Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Voltairine de Cleyre on Thing-worship

I was just posting a couple of links to some of the works of Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre over at En Tequila Es Verdad, and, as I'm prone to do, I started (re)reading some. Even at those times when I don't agree with her, I have to smile at de Cleyre's writing - it has a whimsical quality that somehow doesn't detract from its seriousness (e.g., her description of people who allow themselves to be molded by the dominant culture as "these easy, doughy characters, who will fit any baking tin"). From "The Dominant Idea":

Take a good look into yourself, and if you love Things and the power and the plenitude of Things better than you love your own dignity, human dignity, Oh, say so, say so! Say it to yourself, and abide by it. But do not blow hot and cold in one breath. Do not try to be a social reformer and a respected possessor of Things at the same time. Do not preach the straight and narrow way while going joyously upon the wide one. Preach the wide one, or do not preach at all; but do not fool yourself by saying you would like to help usher in a free society, but you cannot sacrifice an armchair for it. Say honestly, "I love arm-chairs better than free men, and pursue them because I choose; not because circumstances make me. I love hats, large, large hats, with many feathers and great bows; and I would rather have those hats than trouble myself about social dreams that will never be accomplished in my day. The world worships hats, and I wish to worship with them."

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