if i can’t dance it isn’t my revolution

is the quote that drew me to emma goldman, as a young anarcha communist who loved dancing…and, as so often happens, it turns out, that, well, she didn’t actually say that 😉

but what she did say could be my manifesto as an artist!

From her memoirs:

“I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to behave as a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it….I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”

115 years ago she wrote this:

“I demand the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases. I demand freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood”

-how very few places this truly exists…when abortion of pregnancy resulting from rape can be refused in America “land of the free”, when a lesbian can be stoned to death in several Muslim countries, when having an affair can be used as justification for marital rape and murder in Britain, when so many millions of girls and women are being murdered in India, every year…heartbreaking and infuriating…

but i love that even then she was calling for freedom for both men and women, in order for one to be free, both must be free. And she kept growing and learning and changing, she was open to what life showed her, she suffered and grew because of it. She was in open relationships and championed the rights of LGBT people as early as 1923:

“It is a tragedy, I feel that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals and is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life”

– this is 10 years before Hitler began rounding up artists and LGBT as dissolutes who would pollute the purity of his Aryan dream…

And finally, she had the courage to change her mind, to go on record saying that the Soviet Revolution had failed after seeing how corrupted the dream had become, that freedom was being lost, not gained. She moved from committing an act of ‘necessary violence’ by trying to assassinate a harsh boss and union breaker to believing that war would not defeat the fascist world view:

“There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another…the means employed become, through individual habit and social practice, part and parcel of the final purpose”

– yes, every act counts, however small…building up the practice and process of one’s creative life, spiritual life, political life…these all inform what is made, what is written, what is shared, what is understood…

beautiful, radiant things…mmm…what will you make today?