Thought for the Day from Emma Goldman


7 Responses to “Thought for the Day from Emma Goldman”

  1. fairuza Says:

    “and the signs said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls”- Sound of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel

  2. Marryam Says:

    lol, a very blunt and pithy way to put it

  3. Brendan Says:

    As with most bumper-sticker-sized slogans, funny at first glance, and progressively sophomoric the more it is contemplated. Spoken like a true spoiled brat.

    If whoever wrote that thinks this past November 4th meant nothing, he or she has, at best, an unrealistic set of expectations about how change happens in the real world.

  4. abunooralirlandee Says:

    Brendan, Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    I’m not sure who you are calling a spoiled brat…Emma Goldman?

    To say that the results of elections literally changes nothing is definitely simplistic. However I would argue that to think that the changes that really matter in society come about as a result of elections is equally naive. I would say that, put in the most sympathetic frame, elections can reflect changes that have occurred in society through other means. Much could be said about the reality of what elections do and the reality of what change is needed in society.

    However, I’m not interested in bringing you down Brendan…we can all agree that given the choices before us, it is better that Obama was chosen over McCain. The larger discussion will continue.


  5. Brendan Says:

    I agree that elections are not the only way that things change, and on reflection, I can appreciate the sentiment of the slogan and not get too bogged down in treating it literally. However, it did bug me when I first saw it.

  6. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Says:


    Thanks for responding. I appreciate your perspective, the statement as far as I know is meant to be jarring and provoking and I respect the fact that you engaged with it seriously.

    Indeed, as I’m sure you know well from listening to Peter Beinart (not that you didn’t know it before hearing him) in fact despite a feeling of being on the same side in some vague way, the real tension and sometime hostility between the liberal progressive view of society and the radical revolutionary critique of society should not be underestimated.

    You certainly represent the liberal/progressive tradition and Emma Goldman represents the radical critique. As a Muslim with a profound commitment to the Islamic tradition and with some Islamic revolutionary leanings, I’m really engaging in a different discussion but the radical critique of society is often one with which I empathize. At the same time, I am deeply influenced by the liberal/progressive tradition which I may have ‘rebelled against’ in certain ways but for which I still feel a lot of affection.

  7. Brendan Says:

    Good observation about the sometime gulf between these two groups. And yeah, if I consider the radical POV, I can admit it often comes from people who feel that they have no way to get into the system, to work for change from within, or who are so crushed by the status quo that the slow and herky-jerky nature of progress is hard to see.

    My initial reaction comes from being exposed to more people who talk the radical talk more out of laziness — people who are well-enough off that they don’t really have a right to complain about their own lack of opportunity, who strike me as agitating for a quick fix/magic bullet and not ever doing what they could be doing, in real time, to make a contribution that might actually help in the here and now. Such people are childishly proud not to vote, for example, rather than being mature enough to admit that life often consists of picking the best from a set of less than ideal choices. As a consequence, we get people like George Bush elected, because Al Gore wasn’t “different enough” or whatever the reason was for such people’s arrogant apathy.

    Ultimately, it strikes me as self-indulgence more than anything else.

    But yeah, there are people who truly have a right to feel so alienated that they’re entitled to feel that the system has nothing to offer them.

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