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Digital History at Ursinus

Labor, Politics, and Journalism

Mother Earth

Mother Earth by Emma Goldman

 Giving the Stage to Radicals

Mabel Dodge’s role in facilitating discussions in the Village was revolutionary and was centered in her modernist beliefs. Dodge believed in open discussion and therefore sought to create a diverse conversation rather than an echo chamber. Because of the differing opinions Dodge brought together, she serves a unique role in furthering conversation among radicals.

Dodge’s role in the labor movement extended beyond direct contributions of creativity and finances because Dodge also wanted 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. Each of them was associated with drastically different ideas on how to address the plight of the working class. Dodge’s space promoted the acceptance and engagement of differing views. Though Dodge’s personal ideology was far removed from that of Goldman, Dodge understands the importance of listening to Goldman’s voice and providing her a platform to express her views. By allowing her 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 was furthering the discourse surrounding the issue. Figures like Haywood and Goldman strictly adhered 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 was also extremely radical for her time. Goldman was essentially the polar opposite of most of the work that Dodge engages in and this opening piece for her publication (Mother Earth) was a foil to the work of someone like John Reed in in Max Eastman’s The Masses.

Lincoln Steffens would write about how Dodge would organize an Evening. Steffens wrote she “would seize a time when there was an IWW strike to invite, say, Bill Haywood especially. He would sit or stand near her and strike out, in the hot, harsh spirit of his organization, some challenging idea, answer brutally a few questions, and that evening everybody talked IWW” (884).

Steffens, Lincoln. Autobiography. Berkeley: Heydey Books, 2006. Print. 

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.