Gertrude Kelly

Irish-American surgeon and social activist

Gertrude Bride Kelly (10 February 1862 – 24 February 1934) was a prominent New York City surgeon and suffragette, labour and social activist, Irish independence supporter, and anarchist.

Quotes edit

"State Aid to Science" (1887) edit

  • In these times of ours, when all classes in society, from the Bowery Socialists to the highest professors of science, seem to vie with one another in demanding State interference, State protection, and State regulation, when the ideal State to the workingman is that proposed by the authoritarian Marx, or the scarcely less authoritarian George, and the ideal State to the scientist is the Germany of today, where the scientists are under the government’s special protection, it would seem idle to hope that the voices of those who prize liberty above an things, who would fain call attention to the false direction in which it is desired to make the world move, should be other than “voices crying in the wilderness.” But, nevertheless, it is not by accident that we who hold the ideas that what is necessary to progress is not the increase, but the decrease, of governmental interference have come to be possessed of these ideas. We, too, are “heirs of all the ages,” and it is our duty to that society of which we form a part to give our reasons for the “faith that is in us.”
  • It is always important that the position of devil’s advocate should be well filled.
  • Responsibility is the parent of morality
  • As Leslie Stephen has demonstrated, to suppress one truth is to suppress all truth, for truth is a coherent whole.
  • Do you think that a country, one of whose most distinguished professors, Virchow, is afraid of giving voice to the doctrine of evolution, because he sees that it inevitably leads to Socialism (and Socialism the government has decided is wrong, and must be crushed out), is in the way of long maintaining its supremacy as a scientific light, when the question which its scientific men are called upon to decide is not what is true, but what the government will allow to be said?
  • It is our duty to truth to cultivate the spirit which questions all things
  • We still have no evidence on record to prove that great men are endowed with more than the ordinary share of common sense, which is so necessary in conducting the ordinary affairs of life. Indeed, if the gossip of history is to be in any way trusted, great men have usually obtained less than the ordinary share of this commodity. Frederick the Great is reported to have said that, if he wished to ruin one of his provinces, he would hand its government over to the philosophers. Is it into the hands of a Bacon, who had no more sense than to expose himself (for the sake of a little experiment which could have been made just as well without the exposure), a Newton who ordered the grate to be removed when the fire became too hot for him, a Clifford, who worked himself to death, that the direction of the affairs of a people is to be given, with the assurance that they will be carried on better than now?
  • Will advance by having no opinion protected from discussion and agitation, by having the greatest possible freedom of thought, of speech, and of the press.

Quotes about Gertrude Kelly edit

  • Dr. Gertrude Kelly, a surgeon of great skill and a supporter of the Irish Republic.

Anarchist Women, 1870-1920 by Margaret S Marsh edit

  • In basing their demands on a claim of justice-women are human beings; therefore they ought to possess all the rights and privileges of human beings-the anarchist-feminists refused to make any extravagant claims for social and political benefits that would flow from equality. But they thereby lost an opportunity to appeal to men on the grounds most likely to gain their attention, those of self-interest. The early feminists had faced the same problem and their arguments also had failed to win masculine support. As a result, the suffragists at the end of the century often felt it necessary to exploit their womanhood in an attempt to render feminism more palatable to men. Such tactics were unacceptable to the anarchist-feminists, but a few of them did try to persuade their male comrades that women's equality was essential to a radical platform. Gertrude B. Kelly, for example, argued that a successful revolution would depend on a commitment to feminism, contending that unless radical men began to take steps to end the oppression of women, their attempts to remake the world would end in failure. She agreed with her male comrades who said that there was "properly speaking no woman question as apart from the question of human right and human liberty." But men often used such statements to try to persuade women to mute their demands for sexual equality until after the liberation of the "people" had been accomplished, implying that while the concerns of male revolutionaries were by their very nature universal, those of women were at best parochial. Kelly, on the other hand, insisted that without sexual equality no liberation could take place. Men hurt themselves as well as women by their refusal to recognize this: "No wrong can be done to any class in society without part at least of the evil reverting to the wrong-doers."...Gertrude Kelly's earnest attempt to enlist male support through appeals to self-interest was unusual. The anarchist-feminists recognized for the most part that women must seek their own emancipation. They placed (accurately as it turned out) little faith in the enlightenment of radical men. The significance of their approach may be seen most clearly by an examination of the anarchist-feminists proposals for the reorganization of society based on the premise of economic and psychological independence from men.
  • Anarchist-feminists found it difficult to persuade their male corevolutionaries to take the Woman Question seriously...Gertrude Kelly berated them because she believed that by ignoring the demands of women radical men were actually retarding the revolution
  • The enthusiasms of the social feminists for example temperance, protective legislation for women and children workers, and social purity usually drew a negative response from the anarchist-feminists, both communists and Individualists. Although like the more conventional feminists they abhorred prostitution, anarchists believed it to be a predictable result of both capitalism and societal repression of sexuality that could only be removed by the overthrow of both. The Individualist Gertrude Kelly argued in 1885 that social purity advocates possessed the evidence to show "that destitution is the chief cause of prostitution" but that they refused to follow the logic of their findings. "When we come to examine the remedies proposed, we find not a word on the subject of... making their wages equal to those of a man for the same work."
  • Voltairine de Cleyre possessed one of the best minds among the American anarchists, and her essays, particularly in the early twentieth century, were sophisticated and subtle. On the other hand, the other anarchist-feminists who attempted to explain anarchist ideas tended to approach every problem as a separate issue without reconciling, or in some cases even noticing, disharmonies and contradictions. They espoused feminism and the standard anarchist remedies for social ills without troubling to look for connections. It almost seems as if they deliberately avoided those questions that would force them to confront anarchist ideology as a whole. Gertrude B. Kelly, for example, concentrated on questions of finance when she was not writing about women. She was enthusiastic about the innovation of checking accounts, which she viewed as the harbinger of the Mutual Bank, an institution that, for Individualists, was at the heart of anarchist economics. Yet she not only found it unnecessary to explain the effect of new bank practices on the overall power structure, but she also failed to connect monetary issues with questions about the redistribution of wealth or the economic role of women.'..Where Gertrude B. Kelly had confined herself to specific details of anarchist thought without attempting an inclusive analysis, Florence Finch Kelly offered sweeping generalities without touching on their application.

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