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Living My Life: Volume 1 (Unabridged) Paperback – 22 Dec 2010
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About the Author
Emma Goldman (1869 – 1940) was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Kovno in the Russian Empire (now Kaunas in Lithuania), Goldman emigrated to the US in 1885 and lived in New York City, where she joined the burgeoning anarchist movement. Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket affair, Goldman became a writer and a renowned lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women's rights, and social issues, attracting crowds of thousands. She and anarchist writer Alexander Berkman, her lover and lifelong friend, planned to assassinate Henry Clay Frick as an act of propaganda of the deed. Though Frick survived the attempt on his life, Berkman was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. Goldman was imprisoned several times in the years that followed, for "inciting to riot" and illegally distributing information about birth control. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth. In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring to "induce persons not to register" for the newly instated draft. After their release from prison, they were arrested—along with hundreds of others—and deported to Russia. Initially supportive of that country's Bolshevik revolution, Goldman quickly voiced her opposition to the Soviet use of violence and the repression of independent voices. In 1923, she wrote a book about her experiences, My Disillusionment in Russia. While living in England, Canada, and France, she wrote an autobiography called Living My Life. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, she traveled to Spain to support the anarchist revolution there. She died in Toronto on May 14, 1940. During her life, Goldman was lionized as a free-thinking "rebel woman" by admirers, and derided by critics as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution. Her writing and lectures spanned a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women's suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. After decades of obscurity, Goldman's iconic status was revived in the 1970s, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest in her life.
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John Lennon's most famous song, Imagine, is the anarchist anthem.
Goldman's account of her life in agitation for her ideal is interesting for the tales of intolerance and brutality practised by the state - in this case, for most of the book, the state in question is the United States of America - and the suffocating bureaucracy inflicted on the starving of Lenin's post-revolution Russia, where getting a loaf of bread was almost an impossibility.
It matters not which state one is imprisoned by, the tactics to suppress opposition are hideous the world over. (The US passed laws making it illegal to oppose the war in Europe. By "oppose" the US meant not only resisting being recruited by the state into uniform, but speaking sentences of English that carried an anti-war message. It was illegal to say one opposed the war.)
Not just the political hierarchies which suppress opposition with ruthless bloodlust; the controllers of capital were just as murderous.
Berkman attempted the assassination of Henry Clay Frick, a steel magnate, for his ordering the killing of striking steel workers by the Pinkerton detective agency who had been hired to break the strike. Goldman attempted to prostitute herself to help raise funds to buy the gun.
Berkman failed and spent fourteen years in prison for his trouble. The surviving steel workers were re-hired with much reduced pay.
Goldman was imprisoned herself; once - though it may be hard to appreciate now - for having the temerity to distribute leaflets on the subject of birth-control. (State and religious hierarchies are intertwined tightly, both having the power to control thought and speech.)
They couldn't contain Emma Goldman, however, and after a by-the-numbers show-trial she was exiled to Russia.
After two years travelling the motherland, she and Berkman escaped the murder and starvation inflicted by the Bolsheviks and fled to Germany.
Hers is a story of human spirit; of fighting to the end, even to the death if necessary, in order to enlighten and educate the hypnotised masses.
Also of an era in which intelligent people were prepared to take direct action against injustice.
There are interesting parallels with 2013 - like the establishment branding those two Nigerians as "cowards"
Emma Goldman's voice was like no other. Even if you are not an anarchist, her impassioned beliefs and ability to argue them cannot fail to move.
Her journey from Russia to America back to Russia and then her last years in exile make for compelling reading. My highest recommendation to truth-seekers everywhere!
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A woman that was always true to herself in a period (late 19th and early 20th century)...Read more