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Emma Goldman

"Out of the chaos the future emerges in harmony and beauty."

Emma Goldman, in Mother Earth (1903)

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"'Predigested food' should be inscribed over every hall of learning as a warning to all who do not wish to lose their own personalities and their original sense of judgment ..."

Emma Goldman, "The Child and Its Enemies," in Mother Earth (1906)

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"'What I believe' is a process rather than a finality. Finalities are for gods and governments, not for the human intellect."

Emma Goldman, "What I Believe," in The New York World (1908)

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"There can be no freedom in the large sense of the word, no harmonious development, so long as mercenary and commercial considerations play an important part in the determination of personal conduct."

Emma Goldman, "What I Believe," in The New York World (1908)

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"... statutory regulations, legislative enactments, constitutional provisions, are invasive. They never yet induced man to do anything he could and would not do by virtue of his intellect or temperament, nor prevented anything that man was impelled to do by the same dictates."

Emma Goldman, "What I Believe," in The New York World (1908)

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"I believe -- indeed, I know -- that whatever is fine and beautiful in the human expresses and asserts itself in spite of government, and not because of it."

Emma Goldman, "What I Believe," in The New York World (1908)

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"Religion is a superstition that originated in man's mental inability to solve natural phenomena. The Church is an organized institution that has always been a stumbling block to progress."

Emma Goldman, "What I Believe," in The New York World (1908)

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"The most disheartening tendency common among readers is to tear out one sentence from a work, as a criterion of the writer's ideas or personality."

Emma Goldman, introduction, Anarchism (1910)

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"The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"... the greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"A true conception of the relation of the sexes will not admit of conqueror and conquered; it knows of but one great thing; to give of one's self boundlessly, in order to find one's self richer, deeper, better."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"One cannot be too extreme in dealing with social ills; besides, the extreme thing is generally the true thing."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"Anarchism: The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful as well as unnecessary."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"... the most violent element in society is ignorance ..."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"... wealth means power: the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"Poor America, of what avail is all her wealth, if the individuals comprising the nation are wretchedly poor? If they live in squalor, in filth, in crime, with hope and joy gone, a homeless, soulless army of human prey."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"The State is the altar of political freedom and, like the religious altar, it is maintained for the purpose of human sacrifice."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"Crime is naught but misdirected energy."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name!"

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"No real social change has ever come about without a revolution."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"... revolution is but thought carried into action."

Emma Goldman, title essay, Anarchism (1910)

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"Publishers, theatrical managers, and critics ask not for the quality inherent in creative art, but will it meet with a good sale, will it suit the palate of the people? Alas, this palate is like a dumping ground; it relishes anything that needs no mental mastication. As a result, the mediocre, the ordinary, the commonplace represents the chief literary output."

Emma Goldman, "Minorities Versus Majorities," Anarchism (1910)

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"... the majority cares little for ideals or integrity. What it craves is display."

Emma Goldman, "Minorities Versus Majorities," Anarchism (1910)

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"... every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass."

Emma Goldman, "Minorities Versus Majorities," Anarchism (1910)

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"Peace or harmony between the sexes and individuals does not necessarily depend on a superficial equalization of human beings; nor does it call for the elimination of individual traits and peculiarities. The problem that confronts us today, and which the nearest future is to solve, is how to be one's self and yet in oneness with others, to feel deeply with all human beings and still retain one's own characteristic qualities."

Emma Goldman, "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism (1910)

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"The motto should not be: Forgive one another; rather, Understand one another."

Emma Goldman, "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism (1910)

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"Politics is the reflex of the business and industrial world, the mottos of which are: 'To take is more blessed than to give'; 'buy cheap and sell dear'; 'one soiled hand washes the other.'"

Emma Goldman, "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism (1910)

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"... true emancipation ... will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism of the sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds."

Emma Goldman, "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism (1910)

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"If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and a minus ..."

Emma Goldman, "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism (1910)

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"The most vital right is the right to love and be loved."

Emma Goldman, "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism (1910)

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"Only when human sorrows are turned into a toy with glaring colors will baby people become interested -- for a while at least. The people are a very fickle baby that must have new toys every day."

Emma Goldman, "The Traffic in Women," Anarchism (1910)

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"Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex. It is therefore almost inevitable that she should pay for her right to exist, to keep a position in whatever line, with sex favors. Thus it is merely a question of degree whether she sells herself to one man, in or out of marriage, or to many men. Whether our reformers admit it or not, the economic and social inferiority of woman is responsible for prostitution."

Emma Goldman, "The Traffic in Women," Anarchism (1910)

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"Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is more binding, more exacting."

Emma Goldman, "Marriage and Love," Anarchism (1910)

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"Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful molder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State- and Church-begotten weed, marriage?"

Emma Goldman, "Marriage and Love," Anarchism (1910)

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"Under miserable conditions of life, any vision of the possibility of better things makes the present misery more intolerable, and spurs those who suffer to the most energetic struggles to improve their lot, and if these struggles only immediately result in sharper misery, the outcome is sheer desperation."

Emma Goldman, "The Psychology of Political Violence," Anarchism (1910)

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"The contention that a standing army and navy is the best security of peace is about as logical as the claim that the most peaceful citizen is he who goes about heavily armed."

Emma Goldman, "Patriotism," Anarchism (1910)

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"... religion and morality are a much better whip to keep people in submission than even the club and the gun."

Emma Goldman, "Victims of Morality," in Mother Earth (1913)

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"The average mind is easily content with inherited and acquired things, or with the dicta of parents and teachers, because it is much easier to imitate than to create."

Emma Goldman, "The Failure of Christianity," in Mother Earth (1913)

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"Success achieved by the most contemptible means cannot but destroy the soul. ... It helps to cover up the inner corruption and gradually dulls one's scruples, so that those who begin with some high ambition cannot, even if they would, create anything out of themselves."

Emma Goldman, "Intellectual Proletarians," in Mother Earth (1914)

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"When we can't dream any longer, we die."

Emma Goldman, speech, in Margaret Anderson, "The Immutable," The Little Review (1914)

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"The pathos of it all is that the America which is to be protected by a huge military force is not the America of the people, but that of the privileged class ... "

Emma Goldman, "Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter," in Mother Earth (1915)

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"... so few people realize that preparedness never leads to peace, but that it is indeed the road to universal slaughter."

Emma Goldman, "Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter," in Mother Earth (1915)

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"You cannot build up a standing army and then throw it back into a box like tin soldiers. Armies equipped to the teeth with weapons, with highly developed instruments of murder and backed by their military interests, have their own dynamic functions."

Emma Goldman, "Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter," in Mother Earth (1915)

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"Militarism consumes the strongest and most productive elements of each nation. Militarism swallows the largest part of the national revenue."

Emma Goldman, "Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter," in Mother Earth (1915)

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"... the function of militarism is to kill. It cannot live except through murder."

Emma Goldman, "Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter," in Mother Earth (1915)

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"No, it is not because woman is lacking in responsibility, but because she has too much of the latter that she demands to know how to prevent conception."

Emma Goldman, "The Social Aspects of Birth Control," in Mother Earth (1916)

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"The soldier's business is to take life. For that he is paid by the State, eulogized by political charlatans and upheld by public hysteria. But woman's function is to give life, yet neither the State nor politicians nor public opinion have ever made the slightest provision in return for the life woman has given."

Emma Goldman, "The Social Aspects of Birth Control," in Mother Earth (1916)

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"All wars are wars among thieves who are too cowardly to fight and who therefore induce the young manhood of the whole world to do the fighting for them."

Emma Goldman, in "The Trial and Conviction of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman," in Mother Earth (1917)

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"I may be arrested, I may be tried and thrown into jail, but I never will be silent."

Emma Goldman, "Address to the Jury," in Mother Earth (1917)

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"There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another. This conception is a potent menance to social regeneration. All human experience teaches that methods and means cannot be separated from the ultimate aim."

Emma Goldman, My Disillusionment in Russia (1923)

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"... all government, whatever its forms or pretenses, is a dead weight that paralyzes the free spirit and activities of the masses."

Emma Goldman, My Disillusionment in Russia (1923)

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"The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being."

Emma Goldman, My Disillusionment in Russia (1923)

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"The State, every government whatever its form, character or color -- be it absolute or constitutional, monarchy or republic, Fascist, Nazi or bolshevik -- is by its very nature conservative, static, intolerant of change and opposed to it. "

Emma Goldman, My Further Disillusionment in Russia (1924)

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"At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance ... My frivolity would only hurt the Cause. I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful idea, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy ... If it meant that, I did not want it."

Emma Goldman, My Further Disillusionment in Russia (1924)

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"Some people never seem to learn from experience. No matter how often they had seen the lion devour the lamb, they continued to cling to the hope that the nature of the beast might change. If only the lion could get to know the lamb better, they argued, or talk matters over ..."

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (1931)

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"No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true educator should be to unlock that treasure ..."

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (1931)

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"The idealists and visionaries, foolish enough to throw caution to the winds and express their ardor and faith in some supreme deed, have advanced mankind and have enriched the world."

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (1931)

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"... 'readiness,' far far from assuring peace, has at all times and in all countries been instrumental in precipitating armed conflicts."

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (1931)

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"Lack of fairness to an opponent is essentially a sign of weakness."

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (1931)

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"The free expression of the hopes and aspirations of a people is the greatest and only safety in a sane society."

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (1931)

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"What is generally regarded as success -- acquisition of wealth, the capture of power or social prestige -- I consider the most dismal failures. I hold when it is said of a man that he has arrived, it means that he is finished -- his development has stopped at that point."

Emma Goldman, "Was My Life Worth Living?" in Harper's Magazine (1934)

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"I'd much rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."

Emma Goldman, 1926, in Frederick Griffin, Variety Show (1936)

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"There is no such thing as a good government. There never was. There can't be."

Emma Goldman, in Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong (1977)

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"The individual whose vision encompasses the whole world often feels nowhere so hedged in and out of touch with his surroundings as in his native land."

Emma Goldman, "The Individual, Society and the State" (1940), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"The State is a term for the legislative and administrative machinery whereby certain business of the people is transacted, and badly so."

Emma Goldman, "The Individual, Society and the State" (1940), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"The State has no more existence than gods and devils have. They are equally the reflex and creation of man, for man, the individual, is the only reality. The State is but the shadow of man, the shadow of his opaqueness, of his ignorance and fear."

Emma Goldman, "The Individual, Society and the State" (1940), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime."

Emma Goldman, "The Individual, Society and the State" (1940), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"... our present system of economic and political dependence is maintained not so much by wealth and courts as it is by an inert mass of humanity, drilled and pounded into absolute uniformity, and that the school today represents the most efficient medium to accomplish that end."

Emma Goldman, "The Social Importance of the Modern School" (1912), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"Jealousy is the very reverse of understanding, of sympathy, and of generous feeling. Never has jealousy added to character, never does it make the individual big and fine."

Emma Goldman, "Jealousy: Causes and a Possible Cure" (1912), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"It is organized violence on top which creates individual violence at the bottom. "

Emma Goldman, "Address to the Jury" (1917), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"The history of human growth is at the same time the history of every new idea heralding the approach of a brighter dawn, and the brighter dawn has always been considered illegal, outside of the law."

Emma Goldman, "Address to the Jury" (1917), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"Never can a new idea move within the law. It matters not whether that idea pertains to political and social changes or to any other domain of human thought and expression -- to science, literature, music; in fact, everything that makes for freedom and joy and beauty must refuse to move within the law. How can it be otherwise? The law is stationary, fixed, mechanical, 'a chariot wheel' which grinds all alike without regard to time, place and condition, without ever taking into account cause and effect, without ever going into the complexity of the human soul."

Emma Goldman, "Address to the Jury" (1917), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"We say that if America has entered the war to make the world safe for democracy, she must first make democracy safe in America."

Emma Goldman, "Address to the Jury" (1917), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks (1983)

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"Liberty will not descend to a people, a people must raise themselves to liberty; it is a blessing which must be earned before it can be enjoyed."

Emma Goldman

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"I regard it as a tragedy that people of a differing sexual orientation find themselves proscribed in a world that has so little understanding for homosexuals and that displays such gross indifference for sexual gradations and variations and the great significance they have for living. It is completely foreign to me to wish to regard such people as less valuable, less moral, incapable of noble sentiments and behavior."

Emma Goldman

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"Today is the parent of tomorrow. The present casts its shadow far into the future. That is the law of life, individual and social. Revolution that divests itself of ethical values thereby lays the foundation of injustice, deceit, and oppression for the future society. The means used to prepare the future become its cornerstone."

Emma Goldman

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Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born U.S. anarchist, writer
(1869 - 1940)