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Born in 1869 to an orthodox Jewish family in Lithuania, Goldman came to personify a tireless, freedom-loving, life-affirming version of anarchism. Chided by a fellow anarchist at one event for her carefree, abandoned dancing, she is supposed to have responded ‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.’
In fact, she never used these words. She recounted in her autobiography that: ‘I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown in my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to behave as a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”‘