Crystal Eastman’s Revolution

Vivian Gornick at The Nation:

Greenwich Village, in the early years of the 20th century, was a working-class neighborhood that had let the bohemians in. Eastman was enchanted. Describing the crowded street scene in a letter to her mother, she wrote, “Everyone is out. Mothers and fathers and babies line the doorsteps…little girls playing…in the middle of the street, and boys running in and out, chasing each other.” And to Max, urging him to join her when he graduated from college, she wrote, “I love it so for the people that are there and the thousands of things they do and think about.” The women and men she especially loved were “all the interesting between ones who really know how to live—who are working hard at something all the time; and especially the radicals, the reformers, the students—because they are open-minded, and eager over every new movement, and because they know when it is right for them to let go and amuse themselves and because they can laugh, even at themselves.” (Pace Emma Goldman: If I can’t dance, I’m not coming to your revolution.)

Eastman was bent on living a life of meaning that would include, as she liked to say, loving hard as well as working hard. (Rosa Luxemburg said almost the identical thing when she urged socialists to make the revolution, yes, but not give up the joy of life.)

more here.