aren’t these the men of whom you think if you read that a king or a prince has been killed by an anarchist or that anarchists plan to blow up the Cathedral on Fifth Avenue?

An anarchist, to you, means a criminal and being an anarchist is his crime. Is it possible today to explain Christianity to one who knows the term alone but not its meaning? And just as many denominations, constitute the Christendom of the world, just as many kinds of anarchists are existing. It is not absolutely necessary to go out and kill Jews to earn the title, Christian. Millions of us would not even think it possible that Jews were and are being killed in the name of Christianity. And millions of anarchists today will deny stoutly and firmly that the real anarchist would manufacture a bomb, destroy other people’s property or murder a fellow-being.

Millions of anarchists? Of course. There are millions among us. Some say they are anarchists and usually are not, and others would be shocked to be called such, yet they really are. It is just like with Christianity, and the same country that shocked Christian civilization with outrages in the name of Christianity put a bloody meaning in the spelling of anarchism. To judge a creed by extreme actions of fanatics cannot lead to an understanding. The religious maniac who is seized by temporary insanity and murders his wife and his children is a mere incident of everyday life and does not cast reflections upon the religious belief which is more or less responsible for his delusion. To take the essence of a religion or a political creed or of anarchism and to compare it with the lives that men actually live, with their actions and the results of their actions, is a scientific and humane way in which to pass judgment.

Some of the biggest men in our public life are anarchists by their actions and they would protest vigorously against being called anarchists. Others confess they are anarchists and nobody would believe them. The men and women whom we are accustomed to call anarchists who are proclaimed as the apostles of anarchism and are supposed to be dangerous individuals recommended to the special care of police surveillance, are in reality harmless creatures, living a conventional life—professional preachers of anarchy, evangelists like Billy Sunday who are passing the plate. They might be sincere, but they surely get their share out of it.

Romance is more essential to everyday life than most of us imagine. Anarchism has all the qualities of romance a twentieth century man or woman could possibly look for. The moving picture screen is their source of information. Here they see the Russian anarchist who sacrifices his life for the sake of the cause. Meetings in cellars, exquisitely dressed society women, girls in rags, aristocrats, drunkards, statesmen, rich and poor, well educated and know-nothings, all are sitting around the same table, all take the same oath, all social differences erased, the motto is “all for one and one for all.” This romance is so colossal as to be beyond the ken of ordinary mortals. Not the overthrow of the government, not the planning of a murder, interest the hundreds of onlookers; but this comradeship among people, who under ordinary circumstances would hardly ever meet, spurns the craving for comradeship and equalization of all.

Jack London, who declares himself as a revolutionist says: “It is comradeship that all these masses want. They call themselves comrades. Nor is the word empty and meaningless—coined of mere lip service. It knits men together who stand shoulder to shoulder under the red banner of revolt. This red banner, by the way, symbolizes the brotherhood of man, and does not symbolize the incendiarism that instantly connects itself with the red banner.”

It is this craving for comradeship, for relations free of the masks and limitations necessitated by our society that brings men, and women together under the banner of anarchism, at least what they call anarchism in New York. And that longing for adventure and romance plays a big part in these circles is evident in the fact that since the start of the European struggles certain elements, regular habituees of anarchistic circles found a new field in their activities abroad in different capacities, or here, working for the benefit and the propaganda of universal peace and immediate help for the sufferers in the war zone.

Emma Goldman has a national reputation. She is a professional anarchist. She is doing it year in and year out, like an actress playing the big circuit. Did you ever meet Emma Goldman? Did you ever see her? You could never believe all the things you have read of her. Her home life is very similar to that of any other woman who is lecturing and writing. I saw her some time ago as hostess to many thousands of her followers and admirers. It was at the anarchists’ ball, Bed Revel, they called it. It was red all right, but not the red that stands for dynamite and shooting and murder. It was the red Jack London speaks of, the red of comradeship. They danced and laughed and were happy and if anyone would want to call a gathering of young men and women like that dangerous, it wouldn’t be safe to attend an opera performance or to enter a subway train. But London claims there are ten million anarchists in the United States. That would make one of each ten persons we meet.

The anarchists in New York mostly drink tea. They are men and women like you and me. They work for their living. Of course they would rather prefer not to work but so would every one of us. Anarchism in eighty out of a hundred cases is the only luxury of their lives. There are certain places in our metropolis which are known to the elect as anarchists meeting places. But mighty little anarchism do they talk about. They usually plan something. Something that any other club or any other society could also plan—an outing, a picnic, or a dance. They attend lectures and musicals and as a whole spend their time just as uselessly as most of us do after working hours.

Old Greenwich Village is the home par excellence of anarchism. On Bleecker Street still stands the building where the Chat Noir used to open its doors every evening about seven o’clock and shelter revolutionists of all nations. Here it was that the man who subsequently killed King Humbert of Italy, predicted his deed in the presence of many. But nobody took his utterances seriously, because he was known as a fanatic whose fanaticism bordered on mania. The Chat Noir closed her doors long ago. “Mazzini’s” is today in the same building. “Anarchists” assemble there every night and have dinner, anarchists from lower Fifth Avenue who arrive in their limousines, have a footman to open the door of their car. They talk anarchism. Here are bits of the table conversation: An elderly lady in black silk evening dress, deep decolletee, diamonds in her ears, and around her neck and on six fingers, speaking to a gentleman in evening dress. He is immaculate like his shirt front: “I went to Emma’s lecture last night. Isn’t she a dear? She spoke about those darling children of the Colorado miners and she really made me cry. I’m so sentimental. I remember the time the pastor spoke about the poor Chinese and how they haven’t even rice for their little children. It affected me so I could not attend Mrs. R.’s reception and she hasn’t forgiven me yet.” At another table. Two men, the one looks rather prosperous; the other fellow looks like an artist. “I say,” he says, “this fellow Berkman makes me sick. Imagine a man being fourteen years in prison and living the balance of his life in telling his fellowmen of his experiences in prison.” A fat Italian plays on the harpsicord. Everybody eats roast chicken, drinks red ink and enjoys being in an anarchistic place.

In a basement nearby is an Italian place. Rough-looking individuals sit around small wooden tables. It would amuse you to understand the conversation of these “anarchists” about the last letter they received from home and when the long expected Anita is coming over to become Antonio’s wife.

In the houses of Mystery on Washington Square are bushels of anarchists living. They write anarchism, they draw, and paint anarchism. You can see it on the newsstands or on the book shelves in the book stores.

Let us cross Fourteenth Street and enter that mysterious house on Fifteenth, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It looks like a monastery and was one, about sixty years ago. It later was a gambling house, a house of ill fame, and its rooms are utilized at present as studios. It is the property of the Van Buren estate, and the renting agent doesn’t bother to send collectors if his tenants do not pay promptly. He knows that if they do not appear themselves, little good will it do to send collectors. Let us walk past the beautifully carved wooden doors of the ancient monk cells and enter Hippolyte Havel’s abode, right under the roof. Hippolyte Havel is the anarchist of New York. He looks the part. He was one of the lieutenants of Emma Goldman in the beginning of her career, he was delegate to numerous international anarchistic congresses in Europe and in America. He knows everybody in the “movement” and everybody knows him. What does he think about anarchists and anarchism, in New York?

“To be an anarchist means to be an individualist. To be an individualist means to walk your own way, do the thing you want to do in this life—do it as well as you can. You must never impose on your fellowmen; you must never be in their way; you must help everybody as well as you can; the good you derive through your life belongs, in the first place, to you, but you have to share it with the world if the world can benefit by it.

“About throwing bombs and killing other people? No true anarchist could destroy something that is existing. It would mean to deny his own existence, if he would not grant the right of existence to everybody and everything created.”

How does that sound for the leader of the anarchists in our city?

To know anarchy, to really know it as it is, takes away its chief attraction; the romance of a melodrama.


Bruno’s Weekly 2 no. 23 (June 3, 1916): 743-737.

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Guido Bruno, “Emma Goldman—Fighter and Idealist” (1917)

So far as a man thinks, he is free. Nothing is more disgusting than the crowing about liberty by slaves, as most men are. and the flippant mistaking for freedom of some paper Preamble like a “Declaration of Independence, or the statute right to vote, by those who have never dared to think or act.

—EMERSON.

“Get Miss Goldman,” cried the pale-faced, thin-lipped matron to another white-clad attendant behind the bars of the Tombs. It was a few days after Emma Goldman’s arrest as “the head of a country-wide conspiracy to resist conscription.” I stood in a small, triangular hallway. The high walls exhaled the odor of fresh paint. The friendly rays of a hot afternoon sun played hide and seek on the stone floor through the shining glass panes of the heavily barred window. It was peaceful and quiet.

“Get Emma Goldman.” The order had for me a deep significance. “Get Emma Goldman” for the past twenty-seven years has been the cry of the guardians of our recognized, social order and our conventional morals.

It is not hard for our authorities to “get someone” if they really want to. What an extraordinary law-abiding life must this woman rebel have led for the last twenty-seven years (both private and public) in order successfully to escape the clutches of state and federal authorities save for a few arrests and short incarcerations!

Emma Goldman’s eyes captivated me at once. They are large and deep blue, always smiling, full of mirth and of kindness, of energy and of self-confidence. They register her emotions with the sincerity of a mirror whenever she raises her voice, whenever she changes the subject of her conversation. Her eyes are steady, like those of a very experienced fighter. Hard in their purpose, resolved “to see it through,” knowing and weighing subconsciously the motives and the physical advantages of her adversary, not overestimating, never underestimating; kind in victory and in defeat.

Emma Goldman is a powerful orator, using as arguments only cold facts and naked truth. But in her eyes lies the real secret of her influence over millions of people in the United States. These eyes are so sincere, so convincing, that no one, not even the very man who signed the warrant for her arrest, can resist admitting “she is a remarkable woman, she has a wonderful mentality, she has a great heart, and the people (meaning the millions who live and suffer and die) love her.” Twenty-seven years a fighter for liberty and the elimination of poverty, always sympathizing with the under-dog, exposing the ruling classes, battling against authorities, against governments, against police . . . and Emma Goldman has not ceased to see her ideal within the reach of her hands. Dreams have been shattered again and again, dear hopes have vanished into the night of impossibility, battles have been lost to iniquity; justice has mocked at the best of her warriors, prisons and jails have been the visible honors bestowed upon her most faithful followers; treachery in her own ranks, perfidy and ungratefulness among her co-workers . . . and Emma Goldman continued to cherish her hopes; she ceased dreaming, and fought for the immediate realization of her ideals: “for an organization without discipline, fear or punishment and without the pressure of poverty: a new social organism which will make an end of the terrible struggle for the means of existence; for a social status which will establish wellbeing for all.”

“There is one thing I would ask you to tell the readers of Pearson’s Magazine,” she said, after we had been comfortably seated in little camp chairs near the keeper’s office. “I never conspired in my life against government or against anyone, and I did not conspire in this specific case. I conducted my campaign against conscription openly and squarely. I used the United States mail, all my meetings were public and accessible to everyone. While the police and those who dictate to our authorities tried always to interfere with my work, it has not been necessary up to the present to resort to the methods of the Russian fighters for the people. I do hope it will never be necessary to conspire in America while fighting for freedom and for liberty.

“My paper, Mother Earth, has enjoyed for the last eleven years without interruption the second-class mailing privileges. My June issue has been confiscated. I wrote several letters to the Third Assistant Postmaster, Burleson, inquiring why my magazine had been held up, but I received no answer. My arrest, perhaps, was the drastic answer of the authorities. I am fighting the conscription law because I do not believe that any man should be forced into war against his conscience. I have no objections if anyone wants to go to war or wishes to bear arms or desires to enter voluntarily upon military training.”

She spoke quietly, without emotion. Her dress, consisting of a simple blue and white striped blouse and dark skirt, gave her the appearance of a motherly matron. Her hands, laying in her lap, seemed more adapted to stroke with kindly caresses than to strike with clenched fists.

“If I am comfortable here in prison? Fairly well. Whenever I go to prison I know what I have to expect and therefore I make the best of the prevailing conditions. I should prefer to be out in the country. I love Nature in early summer.

“A dreadful new feature has been introduced here since the recent passing of the ‘dope’ laws to prevent visitors from smuggling in drugs to their incarcerated friends. The authorities have provided a very finely meshed iron netting through which the conversation has to be carried on between inmates and visitors. It is impossible to see through or to distinguish the faces of the persons to whom one is talking. People have to shout in order to make themselves understood. It is a public visiting room, but visits from friends in such a place are a torture. The whole reminds one very much of an insane asylum. I think it cruel to spoil the only light moments of the prisoner’s monotonous life.

“It is touching and such a great consolation to me that the unfortunate women who share the cells on my floor love me and treat me with marked respect. It is customary here to call each other by one’s given name. They never address me otherwise but ‘Miss Goldman,’ which sounds strangely inside the walls of the Tombs. I must tell you that all of these unfortunates are grateful for Mr. Harris’ work in the Woman’s Night Court in their behalf. They all read his articles in Pearson’s Magazine, and are anxious to affirm his exposure as what they call ‘Gospel Truth.'”…

Among the many people who besieged the doorkeeper of the Tombs, anxious to convey to Emma Goldman a few words of sympathy, was a dark-haired girl of about twenty who had walked all the way from Paterson, New Jersey.

“Do you know Miss Goldman?” I asked of her.

“I heard her lecture once in our city,” was the answer. “She gave a new meaning to my life on that evening. She made me think. I am only a poor mill-worker, but I love Emma Goldman better than I love my own mother.”

I walked to the office of United States Marshal Thomas B. McCarthy.

“What do you think of Emma Goldman?” I asked him.

“She is a menace to the country. The literature that was seized in her home shows that Berkman is not only; an enemy of the nations but also a danger to public morality. Emma Goldman’s influence over a lot of poor and weak people is dangerous at present to the safety of the country. These are not the times to voice her opinions of reforms. She had to be stopped.”

Three days after Miss Goldman’s arrest $15,000 cash for bail had been sent in by her friends. The money had come in in amounts ranging from one dollar in stamps to one thousand dollar checks. Emma Goldman’s Liberty Bonds found willing and voluntary subscribers in all parts of the country.


Pearson’s Magazine 38 n0. 2 (August, 1917): 61.

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Bruce Calvert, “In the Jungle” (1908)

But I started out to tell you of my intellectual bat in the city. The jag opened with ‘Gene Debs’ lecture at Orchestra Hall, where the idol of the socialists received the plaudits of three or four thousand enthusiasts.

Then I listened to prim and scholarly John Spargo, another socialist speaker and writer, well known to students of economics. Spargo looks for all the world like a Presbyterian deacon, tho he doesn’t talk like one by a darn site. I heard Arthur M. Lewis, also, at the Garrick Theater, and a lecture by ex-Senator Billy Mason on the postal savings bank. Next I went to hear Mangassarian spout his dainty and lady-like parlor rationalism to his usual big audience at Orchestra Hall, and I finally wound up at the German Hod Carriers’ Hall out on the West Side, where Emma Goldman held forth for four nights on the beauties of Anarchy to all the people that could crowd into the meeting place.


Emma Goldman! What a surprise in every way — both the lady herself and her utterances! I had read so much about this terrible woman whom the police so fear that the whole force is called out whenever she comes to town, and who is usually followed about wherever she goes by a loving escort of ten to a hundred bluecoats, that I expected to see an ogre fierce and untamed, shrieking bombs and crying for blood.

But what I did see was a plump, motherly little woman, whose very presence would seem to inspire hope and courage in the downtrodden, and abused of society. A woman who appealed in the most intense and eloquent terms to what she believes to be the highest in men and women.

Before everything else in this world I do dearly love a good speaker. I am sure that the most potent factor in human affairs is the living voice, and I am sure also that the day of the supremacy of the printed page is passing. The world must begin now to develop a new race of orators and speakers. The redemption of man from social evils and the regeneration of society will come, I think, not from cold type, but thru living speech, hot from the hearts of great souls filled with a great love, on fire with a great theme.


And so I think Emma Goldman the greatest woman speaker I have ever heard. I wish every woman who has a message or who wants to speak could hear this little Russian Jewess in her sincere and terrible earnestness.
When you speak to her you look down into a round chubby face, lighted by quick expressive eyes. You see a shapely, intellectual head rising from a short, plump figure. But when she speaks, Emma Goldman seems to fill the stage. The tones of her voice seek all the hidden springs of the heart. Her words ring clear — I am sure she could be heard easily by an audience of five thousand. Now she appeals with pathos, a woman whose mother heart feels the sorrows of her children; again she pleads; she can be sarcastic, too, sharp as a two-edged sword, in denouncing the shams of society; and she can rouse her hearers to the wildest enthusiasm, filling them with the courage to do and dare, to suffer and hope, and work for the better day when the world’s social injustices shall be righted. At such times she seems like a Jean D ‘Arc, leading her legions on to victory.


I really do not see what the police have to fear from Emma Goldman. I don’t think they know, either. She preaches an enlightened humanity that is as far ahead of brutal policemen, ward bosses, and grafting mayors, as the gentle Nazarene was ahead of the mad scene he looked in upon at the temple in Jerusalem that morning when he gave way to his anger and lashed the dirty loan sharks and note shavers from the house.

Police interference on the ground of apprehended violence or destruction of property at or thru Emma Goldman’s lectures is too absurdly ridiculous. The police might with equal reason station armed guards at Christian Endeavor Societies, or break up the Wednesday afternoon Mothers’ Meetings. The pretext is so flimsy it deceives no one. We know why free speech is suppressed. We know from whom police officials take their orders. The people who go to hear Emma Goldman are not rioters. They are the most intellectual class in the world today. They are not law less. The police and officers of the law themselves are the violent ones, they are the lawbreakers when they deny her the right to speak and drive away citizens who have peaceably and lawfully assembled to hear her. Such action on the part of policemen is a thousand times more dangerous to liberty, more destructive to government than all the anarchists and all the bombs in creation. This is worse than Anarchy ever could be. It is chaos. It is mob rule. What right have we to talk of freedom, of government, of law, when one low-browed policeman with a club can set aside the highest law of the land — trample upon the most sacred rights of citizens?


If the police expect to suppress the truths for which this woman stands they are acting the part of sodden idiots. They might just as well try to stay Niagara’s mighty flood, or prevent the sun from rising tomorrow morning. Violence never did suppress a principle. Truth will not down. It goes on and on. Nothing can stay it. Nothing can subdue it. Races, religions and governments pass away, but truth which is eternal principle endures forever.

What is wrong in Emma Goldman’s philosophy will die of itself. What is true will be here when policemen, politicians, tyranny, soldiers and wars shall be no more.


But one thing is too true. Policemen with their clubs can trample upon human rights. They can and they do break up meetings, drag lecturers from the platform and drive law abiding citizens from lecture halls. Albeit when the police do interfere with any man or woman in exercising the right of free speech they create more disorder, do more in a few minutes toward disrupting society than all the Anarchist speakers and agitators could do in a life time.

Free speech is the cornerstone upon which our government was founded. With out free speech and a free press, democracy cannot stand; our republic must and will fall.


Emma Goldman is within her rights when she essays to speak anywhere in our country upon any subject she may choose. And so are you, and so am I comrades. But when police officials deny her or any one that privilege they are acting entirely out side of right or law. They strike at the very vitals of government, stab freedom to the heart, and outrage the liberties of ninety million people.

If policemen with drawn clubs can do this brutal thing, then indeed is liberty dead in this land. We may as well abandon our citizenship and install an emperor over us at once.

Let us make no mistake on this point, comrades. The law of the land, and the spirit of our American institutions make no reservation or exceptions as to what you may or may not speak. The right of free speech is fundamental, basic, unequivocal. It could not be otherwise, else were liberty a ghastly joke and freedom a maniacal dream. Emma Goldman has just as much right to speak from any platform in this country as has President Taft, both be ing responsible under the law for their utterances. And my right to hear Emma Goldman if I want to is just as sacred as my right to hear the president or any holy Joe from his pulpit.


What do you think then of five thousand people being clubbed away from a hall where they had peaceably assembled and paid their good money to hear Emma Gold man lecture? Sounds like darkest Russia, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. It was in good old Quaker Philadelphia, just a few weeks ago. I wonder bronze Billy Penn did not topple from his proud pinnacle at the top of city-hall tower.

In New York City, East Orange, N. J., in San Francisco and in Indianapolis audiences have been dispersed or Miss Goldman refused the right to fulfill her lecture engagements. Happily in Chicago she was not molested this week. I saw no police uni forms at any of the meetings. The last night I heard her she spoke on “The Drama as a Disseminator of Radical Thought.” It was about the worst night of the winter. Streets were over ankle deep with slush, while rain and sleet added to the discomfort. The meetings were held at a most inaccessible place on the West Side. The weather was so bad that the managers gave up the large hall which had been secured and instead took a smaller one, seating three or four hundred which was more than they expected. But by eight o’clock the room was packed, and people still coming. They adjourned to the large hall and by the time the lecture began that too was packed with a crowd of fifteen hundred or more.

And such an audience. It was a revelation to me. A proletarian gathering of all nationalities. But such great vital force, as you could plainly feel; such deadly serious earnestness I never saw. They were students every one of them. They do not waste any time with sociological and economic frills, are not deterred by any conventional bogies, but have plunged at once right into the heart of human philosophy. They are get ting right down to bed rock principles. I saw young girls from the shops and factories there following the lecturer over the most difficult metaphysical ground with the keenest interest and evident comprehension. And no wonder when I heard these same children speak familiarly of philosophical questions. They know their Ibsen, Maeterlinck, Hauptman, Kropotkin, Tolstoy; their Emerson and their Whitman. They are deeply alive and they are thinking with a deadly earnestness which bodes ill for the hypocritical grafting society and codfish aristocracy of our times.

As I sat among these people, many with the marks of their toil still upon them, I felt the conviction stealing into my soul, that right down here in the ranks of the lowest, there was at work the saving force that will redeem humanity. The real uplift will come from these people, from below and not from the bourgeoisie or the upper crust. Just picture to yourself what such an atmosphere of free thought and what such training means to the boys and girls who are to be the fathers and mothers of the next generation. Multiply this little society by thousands which are growing up in all parts of our country and across the seas, and does one need to be a prophet to foretell what is to come. Can you not almost hear the shouts of victory and the trumpets of joy welcoming the morning of that glad new day when man shall be free?


Why weren’t these meetings broken up? Oh simply because the present chief of police in Chicago just happened to be a man with some sense of humor. Two years ago Emma Goldman was not allowed to speak there. Crowds were clubbed away, and Miss Gold man was trailed about the city with an escort of forty of the finest. When she comes again another chief may be in power and she or you or I may be dragged from the platform and the audience driven home.

What then becomes of the constitutional rights of the people? Well they haven’t any save those allowed by the police department. The policeman’s club is the law under which American government is today administered. Nice situation isn’t it? Perhaps you haven’t seen its workings in your town yet, but it may be your turn next. And remember in a republic, there is no liberty, no law, so long as one single individual’s rights are infringed.

The trouble is that we have set up a gorgon among us which is eating us alive. Our institutions are getting further and further away from the people. We are not actually a government by the people any more, but we have created an office holding oligarchy which has forgotten its source and is using the powers we gave it, to exploit and oppress us. Yes that is true. Even the courts are as rotten as the police force. The judge in Philadelphia to whom Emma Gold man appealed for protection from the annoyance of the police denied her petition, endorsing the action of the police in forcibly preventing ten thousand people from hearing her speak.

Whom did that judge and the police represent in Philadelphia? The people? It is to laugh. Everyone knows better. How many people in Philadelphia cared whether Emma Goldman spoke or not? Several thou sand did want to hear her, and did come to the meeting. The rest had no objection and did not care who spoke or who went to hear. Who did then! Have the people anything to fear from the truth ? Have they anything to lose in the triumph of right over wrong? Who is it that always fears the truth? The rogues, isn’t it? Who is it that fears the spread of economic understanding and the education of the masses as the devil hates holy water? Honest men never fear the truth. Look behind the poor ignorant policeman, look behind the venal judge, and you’ll find the few men, financial buccaneers, vultures of special privilege, who fear Emma Goldman as a pestilence, because the triumph of her doctrines would be the death of their exploitations; and these men use their willing tools, the courts and police officers to set aside the liberties of the people, trampling the rights of American citizenship into the mud.

And all the time our newspapers at the bidding of their masters the rogues, throw dust in the eyes of the people with scare heads about “Anarchy! Violence! Bombs!”


Are the newspapers afraid of Emma Goldman? Do the editors think she is the terrible archangel of crime which they picture her when they incite the unthinking police to violence against her? Not at all. The men who make the newspapers know that she is a great-hearted, great-souled woman, no more of a rioter than was Harriet Beecher Stowe or Susan B. Anthony. They know that she is well informed, that she is a deep and forceful thinker, and that she knows her human history as few modern students, men or women know it. They know that she is familiar with the greatest literature of at least three languages. They know that her lecture on the modern drama could not be equalled by any University man in America. They know that she stands for human rights and individual freedom, and that her position upon these questions is precisely the same as was that of Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Thoreau, old John Brown, Wendell Philips, Wm. Lloyd, Garrison, Walt Whitman, and Emerson. Yes, our own Ralph Waldo, the supreme anarchist of his age. Read the essay on ” Self-Reliance ” again.

They know that law and order, which they pretend to worship, has no more to fear from this woman than from the Salvation Army. They know that their hysterical scare heads, and alarmist talk about anarchy are lies pure and simple. Why do they print such stuff? Well didn’t you know that the news paper editors of today have no opinions of their own upon any thing. What they or their writers may know or think cuts no ice whatever. They print what their masters the men who own them order them to print. And do you think for a moment that the masters are running great newspapers in the interests of the people ? It must be apparent even to the most guileless that this is not so.

There were several newspaper men in Emma Goldman’s audience. Here was a great gathering of intelligent people earnestly grappling with social problems of the profoundest sequence to humanity. Here was a great virile force at work in the hearts of the people — a great movement gathering strength that will yet shake our social structure to the very foundations, but do you suppose a single newspaper man had the courage to print a line about the meetings? They did not. Not a word appeared in any of the great dailies. Even the Daily Socialist paper, much to my surprise did not mention the lectures, although many leading socialists were present.
When government becomes an instrument in the hands of a few to thwart the will of the many — to rob and enslave the whole people, then I want some highbrow to show me wherein such a government is better than anarchy.


No, comrades, we have nothing to fear from Emma Goldman, but we do have everything to fear from the lawless despots who use their tools the courts and the police and the press to assail our rights and de spoil us of our liberties.

How the fetich of ownership, has cursed mankind. We uphold the dogma of “mine” and “thine,” but we have only what the race has in common. We focus on the thing for a moment and call it our own, but it is no more ours than the sunshine or the south west breeze.

Too much heaven is hell.


The Open Road 4 no. 2 (February, 1910): 39-57.

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