Berkeley Digital Library

A Curriculum for Middle and High School Students

Goldman's Definition of Anarchism

[ Questions on Anarchism | Freedom of Expression | Next Exhibit ]

Mother Earth cover
March 1906
CONTEXT: This illustration appeared on the cover of the first issue of Goldman's anarchist magazine, Mother Earth. The magazine published writings on anarchism, news of national and international anarchist and labor activities, and poetry and drama criticism.

Excerpts from "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For"
(Anarchism and Other Essays, 1910) by Emma Goldman

"I shall begin with a definition.... Anarchism: The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary."

"Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property: liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations."

"Anarchism... is the great, surging, living truth that is reconstructing the world, and that will usher in the Dawn."

Questions on Goldman's Definition of Anarchism:
  1. Describe, in your own words, Goldman's definitions of anarchism.

  2. Based on what you have learned about Goldman's definition of anarchism, what symbols in the picture are intended to illustrate the concepts of anarchism?

General Questions on This Exhibit:

  1. Which medium do you think conveys the power and meaning of a complex political vision more effectively--the written word or visual imagery? Explain.

  2. Does your textbook include the term anarchist or anarchism? How is it defined?

  3. Compare and contrast the definition of anarchism with your textbook's definition of the terms communism and socialism, if they are included.

  4. Name some examples of the use of any of these terms in today's world--in slogans, graffiti, music lyrics, groups, etc. Does the meaning of the words change in different contexts?

Document maintained at: by the SunSITE Manager.