Emma Goldman, Civil Rights & Foreign Policy

Jon Kofas writes: Emma Goldman (1869-1940), a Russian-Jewish anarchist who left her mark in the U.S. political, labor, and intellectual scene during the first two decades of the 20th century, has as much relevance today as she did during her generation. Profoundly influenced by Russian and European anarchist and socialist ideologies, and the Haymarket riot in Chicago on 11 November 1887, "Red Emma" was castigated by the New York Times and other mainstream newspapers for her radical views on gender relations, birth control, and political views that ranged from supporting anarchists to opposing U.S. foreign policy. Investigated by the FBI and charged under the Allien Immigration Act of 1917, and the Anti-Anarchist Act of 1918, Emma argued in court that the real purpose of her deportation and the persecution of other critics of U.S. domestic and foreign policy was that they posed a threat to the status quo, although largely more symbolic than real. Once she was deported, she visited her native Russia to witness the Bolshevik Revolution for herself, and then she caught up with H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Roger Baldwin and other leftist intellectuals in London, all critics of the Great War as destructive of western civilization. Emma's endless courage to speak out in favor of basic rights for women and workers, and her conviction that U.S. foreign policy and national security were used as a pretext to persecute radicals earned her a rightful place among 20th century prominent activist intellectuals. The U.S. government granted her last request which was to be buried at the Waldheim cemetery in Chicago near the spot where the Haymarket rioting workers were executed. 

RH: The idea of an anarchist defending western civilization sounds odd.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 23, 2004