Monday, 6 February 2017

I think I'm Emma Goldman

I don't know who made this illustration but its fantastic - if you do, please let me know so I can credit!

The first chapter of my Ph.D focuses on the reception of Emma Goldman in the Little Review's 'Reader Critic' letters section. Before looking into the Little Review, I had no idea who Emma Goldman was. Well, let me tell you - she's a bad ass. 

Goldman (1869-1940) was a hugely influential figure in the feminist and anarchist movements, with her work on spreading information about safer birth control and abortions being amongst my personal favourites. She absolutely lived her message, frequently being lambasted for her ideologies, getting arrested numerous times, and even serving three sentences in prison - once for supposedly inciting to riot, once for giving out pamphlets on birth control, and once for inciting pacifism. Her criticism of compulsory conscription for young men led to a two year stint in prison, and was followed by her deportation from the U.S. Goldman was born in Russia to a Jewish family, but moved to America as a teenager to live with her elder sister. 

I'll be writing about Emma Goldman a fair bit over the next few years, so stay tuned for more on her. For now, let me just leave you with the lyric of experimental hip-hop collective Sole's song about her - if you can, listen along:

Emma Goldman, I think I'm Emma Goldman
Used to ride for Karl Marx till I met Emma Goldman
My homey Ravi Zupa put me up on game
I know why communism always fails
A power-hungry communist is just as dangerous as a blood-sucking capitalist
From gulags to the prison-industrial complex
To each his own, no thrones no preachers spreading fantasies
God is a myth and man's enslavement is his reality
God don't like ugly
God hates flags, god hates cops
And is a mass murdering sociopath
And I don't need that bullshit tact, ethically

All I need is elaborate cause and the knoweldge that says no man is above me
Next time you fuck and use a birth control pill thank Emma
And the IWW for 8-hour work days and general strikes
Before kings stole the land from the peasants we have the commons
Private property is a system used to alienate people from their needs
That's why poverty is pandemic and capitalism can't eliminate crime
Ain't nothing fair in debt slavery and bribes
Emma Goldman, I know I'm no Emma Goldman
She opened up a ice cream shop to fund an assassin
That's gangsta
Welcome to the new black scare
Shouts out to the northwestern grand jury resistors
They say anarchism can't work
But all anarchists do is put in work
Not for the money, but out of necessity
Imagine a world where you could follow your passions
A federation, built on community
Shouts to Occupy Sandy stepping in with mutual aid
You'd find out you were an anarchist if you took the time to read
While academics debate tactics
We shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline
We plant gardens in the projects
They push us to the sidewalks and we take the streets
We strike debt
We can bring things back to normal, or  do the opposite
We can bicker over differences or we can fuck up shit cuz shits fucked up and bullshit
In the 1800s anarchists were libertines
Only in America are libertarians an arm of the right wing
They put a gun in your face and tell you to be non violent
But ignorance is violence
Who spreads ignorance through public schools?
And sends the poor to die overseas to steal more shit
For you know who
You know who
If voting changed anything they'd make it illegal
She said that 100 years ago
Ain't shit changed but the manufacturers of weapons
Ain't shit changed they replaced churches with banks & mainstream news
This government was designed to over rule the mob
So we mobs design to over rule the government
Emma Goldman I think I'm Emma Goldman
In the belly of the beast made that motherfucker sick
Emma Goldman, I miust be Emma Goldman

 Must be doing something wrong if the feds ain't on my tail
You can say I'm guilty of propping up a cult of personality
 I'm a Malcolm X man, "by any means necessary"
Avant gardists say I'm dumbing it down
But Emma didn't speak in academic riddles; she spoke in the common tongue
No future utopias we building it now
Horizontally, no 10,000 MLKS getting popped
Red & black all day
I'm a Kropotkin man myself
The streets is my public offices where I plan my attack
You rap, we plot, you vote, we act
I'll never say bitch in a song again
I'm Emma Goldman

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