Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Dangerous Woman

Book Review:
I've just finished reading my first graphic novel "A Dangerous Woman" by Sharon Rudahl. It's a biography of Emma Goldman, a Russian Jewish Anarchist from the twentieth century living in the United Sates. I have to say, it's one of the most entertaining and informative reads about Emma's life. I can see why people get into comics, and while it's strange to think of an anarchist as a "super hero", Emma was nothing short of an extraordinary person. She pushed boundaries not just for statists, but for women, overtly expressing the right for a woman to execute her will with her stance on free love and birth control. Ultimately she would be considered a staunch feminist and proudly Jewish, and yet she didn't approve of women's suffrage, and I doubt she would approve of Zionism. Emma is just as much a revolutionary in her time, as she would be now, and all the sacrifices and challenges she faced are still relevant today.

Emma served multiple jail terms, with a 2 year stint for her opposition to World War I. While in jail any benefits she received she equally shared among the prison population, she was a true socialist.

What I believe to be the most relevant to the current political foray was the 1903 anti-anarchist law in the United States which prohibited entry to anyone opposed to organised Government. This law was passed after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901 by Czologsz (an anarchist), for which Emma was accused of being involved.

In 1903 an English anarchist by the name of John Turner was to give a lecture, but was refused entry to the U.S to which Emma established a free speech league. This particularly struck me as being relevant, as we see many people today barred entry into certain countries and even jailed for speaking out about certain topics. For those who believe certain topics should be barred, I give you Emma's speech......

Free Speech means nothing if it does not mean the freedom to say what
others don't want to hear

She chained herself to a light pole and continued to say that under the first amendment, free speech meant that she can write and say as she pleased..... Times haven't really changed, Oh, Emma, if only you were still here...

What also fascinated me about Emma was her steadfast belief in equality between men and women, and yet refused to accept women's suffrage. Instead she was quoted as saying

Women's suffrage will mean more meddling and regulating morals

In a republic there are many ways for the strong, the
cunning, and the rich to seize power and hold it!

Some of Emma's non-anarchists influences included the nihilists and Nietzsche, so it's no surprise that she wasn't particularly fond of moralising arguments.
I can't honestly do this book any justice, it's a great read, and there are so many facets to Emma and her extraordinary self-sacrifice for the greater good. She is truly inspirational.

The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.

So what are you? A dunce or a rogue?

1 comment:

BA77 said...

I agree. She's actually one of my heroes, if for nothing else than for the fact that she, like Eugene Debs, put her own personal freedom on the line for free speech.