Introductory

Louis LondonWilmotEnglish 8528 May 2019Final Draft”I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.” Emma Goldman says this in her “Living My Life” autobiography. Extremely influential and well known anarchist of her day, Goldman was an early advocate of free speech, birth control, women’s equality and independence, and union organization. Her criticism of the young men having no choice but to go into the military during World War I led to a two-year imprisonment, followed by her deportation in 1919. For the rest of her life she attempts to convince readers, that contrary to skeptics’ arguments, anarchism is functional in practice and not just an abstract idea.Emma Goldman was an anarchist, propagandist and most of all a feminist. She was born June 27, 1869 in Kovno KA, Lithuania. Then moved with her family to St. Petersburg, Russia in 1882, where she worked in a glove factory and absorbed the prevailing radical revolutionary ideas. She emigrated to America in 1885 and worked in a Rochester, N.Y., garment factory, and was soon married to a fellow worker. Angry about the execution of those connected with the Haymarket bombing in Chicago in 1886, she began to identify with anarchists, then moved to New York City and became closely involved with the anarchist Alexander Berkman. She was jailed in New York City in 1893 for allegedly encouraging the unemployed “to riot” and “take bread.” Upon her release, she took up nursing. She studied for a little while in Vienna where she went to hear lectures by Freud. Then in 1896 began working as a nurse and midwife in the American urban slums. Still, when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, she was jailed for two weeks without any evidence linking her to the death. With Berkman out of prison in 1906, he and Goldman founded and edited the anarchist monthly Mother Earth. In Emma Goldman’s essay, “Anarchism” she provides a defense of anarchism in order to persuade skeptics into believing the purpose. Goldman argues that the current capitalist social structure is inherently exploitative and dominating, particularly of the working class, and an anarchistic future is the most practical solution to the ills of society. Goldman ignores the critics that argue that anarchism is a nice idea in theory but is not practical. Anarchism has worthwhile qualities and, in theory, would provide solutions to certain punishments on individuals. Goldman first argues that critics have viewed the definition of practicality incorrectly, and the proper definition of practicality will become obvious. According to Goldman, practicality is “not whether the latter can keep intact the wrong or foolish; rather it is whether the scheme has vitality enough to leave the stagnant waters of the old, and build, as well as sustain, new life” (Living My Life, 49). If we were to embrace Goldman’s anarchism, we could change old problems into new solutions. As students, when we hear brave speakers we feel the rush of butterflies in our stomachs but for Emma Goldman, the feeling was considerably risky.  She had the tendency of speaking to secure her own freedom when she was placed on trial for obstructing the draft in 1917. The country was filled with patriotism, and she was prosecuted as an enemy of the state. When preparing her speech, she realized that a seated jury would be a small community of the country’s national spirit. Jurors may have had children or loved ones committed or lost to the Great War. Her position might have been heartfelt and eloquently expressed, with the intention to express her own patriotism but was threatening to the population.      Although many of her words may have angered the jurors, Goldman made the key points of every topic that she discussed very clear and easy to understand. She was able to talk about her stances, and use powerful language and various sources to help the jury understand why she held certain ideas. When describing her opposition to war, Goldman stated that “all wars are wars among thieves who are too cowardly to fight and who therefore induce the young manhood of the world to do the fighting for them.” In her address to the jury, she also claims that it is “not a war for democracy, it is a war for the purpose of making democracy safe for the world, we would say that democracy must first be safe for America before it can be safe for the world.” Goldman makes it very clear as to why she does not believe that the war should continue.Goldman believed that the political and economic organization of modern society was unjust. She wanted to embrace anarchism for the vision it offered, which was liberty, harmony and true social justice. For decades, she struggled tirelessly against widespread inequality, repression and exploitation. A passionate advocate of freedom of speech, sexual freedom, equality and independence for women, and worker’s rights. Many of her ideas were unpopular with mainstream America, but earned Goldman the enmity of powerful political and economic authorities. She was often harassed or arrested while lecturing, and sometimes outright banned from speaking. For this reason, Emma Goldman is known as an American anarchist who believed in a totally free society and opposing any kind of oppressive authority.Works CitedJewish Women’s Archive. “Emma Goldman.” (Viewed on May 20, 2019) https://jwa.org/womenofvalor/goldmanAWTT. “Emma Goldman.” (Viewed on May 20, 2019) www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/portraits/emma-goldmanBerkeley Library. “The Emma Goldman Papers.” (Viewed May 23, 2019) www.lib.berkeley.edu/Goldman/

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