Goldman Emma 1869 - 1940 (71)

The most violent element in society is ignorance.


Anarchism and
Other Essays

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 - May 14, 1940) was an anarchist, revolutionary, and feminist who played an important role in the development of anarchism in the United States and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. She was born in Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) and at the age of 13 she moved with her family to St. Petersburg. Due to financial difficulties she was forced to leave school and work in a factory where working conditions were very harsh. There, she first came in contact with anarchist-revolutionary ideas. At the age of 17 she immigrated to the United States with her sister, got a job in a textile factory and married a colleague. In 1889, after the bloody May Day in Chicago and the execution of 4 anarchist trade unionists, Emma abandoned her husband (without ever getting a divorce) and became an active member of the anarchist movement. She went to New York where she started giving speeches and soon became a target of the authorities. In 1893 she was imprisoned for 1 year as in a speech to unemployed workers she had said: “Look for a job. If they do not give you a job, ask for bread. If they do not give you a job or bread, take the bread"

During the two years 1895-1896 and 1899-1900 she visited Europe for a series of lectures. In 1901 he was arrested again and held for weeks but released due to lack of evidence. In 1906 she began publishing a monthly anarchist magazine entitled "Mother Earth". In 1916 she was imprisoned for a short time for speaking out against contraception and in 1917 she was imprisoned for 2 years for organizing rallies against World War I. After her release she was deported to Russia. There, she initially favored the Bolsheviks but seeing political oppression, bureaucracy and forced labor led her to write the book "My Disappointment in Russia". She had to leave Russia in hurry, she ended up in France, where, among other, she wrote her autobiography, "Living My Life". Next stop was Spaind during the Spanish Civil War, she traveled 3 times there, until 1938; She came in contact with members of the anarchist and communist party and send responses to British newspapers.

She argued that the only just war was the class-social struggle against the exploiters and that the impending war between states paved the way for a global massacre. It was confirmed by World War II, which did not see the outcome as she died of a heart attack in Toronto on May 14, 1940.