This essay, which first appeared in July 1968, is an influential statement of anarchist principles, a call for political decentralization, and a sympathetic but critical analysis of the New Left and global youth movements in the moment of the May days, the Columbia occupation, the Prague Spring and the crest of the antiwar movement. The essay offers a groundbreaking discussion of the libertarian impulses driving, and the anarchism emerging from, the practice of participatory democracy, college and job-site occupations, anti-establishment protest, counter-culture and nonviolent direct action.
C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Emma Goldman’s “Minorities versus Majorities” that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with Emma Goldman’s “Minorities versus Majorities”!
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This provocative essay on the compacting function of majority-rules politics, and the importance and creative role of minority ideas, unpopular actions and individual dissent, began as a lecture on Emma Goldman’s speaking tours; in 1910 she incorporated it into her collection of essays, Anarchism and Other Essays (Mother Earth Publishing Association). In the Preface of the collection, Goldman wrote of this essay, “No doubt, I shall be excommunicated as an enemy of the people, because I repudiate the mass as a creative factor. I shall prefer that rather than be guilty of the demagogic platitudes so commonly in vogue as a bait for the people. . . . My lack of faith in the majority is dictated by my faith in the potentialities of the individual. Only when the latter becomes free to choose his associates for a common purpose, can we hope for order and equality out of this world of chaos and inequality. . .” (50–51).
“The oft repeated slogan of our time is that ours is an era of individualism, of the minority. Only those who do not probe beneath the surface have been led to entertain this view. Have not the few accumulated the wealth of the world? Are they not the masters, the absolute kings of the situation? Their success, however, is due not to individualism, but to the inertia . . . of the mass. . . . As to individualism, at no time in human history did it have less chance of expression, less opportunity to assert itself in a normal, healthy manner. . . .
“Not because I do not feel with the oppressed, the disinherited of the earth; not because I do not know the shame, the horror, the indignity of the lives the people lead, do I repudiate the majority as a creative force for good. Oh, no, no! But because I know so well that as a compact mass it has never stood for justice or equality. It has suppressed the human voice, subdued the human spirit, chained the human body. . . . As a mass it will always be the annihilator of individuality, of free initiative, of originality. I therefore believe with Emerson that ‘the masses are crude, lame, pernicious in their demands and influence, and need not to be flattered, but to be schooled. I wish not to concede anything to them, but to drill, divide, and break them up, and draw individuals out of them. . . .’ In other words, the living, vital truth of social and economic well-being will become a reality only through the zeal, courage, the non-compromising determination of intelligent minorities, and not through the mass.”
C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of ALL Distro’s “Repudiation Now” that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with ALL Distro’s “Repudiation Now”.
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These three articles raise a challenge against the inter-national system of debt and the crippling burden inflicted by neoliberal debt policies and financial institutions on people who should not be shaken down for even one dime of the oligarchs’ power-trips and “development” policies. A liberated society means a society where no-one is forced to pay off debts for political capitalists, and the only humane, or even sane, demand is total and unconditional Repudiation Now.
“We have not acquired any debt. The so-called public debt really belongs to the oligarchy. We the peoples have not acquired anything or been benefited, and thus we owe nothing. . . .” — Confederation of Ecuadorian Kichwas
“Their main function is to work in collusion with the World Bankto run up debt building the infrastructure foreign capital needs for profitable investment. A majority of World Bank loans have gone to building the roads and utilities necessary to support foreign-owned industry. The effect is to crowd out decentralized, small-scale, locally-owned industry serving local markets, and to integrate the domestic economy into a neoliberal framework of providing raw materials and labor for foreign industry. . . .” — Kevin Carson
“So-called ‘public debt’ is, of course, never contracted by ‘the public’(if that means all the people of a particular country); it is contracted by a tiny, parasitic minority that lives at the expense of the rest of the public, and which has arbitrarily declared itself the rightful rulers and the designated collective-bargaining agents of everybody else in the country — whether or not anybody else ever agreed to that arrangement. When banks or foreign governments loan money to a government, they loan it to that tiny, parasitic minority, and they do so with the expectation that their ‘investment’ will be repaid by means of taxation, which is to say, by means of the money that the government extracts from ‘the public’ by force. None of the rest of us are ever asked to take on these debts; none of us are ever given any meaningful choice over whether to take on these debts, or how to disburse the money that has been loaned to ‘us;’ we are just made to pay them against our will. . . Whatever the would-be governors of Ecuador may owe, the people of Ecuador owe not one damned dime to the World Bank, the IMF, CitiBank, or any other lender.” — Charles Johnson