Emma Goldman's Tribute to Voltarine de Clyre
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manna to the spiritually famished girl. “I ran to it” the wrote later, “as one who has been turning about in the darkness runs to the light, I smile now at how quickly I adopted the label “Socialism” and how quickly I casted aside.”
She cast it aside, because she realised how little she knew of the historic and economic back-ground of Socialism. Her intellectual integrity led her to stop lecturing on the subject and to begin delving into the mysteries of sociology and political economy. But, as the earnest study of Socialism inevitably brings one to the more advanced ideas of Anarchism, Voltairine’s inherent love of liberty could not make peace with State-ridden notions of Socialism. She discovered, she wrote at this time, that “Liberty is not the daughter but the mother of order.”
During a period of several years she believed to have found an answer to her quest for liberty in the Individualists. Anarchist school represented by Benjamin R. Tucker’s publication Liberty, and the works of Proudhon, Herbert Spencer and other social thinkers. But later she dropped all economic labels calling herself simply and Anarchist, because she felt that “Liberty and experiment alone can determine the best economic forms of Society.”
The first impulse towards Anarchism was awakened in Voltaireine de Cleyre by the tragic even in Chicago, on the 11th of November, 1887. In sending the Anarchist to the gallows, the State of Illinois stupidly boasted that it had also killed the ideal for which the men died. What a senseless mistake, constantly repeated by those who sit on the thrones of the mighty! The bodies of Parsons, Spies, Fisher, Engel, and Lingg were barely cold when already new life was born to proclaim their ideals.
Voltairine, like the majority of the people of America, poisoned by the perversion of the facts that in the press of time, at first joined in the cry, “They ought to be hanged!” But hers was a searching mind, not of the kind that could long be content with mere surface appearances. She soon came to regret her haste. In her first address, on the occasion of the anniversary of the