Love and Anarchy: Emma Goldman’s passion for free expression burns on

Vivian Gornick in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

EmmaA handful of radicals throughout the centuries have intuited that a successful revolution includes a healthy passion for the inner life. One of them was the Russian-Jewish anarchist Emma Goldman, born in 1869. The right to stay alive in one's senses, and to live in a world that prizes that aliveness, was, for her, a key demand in any struggle she cared to wage against coercive government rule. The hatred she bore the centralized state was rooted in what she took to be government's brutish contempt for the feeling life of the individual. Fellow radicals who exhibited a similar contempt were to be held to the same standard. Comrades were those who, in the name of the revolution, were bent on honoring the complete human being.

Although Mikhail Bakunin, that fiercest of Russian anarchists, was one of her heroes, his famous definition of the revolutionary as a man who “has no interests of his own, no feelings, no habits, no longings, not even a name, only a single interest, a single thought, a single passion—the revolution” was as abhorrent to Goldman as corporate capitalism. If revolutionaries gave up sex and art while they were making the revolution, she said, they would become devoid of joy. Without joy, human beings cease being human. Should the men and women who subscribed to Bakunin's credo prevail, the world would be even more heartless after the revolution than it had been before.

More here. (Note: One of the best autobiographies I have ever read is Emma Goldman's Living My Life. It is beautifully written, full of wisdom and inspiring! My friends Seema and Vania named their daughter Emma after reading it.)

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