Mother Earth

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Dublin Core

Title

Mother Earth

Subject

Labor, Politics, and Journalism

Description

Emma Goldman’s Radical Publication Diversifies the Conversation on Class and Labor Reform

Mabel Dodge’s role in facilitating discussions in the Village is revolutionary. Dodge’s modernist ideals about discovering new pathways of knowledge inform her practices on how she facilitates discussion. Dodge strives for open discussion and therefore seeks to have a diverse conversation rather than an echo chamber. Because of the differing opinions Dodge brings together, she served as a unique role in furthering conversation among radicals.

Dodge’s role in the labor movement extends beyond direct contributions of creativity and finances. Dodge also seeks to complicate the conversation on labor and class politics. It was at one of Dodge’s Evenings where Big Bill Haywood, John Reed, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Emma Goldman sat in the same room with each other. Though Dodge’s personal ideology is far removed from that of Goldman, she understands the importance of listening to Goldman’s voice and providing her a platform to express her views. By allowing Goldman's radical feminism and anarchist stance to interact with the views of the I. W. W. (International Workers of the World) and socialism/communism (represented most fervently by John Reed), Dodge is furthering the discourse surrounding the issue. Figures like Haywood and Goldman are strictly committed to a set ideology, but a figure like Dodge, who promotes open discussion, allows the most predominant ideas a “safe space” to interact at her “Evenings.” Goldman’s stance is also extremely radical for her time, so it is telling that Dodge willingly supports her. Goldman is essentially the polar opposite of most of the work that Dodge engages in, and this opening piece for her publication (Mother Earth) is essentially a foil to the work of someone like John Reed in in Max Eastman’s The Masses. Dodge works with finances and organizes more peaceful and clean resistance, while Goldman’s activism actually escalates to the level of violent resistance.

Goldman defines anarchism in the introduction, explaining it as an “absence of government,” which is in opposition to Reed and the I. W. W. who are working to influence the government towards their cause. Goldman, Reed, and the I .W. W. all are working towards better working conditions for unskilled laborers as well as an increased voice for the lower class: they just each have a separate ideology to go about enacting change. Goldman is disenchanted with government and systems and desires, therefore, to enact change outside these systems. Despite holding the same goals, socialism and anarchism work against each other in a sense. Dodge is one of the few people who could bring these people together through events like the Paterson Pageant, where all factions of the labor movement supported the production. If Dodge’s role had continued, it is possible that the labor movement could have made more gains when after the pageant the movement fragmented further and ceased to collaborate. Rudnick comments that Dodge’s Evening of labor reform discussions “illuminated the differences among the various brands of radicalism” (1650). Part of the reason Dodge ceased involvement was because she left the city as World War One went into full swing and the Alien and Sedition Acts caused greater restrictions on free speech in The Village. Goldman was later actually arrested for her outspoken anarchism in those higher security days following the United States’s involvement in the war.

By inviting Goldman to her Evenings, Dodge uses her economic and social status to validate Goldman’s radical stance as a point of view that deserves further discourse. Goldman writes, “Man issued from the womb of Mother Earth,” describing her publication and ideology. Goldman’s stance is in direct criticism with and counter to mainstream Christian America in 1910 that generally subscribes to the idea of a father creator. For 1906, this view is not only radical but also dangerous. By continuing to support Goldman’s publication, Dodge protects Goldman and by extension protects the rights of free speech during the beginning of the 20th century. Goldman denounces the same systems that Dodge directly benefits from when she writes, “They, who had fought for independence from the British yoke, soon became dependent among themselves; dependent on possessions, on wealth, on power,” calling direct attention to structures of government and class. Still, Dodge supports the vocalization and circulation of Goldman’s thoughts.

Dodge directly sought out the wisdom of Goldman, which not only conveys her dedication to discourse but also attests to Dodge’s openness and willingness to hear new ideas. Rudnick writes how Dodge “had little awareness of what it meant to suffer economically, but she understood what it meant to be a victim of the system that had starved her of emotional nourishment and segregated her from knowledge of the masses of people who worked for her leisure” (Rudnick 1505). Dodge is aware of her privilege and attempts to enact change while still trying to raise the voices of the laborers and other oppressed individuals. In a sense, Goldman and Dodge were not all that different. Golin writes that, “From 1906-1917, Goldman published an influential anarchist magazine, Mother Earth, devoted to politics and literature. Its high-spirited prose, Goldman wrote, ‘would voice without fear every unpopular cause,." By voicing unpopular opinions Goldman was doing similar work as Dodge by extending the conversation on complex issues facing reformers.

Goldman, Emma. Anarchy: An Anthology of Emma Goldman's Mother Earth. Ed. Peter
Glassgold. Berkeley: CounterPoint, 2012. Print.

Golin, Steve. "Emma Goldman.” The American Experience. PBS, 11 Mar. 2004. Web. 15 June 2016.

Rudnick, Lois. Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Woman, New Worlds (Kindle Locations 1505-1650). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition.


Creator

Emma Goldman

Source

Anarchy! An Anthology of Emma Goldman's Mother Earth

Publisher

CounterPoint

Date

Published 2012, Written 1906

Contributor

Peter GlassGold

Format

Publication

Language

English

Type

Column

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

MOTHER EARTH

E. Goldman and M. Baginski

THERE was a time when men imagined the Earth as the center of the universe. The stars, large and small, they believed were created merely for their delectation. It was their vain conception that a supreme being, weary of solitude, had manufactured a giant toy and put them into possession of it.

When, however, the human mind was illumined by the torch-light of science, it came to understand that the Earth was but one of a myriad of stars floating in infinite space, a mere speck of dust.

Man issued from the womb of Mother Earth, but he knew it not, nor recognized her, to whom he owed his life. In his egotism he sought an explanation of himself in the infinite, and out of his efforts there arose the dreary doctrine that he was not related to the Earth, that she was but a temporary resting place for his scornful feet and that she held nothing for him but temptation to degrade himself. Interpreters and prophets of the infinite sprang into being, creating the "Great Beyond" and proclaiming Heaven and Hell, between which stood the poor, trembling human being, tormented by that priest-born monster, Conscience.

In this frightful scheme, gods and devils waged eternal war against each other with wretched man as the prize of victory; and the priest, self-constituted interpreter of the will of the gods, stood in front of the only refuge from harm and demanded as the price of entrance that ignorance, that asceticism, that self-abnegation which could but end in the complete subjugation of man to superstition. He was taught that Heaven, the refuge, was the very antithesis of Earth, which was the source of sin. To gain for himself a seat in Heaven, man devastated the Earth. Yet she renewed herself, the good mother, and came again each Spring, radiant with youthful beauty, beckoning her children to come to her bosom and partake of her bounty. But ever the air grew thick with mephitic darkness, ever a hollow voice was heard calling: "Touch not the beautiful form of the sorceress; she leads to sin!"

But if the priests decried the Earth, there were others who found in it a source of power and who took possession of it. Then it happened that the autocrats at the gates of Heaven joined forces with the powers that had taken possession of the Earth; and humanity began its aimless, monotonous march. But the good mother sees the bleeding feet of her children, she hears their moans, and she is ever calling to them that she is theirs.

To the contemporaries of George Washington, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, America appeared vast, boundless, full of promise. Mother Earth, with the sources of vast wealth hidden within the folds of her ample bosom, extended her inviting and hospitable arms to all those who came to her from arbitrary and despotic lands--Mother Earth ready to give herself alike to all her children. But soon she was seized by the few, stripped of her freedom, fenced in, a prey to those who were endowed with cunning and unscrupulous shrewdness. They, who had fought for independence from the British yoke, soon became dependent among themselves; dependent on possessions, on wealth, on power. Liberty escaped into the wilderness, and the old battle between the patrician and the plebeian broke out in the new world, with greater bitterness and vehemence. A period of but a hundred years had sufficed to turn a great republic, once gloriously established, into an arbitrary state which subdued a vast number of its people into material and intellectual slavery, while enabling the privileged few to monopolize every material and mental resource.

During the last few years, American journalists have had much to say about the terrible conditions in Russia and the supremacy of the Russian censor. Have they forgotten the censor here? a censor far more powerful than him of Russia. Have they forgotten that every line they write is dictated by the political color of the paper they write for; by the advertising firms; by the money power; by the power of respectability; by Comstock? Have they forgotten that the literary taste and critical judgment of the mass of the people have been successfully moulded to suit the will of these dictators, and to serve as a go od business basis for shrewd literary speculators? The number of Rip Van Winkles in life, science, morality, art, and literature is very large. Innumerable ghosts, such as Ibsen saw when he analyzed the moral and social conditions of our life, still keep the majority of the human race in awe.

MOTHER EARTH will endeavor to attract and appeal to all those who oppose encroachment on public and individual life. It will appeal to those who strive for something higher, weary of the commonplace; to those who feel that stagnation is a deadweight on the firm and elastic step of progress; to those who breathe freely only in limitless space; to those who long for the tender shade of a new dawn for a humanity free from the dread of want, the dread of starvation in the face of mountains of riches. The Earth free for the free individual!

Emma Goldman,
Max Baginski.`

Original Format

Magazine