Monday, March 27, 2023

Emma Goldman is the most active “dangerous” author in Russia and the United States

In one of the many proposals where oratorical ability exceeds rhetoric itself, Emma Goldman explained, for the first time, something unheard of: the use of contraceptives to control the birth rate.

It was on March 28, 1915, and it was in New York’s India Gate before an audience of six hundred people.

She was immediately arrested. She was arrested so many times that whenever she appeared to speak in public, she brought a book to read in prison.

After the conflict of the matter, the judgment went; the choice was given between spending fifteen days in a penitentiary center or paying a one percent fine. he chose prison.

The whole room gave him a standing ovation. These media like “Emma Goldman was sent to prison for arguing that women should not always keep their mouths closed and their wombs open” or in the newspaper St Louis Mirror, its editor William M. Reedy shook “Eight thousand years ahead of his time.”


Of Orthodox Jewish descent, Goldman was born on June 27, 1869, in Kaunas, a region of present-day Lithuania, at the time part of the Tsarist Russian Empire. His mother, Taube Bienowitch, did not pay much attention to his education.

Emma Goldman always carried a book in her bag because she felt she would end up in prison. Photo: Clarín Archive.

Her father, Abraham Goldman, had two daughters from his previous marriage to Taube, with whom he had Emma and three sons. Thirteen years ago, the family moved to St. Petersburg: the persecution of the Jews began and the corrupt grew rapidly.

A lover of opera and theater, he did not understand why this should be opposed to the anarchist revolution. “If I can’t dance, it’s none of my business,” he said.

After settling in a Russian city, Emma gradually begins to work in a corset factory.

There he confirms the truth of his companions: the insult, the inequality before men and the poor conditions to which they were subjected.

A cruel fire

At the beginning of a kind of cooperation, she begins to form a union with her peers, but she is exposed to harassment by groups and even attempted kidnapping.

Emma approaches her father to allow her to pursue higher studies, but what she receives is beatings and humiliation, even though she has been a model student.

Goldman Sr. built a fire and threw Emma’s books into the fire, shouting: “Every Jewish daughter should know how to cook gefilte fish, split thin noodles, and give a man many children.”

But this was not all: she thought about marriage with an Orthodox youth. Her father, to avoid taking her unwelcomed and fleeing anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire, went to New York with Helen as one of his followers.

The following year the rest of the Goldmans were to take the exit, and two million Jews, terrified by the cruelty of the Romans, followed.

It was 1886 and two young women lived in Rochester, an industrial city in the state of New York. Emma, ​​barely sixteen years old and already emancipated from her parents, began to work on shirts for more than 10 hours a day.

With a passion for knowledge, with freedom and independence, as the premise, Emma Goldman is self-taught. The event will trigger the first approach to anarchism: the Haymarket massacre.

This failure took place in Haymarket Square in Chicago on May 4: a series of protests continued from May 1 in support of prominent workers who demanded and demanded an eight-hour work day.

During this demonstration, the union leader Rudolph Schnaubelt threw a bomb at the police who were beating the attendees.

From there to the trial of eight anarcho-syndicalist workers: five of them were sentenced to death (one of them confessed before his death) and three were thrown into prison.

These are the so-called working martyrs of Chicago. Then it came up for the Labor Day celebration and hit Goldman so hard that, as he tells me in his Live My Life, “he felt reborn and fighting for social change.”

He was official: he had come close to the ideas of the labor movement.

Emma meets Jacob Kershner, a resident of Russia, in the workplace. After ten months of marriage, Goldman filed for divorce.

Kershner received death threats and was disowned by his parents, but he stood his ground. “If I love a man again, I will give myself to him without the Rabbis, nor the law, and when that love dies, I will leave him without a request,” he wrote.

A Jewish resident, rejected and an anarchist. They called it “dangerous”.

Emma Goldman embraced the causes of labor. Photo: Clarín Archive.

Goldman had come to the United States with a sewing machine and five dollars and there, after his marriage failed, he would meet the main anarchist leaders. With Alexander Berkman, one of them, he will keep his love for himself.

It was 1892 and given the impossibility to come to an agreement with the management of the factory where he worked, Berkman attacked his manager in an assassination attempt that was unsuccessful and resulted in twenty years in prison.

Faced with this, he raises his voice in the assembly, and ends the assembly; to his admirers he was an excellent orator. And he said to them: If they do not give you bread, ask for bread, and if they do not give you bread or work, take bread.

After her efforts in 1893 she was arrested after a march of a thousand people carrying a red flag and sentenced to one year in prison where she read Thoreau and Emerson.

In 1919 she was deported to Russia. Hearing about her expulsion, J. Edgar Hoover called her “the most dangerous woman in the country.”

For here his thoughts begin to be in order and he becomes fully aware of the condition of women and becomes a defender of women’s emancipation.

He begins to preach his doctrine of free love and demand the freedom of both sexes, in love and in motherhood.

He also went to the opera and the theater, he loved literature and the visual arts and did not understand why it should be in conflict with the revolution: “I did not believe in a cause that represented a beautiful ideal, anarchism, liberation. Immunity from conventions and prejudices demanded the denial of life and happiness. I affirmed our cause I could not be required to behave like a nun, nor should there be any movement of closure.

I want freedom, the right of expression, the right to all the most beautiful and shining things.” “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.”

real revolution

He was in favor of women’s suffrage, but he did not understand why women would want to vote when men had already shown that it was useless!

He said: “True social change has never taken place without revolution… Rebellion is nothing more than thought thrown into action.”

In October 1895 she traveled to Vienna, where she trained as a nurse and midwife. Five years later the secret meeting of the British Malthusian League was attended in Paris to learn about contraception.

On September 10, 1821, she was wrongly accused of conspiracy to assassinate President William McKinley: “Am I guilty of a lunatic interpreting my words?”

He would be arrested again on February 11, 1916, for distributing a manifesto in favor of contraception.

In 1917 she was imprisoned for conspiracy against the law requiring military service in the United States. None of this checked her, and during the First World War she made public her anti-war convictions.

“We oppose conscription because we are internationalists, anti-militarists and we oppose all wars carried out by capitalist governments.”

The United States did not know what to do with such a woman.

Two years later she was deported to Russia. In the hearing in which her expulsion was discussed, J. Edgar Hoover, who was the same president and from this began the battle against anarchism, described her as “the most dangerous woman in the country.”

A poor old woman who had left that land, never her country, returned thirty years later as a rebel, an anarchist, and a free thinker. Although the tsars had been defeated by the Bolsheviks, Goldman realized that the expected new developments would not restore dignity to the Russian people.

In 1921 more than 100 super sailors were massacred in Petrograd and devastated Berlin. The last illusion was anarchism in Spain during the civil war.

In 1936 Berkman became aware of the death of his beloved. Denied entry into the United States, on May 8, 1940, he suffered a stroke and died in Toronto on May 14 at the age of 70.

His body was returned to the United States and buried in the Waldheim German Cemetery in Chicago, next to the monuments of those who were killed in the Haymarket cause, those five freedom fighters who changed their lives.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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