Relatable Moments in Emma Goldman’s Autobiography

If only we could bring down capitalism I could spend my whole life in pursuit of my real passion… <messy polyamory drama>

Emma Goldman’s autobiography “Living My Life” is a great book for leftist history buffs who enjoy lurid gossip about dead people.

Here are some highlights.

The One Where Writing Things Down is for Losers

“Suggestions that I write my memoirs came to me when I had scarcely began to live, and continued all through the years. But I never paid heed to the proposal. I was living my life intensely — what need to write about it?”

The One Where Jack London Refuses to Go to a Lecture

“Dear Emma Goldman,” it read. “I have your note. I would not go to a meeting even if God Almighty were to speak there. The only time I attend lectures is when I am to do the talking. Will you not come to (my house) and bring whoever you have with you?”

The One Where A Spanish Civil War Vet Literally Begs Her to Stop Talking Shit About Spanish Communists

“Goldman wrote at length about the failures of the Spanish Communist Party to help the anarchists, condemning them as betrayers until a communist survivor of the war implored her to stop talking about it.”

The One Where The Hot Guy Emma Goldman Just Met is A Fellow Radical But He Negs Her

”How strong he was, I thought; how wonderful and his revolutionary zeal! Just like our murdered comrades in Chicago…”

‘I’m sorry if I hurt you,’ Berkmen said in a soft tone. “I did not really doubt your word. I was only surprised to find a girl so young who had read such books…” His intensity and fervor irritated me, yet drew me like a magnet.”

The One Where Emma Goldman’s Much Younger BF Both Calls Her Mom And Talks About His Mom One Too Many Times

“The break came. Ben had started again in the old plaint about his mother. I listened in silence for a while, then something snapped within me. The desire to make an end of Ben as far as I was concerned, to do something that would shut out every thought and every memory of this creature who had possessed me all these years. In blind fury I picked up a chair and hurled it at him. “Enough! “I cried, beside myself in pain and anger. I’ve had enough of you and your mother. Go, take her away — today, this very hour! “

The One Where Emma Goldman Cares About Ben’s Erotic Adventures

“The world would stand aghast that I, a Emma Goldman, the strong revolutionist, the daredevil… Should have been as helpless as a shipwrecked crew on a foaming sea.”

The One Where Emma Goldman No Longer Cares About Ben’s Erotic Adventures

“To maintain consistency in a world of crass contradictionis not easy, and I frequently had been anything but consistent in regard to Ben. His love affairs with all sorts had cost me too much emotional upheaval to allow me to act in ways consistent with my ideas. Time, however, is a great leveller of feeling. I no longer cared about Ben’s erotic adventures, and his newest confession did not affect me deeply.”

The One Where Emma Goldman Tries Doing Sex Work To Raise Money For a Bomb But Sex Work Is Hard, Turns Out

“‘Weakling, coward,’ a voice in my mind said.’Sasha gives his life but you shrink from giving your body, miserable coward’…”

“The man replied: ‘You were scared by the mere suggestion and yet you hope to succeed on the street. You’re an awfully nice kid, but you’re silly, inexperienced, childish. Even old folks can be babes in the woods.” He replied when I insisted I had just turned 23.”

The One Where It Turns Out No One In This Cadre Knows How to Make A Bomb Fuck Fuck Fuck

“Sasha said it was due either to the wrong chemical directions or to the dampness of the dynamite. The second bomb, having been made from the same material, would most likely also fail. A week’s work and anxiety and 40 precious dollars wasted! What now?“

The One Where A Funny Story Abruptly Turns Into a Grave Financial Situation

“On opening the door of our compartment I saw him standing there wrapped in his blanket. “Where are my clothes?” He asked; “You girls have hidden them from me! “The secretary roared with laughter at the sight of him and we assured him that we were quite innocent of the prank. Thereupon he returned to his compartment. Presently he announced excepting his portfolio of documents, everything was gone. The robber had not left him a thing to put on… Through all of the bitter disappointments in Russia and our struggle to find ourselves and our work I had been sustained by one thought — our material independence. We did not have to beg like so many others were driven by hunger. We’d been able to keep our self respect and refuse any truck with the dictatorship because we’d been made secure by our American friends. Now it was gone.”

The One Where There is Another Grave Financial Situation

“The incident had a most pressing effect on me. In my own hall, under no obligation to anyone, I could freely express and frankly discuss whatever of the social question I chose. At the close of my course we reimbursed my “patrons”. I did not regret the experience: it taught me that patronage is paralyzing to one’s integrity and independence.”

The One Where Emma Goldman Really Needs a Job

“I knew, as the only worldly one in the household, that I was on my own to find a solution.”

The One With A Lot of Poly Drama Resolved By the Cause

“I told (Sasha) of my love for Fedya… he was aware of his possessive tendencies, and hated them like everything else he had gotten from his bourgeoise background… Late into the night we talked of our plans for further activities. When we separated, we had made a pact — to dedicate ourselves to the Cause some supreme deed, to die together if necessary, or to continue to live and work for the ideal for which one of us might have to give our life. The days and weeks that followed were illuminated by the glorious new light with us. We became more patient with each other, more understanding.”

The One With a Lot of Poly Drama That Is Not Resolved By The Cause

“He was sure I would go on growing, becoming an increasing force in the movement. But this very assurance convinced him our relationships were bound to lack permanence. Could I give him (permanence)? Or, would Sasha, someday, want the same? What then? But Sasha would never expect such a thing — he lived only for the Cause and he wanted me also to live only for it. An agonized night followed that day. I could find no answer and no peace.”

The One Where Everyone in Prison Get Spanish Flu Which Is A Good Reason to Talk About an Ex for 15 Pages

“My time in prison was nothing to Sasha’s martyrdom… I would live, I would fight for Sasha. I would run to the black clouds closing on him, I would rescue him.”

The One Where Emma Goldman is a Queer Ally

“My lectures… had set the invert free… given her self respect.”

The One Where Emma Goldman Doubts Helen Keller

”When we had begun our campaign I wrote to her asking support. Not receiving a reply for a long time, I concluded that her own life was too difficult to permit interest in the tragedies of the world. Weeks later came a response from her that filled me with shame. Far from being self-absorbed, Helen Keller proved herself capable of an all embracing love for humanity and profound feeling for its woe and despair.”

The One Where It’s Finally Time to Talk Shit

OR: Emma Goldman on Lenin —

“It seemed unbelievable that a man of his mental stature should stoop to such despicable falsehoods to justify his methods”

The One Where It Becomes Clear There’s Some Multiverse Version of Emma Goldman That Gave Up The Rev and Became An Ice Cream Tycoon

“It was spring and not yet warm enough for an ice cream rush, but the coffee brewed was appreciated. Soon we were busy, able to invest in a soda water fountain, some lovely colored dishes. We felt as though we were on the way to the realization of our long held dream… When we went to our landlord and informed him of our decision to leave… He replied we were mad, as we were doing so well we were on the way to fortune.”

The One Where Emma Goldman Lived Her Life!

”My life — I had lived its heights and its depths, bitter sorrow and ecstatic joy, black despair and fervent hope. I drank the cup to the last drop. I lived my life.”

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