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An Anarchist Looks at Life

May 1933 — Foyles Literary Luncheon for Emma Goldman and Paul Robeson, London UK


For myself I wish to say that I have been so furiously busy living my life that I had not a moment left to look at it. I am aware that a period comes to everybody when we are obliged, perforce, to sit back and look at life. That period is a wise old age, but never having grown wise, I do not expect to reach that point. Most people who look at life never live it. What they see is not life but a mere shadow of it.

Naturally, life presents itself in different forms to different ages. . .

When I was 15, I suffered from unrequited love, and I wanted to commit suicide in a romantic way by drinking a lot of vinegar. I thought that would make me look ethereal and interesting, very pale and poetic when in my grave, but at 16, I decided on a more exalted death. I wanted to dance myself to death.

The death of those Chicago martyrs [who, without proof, were held responsible for the violence that erupted at the Chicago Haymarket Square worker’s rally on May 4, 1886] was my spiritual birth: their ideal became the motive of my entire life. . .

Anarchism is a releasing and liberating force because it teaches people to rely on their own possibilities, teaches them faith in liberty, and inspires men and women to strive for a state of social life where everyone shall be free and secure.