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Solidarity Forever!

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Celebrating tomorrow, Labor Day, let's sing the song together.

And then let's think about that fervent communist, Emma Goldman, who once wrote as follows:

"There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another. This conception is a potent menace to social regeneration. All human experience teaches that methods and means can never be separated from the ultimate aim. The means employed become, through individual habit and social practice, part and parcel of the final purpose; they influence it, modify it, and presently the aims and methods become identical."

My Disillusionment in Russia (1923).


  1. Impressive. I didn't know that Emma Goldman she became disillusioned with the revolution, and as early as 1923. And she’s right that “aims and purposes are one thing”: they’re synonyms. So are “methods and tactics” and “methods and means.” Her writing is redundant and repetitive and reiterative.

  2. "Emma Goldman she" in my prior comment was an unintentional redundancy. In the context of my comment, it's funny.

  3. I'm happy to defend Goldman as a stylist. Redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it just adds emphasis in a way that is EASIER ON THE EYES THAN THE NOW UBIQUITOUS CAPITALIZATION! Sometimes it's in an accepted catch phrase, and even goes unnoticed, as in the redundancy of "part and parcel," which Goldman also used above.

    More generally, synonyms have different shades of meaning, and the redundancy has the effect of embracing both shades. With "methods and tactics," for example, the word "tactics" has localist connotations from its military use. A General uses "strategy" in choosing his battles, but uses "tactics" on the specific battlefield once fighting has begun.

    Had Goldman used "strategy and tactics" the military connotations would have seemed a bit blatant. She substituted "method" for "strategy," so the military significance of "tactics" is still there, but more subtle.


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