Table of Contents
Inequality and social injustice have been traced in the history of America for many years. The issues of concern have been part of the way people live in the USA long before the United States of America was established. The pre-colonial times were marred with a number of cases of bias and social discrimination. The Founding Fathers of the great country could not deal with the problem of inequality during the struggle for independence and even after gaining independence (Nash et al., 2010). Therefore, inequality was created in colonial America and has remained part of the American system taking various forms and compelling people to resist systems that facilitate discrimination and unfair treatment.
Creation of Social Inequality
Inequality in the USA has been determined by divergent aspects of social life of the American people. The major factors that have influenced inequality in the USA are race and socio-economic status, which caused the division of the American society and as such created classes as well as discrimination (Nash et al., 2010). The class structure formed on the basis of race and socio-economic status has also induced discord among the groups that have over the years felt disgruntled leading to situations of violent resistance and justified cases of violence (Zinn, n.d.). Hence, such circumstances have resulted in anarchy between different competing groups in America.
Emma Goldman was one of the few people who opposed what was believed to be inequality, and to this extent on many occasions, she withstood the government of the United States with regard to the issues that propagated inequality among various groups of population in the USA and around the world (Chalberg, 2007). She asserted that the system of government was responsible for many of the problems that people faced; thus, she chose to oppose what she did not agree with at any cost. Besides, Goldman indicated that the authorities often punished citizens for thinking (UC Berkeley News, 2003). Hence, the matter of inequality in America is one of the issues, which Emma Goldman confronted fiercely.
Forms of Inequality
Racial inequality in the USA is mainly associated with the pre-colonial attitude that was adopted against the Indians during the struggle for independence, as they were seen as British collaborators. Therefore, those who were fighting for sovereignty had to deal with discrimination after the achievement of independence. However, racial inequality has been at its worst in America following the era of slavery (Zinn, n.d.). Slavery made the African people who served as slaves to be treated inhumanely for many years, despite the fact that these African slaves were the key figures in the economies of places or countries where they worked. Notwithstanding, slavery was degrading and cruel.
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Racial discrimination led to suppression and negative treatment of the blacks with one of the worst issues of maltreatment being racial segregation, which was supported by the government and made lawful. Under the racial segregation, the people of color did not have many freedoms and their activities were highly restricted by law. In her school of philosophy, Emma Goldman regarded this kind of discrimination as wrong and extremely unwarranted, as she believed that all human beings were supposed to have freedoms and exercise the latter without the government curtailing them (Chalberg, 2007). Therefore, the state control of human activities is improper; therefore, people are supposed to be free to chart their own destiny and future.
Racial inequality attracted numerous rebellions of the opposing groups, which led to a number of violent cases since those who were oppressed made an effort to gain their rights and freedoms. The slaves in the USA rebelled in different ways, for instance, the slaves who arrived in America mainly fled. Nevertheless, as time passed, they changed their tactics and started rebelling through assaults, crop destruction, arson and other methods that would make their masters feel the kind of dissatisfaction they had (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2000). In Goldman’s school of thought, tactical violence was an important way of dealing with racial inequality like the one that had been inflicted on slaves in the USA. She indicated that despite the fact that she opposed violence, oppression could only be countered through tactical violence that was directed towards the oppressor. Moreover, Goldman argued that revolutions where an efficient way of achieving justice and equality between the oppressed and the oppressor (Chalberg, 2007). For some time, Goldman even supported the Russian Revolution until it became clear that the latter turned extremely militant. Therefore, rebellion is inevitable in the cases where people are oppressed.
In the 18th century, economic inequality was a major issue in the USA. It made the British leave America due to the high levels of corruption as well as inequality in land distribution and wealth distribution. The gap between the rich and the poor was wide with the impoverished people exposed to suffering and deficiency of even the basic necessities. Independence did not remedy the situation in the USA immediately, as capitalism was strongly rooted in USA with workers being left to earn little and live in poverty, even though they kept enriching their employers by means of their labor (Nash et al., 2010). The situation that the laborers faced was difficult and made them rebel through strikes, which led to frequent clashes with the brutal police who were controlled by the state. Thus, these kinds of conflicts between the workers and the law enforcement agencies resulted in the Haymarket affair, which was one of the most significant turning points in the life of Emma Goldman. Moreover, it made her adopt the anarchist philosophy (UC Berkeley News, 2003). Consequently, economic inequality is one of the most common challenges that caused the creation of classes and widened of the gap between the wealthy and the penurious.
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Goldman opposed the economic inequality that was one of the key tenets of capitalism. She believed that communism was a better ideology since it allowed people to have some form of economic equality that was not easily witnessed under capitalism. In her quest to withstand capitalism, she was against the number of activities that were advocated by the capitalist systems of governance. One of the things she contradicted was democracy, which was exercised through voting (Chalberg, 2007). She opposed voting and termed it as a useless and dangerous activity. Goldman also found herself in trouble with the USA authorities for her anarchist beliefs. Hence, she disapproved of military conflicts and even encouraged people not to enlist for war that led to her imprisonment and further deportation from the USA. Therefore, Goldman stood for what she believed in and opposed everything she disagreed with not considering the consequences.
As maintained by Emma Goldman, religion is a way that people use to control others (Chalberg, 2007). In this regard, she chose to be an atheist in order to be free from the kind of control imposed by religion. In the opposition to religion, Goldman viewed slavery as one of the ways in which religion had been misused by making humans suffer on the Earth with a promise of better future when they go to heaven (Chalberg, 2007). Her major religious criticism was directed towards Christianity and Zionism, which as she categorically indicated, had failed.
The issues of religion and slavery were indeed a common factor that also affected slaves and induced the creation of evangelism, according to which the African slaves sought to blend their traditional African religion with the Christianity, which was an important way for the slaves not to forget their traditions even under strict control of repressive masters.
Gender inequality has been another major type of inequality that led to various forms of resistance from the oppressed. In particular, women faced various challenges that made it extremely difficult for them to cope with men who were the privileged members of the society. Globally for many years, females have experienced numerous forms of discrimination in the patriarchal system; additionally, different kinds of abuse have been meted on women by men. During the period of slavery, sexual abuse was common against female slaves. In this case, the it was mainly perpetrated by male slave masters. Female slaves were seen to be more equal to male slaves that white women to white men. Thus, female slaves worked alongside males in the fields and would still do chores at home while the white women did no meaningful work, as the men were in charge of everything.
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Being a strong supporter of gender equality, Goldman fought for the rights of women in various parts of the world. Even though she was not a feminist activist, she is known for founding the anarcha-feminism, which has challenged patriarchal system at its highest level of state power. Additionally, Goldman cared for the welfare of women by advocating for birth control among females in order to avoid negative consequences of having abortions.
For many years, inequality has been part of life in America, making those discriminated rebel against the system that facilitated inequality in the society. Different forms of inequality have dominated in the USA as well as around the globe, and indeed many people have suffered. Inequality is mainly perpetrated by state systems, as Goldman indicated; therefore, she dedicated her life to fighting against injustice. The fact that inequality has remained in the USA for such a long time since the colonial times is a matter of concern. However, the advocates of freedom such as Emma Goldman have played a crucial role in ensuring that the issues of inequality are addressed all over the world.