Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman
  • Born: June 27, 1869
  • Died: May 14, 1940
  • Nationality: Russian
  • Profession: Activist









Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

Quote Topics Cited
… perversion of the ethical values soon crystallized into the all-dominating slogan of the Communist Party: THE END JUSTIFIES ALL MEANS. Similarly in the past the Inquisition and the Jesuits adopted this motto and subordinated to it all morality. It avenged itself upon the Jesuits as it did upon the Russian Revolution. In the wake of this slogan followed lying, deceit, hypocrisy and treachery, murder, open and secret. It should be of utmost interest to students of social psychology that two movements as widely separated in time and ideas as Jesuitism and Bolshevism reached exactly similar results in the evolution of the principle that the end justifies all means. The historic parallel, almost entirely ignored so far, contains a most important lesson for all coming revolutions and for the whole future of mankind. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
… revolution is in vain unless inspired by its ultimate ideal Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
… true emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in the courts. It begins in woman's soul. History tells us that every oppressed class gained true liberation from its masters through its own efforts. Freedom & Liberty
A dozen or more heroes dashing up two flights of stairs, prepared to stake their lives for their country, only to discover the two dangerous disturbers and trouble-makers, Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, in their separate offices, quietly at work at their desks, wielding not a sword, nor a gun or a bomb, but merely their pens! Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
All wars are wars among thieves who are too cowardly to fight and who therefore conscript the young manhood of the whole world to do the fighting for them. War & Peace
America had declared war with Spain.... It did not require much political wisdom to see that America's concern was a matter of sugar and had nothing to do with humanitarian feelings. War & Peace
Anarchy stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraints of government. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
As long as I live I must be a crusader. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Change will always be violent. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Crime is naught but misdirected energy. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Cut loose from the weight of prejudices, traditions, and customs. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Democracy must first be safe for America before it can be safe for the world Democracies & Republics ;Secrecy & Transparency
Demonstrate before the palaces of the rich; demand work. If they do not give you work, demand bread. If they deny you both, take bread. It is your sacred right. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
Even judges sometimes progress. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Free love? As if love is anything but free! Miscellaneous
Go to the streets and ask for work. If they don’t give you work, ask for bread. If they don’t give you bread, then take it. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I could sway people with words—words that welled up within me. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
I was 20 years old. My entire possessions consisted of $5 and a sewing machine. Miscellaneous
I was imprisoned for talking. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
I will never be able to break the hold that America has on me. Citizenship & Patriotism
I will never be able to free myself from the hold that America has on me. States. Nations & Nationhood
If America wants to make the world safe for democracy, then she had better make democracy safe in America. Democracies & Republics
In its mad passion for power, the Communist State even sought to strengthen and deepen the very ideas and conceptions which the Revolution had come to destroy. It supported and encouraged all the worst antisocial qualities and systematically destroyed the already awakened conception of the new revolutionary values Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
It is not because woman is lacking in responsibility, but because she has too much of the latter that she demands to know how to prevent conception. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
It is organized violence on top which creates individual violence at the bottom. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations ;Miscellaneous
It is safe to say that no other superstition is so detrimental to growth, so enervating and paralyzing to the minds and hearts of the people, as the superstition of Morality. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Liberating women from repeated childbirth can liberate them from poverty as well. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
Never can a new idea move within the law. It matters not whether that idea pertains to political and social changes or to any other domain of human thought and expression … How can it be otherwise? The law is stationary, fixed, mechanical, "a chariot wheel" which grinds all alike without regard to time, place and condition, without ever taking into account cause and effect, without ever going into the complexity of the human soul. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
No revolution can ever succeed as a factor of liberation unless the MEANS used to further it be identical in spirit and tendency with the PURPOSES to be achieved. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
No sacrifice is lost for a great ideal! Human Nature
Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work …. It is therefore almost inevitable that she should pay for right to exist, to keep a position in whatever line, with sex favors. Thus it is merely a question of degree whether she sells herself to one man, in or out of marriage, or to many men. Discrimination & Prejudice
Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex. It is therefore almost inevitable that she should pay for her right to exist, to keep a position in whatever line, with sex favors. Thus it is merely a question of degree whether she sells herself to one man, in or out of marriage, or to many men!... The economic and social inferiority of woman is responsible for prostitution. Minorities & Women
Oh, I suppose you've given me as square a deal as you could. We shouldn't expect from any person something beyond his capacity. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
One does not live in a country for 34 years and find it easy to go. Miscellaneous
Patriotism ... is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit. Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism
Politics is the reflex of the business and industrial world. Business, Commerce & Finance ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Progress knows nothing of fixity. It cannot be pressed into a definite mould…. Progress is ever renewing, ever becoming, ever changing--never is it within the law. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Religion is a superstition that originated in man's mental ability to solve natural phenomena. The Church is an organized institution that has always been a stumbling block to progress. Religion & God
Remember that those who fought and bled for your liberties were in their time considered as being against the law, as dangerous disturbers and trouble-makers. They not only preached violence, but they carried out their ideas …. They said that "Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God." They wrote a dangerous document called the Declaration of Independence. A document which continues to be dangerous to this day, and for the circulation of which a young man was sentenced to ninety days prison in a New York Court, only the other day. They were the Anarchists of their time--they were never within the law. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Republicanism stands for vested rights, for imperialism, for graft, for the annihilation of every semblance of liberty. Its ideal is the oily, creepy respectability of a McKinley, and the brutal arrogance of a [Theodore] Roosevelt. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Revolution is but thought carried into action. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
Suppression? Persecution? The revolution was fought for this? Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The contention that a standing army and navy is the best security of peace is about as logical as the claim that the most peaceful citizen is he who goes about heavily armed.
The custom of procuring abortions has reached such appalling proportions in America as to be beyond belief...So great is the misery of the working classes that seventeen abortions are committed in every one hundred pregnancies. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
The economic and social inferiority of women is responsible for prostitution. Miscellaneous
The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man's right to his body, or woman's right to her soul. Women ;History
The individual and society have waged a relentless and bloody battle for ages, each striving for supremacy, because each was blind to the value and importance of the other. Miscellaneous
The inherent tendency of the State is to concentrate, to narrow, and monopolize all social activities; the nature of revolution is, on the contrary, to grow, to broaden, and disseminate itself in ever-wider circles. In other words, the State is institutional and static; revolution is fluent, dynamic. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the State is itself the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the horrible scourge of its own creation. Miscellaneous
The police are very ignorant and don’t understand what they hear. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The police often harass me because they are very ignorant and don’t understand what they hear. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The reward in heaven is the perpetual bait, a bait that has caught man in an iron net, a strait-jacket which does not let him expand or grow. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The Russian Revolution has demonstrated beyond doubt that the State idea, State Socialism, in all its manifestations ... is entirely and hopelessly bankrupt. Miscellaneous
The soldier's business is to take life. For that he is paid by the State, eulogized by political charlatans and upheld by public hysteria. But woman's function is to give life, yet neither the State nor politicians nor public opinion have ever made the slightest provision in return for the life woman has given. Equality & Equal Opportunity
The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime. Power
The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being. Life ;Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
There are …, some potentates I would kill by any and all means at my disposal. They are Ignorance, Superstition, and Bigotry — the most sinister and tyrannical rulers on earth. Human Nature
There is no hope even that woman, with her right to vote, will ever purify politics. Hope ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
There is no hope even that woman, with her right to vote, will purify politics. Corruption
There's never been a good government. Corruption
To the moralist, prostitution does not consist so much in the fact that the woman sells her body, but rather that she sells it out of wedlock. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
To-day is the parent of to-morrow. The present casts its shadow far into the future. That is the law of life, individual and social .... The means used to prepare the future become its cornerstone. Development & Growth
Violence never has and never will bring constructive change, but my life experience tells me that most change is violent. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Witness the tragic condition of Russia. The methods of State centralization have paralyzed individual initiative and effort; the tyranny of the dictatorship has cowed the people into slavish submission and all but extinguished the fires of liberty; organized terrorism has depraved and brutalized the masses and stifled every idealistic aspiration; institutionalized murder has cheapened human life, and all sense of the dignity of man and the value of life has been eliminated; coercion at every step has made effort bitter, labor a punishment, has turned the whole of existence into a scheme of mutual deceit, and has revived the lowest and most brutal instincts of man. States. Nations & Nationhood ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
Women need not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open. Women ;Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
You are giving them a sword if you say you will use a sword yourself. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
You cheer for me, but you would hang me if your mood changed. Miscellaneous
All claims of education notwithstanding, the pupil will accept only that which his mind craves. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces for individual and social harmony.
Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another.
Direct action is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism.
Every daring attempt to make a great change in existing conditions, every lofty vision of new possibilities for the human race, has been labeled Utopian.
Free love? as if love is anything but free. Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Heaven must be an awfully dull place if the poor in spirit live there.
I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
Idealists are foolish enough to throw caution to the winds. They have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.
Idealists foolish enough to throw caution to the winds have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.
If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and a minus. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
In the true sense one's native land, with its background of tradition, early impressions, reminiscences and other things dear to one, is not enough to make sensitive human beings feel at home.
It is essential that we realize once and for all that man is much more of a sex creature than a moral creature. The former is inherent, the other is grafted on.
Merely external emancipation has made of the modern woman an artificial being. Now, woman is confronted with the necessity of emancipating herself from emancipation, if she really desires to be free.
Morality and its victim, the mother - what a terrible picture! Is there indeed anything more terrible, more criminal, than our glorified sacred function of motherhood?
No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time. Time
No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Sympathy
No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution... revolution is but thought carried into action. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
On rare occasions one does hear of a miraculous case of a married couple falling in love after marriage, but on close examination it will be found that it is a mere adjustment to the inevitable. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Families, Children & Parenting
One cannot be too extreme in dealing with social ills; the extreme thing is generally the true thing.
Only when human sorrows are turned into a toy with glaring colors will baby people become interested - for a while at least. The people are a very fickle baby that must have new toys every day.
Prostitution, although hounded, imprisoned, and chained, is nevertheless the greatest triumph of Puritanism.
Puritanism, in whatever expression, is a poisonous germ. On the surface everything may look strong and vigorous; yet the poison works its way persistently, until the entire fabric is doomed.
Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other. Life
The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved. Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Equality & Equal Opportunity
The higher mental development of woman, the less possible it is for her to meet a congenial male who will see in her, not only sex, but also the human being, the friend, the comrade and strong individuality, who cannot and ought not lose a single trait of her character.
The individual whose vision encompasses the whole world often feels nowhere so hedged in and out of touch with his surroundings as in his native land.
The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought. Society ;Independence
The most violent element in society is ignorance. Society
The motto should not be: Forgive one another; rather understand one another.
The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.
The State is the altar of political freedom and, like the religious altar, it is maintained for the purpose of human sacrifice. Freedom & Liberty
To the indefinite, uncertain mind of the American radical the most contradictory ideas and methods are possible. The result is a sad chaos in the radical movement, a sort of intellectual hash, which has neither taste nor character.
To the moralist prostitution does not consist so much in the fact that the woman sells her body, but rather that she sells it out of wedlock.
When we can't dream any longer we die.
Woman, essentially a purist, is naturally bigoted and relentless in her effort to make others as good as she thinks they ought to be.