Happy (belated) birthday to Emma Goldman (27 June). Emma G is warmly remembered for the anarcha-feminist, anti-militarist, and internationalist contributions she made to the social revolutionary struggle in life. Deported from the U.S. in 1919 for her actions agitating against U.S. participation in the First World War, Goldman came to reside within the nascent Soviet Union for some years, growing highly disillusioned and increasingly outraged at the extent of repression meted out by the Bolsheviks against dissident elements, especially from the left–Emma G was famously staying in Leningrad (ex-Saint Petersburg) when the Red Army crushed the Kronstadt Commune, stifling it altogether on the night before 18 March 1921, the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Paris Commune (1871). Emma G famously then wrote in a diary that, while listening to the official celebration of the Commune in the streets below, merely seeing the smouldering remains of Kronstadt on the horizon led her to despair over the possibility of hope for humanity.
Toward the end of her life, Emma G became very involved with the struggle by the Spanish anarchists (1936-) to restructure society on the one hand while battling the fascist, Stalinist, and liberal threats lined up against them on the other. Though she could not speak Spanish, Goldman visited the anarchist communes and presented her reflections on these developments in media, organized international solidarity efforts for the CNT/FAI through speaking tours, and generally worked to defend and promote the promising example of workers’ and peasants’ self-management emanating from anarcho-syndicalist action in Iberia.