Emma Goldman: An Exceedingly Dangerous Woman (2004) Movie Script

On a cold December morning in 1919
just after 4:00 am
Emma Goldman,
her companion Alexander Berkman
and more than two hundred
other foreign-born radicals
were roused from their
Ellis Island dormitory beds
and more than two hundred
other foreign-born radicals
were roused from their
Ellis Island dormitory beds
In the freezing darkness
the deportees began
a journey into exile
Thrown out of the United States
for her opposition to the First World War
and especially for her political beliefs
Goldman claimed she was proud to be
selected for the honor of deportation
she was devastated.
One does not live in a
country thirty-four years
and find
it easy to go
I found my spiritual birth here
All I know, I have gained here
Through the port-hole
I could see the great city
receding into the distance
It was my beloved city
the metropolis of the New World
For nearly thirty years,
Goldman taunted mainstream America
with her outspoken attacks on government
big business and war
oldman condemned capitalism,
denounced marriage,
and crusaded for birth control.
The newspapers called her
a "modern Joan of Arc"
A heretic
A woman possessed of an
uncompromising single-mindedness
Personally she could be obnoxious
OZ FRANKEL, Historian
She could be ruthless
She could be vindictive
A plain Russian Jewish girl
But with some magnetism.
I think she was a serious political theorist who
actually thought through an anarchist movement, you could
create this kind of self-governing world..
henever the state became too powerful,
when it became too
intrusive in people's life
when it became too cruel
Emma's voice was there..
Anarchism was often associated
with violence and terrorism,
and that's the image that people have today
ALICE WEXLER, Biographer
I think her whole life was operatic
Meaning flamboyantly larger than life
Goldman's story is one
of passionate defiance
The story of a life dedicated
to free speech
free thought
free love
The story of an exceedingly
dangerous woman
I think she was a
AL ORENSANZ, Sociologist
difficult person
maybe a dangerous woman
to everybody..
she was totally
Dezembro de 1885
Emma Goldman crossed three seas
to reach the promised land
In 1885, the feisty
sixteen-year-old Russian girl
had just escaped
an arranged marriage
by threatening to drown herself
in the Neva River
America, she hoped
would be her salvation.
the land of hope,
the land of opportunity
a land of infinite possibility
When you come
into this country
all things are possible for you
All things are possible
You can forget the past
you can have a brave new world..
and for a radical revolutionary
like Emma Goldman
the volatility of this country
seemed like a
great opportunity for
creating a genuinely new world
for creating whatever was
going to come after capitalism
And I think that she entered
this world as did many
politicized people, political radicals
coming here feeling that this was the place
where the revolution could be born.
It was the 15th of August
the day of my arrival in New York City
All that had happened in my life
until that time
was now left behind me
cast off
like a worn-out garment
Cast off was a miserable
childhood in St. Petersburg
where she lived under the
tyranny of a Czarist regime
and under the thumb of a father
anxious to rid himself of his
unwanted rebellious daughter
She had also just walked away
From four years of factory work
in upstate New York
and walked out on a brief,
loveless marriage
to an immigrant like herself
I was twenty years old
My entire possessions
consisted of five dollars
and a sewing machine
I had no friends
but I carried the address
of Die Freiheit
an anarchist newspaper
Within a day of her arrival
Goldman walked into
Sach's Caf
She's walking into a place
one can imagine it
full of people
working men,
people working
in textile shops
All there after
a day's work
from a political meeting
talking about politics
the hubbub
the smell of beer
the amazing
number of languages being spoken
She came home
when she came to Sachs
Sitting at a nearby table
was Alexander Berkman
called "Sasha" by his friends
had been in the country
only a year
He would become
the stillpoint of her life
He was quite standoffish at first
He didn't think women
were reliable revolutionaries
He thought women
attended radical meetings
in order to look for men
and once they found men
they were gone
and took the men with them
He's young
he's ferocious
he's charming
he's dedicated
he lives and breaths
She's aware that something's
happening in her
She may not even be aware of it
maybe we're saying too much
You've suddenly changed
and you're there
And now you are with other people
you're not alone
It must have been
a fantastic time for her
Soon the German anarchist
Johann Most
entered Goldman's life
Most would become her mentor
And her idol
Most seems to have been
a brilliant orator
vicious use of language
The reptile brood
"extirpate the reptile brood"
he'd say about the middle class
and the upper class
And Emma
says of him he
stirred her very soul
when she heard him speak
An advocate of insurrection
and revolutionary violence
Johann Most had a large
and devoted following
within the American
anarchist movement
As a group
American anarchists
were idealistic
and organized
Though few in number
they had surprising influence
It was an
enormously powerful
well-directed movement
They talked about
equality of everyone
regardless of race and sex
They talked about the
free production of goods
on a cooperative associative level
They talked about
getting rid of the state
And they also talked about
the need for education
equal education regardless
of who you were
They were astonishing claims in 1883
In 1886
the anarchist movement captured
headlines around the country
Falsely accused of a bombing
in Chicago's Haymarket Square
four men, all anarchists,
were put to death
Their trial and execution
became a rallying point
for firebrands
like Johann Most
and galvanized a
new generation of radicals
Emma Goldman is
baptized by violence
so to speak
Or at least that's the way she sees
her career as an anarchist
She becomes the anarchist after
the five Haymarket martyrs
are executed
And she feels great affinity
with these five men
She later on in life
calls them her parents
Intellectual parents
For Goldman it must
have seemed that
and for Berkman
it must have seemed that they
finally had their founding stone
It was the place
where they took their oath
Very quickly
found her own voice
Found that people
responded to her
because she spoke with such great conviction
I think on stage
she was possessed
From what I've read
about her performances
I think of her as a speaker
who let herself go
and inspired herself
I think she was from
the school of..
"I can't wait to hear what
I'm going to say next."
At her first speaking engagement
Goldman panicked
Unable to remember her topic
the campaign for
the eight-hour day
she spoke instead of
her great ideal
I could sway people with words..
words that welled up
from within me
from some unfamiliar depth
To Goldman
anarchism combined
an optimistic faith
in human nature
with an intense
distrust of authority
She defined anarchism as
"a new social order based on liberty
and unrestricted by man-made law."
In this anarchist world
government would be replaced
by a spirit of free cooperation
from each according to his ability
to each according to his needs
That, I think
we have to accept
was Goldman's bedrock belief
when she moves
into anarchism
That's the tradition
that she's drawing on
So you've got this ideal
which is the most extreme of all
You can't vote in anarchism
You can't get coalitions with various
other groups to get anarchism
Anarchism is the most
extreme of all
And therefore how
that balances
with needs and the feelings
and the routines
of everyday life
was a huge problem
for American anarchists
and anarchists worldwide
How can I deal
with the fact that I
haven't got any rent?
That's a huge gap.
Anarchism as
a political philosophy
is almost
jaw-droppingly nave
If freedom is
a good inclination
if suspicion of state power
is a good inclination
the question is how is that
to translate into
practical politics?
I think, she was a
serious political theorist who
actually thought
an anarchist movement
you could create this kind
of self-governing world
Anarchism is sort of
the noblest of all dreams
It seems to me in some ways
it's almost a
profoundly Christian dream
though people never talk
about it that way
Well, why do people..
stick with their god
It's what they have
It was her god
that revolutionary ideal
he was a very religious woman
if you think about it
But Goldman also believed
that to create
a more perfect society
acts of political violence
were occasionally justified
a belief shared by
her friend and lover
Alexander Berkman
Violence would soon begin
to dog her every step
June 1892
A strike at the
Andrew Carnegie-owned steel plant
in Homestead
escalated into one of the bloodiest
labor battles the country had seen
The Homestead strike
came during a period
of intense unrest
Thousands of men and women
fought for the right to strike
to form unions
and to establish a forty-hour work week
They were met with force
from police
from soldiers
and from the hired armed guards
of the Pinkerton Detective Agency
On June 25th
workers called a strike
Henry Clay Frick
plant manager
closed the mill
and locked them out
Then he called
in the Pinkertons
Two weeks later
in the middle of the night
300 Pinkertons
crammed onto barges
nd were towed ten miles up
the Monongahela River
to Homestead
Armed workers were waiting
on the river bank
At dawn
a pitched battle broke out
Twelve hours later
three Pinkertons
and seven strikers
lay dead
To us, it sounded like the awakening
of the American worker
the long-awaited day
of resurrection
In Alexander Berkman
it stirred something deeper
It was the moment for
what anarchists called
"propaganda by the deed"
a political assassination
His target:
Henry Clay Frick
Emma and Sasha and their friends
live in virtual reality
There is therefore
an element of
in their attempt to solve
this country's problems
by going to
and getting rid
of this industrialist
And they do believe that
by getting rid of Frick
they'll ignite a revolution
But what neither
of them have
Sasha, Emma, or any of their friends
is a cultural translator
Someone to explain to them
the intricacies
of this culture
the indigenous culture
And probably because
it's a blindspot they
really don't understand
that there is a difference
between living in United States
and living in Czarist Russia
In the basement of their
crowded tenement building
Goldman kept watch
as Berkman mixed the explosives
What if anything should go wrong?
But then
did not the end justify the means?
What if a few should have to perish?
The many
would be made free
the end in this case
justified the means
Berkman tested his
homemade bomb
on a remote beach
on Staten Island
It failed
He decided to use
a gun instead
Goldman wanted
to accompany him
But he insisted
she remain behind
to explain his action to the world
It's Berkman who goes
to kill Frick
It's Berkman who's
obviously the chosen one
One senses in Berkman
a great desire to be a martyr
to go down that road
This was going to be
an act of suicide
In other words
he was a suicide bomber
That's how he
envisioned himself
and the idea of this act
was that he was going
to sacrifice himself
He was going to try
to assassinate Frick
again who he saw as
being a murderer essentially
Posing as an employment agent
for strikebreakers
Berkman gained entrance
to Frick's office
He pointed his revolver
at Frick's head and fired
The bullet struck Frick
in the shoulder
Berkman lunged at Frick
managing to stab him
with a sharpened steel file
before being
dragged away
Frick stopped a deputy sheriff
from shooting Berkman
"I do not think I will die"
he gasped
"but whether I do or not..
the Company will pursue
the same policy..
and it will win"
Berkman is a bit of a klutz
he tries his hands at
making [a] bomb and he can't do it
He gets a revolver, he can't do it either
It's a bit of a radical
pulp fiction
with very crude elements
and great emotions
ut very little experience
and very little understanding
of the place
and also of the time
Workers had not risen
in rebellion
Quite the contrary
they were appalled by it
This was an outsider
who had come into the middle
of their struggle
and had managed
almost single-handedly
to undermine
the support that they had
The workers wanted
better wages
Job security
Better working conditions
Recognition of their union
In other words
everything the workers wanted were ways
in which they could advance
in American
capitalist society
They wanted
a fairer America
Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman
wanted a different America
A different world
Within six months
the Homestead strike collapsed
Berkman was sentenced
to 22 years
He and Goldman kept her role
in the plot against Frick a secret
On a balmy fall day
Berkman began his sentence..
All is quiet
What will become of me?
I don't know
The future is dark
My hand gropes blindly
I clutch desperately
to the thread
that still binds me to the living
It seems to unravel
in my hands
They were united
by a great crime
And that is
a life-binding event
The world begins
in the fact of the crime
which leads to the
expulsion from paradise
and then the constant need
to return to it somehow
There are symbolic
moments in her life
that define
almost the whole
I wanted to run away
never to see him again
but I was held by something
greater than the pain
the memory of his act
for which he alone had paid the price
I realized
that to my last breath
it would remain
the strongest link
in the chain that
bound me to him
A year after Homestead
the United States was on the
verge of economic collapse
Six-hundred banks closed
fifty-six railroads
went bankrupt
15,000 companies shut down
and the number of unemployed
soared from 800,000
to more than three million
I think the panic of 1893
is the most important
henomena in the development
of modern American history
and particularly modern
American radicalism
The Depression leads
to the discovery
that industrialization is creating a gap
between the rich and the poor
a chasm between
the rich and the poor
and that it's very dangerous
And it's very unsafe
and it's very unfair
and it's very unpatriotic
Goldman helped organize
mass meetings
and hunger demonstrations
On August 21st
she led a march of one thousand
to New York's Union Square
carrying a red banner
Go into the streets
where the rich dwell
Ask for work
If they do not
give you work
ask for bread
If they do not give you
work or bread
then take bread
You want bread
go and take it
You're starving
go and take it
Make restaurants
feed you
Make bakeries
give you food
And she'd been
very powerful
to the extent that
people had been
very, very impressed by her
oratory and her power.
Just twenty-four
Goldman was
already recognized
as a professional agitator
Her talk of insurrection
of doing without government
of encouraging the unemployed
to take matters into
their own hands
of thousands of workers
going door to door
demanding food
was terrifying to authorities
She was arrested and charged
with "inciting to riot"
Anarchism is an..
immensely exciting
poetic, intoxicating
fantastical idea
And so of course she scared
the shit out of people
And she intended to
I think what made
her so scary
to those people to
whom she was scary
and probably is exactly
what made her appealing
to those people
who found her appealing
which is that she was
an incredibly free spirit
She's in the public eye
She's famous, she's notorious
She's often referred to as
the "famous anarchist"
She's visible
And there's something about
that that she enjoys
but there's something about it
that's also is politically important
because it's also
a way to talk
about anarchism
Goldman was sentenced
to one year in prison
She used the time
to educate herself
reading Emerson
and Whitman
She also trained
as a nurse
When she was released
in the summer of 1894
Goldman was met
by a crowd of 2,800
She told them she'd been
imprisoned for talking
She would soon begin
talking again
This time about
psychological repression
and Sigmund Freud
She began speaking
about marriage
female emancipation
and sex
Emma Goldman was
the big Boogieman
of turn-of-the-century America
especially since
she combined this..
danger of being militant
and volatile and
out of control
and prone for violence
with this doctrine
of free love
that people in their mind
associated with also free sex
so this was a combination of violence
and sex was very titillating
very interesting
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
She was totally
Not just to the
status quo
not just to the
But to the
progressive people
to the educated people
to everybody
She was aware, however
of her ability
to generate strong passions
"You cheer for me
you follow me"
she told a reporter
in the spring of 1901
"but you'd hang me
if your mood changed"
In May 1901
Goldman gave a lecture entitled
"The Modern Phase of Anarchy
an incendiary talk
on political assassination
and the glory
of martyrdom
"Leon Czolgosz
a young would-be
sat in the audience
listening attentively
Four months later
at the Pan-American Exposition
in Buffalo, New York
Czolgosz worked his way
through the crowd
and shot President
William McKinley
twice in the chest
at point blank range
Czolgosz told the authorities
that Emma Goldman
had set him on fire
when he went to
hear her speak
And this immediately
led to a condemnation
of Goldman throughout
the country
She was actually in
danger of her life
And it led to the arrest
of any anarchist or any
perceived radical
he police could get
their hands on
Goldman was arrested
and interrogated
After the death of McKinley
and after authorities failed
to turn up evidence
connecting her
to the assassination
she was released
To the horror of a
grief-stricken public
she threw herself into
an impassioned defense
of Leon Czolgosz
As an anarchist
I am opposed to violence
But if the people want
to do away with assassins
they must do away
with the conditions
which produce murderers
Goldman's defensez
of Czolgosz
I think very much damaged
the anarchist movement
But it damaged it in a sense of
once again
going back to the central question of
Were anarchists
for violent overthrow of
the government or not?
This is the thread
that leads
constantly through
anarchism's debate
over just what it was
and how it intended
to bring about
its utopia
To my mind there is no question
that she romanticized Czolgosz
as an isolated lone
heroic individual
he identified him
I think with Berkman
and that was one of the reasons
why she couldn't bring herself
to criticize him
In a speech to Congress
the new President
Theodore Roosevelt declared
"The anarchist is
the enemy of humanity
the enemy of all mankind"
Goldman was vilified
Many labor unions distanced
themselves from the anarchists
to safeguard the modest successes
they'd won over the years
Some of Goldman's
own comrades
accused her of causing
the movement irreparable harm
Even Berkman
denounced Czolgosz
ho was put to death
in the electric chair
In 1902
Goldman withdrew
from the movement
that had been the
center of her life
Now thirty-two
she began working as a nurse
in the tenements of
the Lower East Side
Her patients knew her
as "E.G. Smith"
It was bitter hard
to face life anew
Our movement had lost
its appeal for me
Still more harrowing
was the gnawing doubt
of the values I had
so fervently believed in
I had lost my identity
Goldman's isolation
didn't last long
She soon made her way back
to the lecture platform
even though she'd been branded
the "high priestess of anarchy"
and was still considered
the most dangerous woman
in the country
Only in America
could somebody who'd
been associated
with the death of
the beloved president
be able to come back
and have a career
as a public speaker
She began speaking
in union halls
ladies clubs
and private homes
all across Manhattan
Among her new passions
was an old subject
The struggling
revolution in Russia
In 1903
the Czarist regime began
a wave of pogroms
against its
Jewish population
Hundreds of Jews were killed
in Kishinev alone
Two years later
on a day forever known
as "Bloody Sunday"
political dissidents
demonstrating in front
of the Winter Palace
were massacred by troops
The events stunned
the world
Now that I had greater access
to the American mind
I determined to use
whatever ability I possessed
to plead the heroic cause
of revolutionary Russia.
For the next two years
she toured the country drumming up
support for her homeland
Her talks on Russia
on the rights of workers
on civil liberties
and even on anarchism drew large
sympathetic crowds
She found the world was
catching up with her
Here were
with an interest in what
Goldman had to say
because there was this
growing awareness of
the social costs
of capitalism
In the spring of 1906
Goldman revived a dream
to publish a magazine
devoted to politics
and literature
Its high-spirited prose
she wrote
"would voice without fear..
every unpopular cause"
She called her new magazine
Mother Earth
Goldman in thinking about
making herself into
a practitioner of arts
and letters
a woman
an emigrant Jew
was really
ahead of her time
The title
Mother Earth speaks
to Goldman's ambitions
but I think also
more deeply to her
monumental fantasies
of herself
Goldman's Manhattan apartment at
210 East Thirteenth Street
became the informal headquarters
of her new magazine
It also served as a haven
to an extended family
of writers, artists, and journalists
Goldman called it
"the home for lost dogs"
She was an Earth Mother
A term that in the sixties
really came to mean the
bountiful woman
at the center of the commune
that feeds everybody
and makes sure they don't
eat too little
I think it was her sheer
force of personality
Plus she was a
very motherly person
I mean she
took care of people
She told them what to do
She told them
you know
how to run their lives
She told them
what was needed
She enveloped them
The circle of friends
and associates
who congregated
in Goldman's apartment
would soon be joined
by Alexander Berkman
In May 1906
Berkman walked out of the
Allegheny County Workhouse
For the first time
in fourteen years
he was a free man
When Berkman comes
out of prison
he's much more
oriented toward
trying to achieve anarchism
through the labor of movement
in which he sees
great possibilities in
Goldman's orientation
is much more
for a kind of movement
that cuts across class lines
That attracts the
middle classes to anarchism
Her mind has matured
but her wider interests
my old revolutionary
I sense a foreign element
in the circle she has
gathered about her
and feel myself
a stranger among them
I was a woman
of thirty-seven
I no longer fitted
into the old mold
as he had
expected me to
Sasha felt it
almost immediately
His release was such
a relief in some ways
and so much less than
what she had
hoped it would be
always a sense
that she
loved him more
than he loved her
But that she carried a torch
in a certain sense all
the way through
that he mattered to her
in a certain way
as a man
and as a body
that she didn't necessarily
matter to him
Berkman and Goldman
briefly attempted
to resume
their romance
but it was
not to be
He assumed
day-to-day management
of Mother Earth
She returned
to the lecture circuit
In the spring
of 1908
now forty years old
Goldman met
someone else
a flamboyant
young doctor
ten years younger
than herself
A man of considerable
life experience
he was a budding
social reformer
a whorehouse
and a former
Ben Reitman
was a doctor
and a hobo
She fell in love with him
almost instantly
and it was really
you know
a great magnetic flash
between them
It was another one of
those Goldman flashes
like coming to
New York
and finding what she wanted
the very first day
It was apparently
love at first sight
or certainly alchemy
at first sight
There is something very
American about Reitman
because he was filled
with a kind of raw energy
He didn't give a damn
about what people thought
and he was
a great manager
So there was a great deal
of charm to this
creature who
was also weak
and insecure
and a mama's boy
and all the flaws that she
recognized as being so
truly awful
And yet
she loved him so
"I dreamed that Ben
was bending over me
his face close to mine
his hands on my chest
Flames were shooting
from his finger-tips
and slowly enveloping
my body
I made no attempt
to escape them
I strained
towards them
craving to be consumed
by their fire
He was quite
a liability
He was compulsively
unfaithful to her
He ran around with
other women
he humiliated her
he embarrassed her
I think that she had
a very idealistic view
of how people
should act
and then her feelings didn't
always go along with her theories
One of the things that's
appealing about her
is that she didn't
put theories over life
She tried to live up
to her ideal but..
often found that she couldn't
do that and
was very honest
about it
It was hard to reconcile
this particular
passion with her
stated ideology about
free love and
the right of everyone to
move as they please
And I think she tried
to feel no jealousy and she
tried to think of Reitman
as a creature apart and
tried to think of him
as someone who was
hers when they were
together on the road
At the same time
she fell prey
to the most sentimental
romantic claptrap
The same stuff that she
denounced in her talks
For almost a decade
Goldman and Reitman
spent nearly half
of every year
on the road
maintaining a
relentless schedule
of radical agitation
from coast-to-coast
In one six-month period
she delivered
120 lectures
before 40,000 people
in 37 cities
With Reitman
as her manager
she became one of the most
sought-after public speakers in America
Her messages reached
beyond the faithful
attracting middle- and
upper-class audiences
Her lectures also drew the
attention of police detectives
There's a kind of aura around her
There is kind of expectation
that something will happen
when she comes to tow
Wonderful things
hilarious things
horrific things
I think Emma Goldman
frightened or at the
very least puzzled
a lot of people
because she was
a powerful woman
and a powerfully
built woman
especially as
she got older
She put on
considerable weight
I mean, she appeared
like a tower of concrete
upon the platform
She has something
in common I think
with American
tent preachers
with great con men
and hucksters
of the 19th century
who were able to
sell snake oil
to an audience
by bringing them
to a frenzy
Being in the public
is action
is the deed
is a way to transform
To make them change their lives
change their opinions
She lectured
on anarchism
to Congregationalists
in Cleveland
on violence to Single Taxers
in Houston
and about sex to lumberjacks in Eureka
Society considers the
sex experiences of a man
as attributes of his
general development
while similar experiences
in the life of a woman
are looked upon
as a terrible calamity
I intend to speak
in Philadelphia
I intend to insist on
my right of free speech
If the police stop me
then it is up to them
to explain why
As long as I live
I must be a crusader
What I think, what I feel
I must speak
Not for a hundred
not for five hundred years
will the principles
of anarchy triumph
But what has that
to do with it?
She must have tapped
into something
some stream
running through American society
at that time
Because she
gained converts
if not to anarchism
then to her ideas
especially about
free speech
from all classes and
from all areas of the country
Goldman's celebrity status
didn't wash with everyone
Her closest comrades criticized
her new circle of friends
One worried the movement
was becoming too middle-class
"Instead of organizing
the unemployed"
he argued
"we rent comfortable halls
and charge ten cents admission"
Even government agents
sent to spy on her
understood her appeal
"She is womanly, a remarkable orator
tremendously sincere"
one wrote in a report
"She is doing
tremendous damage"
At home
in New York
unemployed workers, trade unionists
and socialists
kept up a daily round of rallies
and demonstrations
One of the biggest
The Revolt of the Unemployed
was brutally suppressed
Conflicts between capital
and labor escalated
In Lawrence
striking workers faced the
rifle butts of the state militia
At the Standard Oil Company
in Bayonne, New Jersey
workers striking for humane
treatment on the job
and a living wage
were shot by hired guards
And in Ludlow
striking coal miners
and their families
were gunned down
by the local militia
It seemed that..
whatever happened
you could get away with
if you were rich
You could do anything
You could kill
women and children
and nothing would happen to you
Ah, there you go
And so it just created
this desire to strike back
Anarchists have
taught people
that violence is justified
in the struggle of labor
against capital
Labor will ultimately knock
the last master off
the back of the last slave
Things are so bad
that the..
radical reaction was
in inverse proportions
The more violent
and dangerous life was
the more violent and dangerous
the radicals would be
They were always
a mirror of disaster
of the on-going disaster
They were more
extreme then
And there was less
rueful historical knowledge
about the final counterproductive
nature of violence
Goldman's position
on violence
was never
totally clear
She rejected violence
but always
her sympathies
went to the
motivations of those
who committed
acts of violence
"Violence never has..
and never will bring
constructive results"
she wrote
"But my mind and
my knowledge of life
tell me that change
will always be violent"
She felt that violence
sometimes was necessary
because of the
implacable opposition
of governments
and industrialists
to workers
Over time
she recognized that
almost invariably
however those acts
were counter productive
You are giving them
a sword
if you talk about
using a sword yourself
In 1915
Alexander Berkman started
a publication of his own
He named his
new magazine The Blast
Goldman went back on the road
with Ben Reitman
this time to campaign
for birth control
This tour would be their
most successful ever
It was also
quite illegal
Talking about sex
and contraceptives in public
was a crime
She sees birth control
as a social issue
For her it was in a sense
of freedom for the woman
to have whatever
relationships they wanted
whatever life they wanted
It was critical
And it was also critical in terms
of social change
Of empowering
poor women
In February
Goldman was arrested
in New York
and sentenced to fifteen days
in the workhouse
Ten months later
Reitman was arrested
He received
a six-month sentence
the longest sentence served
in the United States
by a birth control
After his release
Reitman confessed
he'd fallen in love
with a young woman
he'd met in New York
two years before
"I had been seduced
by an ordinary man's desire
for a home, a wife
and a child"
he wrote
His love affair
with Goldman was over
In 1917
Ben Reitman and Anna Martindale
were married
Goldman was stunned
I felt unutterably weary
possessed only of a desire
to get away somewhere
and forget the failure
of my personal life
to forget even
the cruel
urge to struggle
for an ideal
Between the summer of 1916
and the spring of 1917
the mood of the country
The war in Europe
was dragging into its third year
a year of military stalemates
trench warfare
and mud
When America entered
World War
One in April
Goldman saw it
as a disaster
You cannot support
any country
in war when innocent
as she would see it
men would be
Innocent families
would have
brothers, husbands
taken away from them
and slaughtered
No, you can't do that
That's the basis
of your anarchism
The idea of nationalism
appalled her
She though nationalism
was a big scam
Her point of view
was that
these wars were a matter of
the property interests of
the upper classes
that were sending
the working classes out
to fight for them
And that didn't
make sense for
a butcher's assistant
in Hamburg
to fight a butcher's assistant
in London
Goldman was far from alone
in her opposition to the war
Dozens of organizations
throughout the country
had argued the war
was morally wrong
The First World War
was marked
by the insecurity
of the administration
I mean this is an administration
that promised
not to enter the war
Once it decided otherwise
it became very
very defensive
insecure and therefore
insisted on consensus
Consensus by
any means
We're not a liberal society
when we go to war
During the Civil War
we weren't
Abraham Lincoln
one of our great presidents
arrested hundreds of people
who wrote against the war
And during the
first World War
there was a combination
of vigilantism
and official repression
In June, the Espionage Act
went into effect
It decreed stiff fines
and prison terms
for anyone who
obstructed the draft
A year later
the Sedition Law
threatened those who defied
the government with expulsion
J. Edgar Hoover, a twenty-three
year-old law clerk
enjoying a meteoric rise
in the Justice Department
collected information
on foreign-born radicals
Hoover was anxious to bring
what he called
"intellectual perverts"
like war resistors and
anarchists to justice
He reserved a special
loathing for Goldman
Once again
Emma Goldman and
Alexander Berkman
joined forces to
organize resistance
Their lectures drew large
contentious crowds
In May
they launched the
No-Conscription League
It opposed "all wars waged
by capitalist governments."
We believe that the
militarization of America
is an evil that
far outweighs any good
that may come from
America's participation in the war
We will resist conscription
by every means in our power
In its short life
the League organized
three protest rallies
Eight thousand people attended
the first meeting in Harlem
Those meetings are
crackling with tension
By the time those speakers
get onto that stage
there are catcalls
there are shouting
and there is an
electric feel
There's five thousand, six thousand
ten thousand people outside
some of these meetings
singing the Internationale
and shouting insults and
trading insults with those
supporters of the war
It's an electric
"The way in which
Goldman and Berkman
faced the war fury
of 1917
said a friend
"was the most
stirring manifestation..
of sheer physical courage
I have ever seen"
But to the government
America's most famous anarchists
had to be stopped
Free Speech is
always at risk
and one of her
great contributions
is really to have pushed
it as far as it did go
She used it a bit
like her toy
To see what she could do
with it before it broke
And then it did break in
her hands
On the afternoon
of June 15
a federal marshal
and his deputies
bounded up the stairs of
Goldman's East 125th Street address
and ransacked
the place
The raiders
made off
with a "wagonload"
of Goldman's papers
including what one
detective called
"a splendidly kept card
index of 'Reds"
the subscription list
of Mother Earth
Goldman and Berkman
were charged
with conspiracy to violate
the Draft Act
a federal offense
At trial, Goldman pointed out
the contradictions
between fighting for freedom
and liberty abroad
and suppressing them
at home
"If America had
entered the war
to make the world
safe for democracy"
Goldman insisted
"she must first make
democracy safe in America"
After thirty-nine
minutes of deliberation
the jury announced
a verdict
Goldman and Berkman spent
twenty-two months behind bars
much of it tracking
events in Russia
The "Great October"
of 1917
had ended three centuries
of Romanov rule
virtually overnight
It was the culmination
of a dream
by both anarchists
and Marxists
and a time to place
partisan rivalries aside
Goldman and Berkman put
their trust in the Bolsheviks
There was also
great hope
The Russian experience
will lead
to this future idealistic
kind of society
that she was
hoping for
From the vantage
point of 1919
that seemed
quite feasible
At last the great
moment arrived
has started something
that could
leak into this country
that could take hold
of this country
and make it another
Communist socialist country
And the people
that we must target
must be those
who support
the Russian Revolution
the Bolshevik Revolution
And they did
Throughout the
autumn of 1919
Attorney General
A. Mitchell Palmer
directed roundups
of radicals
in what would come to
be known as the "Palmer Raids
Thousands of arrests were made
without warrants
Those arrested were held
for weeks without bail
without access
to counsel
even without notification
of their families
Before it was all over
an FBI official declared
"I believe that
with these raids
the backbone of the
radical movement in America
is broken"
The government
wanted people like
Goldman and Berkman
out of the country
because they
could be
for what was seen
as a potentially
labor movement
And it's completely
impossible to understand
that separate
from this
Red Scare
They went
hand in hand
On September 27th
America's most famous anarchist
walked out of prison
soon followed
To Goldman, the America
she greeted upon release
reminded her of the Czarist tyranny
she had fled at the age of sixtee
But by
December 5th
Goldman and Berkman
were prisoners again
This time
at Ellis Island
They had already been served
warrants for their deportation
She knows she's
going to be deported
She believes it
Just like she knew
that there was going to be
hard, bad times
as World War One
crept into motion
she also knew that she
was going to be deported
There was no question about it
She knew it
and she expects to go
From her cell
Goldman wrote a friend
how strange it was for one who'd
lived and worked in the United States
for more than
half her life
to be thrown out
of the country
"mere opinion's sake"
Their mad rush in
getting us out of the country
is the greatest
proof to me
that I have served
the cause of humanity
that I have never wavered
or compromised
Although she went with
quite a bit of bravado
it was very
very tough
and she had been living
here for over 30 years
She was
an American
And then to be
kicked out like that
was a tremendous shock
Early in the morning
of December 21
Emma Goldman
Alexander Berkman
and 247 other
immigrant detainees
were suddenly
and told to prepare
for departure
Searchlights swept
the island
as they were hurried down
a long corridor
At 4:00 am
the deportees were
loaded onto barges
that ferried them
to the S.S. Buford
One does not live
in a country thirty-four years
and find it
easy to go
All the turmoil of
body and soul
all the love
and hate
that come to an
intense human being
have come
to me here
I have helped to
sow the seeds
and hope to see
their fruition
even if I will be
too far away
to participate
in the harvest
As the Buford slipped
from her berth
a group of newspaper reporters
and congressmen cheered
"With Prohibition coming in
and Emma Goldman going out"
one of them quipped
"t'will be a
dull country"
On January 19
after crossing Finland
in sealed railroad cars
Goldman, Berkman
and the other deportees
Soviet Russia
It seems like a great period
of freedom and liberation and hope
that the world will be different
If Russia can change
if Russia can democratize
if Russia
can give hope to people
then there's hope for any
any country in the world
And this is at the end of
a three and a half years of
a very devastating world war
a blood bath of a world war
But what they found
was devastation
When she got to Petrograd
I think she
found the city
to be a total surprise
And I think that
part of the problem
before we can even talk
about the political situation
is the fact that
she was American
She had become
She had become used to
a certain way of thinking
a certain way
of being
The economic conditions there were
just absolutely devastating
People were dying of hunger
There was famine, there was disease
Russia had been
propelled back into the
you know, medieval period practically
by the destruction of the war
Horses lay in the street dead
because there was nothing to feed them
Rubbish began to collect
in the cities because
nobody could be
dragooned into clearing them
Vermin spread
One could almost say that the rats
were the only thing left to eat
Faced with
growing unrest
the Bolsheviks
cracked down hard on dissent
Goldman soon confided
her disillusionment
to a friend who was
close to Lenin
"Suppression, persecution"
Goldman wrote
"was it for this the
Revolution had been fought?"
Her friend arranged for
Goldman and Berkman to meet Lenin
Lenin sat behind
a huge desk
We were treated
to a volley of questions
"When could the social revolution
be expected in America?"
"Was the rank and file a fertile soil
for boring from within?"
"What about the I.W.W.?"
And they argue
for free speech
What about
free speech?
And he looks on them
and he treats them rather like
adolescents who are learning
you know, about life
And he says, look that's a very
bourgeoisie notion, he says roughly
Here we are surrounded
by enemies on all sides
What do you mean
free speech?
The White Russians are attacking us
We've got traitors inside
We've got
collaborators inside
We've got all sorts of people
operating in this country
What do you mean, 'free speech?
You can't have free speech
in this
revolutionary situation
I think ultimately
she's probably
an enlightened fool
in that she
intellectualized a revolution
she didn't really understand
And projected onto
Russia her own
hopes of liberation
which I suppose
were rooted in her own
personal trajectories
And that was a pretty
foolish thing to do
For Goldman and Berkman
the decisive moment
came on March 16, 1921
That night, the Bolsheviks
attacked Kronstadt
a naval base
near Petrograd
and the last bastion
of anarchist dissent
Then to hear
the cannon suppress
the very people who
had brought it about
Destroy the idea
of democracy
that they still until that moment had hoped
might emerge from the revolution
To hear that
to feel it crushed
must to a certain extent have destroyed
something in themselves
I think Russia
shattered that
That was something very close
to her core, to who she was
So clearly this was
no place for Goldman
It was no place for Berkman
This was not a place for any kind of joy
leave alone a place
for any kind of dissent
This was a place where vodka
very quickly became
a palliative for pain
and not an occasion for dancing
In December 1921
after two years
Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman
left Russia
They vowed to tell the rest of the world
of the Bolshevik terror
She did something that many of us
find damned hard to do
She realizes
she's been a fool
She realizes
she's been wrong
She's realized
she's made an error
Not just
a casual error
but an error of huge
awful magnitude
to support
the Bolsheviks
And she turns
and she accepts that
She accepts it totally
Revealing the truth about
the Bolshevik regime
became a crusade
for Goldman and Berkman
Their old enemies
on the Right
praised their analysis
of a revolution gone wrong
Old comrades on the Left
condemned them
So there must have been
a sense of frustration
Hell, we've seen it but we can't
convince people of how it really is
and we can't uphold
any real belief in socialism anymore
And that's a very tragic
situation to be in
When you both lose
everything you believe in
and yet have
no where else to go
And so she found herself
once again in no-mans land
So by her hand
in fact she sent herself
into an intellectual exile
as well
so she, she was a specialist
of exile
For years Goldman lived with old friends
in England, Canada and France
Then in the spring
of 1927
she received a cable from the
American arts patron Peggy Guggenheim
A group of friends had raised funds
to buy her a cottage in St. Tropez
a then-obscure fishing village
on the French Riviera
she could live and work
Berkman named it
"Bon Esprit"
At Bon Esprit
Goldman generated a mountain of
correspondence with old friends
Her letters were filled with restless energy
and longing for the United States
"You may as well know once and for all"
she had written a comrade
"that I will never be able to free myself
from the hold America has on me"
That's where she had her own sense
of who she was
was most developed
when she was in America
And let's be quite frank
it's also
where she had
the adoring audiences
and where she felt
she could do something
For a political activist
sitting in a little
on a hillside cottage in St. Tropez
without the glamour
that we associate with it now
where you can actually effect
hardly anything is hell
After nearly forty years
in the public eye
Goldman was welcome
Berkman shared
her despair
"The truth is"
he wrote
"our movement has accomplished nothing
The bond between
Emma and Sasha
grew stronger
during their years of exile
even though
they lived apart
He was now in desperately
poor health
There is not much to congratulate
one's self on, is there dear?
Except that
after all these years
our old friendship
has remained unchanged
and indeed stronger
and more understanding
and intimate
than ever
And that is a
very great deal
they were comrades
And they were comrades, and comrades
is a word we don't use anymore
except mockingly maybe
Or half in jest
or cynically
But they
were comrades
Their relationship
was bigger than disagreement
bigger than
sexual relationships
bigger than emotional
It was somehow all of those
and more
And they were
bound together
Emma says of him
in 1928
he was a leit motif
of her life
"My dear, whom else should I write
on this day but you
Only there was
nothing to tell
I keep thinking
what a long time to live
For whom?
For what?
But there is no answer
One thing, I can still find relief
in housework and cooking
Let me hear from you
how you are Sasha dear
P.S. Do you want me to send you
the Manchester Guardian
and the
Times Literary Supplement?
Let me know
He never got
her letter
In the middle of the night
on June 28, 1936
Goldman received
a telephone call from Nice
imploring her to
"come at once"
Arriving in Sasha's apartment
Goldman learned that he
had shot himself in the chest
He died that night
This great centerforce
of her life is gone
I think it
must have been
in her life the most devastating
personal loss she ever had
I don't think that
I know that
Two months after
Berkman's death
friends came to see Goldman
in St. Tropez
They found her distraught
even, they thought
on the verge of a nervous breakdown
One friend saw her walking alone
in the garden at Bon Esprit
calling out softly
"Sasha, where are you?"
With the loss of
Sasha Berkman
Goldman wrote that the
largest part of her life
had followed him
to his grave
During two decades
of exile
she returned
to the United States only once
following the publication of her
thousand-page autobiography
Throughout her visit
the 64-year-old activist
was dogged by the F.B.I
Even so, she lamented
at the end of her stay
she would have
returned to America
if she'd had
the choice
Emma Goldman spent the last few months
of her life in Canada
On February 17th
she'd been sitting
with two friends
laughing and talking
playing bridge
she collapsed in her chair
She suffers a stroke
An ambulance is called
friends arrive
And one of them
Arne Thorn
remembers her
on a stretcher being taken out
And the only gesture she could manage
was to pull her skirt down
over her knee
To be silenced and
to lay there unable to speak
And no one else could
do that to her
Not a government in the world
could do that to her
Not a government
in the world could
nd she must lay there
I think it's unbearably sad
On May 14th
Emma Goldman died
Denied entry into the United States
for so many years
she was finally permitted, in death
to cross the border
She was buried in
Chicago's Waldheim Cemetery
near the graves
of the Haymarket martyrs
She raised people's
And she
transformed people's thinking
She made them questions
Question their own lives
and their political assumptions
and she spoke back
to power
Emma Goldman
is recognizable
to me
of the attitude
the chutzpah
the sense of humor
the energy
which is always boundless
And also her soulfulness
which is so very Russian
Her ability to dive into great emotion
but also to emerge out of them
There's something comforting
about this persona
there's something reliable
about Emma Goldman
It's hard to imagine
how the human heart
can sustain
that level of passion
And intense concentration
on the possibility of change
that becomes
their heartbeat
we're so sort of stuck
in the gray middle
And you read her and
she really lived her life on fire
nd there's something
utterly thrilling about that
If we look everything
that she did
The fight for
free speech
the fight for women
to have control over their bodies
the fight...the fight against
state intrusion in our life
the fight against totalitarianism
becoming the nettle of our conscience
she didn't do it for wealth
she didn't do it for money
she didn't do it for
personal gain
She did it
for all of us
And she's awkward, and she's ornery
and she's a pain