Friday, March 05, 2010

My Beautiful Ideal


You've probably all seen a t-shirt at some point sporting this quote attributed to Emma Goldman:

"If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

Nice sentiment, but turns out she didn't say that. Not exactly. I recently did a little research to find out what she did actually say that prompted the apocryphal quotation. Here it is. Not t-shirt pithy, but pretty inspiring, nonetheless.



from Living My Life (1931):
"At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.


"I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would 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.' Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal." (p. 56)

1 comment:

LizF said...

Here, here! I love that!

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