Anarchy and the Sex Question
91 pages
English

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91 pages
English

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Description

For Emma Goldman, the “High Priestess of Anarchy,” anarchism was “a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions,” but “the most elemental force in human life” was something still more basic and vital: sex.


“The Sex Question” emerged for Goldman in multiple contexts, and we find her addressing it in writing on subjects as varied as women’s suffrage, “free love,” birth control, the “New Woman,” homosexuality, marriage, love, and literature. It was at once a political question, an economic question, a question of morality, and a question of social relations.


But her analysis of that most elemental force remained fragmentary, scattered across numerous published (and unpublished) works and conditioned by numerous contexts. Anarchy and the Sex Question draws together the most important of those scattered sources, uniting both familiar essays and archival material, in an attempt to recreate the great work on sex that Emma Goldman might have given us. In the process, it sheds light on Goldman’s place in the history of feminism.


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Publié par
Date de parution 15 novembre 2016
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781629632698
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0025€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

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Anarchy and the Sex Question: Essays on Women and Emancipation, 1896-1926
Emma Goldman
Editor: Shawn P. Wilbur
This edition copyright 2016 PM Press
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be transmitted by any means without permission in writing from the publisher.
ISBN: 978-1-62963-144-8
Library of Congress Control Number: 2016930992
Cover by John Yates/Stealworks
Layout by Jonathan Rowland based on work by briandesign
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
PM Press
PO Box 23912
Oakland, CA 94623
www.pmpress.org
Printed in the USA by the Employee Owners of Thomson-Shore in Dexter, Michigan. www.thomsonshore.com
CONTENTS
Introduction
Anarchy and the Sex Question
What Is There in Anarchy for Women?
The New Woman
The Tragedy of Woman s Emancipation
The White Slave Traffic
Woman Suffrage
Marriage and Love
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism
Mary Wollstonecraft, Her Tragic Life and Her Passionate Struggle for Freedom
Jealousy: Causes and a Possible Cure
Victims of Morality
The Social Aspects of Birth Control
Again the Birth Control Agitation
The Woman Suffrage Chameleon
Louise Michel
Emma s Love Views
Feminism s Fight Not Vain
The Element of Sex in Life
Sources
LET US NOT OVERLOOK VITAL THINGS
A FEW WORDS OF INTRODUCTION Shawn P. Wilbur
Even anarchists have their names to conjure with, and among those the name of Emma Goldman must occupy a special place. It has grown fashionable in some circles to claim, as Margaret C. Anderson once did, that Emma Goldman s genius is not so much that she is a great thinker as that she is a great woman, but if that was true, in some sense at least, it was not because she lacked genius. Anderson s observation that she preaches, but she is a better artist than she is a preacher brings us close to a truth about the power of Goldman s written works, which have remained of interest to successive generations of readers-to a degree that may be unmatched in the anarchist literature. Renowned as a speaker, Goldman also wrote with a remarkable directness and immediacy. Indeed, if Anderson s account is to be believed, perhaps Goldman the artist was even more successful on the printed page than at the podium. Having attended a series of Goldman s lectures in Chicago, Anderson observed that with the exception of two or three lectures she didn t get away from the obvious sufficiently to make the series distinctive. Let those who are so inclined argue about whether Goldman s essays are profound , according to their own chosen standards, but history seems to attest that they continue to be interesting .
They continue to be influential as well, with Anarchism and Other Essays remaining one of the most frequently recommended introductions to anarchism, over a hundred years after its first publication, and no doubt the primacy of art over preaching has contributed to the comparative timelessness of the works. The literary qualities of the essays should come as no surprise to us, given the prominent place of art and literature in Goldman s speeches and writings, and indeed throughout the pages of Mother Earth . But there is another aspect of Goldman s thought that has undoubtedly tended to lift her work above the various, and often very specific, contexts in which it was originally written: an individualism influenced by figures like Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner. Whatever the subject of the essays, Goldman herself appears as a powerful presence in the work, exhorting and conjuring, full of powerful enthusiasms and disillusionments. Let us be broad and big, she wrote in The Tragedy of Woman s Emancipation. Let us not overlook vital things, because of the bulk of trifles confronting us. However distant or even trifling we may now find the occasions for Goldman s essays, her focus on the broad and big, the boldness of her expression and her own individual vitality tend to lend them an air of immediacy and significance..
To truly do justice to all that is vital in Goldman s work, it is necessary to recognize her breadth, to engage with her as both preacher and artist, and to recognize the real distance that often separates us from her. We have to take care not let Goldman s great vitality of style distract us from vital facts and distinctions, or from potentially important shifts and even confusions Immediacy can, after all, be something of a double-edged sword, and polemics aimed at specific historical moments may require closer and closer examination as that moment recedes into the past. Connecting with what was vital for our predecessors often demands a certain broadness and bigness on our part, a willingness to at least temporarily set aside what seems most vital to us.
Given these cautions, one might reasonably ask: Why yet another Emma Goldman collection? Why these texts? Why now? Why, particularly, if it appears they present us with an illusion of immediacy, seeming to speak about things that are important to us? The answers to those questions take us back to the realm of conjuration-both conjuring up and conjuring away-and the specific circumstances under which this collection was conceived.

I was reminded of that phrase, a name to conjure with, a couple of years ago, while making the rounds of the summer book fairs. I had become very interested in the women active in the early French socialist movement and had begun to translate some previously untranslated texts into English. I assembled two issues of a pamphlet with the descriptive if not exactly elegant title Black and Red Feminism from Nineteenth Century France . They included essays, poems, and bits of short fiction by and about writers like Jeanne Deroin, Jenny P. d H ricourt, Victoire L odile B ra (Andr L o), Flora Tristan, and Paule Mink.
The reception was, unsurprisingly, a bit tepid. Those are not exactly household names. Tristan is remembered for her proto-syndicalist proposal for a Workers Union. B ra and Mink figure as minor characters in the story of the Paris Commune. Deroin and d H ricourt are sometimes recalled as women with whom Proudhon debated. But all had the misfortune to have been most active in the period before the First International, to have been most closely associated with socialist currents we now tend to consider utopian, and to have written works that were as literary as they were political. While their radicalism hardly fits the familiar narrative of first-wave feminism, its form has not been easy to situate in other sorts of radical history.
That said, while I had anticipated quite a range of reasons why these writings might face resistance from modern readers, the implied disapproval of Emma Goldman was one response I had not expected. But on several different occasions browsers looked up from the Black and Red Feminism pamphlets to declare, with no other prompting, that Emma Goldman was not a feminist.
There are statements that are true but still raise more questions than they answer. This invocation of Goldman against other radical women seemed to be of that class, but as the response came, unbidden, again and again, it became clear that there is something in Emma Goldman s attitude towards feminism -or our present perception of that attitude-that resonates for at least parts of the anarchist movement, and in ways that raise yet another obstacle to our appreciation of some early radical women. As a result, it became important to know in what senses Emma Goldman either was or was not a feminist and then to know whether this identification was a vital thing or a trifle with regard to Goldman s own thought. Lacking immediate answers, I relaunched the pamphlet series as La Frondeuse: Unruly Writing by Radical Women , and this more elegant , but not exactly descriptive alternative has served me at least as well as the original, although recovering this lost history-however we want to label it-remains a difficult task. * Then I set to work gathering and examining Goldman s writings on what she herself called the sex question.
The major works are, for the most part, well known, if not, perhaps, entirely understood. Assembling them was quick work and they appeared together as the third of the new La Frondeuse pamphlets. The next time the specter of Emma Goldman was conjured up in response to one of my historical projects, I was simply able to hand the critic the collection and let them decide for themselves whether Goldman was a feminist and in what sense it mattered. Then, almost immediately, I was asked to transform that bundle of texts into book form, and there was no delaying a more exhaustive search and at least some provisional answers of my own.
I began this long aside by suggesting that Goldman s own vitality, her skills as a preacher, may sometimes distract us from the vital details in her various works.. But we also have to ask if there is something in us-or in our context-that makes strong declarations for or against identifications like feminism so appealing that we may be inclined to respond to Gold

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