Best 23 Voltairine De Cleyre Quotes
Voltairine De Cleyre was an influential American anarchist writer, speaker, and activist. Known for her powerful and thought-provoking ideas, she played a significant role in the late 19th and early 20th century anarchist movement. Her writings and speeches continue to inspire individuals seeking social and political change. Here are 23 of her most profound quotes that shed light on various aspects of life and society.
1. “Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive.”
This quote encapsulates De Cleyre’s belief in the inherent freedom of individuals and her advocacy for anarchism as a means to break free from oppressive systems.
2. “The individualist is he who believes in the full realization of individual liberty.”
De Cleyre emphasizes the importance of individual freedom and autonomy, suggesting that true liberation can only be achieved when individuals are able to exercise their rights without hindrance.
3. “The most violent element in society is ignorance.”
De Cleyre highlights the detrimental effects of ignorance on society, asserting that it is ignorance that leads to violence and oppression.
4. “The law is an opinion with a gun.”
This quote underscores De Cleyre’s criticism of the legal system, suggesting that laws are often subjective and enforced through coercion.
5. “I have never advised anyone to break the law, but I have always advised people to ignore the law.”
De Cleyre encourages individuals to question and challenge unjust laws, advocating for civil disobedience as a means to bring about social change.
6. “The poor man is legislated out of existence.”
This quote reflects De Cleyre’s concern for the marginalized and impoverished, highlighting the ways in which economic and political systems often perpetuate inequality.
7. “The tyrant’s plea, ‘But that’s the law,’ does not justify the tyrant’s act.”
De Cleyre challenges the notion that legality equates to morality, asserting that acts committed under the guise of the law can still be oppressive and unjust.
8. “The only real crime is to injure others against their will.”
De Cleyre emphasizes the importance of consent and autonomy, suggesting that true crimes are those that violate the rights and well-being of others.
9. “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.”
This quote expresses De Cleyre’s belief in the power of collective action and cooperation to create a more just and equitable society.
10. “Anarchism is the philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law.”
De Cleyre defines anarchism as a philosophy that seeks to establish a society free from oppressive laws and regulations, where individuals can exercise their liberties fully.
11. “I never expect men to give us liberty. No, women, we are not worth it until we take it.”
De Cleyre acknowledges the struggle for women’s rights and asserts that true liberation can only be achieved through active resistance and collective action.
12. “The individual who rebels against the arrangements of society is ostracized, branded, stoned.”
This quote highlights the challenges faced by those who dare to challenge societal norms and systems, emphasizing the need for resilience and determination in the face of opposition.
13. “The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”
De Cleyre contrasts the motivations behind the pursuit of liberty and power, suggesting that true freedom is rooted in empathy and concern for others.
14. “It is the duty of the individual to refuse allegiance to unjust laws and to resist them non-violently.”
De Cleyre advocates for nonviolent resistance as a means to oppose unjust laws and systems, emphasizing personal responsibility in the fight for justice.
15. “To silence one woman, you have to silence a universe.”
This quote highlights the resilience and power of women, suggesting that the suppression of one individual’s voice can have far-reaching consequences.
16. “The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings.”
De Cleyre challenges the notion of the state as an inherent and necessary entity, suggesting that it is a construct that can be reimagined and transformed.
17. “Anarchism is the great ideal of all those who resent and struggle against any type of oppression.”
This quote emphasizes the inclusive nature of anarchism, highlighting its appeal to those who resist various forms of oppression.
18. “Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.”
De Cleyre suggests that acts of rebellion are born out of a desire to return to a state of purity and authenticity, representing a call to reject oppressive systems.
19. “Our power is in our ability to make the world anew.”
This quote emphasizes the agency and potential of individuals to shape and transform the world around them, suggesting that true change lies in their hands.
20. “The demand for equality in human beings is only a demand for equality of opportunity.”
De Cleyre argues for equal opportunities for all individuals, recognizing that true equality can only be achieved when all have an equal chance to succeed.
21. “Anarchy is order.”
This quote challenges the common misconception that anarchy is synonymous with chaos, suggesting that true order can be achieved through voluntary cooperation and mutual aid.
22. “To think, to feel, to act – that is the life of the individual.”
De Cleyre emphasizes the importance of individual agency and expression, suggesting that true fulfillment lies in the exercise of one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions.
23. “Every act of love is a revolution in itself.”
This quote highlights the transformative power of love, suggesting that acts of compassion and empathy can bring about profound change in individuals and society.
FAQs about Voltairine De Cleyre
Q: Who was Voltairine De Cleyre?
A: Voltairine De Cleyre was an American anarchist writer, speaker, and activist who played a significant role in the late 19th and early 20th century anarchist movement.
Q: What were Voltairine De Cleyre’s beliefs?
A: De Cleyre was a proponent of anarchism and individualism. She advocated for the abolition of oppressive systems and the establishment of a society based on liberty and mutual aid.
Q: How did Voltairine De Cleyre contribute to the anarchist movement?
A: De Cleyre’s writings and speeches were influential in promoting anarchist ideas and inspiring individuals to question and challenge authority. She highlighted the importance of individual freedom, nonviolent resistance, and the power of collective action.
Q: What were some of Voltairine De Cleyre’s major works?
A: Some of De Cleyre’s notable works include “Anarchism and American Traditions,” “The Economic Tendency of Freethought,” and “Crime and Punishment.”
Q: How did Voltairine De Cleyre view women’s rights?
A: De Cleyre was a staunch advocate for women’s rights and recognized the need for active resistance to achieve true liberation. She believed that women must assert their own worth and demand equality.
Q: What was Voltairine De Cleyre’s perspective on violence?
A: De Cleyre was opposed to violence as a means of achieving social change. She advocated for nonviolent resistance and emphasized the importance of personal responsibility in the pursuit of justice.
In conclusion, Voltairine De Cleyre’s quotes offer profound insights into various aspects of life and society. Her ideas continue to inspire individuals seeking liberation, justice, and equality. Through her writings and speeches, De Cleyre remains a powerful voice in the anarchist movement, challenging oppressive systems and advocating for a society rooted in freedom and mutual aid.