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Mug shot taken in 1901 when Goldman was implicated in the assassination of President McKinley.

Interchange – Anarchy Is Intersectional: Learning From Emma Goldman


Our show today is Anarchy is Intersectional: Learning from Emma Goldman. Goldman, a feminist anarchist, was disdainful of what is now called “Lean In” feminism saying, in a letter written 99 years ago on April 3, 1919, that “…the feminists foolishly believe that having a man’s job, or professions, makes them free.”

Emma Goldman was born to Orthodox Jewish parents in 1869 in the Russian Empire in what is now Lithuania and emigrated to the United States in 1885 with her half-sister. Living first in Rochester, New York, Emma soon made her way to New York City carrying a sewing machine and five dollars. This adolescence might sound familiar to Interchange listeners as it is nearly the same course taken by noted Wobblies organizer Matilda Rabinowitz in 1900.

Radicalized by the execution of the Haymarket Martyrs in 1887, found guilty of being anarchists, not for detonating a bomb, Goldman moved quickly toward the action that would make her, in the words of J. Edgar Hoover, the most dangerous anarchist in America: planning the attempted assassination of Henry Frick, union-busting manager of a Carnegie steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately this “propaganda of the deed” turned public opinion against the striking workers and would mark Goldman as a “terrorist” in the eyes of state and national authorities. And it is a familiar template for the state to use…immigrant, anarchist, agitator…

But Goldman was a writer and orator of great distinction who could mesmerize a crowds numbering in the thousands. And she was a defender of the individual conscience against mass opinion. But an individual is never alone.

The problem that confronts us today…is how to be one’s self and yet in oneness with others…This seems to me to be the basis upon which the mass and the individual, the true democrat and the true individuality, man and woman, can meet without antagonism and opposition.

Poison Girls, an English anarcho-punk band, accompany us throughout. Their singer and guitarist, Frances Sokolov, known as Vi Subversa, died in 2016 at the age of 80.

Kathy Ferguson, author of Emma Goldman: Political Thinking in the Streets. She’s a professor of political science and women’s studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and she hails originally from Lapel, Indiana. She joined us via Skype.

Vi Subversa (Photo by Chris Mills)
MUSIC – Poison Girls
“Ideologically Unsound”
“Fear of Freedom”
“Abort the System”
“Are You Happy Now”

The Emma Goldman Papers
Vi Subversa
Matilda and the Wobblies

Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Studio Engineer: Bryce Martin
Executive Producer: Wes Martin

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