Saturday, November 5, 2011

Following The Law Of Love: Anarchism of the Strong by Emma Goldman

As we all debate and talk amongst ourselves about the "anarchists" and how they did or didn't mess up the General Strike, I thought I'd share this excerpt (from the Earthling Opinion blog) that touches upon the heart of anarchism as a philosophy....

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The most vital right is the right to love and be loved. No one can express all their latent powers and potentialities freely unless they can freely give and receive love: Love in freedom is the only condition of a beautiful life. […] Whether love lasts but one brief span of time or for an eternity, it is the only creative, inspiring, elevating basis for a new race, a new world. [...]

Emancipation, as understood by the majority of its adherents and exponents, is of too narrow a scope to permit the boundless love and ecstasy contained in the deep emotion of the true woman, sweetheart, mother, in freedom. […] Until woman has learned to defy them all, to stand firmly on her own ground and to insist upon her own unrestricted freedom, to listen to the voice of her nature, whether it calls for life’s greatest treasure, love for a man, or her most glorious privilege, the right to give birth to a child, she cannot call herself emancipated. 

How many emancipated women are brave enough to acknowledge that the voice of love is calling, wildly beating against their breasts, demanding to be heard, to be satisfied. […] The greatest shortcoming of the emancipation of the present day lies in its artificial stiffness and its narrow respectabilities, which produce an emptiness in woman’s soul that will not let her drink from the fountain of life. […] To give of one’s self boundlessly, in order to find one’s self richer, deeper, better. That alone can fill the emptiness, and transform the tragedy of woman’s emancipation into joy, limitless joy. [...]

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? Love is genuine only if it is freely given. “Free love?” As if love is anything but free. […] Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. […] Love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere. In freedom, it gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. [...]

Liberty is every person’s natural right, it cannot be given; it cannot be conferred by any law or government. The need of it, the longing for it, is inherent in the individual. Disobedience to every form of coercion is the instinctive expression of it. [...]

Every time someone breaks a law, they are refusing to consent to the legitimacy of that law and the legitimacy of the government that promulgated the law. They are acting as if the state is irrelevant in their life. Thus they are weakening the state’s power and taking one step closer to its collapse, because no government can exist without the consent of the people, consent open, tacit or assumed.

Withdrawing consent from the state is an act of freedom. It removes the barrier to the free expression of one’s own fullest potential. It is opens the door to one’s own unique creativity, spontaneity, and love. Taking the state out means letting the life force in. [...]

It is one thing to employ violence in combat as a means of defense. It is quite another thing to make a principle of terrorism, to institutionalize it, to assign it the most vital place in the social struggle. Such terrorism begets counter-revolution and in turn itself becomes counter-revolutionary. […]The one thing I am convinced of as I have never been in my life is that the gun decides nothing at all. Even if it accomplishes what it sets out to do—which it rarely does—it brings so many evils in its wake as to defeat its original aim. […] If we can undergo changes in every other method of dealing with the social issues we will also have to learn to change in the methods of revolution. It think it can be done. If not, I shall relinquish my belief in revolution. […] Violence in whatever form never has and probably never will bring constructive results. [...]

There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another. […] All human experience teaches that methods and means cannot be separated from the ultimate aim. The means employed become, through individual habit and social practice, part and parcel of the final purpose.

– by Emma Goldman

1 comment:

  1. Re "Liberty is every person’s natural right, it cannot be given; it cannot be conferred by any law or government. The need of it, the longing for it, is inherent in the individual. Disobedience to every form of coercion is the instinctive expression of it."

    Reading these quotations, it's easy to understand why Emma Goldman was called "the most dangerous woman in America." It would have been almost as true after she renounced violence as before, considering that every word out of her mouth was an upraised middle finger to the status quo and the conventional wisdom. I hope she wore the title as the badge of honor it was.

    Reading these quotations, I was amazed at how contemporary they sound. Emma Goldman was at least 100 years ahead of her time and would have been considered a radical in any age, including this one. After I read these quotations last night, I had to check out Wikipedia to learn more about her. What I read there only increased my amazement and admiration. I can't believe I've lived this long knowing almost nothing about this incredible woman except her name and her reputation for radicalism. I wasn't even sure which brand of radicalism--communism or anarchism? If I had known about her when I was younger I would definitely have considered her a role model. Wonder if that would have gotten me in more trouble or less?