Talk:Alexander Berkman

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Good article Alexander Berkman has been listed as one of the History good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
February 7, 2009 Good article nominee Listed

External Links[edit]

External link appears to be broken. The root link ( also appears to be broken. I won't delete it yet (in case its my ISP's crappy DNSing). 05:07, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Henry Clay Frick[edit]

i would be so pissed off if this retard came into my office and tried to kill me. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) April 2, 2006 9:08 (UTC)

So would I, but Henry Clay Frick was a product of his time, and probably would have hired Pinkertons to kill you. Pustelnik (talk) 15:38, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

"Radical anarchists"[edit]

Does anyone alse think that adding "radical" to the term "anarchist" is a bit redundant? It sounds like my right-wing history teacher talking about it. Murderbike (talk) 18:39, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree. If it isn't already there, "radical" should probably be on the list of Words to avoid. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 22:37, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
I removed them, and reworded a few more things as well. Anybody else bothered by the last line? It seems silly to put something like "ironically" in an encyclopedia, though I can't figure how to re-word that sentence. Murderbike (talk) 03:43, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
There's an editor whose stated mission is to go around fixing sentences that start with the word "Ironically". Rather than wait for him, I'll try to fix it myself. Smile.png Happy holidays. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 04:08, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Conflicting info about Berkman's conviction[edit]

Please see Talk:Emma_Goldman#Berkman.27s_conviction. Thanks. Kaldari (talk) 19:42, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Rockefeller bombing[edit]


An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject, but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. Note that undue weight can be given in several ways, including, but not limited to, depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements.

According to this section of the article, which is completely unsourced, Berkman may or may not have had something to do with the plot. Yet there are two paragraphs about the bombing. It's practically as long as the discussion of the Frick assassination attempt.

In the interest of accurately portraying Berkman's life, I think (a) allegations that Berkman was associated with the bombing plot need to be sourced and (b) the whole section needs to be pruned to a reasonable length. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 06:13, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Agreed, the second paragraph of the section especially needs to be edited down and perhaps merged with the first paragraph. And any statements that are not historical consensus need to state who is claiming them in the text. Kaldari (talk) 01:41, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
The material in the Rockefeller bombing is ALL sourced; it's all revealed in anarchist historian Paul Avrich's extensive research of the bombing as well as oral history interviews of anarchists who personally knew the parties involved - for those who care to inform themselves about it. Since Berkman was a key figure in the plot, it's hard to cut much more out of it without excising the key facts, but I tried. I find it humorous that my additions on the botched Attentat and Emma Goldman's horsewhipping of Johann Most go completely unremarked, but hey, list some added unsavory facts about a violent anarchist's involvement in a bombing, and everybody think's it's "unduly weighted". Please don't forget that 'propaganda by the deed' anarchists of that day like Luigi Galleani, unlike later communist activists, made little attempt to hide their pride in their right to attack 'capitalist' targets except as needed to avoid immediate arrest and prosecution. (talk) 00:44, 7 October 2008 (UTC) Don
Editor Malik Shabazz persists in removing all referenced facts concerning Louise Berger. Berger was Emma Goldman's and Alexander Berkman's close friend ("our great friend"), and editor at Mother Earth News. Specifically, he has a problem with Berkman's and Goldman's famous Manifesto, carried by Berger to Russia to read to Russian leaders (comrades). He's also removed references to her membership in the Lettish Anarchist Red Cross, references to her in the Emma Goldman article (now locked), even removing 'see also' links that would provide some insight on her life and role in Berkman's life during a critical period 1914-1917. Louise wasn't just some 'casual' acquaintance, but reading both the Goldman and Berkman articles, you wouldn't even know that they wrote a Manifesto to Russia at all. At least someone could create for Louise Berger a separate article page, and allow it to be linked to the Berkman article, i.e. Louise Berger?? (talk) 17:34, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
You don't understand the importance of staying on-topic. The anecdote about Louise Berger would be interesting in an article about Louise Berger. It has almost nothing to do with Berkman. And Wikilinking her name to Anarchist Black Cross is misleading. The appropriate link for her name is a red link. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 17:40, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
I think you're taking a view of 'off-topic' that in reality approaches POV editing, and has resulted, combined with your other efforts, in a quite 'sanitized' bio of both Berkman and Goldman, carefully shorn of all contacts they made over the years with shall we say, less-than-non-violent persons. But I'll call your not help us out and create a Louise Berger page for us? Please? Then we could add the material on Berger, and link it to Berkman with a nice BLUE link to Berger's name, which you would then allow to stand and not delete it, rather than removing a lot of research and work by those who have gone before? Would be grateful... (talk) 17:56, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
I think you're mistaken. I copy-edited what you left here about Berkman's involvement in the Rockefeller bombing. With respect to Russia, you finally crafted a paragraph that focused on Berkman instead of Berger. I fixed it for accuracy. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 18:09, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
As an FYI, Louise Berger was requested at WP:AFC and has been created. Please feel free to jump in and improve it! TNX-Man 14:00, 8 October 2008 (UTC)


Over the next few days, I'll be making some revisions to the article, adding some material to it, adding sources, and maybe correcting a few factual errors. Please bear with me while the article is under construction.

I'd like to get the article to Good article status. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 21:07, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

PS: Some portions of my revisions have been cribbed from Emma Goldman, because it didn't make sense to rewrite paragraphs that applied equally to both Berkman and Goldman. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 23:26, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Looks great so far; I don't think anyone will object if you want to make sweeping changes. Let us know if there's anything specific you want help with. Best, Skomorokh 03:35, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback. Things went quicker than I expected, and I think I'm finished for now. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 07:36, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Wait a minute, you can't just copy text verbatim from the Emma Goldman article and use it to replace sections here. That's a violation of the GFDL licensing (as the attribution history for that text has not been preserved). It also makes this article quite boring, as no one wants to read the exact same text twice. I feel strongly that those sections should be reverted to their previous content. Kaldari (talk) 16:20, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
And as another example of why it's a bad idea, someone has brought up concerns about the accuracy of the Homestead plot section of the Emma Goldman article. I came here to compare what this article said, but since it's the same text verbatim, there was nothing for me to learn. Also, this article now has the same inaccuracies as the Goldman article concerning the Homestead Plot (assuming some of the concerns brought up are legitimate). Kaldari (talk) 16:24, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't aware of the GFDL issue. I won't revert to the previous language, which in my opinion is inadequate, but I'll rewrite the relevant sections. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 18:07, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
I've rewritten the sections that I had copied from Emma Goldman. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 04:24, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. Kaldari (talk) 04:48, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
As some sections were still far too similar to the original wording in the Emma Goldman article, I have revised them further. There are still a few parts that need work, however. For example, the sentence which begins "Worse, Berkman's attentat had failed..." is still virtually identical to the sentence in Emma Goldman. Kaldari (talk) 19:10, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Death of Berkman[edit]

Yes it would be nice with some clarifications, but in her book May Picqueray only expressed doubts and she has not printed anything more precise on the matter. I know what she meant with her doubts. They implicated private life and had no political importance. Mio Nielsen-- (talk) 19:01, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Can you offer anything more specific? A quote from Picqueray's book would be most efficacious. Kaldari (talk) 19:04, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

It runs like this: "Le 28 juin 1936, je reçois un coup de fil d'Emma m'apprenant l'atroce, l'affreuse nouvelle, d'une voix brisée, à peine audible: Sacha venait de mourir. Dans une crise de dépression, il s'était tiré un coup de revolver. Le connaissant bien, je ne pouvais y croire et, aujourd'hui encore, si je pleure sa mort, un doute me tenaille le coeur." (My english is not safe enough to make a translation).

In her family we all knew what May thought about the death of Berkman, or rather: we knew what she knew about it. If she expressed it as a doubt in her book, it is - in my opinion -, because she still felt some obligations to be loyal... She had been a daily visitor in the home of Emma in St. Tropez, being engaged to typewrite a manuscript... She knew the couple very well. M.N.-- (talk) 16:49, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Thank you very much. Based on Google's translation, with my own tweaks:
On June 28, 1936, I received a phone call from Emma telling me the awful, terrible news, in a broken voice, barely audible: Sasha had died. In a bout of depression, he had fired a revolver. Knowing him well, I could not believe it and even today, if I mourn his death, doubt plagues [or torments] my heart.

A small correction of the translation: The french text says distinctly "fired a revolver on himself".-- (talk) 10:34, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Hmm. What do others make of this? — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 21:43, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Answer: A friend and anarchist historian, who had just written an article telling the usual version of the death of Berkman were very surprised when I told her what May meant with her doubts in her book. She knew the book well enough and told me that she had read the doubt-lines as being a bit fantastical and probably trying to implicate the police or some foreign CIA-KGB. She had, in consequence, never asked May about the meaning. She obviously believed me and were very pleased to have the information, but after a rapid afterthought she said: "I will never change my version of the death of Berkman". -- (talk) 06:40, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Hmmm, I would be more comfortable including it if it were discussed in a secondary source, rather than just a primary source. Otherwise, it feels a bit ORish to me. Kaldari (talk) 23:36, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Answer: I dont blame you feeling like that-- (talk) 09:49, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

For an encyclopedia article, I think having Goldman's thoughts concerning Berkman's death would be more appropriate. It's just a bit too out-on-a-limb for us to be the first source giving credence to May's doubts. If a magazine article or book ever deems it notable and credible enough to discuss, I think we would be safe to include it as well. Perhaps you should get in touch with the Fifth Estate magazine or some similar publication and see if they would be interested in delving into it further. Kaldari (talk) 16:22, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think it's WP:OR if we repeat somebody's opinion and cite it as such. I'm concerned that Picqueray is little known in the English-speaking world, her "doubts" are only hinted at and—as you say—we probably shouldn't be the first English language source to publish them. — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 22:45, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm going to remove the sentence for now, but I would encourage the editor who added it to try publicizing the issue elsewhere. If it gets some traction, I'm sure we can revisit the issue later. Kaldari (talk) 15:00, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

"Soviet use of violence"[edit]

I just removed reference to Berkman's supposed objection to "soviet use of violence" as this is overly broad. AB was opposed to broad use of terror after the revolution was secure and was opposed to the repression of anarchists. But certainly he supported some measure of violence to preserve the revolution from white Russians, as indicated in his statement in support of the Kronstadt rebels:

::White-guardist bands wish and may try to exploit this dissatisfaction in their own class interests. Hiding behind the workers and sailors they throw out slogans of the Constituent Assembly, of free trade, and similar demands.::::We Anarchists have long exposed the fiction of these slogans, and we declare to the whole world that we will fight with arms against any counter-revolutionary attempt, in coöperation with all friends of the Social Revolution and hand in hand with the Bolsheviki.::::Concerning the conflict between the Soviet Government and the workers and sailors, we hold that it must be settled not by force of arms, but by means of comradely agreement.:: GPRamirez5 (talk) 04:33, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Alexander Berkman/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

;GA promotion The article is now rated GA after a successful GA nomination. Points suggested for future improvement include rewriting and sourcing paragraphs copied from the Emma Goldman article, and finding the source of the watermarked image, File:Berkman with Frick (1892).jpg. Future peer review is advised before nomination for FA status. --Cast (talk) 05:14, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Last edited at 05:14, 7 February 2009 (UTC). Substituted at 07:10, 29 April 2016 (UTC)