Russian-American anarchist and writer
Alexander Berkman (November 21, 1870 – June 28, 1936) was a prominent Lithuanian Jewish anarchist, and a close associate of Emma Goldman. His adult life was largely spent in the United States, Germany and France.
- "Man's inhumanity to man" is not the last word. The truth lies deeper. It is economic slavery, the savage struggle for a crumb, that has converted mankind into wolves and sheep.
- Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1912), Ch. 18: "The Solitary"
- It is the system, rather than individuals, that is the source of pollution and degradation. My prison-house environment is but another manifestation of the Midas-hand, whose cursed touch turns everything to the brutal service of Mammon.
- Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1912), Ch. 18: "The Solitary".
- Liberty is an empty sound as long as you are kept in bondage economically. [...] Freedom means that you have the right to do a certain thing; but if you have no opportunity to do it, that right is sheer mockery. The opportunity lies in your economic condition, whatever the political situation may be. No political rights can be of the least use to the man who is compelled to slave all his life to keep himself and family from starvation.
- What Is Communist Anarchism? (1929), Chapter 14: "The February Revolution".
- If your object is to secure liberty, you must learn to do without authority and compulsion. If you intend to live in peace and harmony with your fellow-men, you and they should cultivate brotherhood and respect for each other. If you want to work together with them for your mutual benefit, you must practice cooperation. The social revolution means much more than the reorganization of conditions only: it means the establishment of new human values and social relationships, a changed attitude of man to man, as of one free and independent to his equal; it means a different spirit in individual and collective life, and that spirit cannot be born overnight. It is a spirit to be cultivated, to be nurtured and reared, as the most delicate flower it is, for indeed it is the flower of a new and beautiful existence.
- What Is Anarchism? (1929), Ch. 26: "Preparation".
- Terrorism is tempting with its tremendous possibilities. It offers a mechanical solution, as it were, in hopeless situations. … the principles of terrorism unavoidably rebound to the fatal injury of liberty and revolution. Absolute power corrupts and defeats its partisans no less than its opponents. A people that knows not liberty becomes accustomed to dictatorship: fighting despotism and counter-revolution, terrorism itself becomes their efficient school. Once on the road of terrorism, the State necessarily becomes estranged from the people.
- "The Bolshevik Myth" in Anarchism : A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Vol. 1 (2005) edited by Robert Graham, p. 312.