I find it comforting that the shocking condition of American politics is far from new, that we have grappled with worse in the past and swung back to saner times. 150 years ago, people were already decrying the common condition of the working man, and realizing that individuals were powerless to negotiate better when the only prospects for employment came from corporate giants. Some of the violence and heavy-handed repression used to suppress labor organizations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries make you wonder that labor today is lying down without a fight. — JJM
Far from the Constitution playing any liberating part in the lives of the American people, it has robbed them of the capacity to rely on their own resources or do their own thinking. Americans are so easily hoodwinked by the sanctity of law and authority. In fact, the pattern of life has become standardized, routinized, and mechanized like canned food and Sunday sermons. Even songs are turned out like buttons or automobile tires—all cast from the same mold.
Yet I do not despair of American life. Of late there has been a new spirit manifested in the youth which is growing up with the Depression. This spirit is more purposeful though still confused. It wants to create a new world, but is not clear as to how it wants to go about it. For that reason the young generation asks for saviors. It tends to believe in dictators and to hail each new aspirant for that honor as a messiah. It wants cut-and-dried systems of salvation with a wise minority to direct society on some one-way road to utopia. It has not yet realized that it must save itself. The young generation has not yet learned that the problems confronting them can be solved only by themselves and will have to be settled on the basis of social and economic freedom in cooperation with the struggling masses for the right to the table and joy of life.
I consider Anarchism the most beautiful and practical philosophy that has yet been thought of in its application to individual expression and the relation it establishes between the individual and society. Moreover, I am certain that Anarchism is too vital and too close to human nature ever to die. It is my conviction that dictatorship, whether to the right or to the left, can never work—that it never has worked, and that time will prove this again, as it has been proved before. Considered from this point, a recrudescence of Anarchist ideas in the near future is very probable. When this occurs and takes effect, I believe that humanity will at last leave the maze in which it is now lost and will start on the path to sane living and regeneration through freedom.
— Emma Goldman, 1934 (reprinted in Harpers)