Anarchy, Resistance, and Exile: Emma Goldman, the “Rebel Woman”
Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was born in the Russian Empire to an Orthodox Jewish family. She immigrated to the United States in 1885, though she would be exiled back to Russia and live globally in the years to come. Goldman is remembered today for her anarchist philosophy, one which preached anti-capitalist, anti-statist, anti-marriage, anti-clerical, and pacifist beliefs. Goldman found her roots in anarchist political philosophy following the Haymarket affair, a workers’ strike in Chicago that ended in police violence and a deadly bombing.
Her writings are vast, including founding the anarchist journal Mother Earth in 1906, illegally distributing information about birth control, and writing her famous 1908 essay, “What I Believe,” a manifesto of her anarchist beliefs published in the New York World.
Of her activist opinions and politics, Goldman wrote, “The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause. If, then, from time immemorial, the New has met with opposition and condemnation, why should my beliefs be exempt from a crown of thorns?”
Goldman was imprisoned several times throughout her life, and, in fact, in 1917 deported back to Russia. Goldman continued her international activism on behalf of far left political movements through essays and talks until her death in 1940.