La Iamo Longe For (Auld Lang Syne in Esperanto)

La plej bona traduko estas sendube tio de Reto Rossetti, kiu kutime troviĝas jene:

"La Iamo Longe For"
tradukis Reto Rossetti

1. La prakonatojn ĉu ni lasu
Velki el memor'?
Ĉu ni ne pensu kare pri
La iamo longe for?

(Rekantaĵo post ĉiu strofo)

Iamo longe for, karul',
Iamo longe for, karul'!
Ni trinku en konkordo pro
La iamo longe for!

2. La kruĉojn do ni levu kaj
Salutu el la kor',
Kaj trinku en konkordo pro
La iamo longe for!

3. Montete iam kuris ni
Kaj ĉerpis el la flor'
Sed penan vojon spuris ni
Post iamo longe for.

4. Geknabe ni en fluo vadis
Ĝis vespera hor'
Sed maroj muĝis inter ni
Post iamo longe for.

5. Do jen la mano, kamarad'!
Ni premu kun fervor',
Kaj trinku ni profunde pro
La iamo longe for!
Mi memoras la refrenon iom malsame, kaj mi ne eraras:
Iamo longe for, karul',
iamo longe for;
Ni trinku simpatie pro
la iamo longe for!

FONTO: La iamo longe for de Robert BURNS, elskotigis Reto ROSSETTI, Nica Literatura Revuo, 2/6, Julio-Aŭgusto 1957, p. 230.
Ekzistas ankaŭ antaŭa traduko, ne tiom bona:
Auld Lang Syne en Esperanto

Temas pri Pasintaj Tagoj, traduko de Achille Motteau.
Jen la kanzono kun aŭskultebla kantado:
La Iamo Longe For, skota kanto, originala teksto de R. Burns, traduko: R. Rossetti.

Iu ŝanĝis la refrenon, kiu legiĝas:

Iamo longe for, amik', iamo longe for,
Ni rememoru pri la temp', la iamo longe for! 
Fine, ne preterpasu ĉi tiun ĥoron; aŭskultu:
ipernity: Londono kantas - 18 - La iamo longe for - Londona Esperanto-Ĥoro - by Sonbanko Esperanta
Ĉiuokaze, ni trinku simpatie pro la iamo longe for . . .


Zamenhof-Simpozio at UNo, George Soros, & mi (9)

Jen pluaj raportoj pri la Zamenhof-simpozio en Novjorko la 15an de decembro.

De Zamenhof al Soros en Novjorko, Gazetaraj Komunikoj N-ro 405 (2010-12-17), Universala Esperanto-Asocio.

La saman raporton republikigis pluraj instancoj, ekz.

De Zamenhof al Soros en Novjorko - Novaĵoj 新闻 - 中国世界语网 www.Esperanto.cn 中国世界语门户网站 (2020-12-20)

Mondaj Skoltoj, kun angla traduko: George Soros visits  Esperanto symposium in New York (12/18/10)

Esperanto Movado: George Soros vizitas Esperanto-simpozion en Novjorko (2010-12-19, blogo, kun propraj fotoj)

Esperantic Studies Foundation: George Soros vizitas Esperanto-simpozion en Novjorko (2010-12-17)

La raporto el Libera Folio ripetiĝas ĉe El Popola Ĉinio (2010-12-20)

Estas malmulte ĉe sociretejo Ipernity: nur mallongaj anoncoj de Ralph Dumain kaj Neil Nachum.

Estas raporto en la portugala el Brazilo: DIA DE ZAMENHOF – COMEMORAÇÕES EM 2010 (20 Decembro 2010)

Mi raportis pri anglalingvaj novaĵoj en mia antaŭa blogero.

Zamenhof Symposium at UN, George Soros, & me (8)

Here is another news article in English:

Can you say 'Billionaire' in Esperanto?
China Daily, 2010-12-26

In the World Scouts newsgroup is an English translation accompanying a news article on the symposium:

George Soros visits  Esperanto symposium in New York (12/18/10)

This latter report, unlike the former, also reports on the four main speakers of the symposium including Esther Schor, who has been neglected in some of these reports.


Zamenhof & the new Jewish intellectual historiography (2)

The relevant documents by L. L. Zamenhof on Yiddish, Zionism, and the Jewish question are written in Yiddish, Russian, or Esperanto, and while there are Esperanto translations of most or all of the other writings, with the exception of a few letters, excerpts, or quotations everything in English is to be found in the scanty secondary literature in English. To get a picture of what Zamenhof was trying to accomplish, start here:

L.L. Zamenhof and the Shadow People: The Amazing Story of How Esperanto Came to Be by Esther Schor (2009)

Zamenhof and the Shadow People: video of presentation by Esther Schor, Zamenhof Symposium (15 December 2009)

There are revelant documents in Esperanto, Esperanto translation, and Yiddish on my web site:

Zamenhof & Zamenhofologio: Retgvidilo / Web Guide

For Zamenhof's conception of nationality in general, see:

International Language” (Universal Races Congress, 1911) by L. L. Zamenhof

 Now let's pick up where we left off in the previous post, and proceed to this article:

On the Idea of a Jewish Nation: Before and After Statism by David N. Myers, Perush, Volume 1, 2009

Myers find today's discourse about Jewish nationhood impoverished compared to the vigorous debates of a century ago:

I am intrigued by the once-vibrant ideological and theoretical debate of the early twentieth century that revolved around the idea of a Jewish nation. [. . . .] But our main task in the body of the paper will be to begin excavating a history of Jewish nationalism that has been somewhat forgotten, neglected, and at times, marginalized. I argue that there is in fact a common thread linking the theoretical poverty today and the partial narrative of Jewish nationalism that has been received: namely, the rise to dominance of one variant of Jewish nationalist ideology, what I call Statist Zionism.
One must of course determine at the outset what one means by nation. Myers begins with Renan, who centers the idea of nationhood around a spiritual principle. This notion was taken up by Simon Dubnow. Comparable contemporary constructivist notions of nationalism have been articulated by Ernest Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm, and Benedict Anderson. Here is how Myers summarizes the development of Jewish self-conceptions:
European Jews in the mid-nineteenth century, embedded in societies affirming their own sense of national integrity, labored to find the best way to name themselves. They described themselves as a confession of faith, a religious community, a community of fate (Schicksalsgemeinschaft), a tribe (Stamm). Later, toward the end of the century, they began to designate themselves more assertively as a nation. Throughout the early twentieth century, this language of Jewish nationhood was widespread among Jewish intellectuals, writers, and scholars, especially in Europe, though one of the characteristic features of this discursive moment was the considerable divergence over the ways in which the term was understood. Over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century, this mode of Jewish political discourse—marked by the ubiquitous use of the language of “nation,” alongside an obsessive need to name the collective—began to dissipate. Since that time, and up to the present, there has been relatively little meditation about the nature of Jewish collectivity, especially when compared to the golden age of ideological contestation that extended from 1897 to 1939.
Myers goes on to supply an explanation for the dissipation of this ideological contestation, and how it narrowed into the prevailing statism, which he now wishes to contest. But returning to the historical period that interests me:
So rather than begin in 1897 with the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland and then look forward to the inevitable creation (predicted by Theodor Herzl) of a Jewish state and again backward to the established “precursors of Zionism” (Alkalay, Kalischer, Hess, etc.) as they are known in Zionist historiography, I propose a somewhat less linear recounting that consists of the following chapters: first, a mid- to late-nineteenth-century phase in which Jews began to debate what to call themselves as a collective; second, a period that I’ll call the “golden age of Jewish nationalism,” commencing indeed in 1897, but highlighting less the historical inevitability of Statism and more the common commitment of Jewish nationalist movements to culture; and third, a phase in which rights of Jews as a national minority became a focus of international attention.
Myers begins with the French revolution and the subsequent re-definition of Jewish identity with respect to Jewish emancipation and loyal citizenship in the countries in which Jews lived. In 1869, Adolf Jellinek introduced a notion we might call ethnicity but which he called Stamm, or tribe, more suited to the conditions of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Then there was the Jewish rebellion against the thrust of a new configuration of anti-Semitism in the 1870s-80s, when the term "anti-Semitism" itself was launched. Into the Berlin Antisemitismusstreit of 1879-1881 comes the 1879 lecture by the German-Jewish philosopher and psychologist Moritz Lazarus, “Was heißt National?” In 1897, Ahad Ha-am, whose focus was cultural renewal, represented a dissenting view from the vision of Theodor Herzl that won the day. The Austro-Marxist (not identified by Myers as such) Social Democrats Otto Bauer and Karl Renner endeavored to disaggregate the notions of nation and state. Note Renner's notion of national cultural autonomy. And note the connection to Bundism:
On this view, it was not the state or territory or even race (in its biological sense) that made a nation, but, in the first instance, culture. Of course, we cannot forget the powerful class dimension in the Bund’s agenda, which added a deterministic quality to its view of Jewish nationalism. But it is the nexus between nation and culture that linked the Bund, in its 1905 platform, to the Folkspartay founded by Simon Dubnow in St. Petersburg a year later. Although the two parties disagreed over the question of socialism, they both agitated for the right of Jews to preside over their own cultural affairs, in their own language, Yiddish. In fact, it was that latter point that prompted the convening of an assembly of intellectuals and writers in Czernowitz a few years later in 1908—one hundred years ago (and now being marked with several centennial conferences). Amidst a typically discordant group of Jews, the conference demanded equal rights for Yiddish, but could not agree on declaring Yiddish “the national language of the Jewish people.” Instead, it opted for the formulation “a national language,” in recognition of the potent claims that Hebrew too deserved recognition as such.
One should compare this to Zamenhof's notion that a people is defined by language and religion.

Myers continues discussing Bundism (a phenomenon that merits sustained study), and summarizes:
. . .  there was a consequential debate among a growing and influential group of European Jews regarding the essence, preferred form, and desired venue of the Jewish nation in the first two decades of the twentieth century. It was not only Zionists, Autonomists, and Bundists, but also Territorialists of Israel Zangwill’s ilk and even the Agude, the Orthodox Agudat Yisrael, which arose formally in 1912 as a pan-national traditionalist alternative to secular nationalism. 
This is the debate that was cast down the memory hole by victorious statism. But continuing on, World War I and the subsequent reterritorialization spurred a new round of debate. Not mentioned by Myers: Zamenhof circulated his proposal to the world's diplomats on the post-war political order in 1915 and died in 1917, so he wasn't a party to the debates of 1919 and the 1919 peace conference where national minority rights were on the table. 

There is some debate on the ideological terrain in the interwar period, including the question of the definitive triumph of statism.  But if not earlier, the Extraordinary Zionist Conference at the Biltmore Hotel in 1942 sealed the deal. (Note that Hitler's Final Solution, formulated in 1941, was in macabre full throttle by 1942.)

Thus Myers seeks to resuscitate this complex ideological history drowned in the historical narrative instituted by victorious statism. And it is this history, apart from Myers and co.'s presentist political concerns, that is vital to understand, in general and in relationship to Zamenhof's lifelong struggle with the Jewish question. While Zamenhof is discussed in the context of Jewish intellectual historiography, I have not yet ascertained whether this recent turn in the historiography of Jewish nationalism has visibly incorporated Zamenhof into its narrative, and, lacking the recent scholarly books written on Zamenhof in Esperanto, German, and possibly other languages that slip my mind (but not English), I do not know how thoroughly this vein of scholarship has penetrated Zamenhofology. The interpenetration of these two foci of scholarship has got to be made to happen, above all in the English-speaking world.

Zamenhof & the new Jewish intellectual historiography (1)

First, a list of references:

Clash Of Zionisms In Academia
(Group of scholars pressing idea of cultural Zionism, amid pushback)
[review of a recent conference & of Noam Pianko's Zionism and the Roads Not Taken: Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn]
by Eric Herschthal
The Jewish Week (New York), June 23, 2010

On the Idea of a Jewish Nation: Before and After Statism by David N. Myers, Perush, Volume 1, 2009

David N. Myers, Dept. of History, UCLA

Michael Berkowitz, Review of Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, Reviews in History, review no. 973, 21 December 2010

My Articles | Noam Pianko, Professor of Jewish History, University of WA

David N. Myers’ “Between Jew & Arab: The Lost Voice of Simon Rawidowicz” by Jeremiah Haber, The Magnes Zionist (blog), June 2, 2009

When I say the new Jewish historiography, I mean, before anything else, new to me. It is, however, quite contemporary, judging from Herschthal. These scholars whom I am just encountering are deeply dissatisfied with Israel in its current state and are retracing their historical steps to uncover a variegated intellectual history prior to the hammering of history into a party line in conformity with the statism that congealed in Zionism in the 1940s. This means the highlighting of the cultural Zionism that was defeated by statism.

These authors appear to be historically scrupulous, not merely reshaping historiography to serve contemporary political needs in a crude instrumentalist fashion. They also are rethinking the nature of Jewish peoplehood from deep within that cultural milieu. Outsiders would of course not feel this weight in the process of pursuing identical research in the history of ideas, and perhaps they would see the political impetus connected with these scholars' work as ill-conceived or futile. However, if there is any way out of the current situation, those Jewish scholars emotionally connected to Israel will have to struggle their way into the future in their own terms, as part of the total process.

The most striking example among the authors of the articles listed above is Haber, a self-described Orthodox Jew with a heavy investment in Israel, with which he is now disgusted. One anonymous commenter stated the problem starkly: "I think that cultural Zionists lost ground to political Zionists since they were dealing with illusions while political Zionists were dealing with reality." But if you look at the debates outlined by Herschthal, you could also conclude that the conceptual basis for reforming the Zionist project is futile. Specific issues regarding Israeli policies and the treatment of Palestinian Arabs may be obvious and discussable within the cultural framework, but there is a deeper, absent discussion on the fundamental relation between cultural (trans)formation and political economy that suggests that this historiographical debate is trapped within ideological superstructures that were responsible for the illusions that gripped idealistic Jewish intellectuals a century ago.

It may be that these scholars, in reaching for an old perspective as a way to cope with a contemporary political impasse, are engaging in an illusory project, but as long as the scholarship on the past is sound, it can be very useful. By contrast, Berkowitz's review of Shlomo Sand highlights the dangers of reckless instrumentalization of the past in order to dislodge the reigning ideology of the present. Berkowitz finds Sand a shoddy scholar and a vulgarizer of far more exacting predecessors.

My project is really about understanding the evolution of social theory and is not immediately connected to contemporary politics except insofar as current exigencies oversimplify the historical trajectory that got us here. I am interested in two things:

(1) How did Jewish intellectuals conceptualize peoplehood in the last third of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th?

(2) How did social theorists—Marxists and others—conceptualize the nature of Jewish peoplehood in this same time span?

The upshot is the question whether social theory, from within or without the Jewish intelligentsia, had advanced in this time span to the point where it could adequately encapsulate the anomalous group cohesion of central and Eastern European Jews.

Now I want to introduce two of my bibliographies:

L. L. Zamenhof & the Cultural, Religious, Professional & Political Context of 19th-20th Century Eastern European Jewish Intellectuals: Selected Bibliography

Marxism & the Jewish Question: Selected Bibliography 

These reflect the interplay between the two questions I have posed, with the specific addition of the perspective of L. L. Zamenhof.  Zamenhof is best known as the creator of Esperanto; however, he passed through a number of other projects: Zionism, reform of Yiddish, reform of Judaism (Hillelism), and eventually a religious project (Homaranismo) transcending Judaism per se.  All along the line Zamenhof put forth bold conceptions of what did or would (re-)make of Jews a people.


Lejb Malaĥ pri Misisipi: de la jida al Esperanto

Antaŭ pli ol jaro mi skanis & enretigis la jenan:

Misisipi de Lejb Malaĥ (1894-1936) (Antaŭparolo & Biografio)

Poste mi kopodis iom esplori pli pri Malaĥ en la angla lingvo. Oni povas legi ĉi tiun jidan dramon en Esperanto sed ne en la angla. Unu mia precipa rimedo informi al diversaj anglalingvaj publikoj estas verki pri historiaj, kulturaj, literaturaj, aŭ filozofiaj temoj en rilato kun Esperanto.

Do finfine mi ĵus verkis anglalingvan blogeron (tuj antaŭe) ĉi-teme.

Malaĥ restis aŭ vojaĝis en diversaj landoj de Pollando ĝis Argentino ĝis Usono ĝis Palestino ĝis Francio. Li vekis publikan konscion pri la juda sklaviga sekskomerco en Argentino en 1926 per sia dramo Ibergus (Remuldado). Lia lasta publika verko estis Misisipi, kiun oni tradukis el la jida en la hebrean kaj laŭraporte la francan. En 1934/5 oni ludis la teatraĵon pli ol 300 fojojn en Pollando.

La esperantisto I. Jurysta priskribas en la antaŭparolo siajn motivojn por la traduko. Li forte kondamnas la usonan rasapartigan sistemon kaj la persekutadon de usonaj negroj. Li montras la klasbatalan perspektivon. Inter alia, li diras:
Tradukinte tiun ĉi verketon el la juda lingvo Esperanten, mi celas per ĝi montri la fratecan kunsenton kaj simpation de subpremata kaj persekutata popolo al samsorte malamata raso. Miaopinie, ĝuste en la nuna epoko, kiam la ĉiondetruanta faŝismo kaj naciismo penas disigi la homaron per incitado de plej malnoblaj instinktoj de popol‑ kaj rasmalamo, necesas pli ol ĉiam vekadi la klaskonscian solidarsenton inter ĉiuj laboruloj de ĉiuj rasoj sur la tuta terglobo por detrui per komunaj fortoj kaj bari la vojon al la freneziĝanta rasismo.
Ĉi tiun Jurysta verkis en 1939, sojle de la mondmilito. Post ses jaroj, lia popolo kaj kulturo estus ekstermitaj. Post aldonaj 20 jaroj, la usona rasapartiga sistemo estus leĝe renversata.

Do mi kaptas la okazon rememorigi la verkiston Malaĥ, kaj ni fieru ke oni konservas spurojn de lia vivo per Esperanto.

(Dekstre: Lejb Malaĥ)

A Yiddish play you can read in Esperanto but not in English

I'm talking about . . .

"Misisipi" de Lejb Malaĥ (1894-1936) (Antaŭparolo & Biografio) 

The foreword and biographical sketch, written in Esperanto, taken from this 1939 Esperanto translation, can be found on this web page. I have yet to find much about this play in English. Here's a tidbit:
Leib Malach (Malekh or Malaj; b. 1894 Zvolin, Poland; d. 1936 Paris) was the pseudonym of Leib Zaltsman; Malach, his mother's first husband's surname, means “angel” in Hebrew. During World War I he published his first literary pieces, a ballad in the Warsaw Yiddish daily Varshever Togblat. In 1922, Malach moved to Argentina, and in 1926, he traveled throughout South America and settled for a year and a half in Brazil. Malach's last play to be produced during his lifetime, Mississippi, was translated into Hebrew, French and Esperanto.
SOURCE: Yiddish South of the Border: An Anthology of Latin American Yiddish Writing; edited by Alan Astro, with an introduction by Ilan Stavans (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003), p. 92.
Here you can also find an excerpt from Malach's play "Remolding" (pp. 92-98). See also Jacob Botoshanski, Director's Prologue to Leib Malach's play "Remolding" (pp. 89-91). (This anthology's table of contents can be easily viewed and copied, here.)

There is a paragraph on Malach in the Jewish Virtual Library.

You can learn more about Malach's incendiary works in The Jewish White Slave Trade and the Untold Story of Raquel Liberman by Nora Glickman. Malach's 1926 play Ibergus (Remolding) was instrumental in combating the Jewish white slave trade in Buenos Aires and ejecting the sex trade underworld from the Yiddish theater.

Here is more on this scandalous commerce and its spillover into the Yiddish theater:

Caftens, Kurvehs, and Stille Chuppahs: Jewish Sex Workers and their Opponents in Buenos Aires, 1890-1930 by Mir Yarfitz (Perush, Vol. 2, 2010)

Here is more background on Remolding:

The King of Lampedusa and Remolding by Joel Berkowitz

Farmitlung and Shtadlones in Latin American Yiddish Literature by Alan Astro

Here is an abbreviated introduction to Astro's anthology:

Seeking Mameloshn Down South by Ilan Stavans

If you can read Spanish, you're in luck:

Nora Glickman, “Regeneración” de Leib Malach y la trata de blancas, Buenos Aires: Pardés, 1984.

Otherwise, you'll have to read Malach's works in the Yiddish originals.

There are additional biographical details accompanying the Esperanto translation Misisipi. In 1934 or 1935 this play was performed on more than 300 occasions in the major theaters of Poland (I assume in the Yiddish original.) The play was also translated into Hebrew.

The Esperanto translator, I. Jurysta, sets the stage by portraying the horrendous conditions under which Black Americans live in the Jim Crow South, including the rule of lynch-law. The play itself is based on the real-life "Scottsboro Boys" case of the 1930s. Jurysta is unsparing in his indictment of white racism and the capitalist system, as he is perplexed by the rising tide of fascism and nationalism in Europe.
Translating this work from the Yiddish language into Esperanto, I aim to demonstrate the fraternal fellow-feeling and sympathy of a suppressed and persecuted people for a hated race undergoing the same fate. (My translation)
Malach died in 1936. The translator wrote these lines in 1939. Within six years, the Jewish population of Eastern Europe would be exterminated and its culture with it. It would take an additional 20 years for the passage of civil rights legislation in the USA to begin to put an end to Jim Crow.
The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.

— Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”, 1940


Zamenhof Symposium at UN, George Soros, & me (7)

Video by Verlette Simon

00:00-00:32: Ralph Dumain salutas Gary Shapiro-n
                          = Ralph Dumain greets Gary Shapiro
00:33-00:47: Humphrey Tonkin laŭtlegas el memuaro
                             de Tivadar Soros
                          = Humphrey Tonkin reads aloud from memoir by
                             Tivadar Soros
00:47-02:52: George Soros rakontas pri sia infaneco kun
                             patro Tivadar
                          = George Soros reminisces about his childhood &
                             his father Tivadar
02:53-03:29: fotado de la prelegintoj & organizintoj
                          = photo op with Soros, the speakers, & organizers


Zamenhof Symposium at UN, George Soros, & me (3)

Here is a video from the Dec. 15 Zamenhof symposium at the UN:

George Soros on his father Teodoro/Tivadar & the Esperanto publishing house "Literatura Mondo" /
George Soros pri patro Teodoro-Literatura Mondo

See photos in Albums / Jen fotoj en albumoj:

Zamenhof to Soros Symposium 2010: 116 photos / fotoj
Soros Z-Simpozio: 13 photos / fotoj

Here is one photo / Jen ekzemplo:

Today on the web! / Ĵus aperis:

Esperanto, the 'Worldwide Yiddish'
By Gary Shapiro
The Jewish Daily Forward
December 21, 2010

I am featured prominently in this article.


George Soros parolas pri Esperanto en 2008

Jen diskuto de 22 sept-o 2008 pri publika diraĵo de Soros pri Esperanto:

George Soros parolas pri Esperanto

Mi supozas do, ke interesas George ne Esperanto, sed memoro de lia patro. Tamen, estas impona historio, ĉu ne?

Zamenhof-Simpozio at UNo, George Soros, & mi (2)

Jen pluaj raportoj, en Esperanto.

George Soros ĉeestis simpozion de UEA, Libera Folio, 2010-12-18.

Oni trovas ĉi tie detalojn pri Soros kaj klarigojn de Humphrey Tonkin, sed ankaŭ menciojn pri Ralph Dumain kaj Sam Green.

Ĉi tio sekvas la raporton de Esperantic Studies Foundation:

George Soros vizitas Esperanto-simpozion en Novjorko (2010-12-17)

Jen ankaŭ:

Kiel diri "miliardulo" en Esperanto?, traduko de artikolo de ALISON LEIGH COWAN, New York Times, ĉe Libera Folio, 2010-12-18.

Estas ankaŭ raporteto ĉe Ipernity:

Zamenhof Simpozio en Novjorko de neil_nachum (17 Dec 2010)


Zamenhof Symposium at UN, George Soros, & me (1)

15 December 2010

(From the left / de maldekstre): Sam Green, Ralph Dumain, Humphrey Tonkin, George Soros, Françoise Cestac (former Assistant General Secretary of the UN / eksa Asista Ĝenerala Sekretario de UN), Esther Schor, Neil Blonstein, Jonathan Soros.

I was the second speaker at From Zamenhof to Soros: A Symposium held at the United Nations on 15 December, Zamenhof's birthdate.

Esther Schor spoke about Zamenhof's perspectives on the future short-term and long-term.

My topic was "Esperanto, Washington, and the World in 1910", a thematic presentation of the various interests represented at the first Esperanto Congress outside of Europe and Zamenhof's only visit to the United States, with the novel addition of the missing perspective, that of African Americans in Jim Crow America. I introduced the public to major civil rights leader, classics scholar, and the first known African-American Esperantist, William Pickens.

Sam Green presented the rough cut of a new half-hour documentary on Esperanto, continuing the utopian theme presented in his previous documentary Utopia in Four Movements, with more interview material of contemporary Esperantists and film footage of Esperanto conferences in the 20th century.

Humphrey Tonkin spoke about Tivadar Soros, who changed his name from Theodore Schwartz (in Esperanto Teodoro Ŝvarc), key Esperanto publisher of the interwar period and survivor of both a World War I POW camp and Nazi-occupied Hungary, each the subject of a memoir published in Esperanto. ("Soros" in Esperanto means "to soar".) The latter memoir, Maskerado Ĉirkaŭ la Morto, which I read in the original Esperanto 40 years ago, was translated into English as Masquerade some years ago. Soros' 1923 memoir Modernaj Robinzonoj is newly published in English translation as Crusoes in Siberia along with another piece "The Fairest Judgment". Dr. Tonkin spoke at length about Soros' trek from Siberia to Moscow, his character, achievements as a writer and publisher and the circumstances of publication of these memoirs. (For political reasons, he could not have published the Siberian memoir in Hungarian).

Following the formal program, the son of Tivadar, the famous billionaire George Soros, arrived to accept the presentation of his father's memoir in English translation. He spoke warmly about his father and shared some childhood memories. George's son Jonathan was also present. Immediately thereafter the photos you see were taken.

Also introduced at this symposium was another book just off the press from Mondial Books, Zamenhof: The Life, Works and Ideas of the Author of Esperanto by Aleksander Korzhenkov, an abridgment of the original biography published in Esperanto.

So far in the American press we have this news item from the New York Times: How Do You Say 'Billionaire' (Soros) in Esperanto? by Alison Leigh Cowan (Dec 16, 2010).

Other reports have surfaced in English and Esperanto, mostly on Facebook. This report is bilingual: George Soros vizitas Esperanto-simpozion en Novjorko (December 18, 2010).

Also in Esperanto we have this report published by Esperanta Civito: Soros ĉe Zamenhof-Tago en Nov-Jorko (18 Dec 2010).


Universal Races Congress of 1911 & L. L. Zamenhof

Decades ago I read the conference proceedings in hard copy, but now they are online, and hopefully complete:

Papers on Inter-Racial Problems, Communicated to the First Universal Races Congress, Held at the University of London, July 26-29, 1911; edited by Gustav Spiller. London: P. S. King & Son; Boston: The World’s Peace Foundation, 1911. xlvi, 485 pp.

Included in these papers is the English text of Zamenhof's contribution, which was originally submitted in Esperanto and in French. Sometime in the 1970s I read the entire proceedings cover to cover, and there were few contributions that impressed me, foremost among them an essay by W.E.B. Du Bois on the racial situation in the USA. But perhaps now I would be more historically perceptive.

I decided to look this up, as earlier today I read the Esperanto version in Zamenhof's Originala Verkaro (1929, pp. 345-353). This time I paid reasonably close attention to Zamenhof's reasoning, which while flawed, is interesting, esp. in juxtaposition with his writings elsewhere on the Jewish question. Oddly, Zamenhof is well aware of existing social conditions (though teeth-grindingly ill-informed about Africa) and is unsparing in demystifying the entirely bogus basis on which racial and ethnic discrimination is based, and yet remains—so it seems—obtuse to certain aspects of the driving forces which maintain them. The climax of Zamenhof's argument—the key to its fundamental structure—can be found in this paragraph:

All that I have said justifies us in formulating this principle: The diversity of peoples and the hatred of each other which they betray will not wholly disappear from the face of the earth until humanity has but one language and one religion. Then in truth will the whole of humanity form one single people. Then there may, indeed, still be the various kinds of discord which are now found within the confines of every country and every people, such as political and economic discords, or those of conflicting parties or classes, and so on, but the most formidable of all discords, the mutual hatred of peoples, will have entirely disappeared.
This follows upon the logic of Zamenhof's argument wherein he purports to explain the governing factors behind interethnic & interracial enmity, discounting most of the usual justifications. It is a curious argument, with a number of suppressed premises. Here is one revealing passage:
Can we say, for instance, that so many millions of poor Russians hate the millions of poor Chinese on economic grounds, when they shed their blood so willingly to defend their Russian oppressors against the attacks of foreigners? Assuredly not, for the Russian soldier knows very well, when he kills a Chinese soldier, that the man would never do him as much harm as the "mailed fist" of his own compatriots. It is not economic causes that give rise to national hatreds.
I do not know how keen a sense of irony Zamenhof possessed. When you read this paragraph with care, and in context, you may find it as amazing as I do, for what Zamenhof doesn't say as for what he does. He never follows up on this scenario, never answers the question: if poor Russian cannon fodder know full well their Russian oppressors are far more harmful to them to Chinese peasants they are willing to slaughter with gusto, and if underlying motivations for this situation are not economic, then what are they? Zamenhof's argument is that only language and religion ultimately keep people apart. (Note also that Zamenhof also interjects the Jewish question, which is the key to everything he wrote, into his exposition.) This is truly an amazing line of argument, because while it doesn't hold up to scrutiny, it constitutes a backhanded slap in the face to the actual sociopolitical conditions that Zamenhof seeks to combat, combining both political awareness and political self-censorship in a single line of reasoning.

Two decades later, Zamenhof's daughter Lidia would pursue a comparable agenda in the USA, promoting both Esperanto and the Baha'i religion (rather than Zamenhof's homaranismo), with the noblest of intentions but with identical social ineffectuality. There is also, I should add, at least an iota of documentation on Lidia's connection with black Bahai's who learned Esperanto in the USA in the 1930s.

It would also be instructive to compare Zamenhof's moral idealism and world view with two other participants in the 1911 Congress: Felix Adler, conference organizer and founder of the Ethical Culture movement, akin to Zamenhof's homaranismo, and Israel Zangwill, originator of the term "melting pot" (which he applied not only to the condition of immigrants in the USA, but ultimately to the whole world), proto-Zionist, and advocate of the Jewish contribution to world civilization in books and numerous essays published in every venue imaginable, including the African-American press, with frequent mentions of Zamenhof and Esperanto.

*     *     *

It is useful to compare this essay to Zamenhof's writings (originally in Russian) on the Jewish question— Hilelismo etc. Zamenhof is quite soberly hard-headed and realistic; he's a debunker and demystifier of then-accepted notions of race, ethnicity, nationality, or what some scholars today call "imagined communities". His remark about powerless poor people killing one another in service to the rich and powerful is an illustration of his realism, and remains, sadly, an entirely contemporary issue. It is curious, though, that he doesn't follow through on the logic of this scenario. He argues that all other social conflicts will remain, but were people to find a common bridge language and bridge religion, at least interethnic hatreds could be eliminated. There are some big "if"s here and dubious "then"s, which reveal the essential limitations of Zamenhof's social perspective. (I would argue the same for Adler and Zangwill.) If I were to recommend explaining how Zamenhof thought while standing on one foot, this is the paragraph I would cite.

Zamenhof references the Jewish question in the course of his argument. He explains his position on this more fully in his Hillelist writings, as he ponders all the variables which hold the imagined community of Jews together. Zamenhof ruthlessly demystifies all the usual explanations. His skepticism is quite remarkable. He supplies arguments about what holds other peoples together—Germans, Poles, Russians, etc. He argues that language and religion are what hold peoples together. He is skeptical about both as applies to the Jews: he gave up his reformed Yiddish project, and as a nonbeliever thought it pointless to continue to be martyred for a religion one no longer believes in. So there's a real dilemma, the proposed solution of which ends up being Esperanto + hilelismo/homaranismo as a vehicle for modernizing the ghettoized Eastern European Jews.

There were theoretical interventions on this question in other circles—particularly in the social democratic movement (Marxist) of central Europe, and later in Russia on the part of Stalin. Noteworthy here is the difficulty of defining the cohesive forces binding the Jewish people as compared to any other nationality of central and Eastern Europe. Politically, these issues were parceled out among assimilationists, Zionists, Bundists, Marxist social-democrats, and Bolsheviks. Ultimately, nothing turned out as anyone anticipated in Zamenhof's lifetime. Theoretically, there were individuals in the anti-Stalinist left who attempted to carry on. For example, Abram Leon, a Jewish Trotskyist, wrote a book on the subject circa 1940, and ended up perishing in Auschwitz. In recent decades, there have appeared retrospective works on these developments, pointing up the theoretical inadequacies of previous formulations.

So it is understandable how difficult it was for Zamenhof to struggle with the theoretical as well as the practical question. This applies also to the Esperanto workers' movement, whose anarchist (sennaciista) and Stalinist intellectuals were, as far as I can tell, no more sophisticated than their krokodilaj counterparts.

I can't get into this in my upcoming half-hour talk, but I have to keep it in mind when thinking of how Zamenhof encountered the USA in 1910. The USA presented a whole different scenario from Europe, and as millions of Eastern European Jews voted with their feet, ending up in the USA, there remains something else to be examined—i.e. Zamenhof's interactions with Jewish immigrants and their spawn in the USA.

*     *     *

The American situation of course could not be captured by the European conception of nationality. This applies also to the situation of black Americans. While the concept of "race" has certainly been the dominant organizing principle—conceptually as well as in practice—there have nonetheless been several theories attempting to explain how race works in the USA and elsewhere. A decade ago when I was researching this and assisting someone in a doctoral dissertation on this subject, I could have rattled off most of these theories. My memory is rusty at this point, though.

I'll just note that the Stalinist conception of nationality was imported into the American Communist Party in 1928, leading to some curious results, first in labeling American's apartheid system as a national question, and secondly, in formulating a policy that had no relationship to actual political practice or prospects. When James W. Ford was placed on the ballot as the Communist Vice Presidential candidate in 1932, probably the first such black candidate from any political party in the USA, the party's platform included the creation of a Negro republic in the Southern states with a predominantly black population. There was even a map indicating the relevant territory on campaign posters. It was an avant-garde position for the time and totally divorced from reality as well as from the actual practice of the Communist Party, which consistently fought for integration.

This was entirely opposite to the contemporaneous nationalist separatism of Marcus Garvey, who wanted to make a deal with the Ku Klux Klan on the basis of shared goals, one of them being emigration to / colonization of Africa. Ultimately, notions like these would resurface decades later.

The punchline, though, is that the American configuration of race and ethnicity and the quasi-caste system in place did not mirror the nationality question in central Europe or the Russian empire.

The Jewish question in Europe did not fit comfortably into the European national paradigm either, practically or theoretically. Theory and policy  don't always run parallel, as not every political position elaborates a complementary theory, though implicitly there are differential world views at work. The socialist Bundists for example militantly opposed Zionism but lobbied for cultural (not political) autonomy in Eastern Europe, a notion that was shot down by the Bolsheviks. The Nazis took care of the rest. There is a substantial amount of scholarship on Bundism still going on: see bundism.net.

The ethnicity question viz. the new European immigrants was fought out in the USA a century ago, both by pro-immigrant and anti-immigrant factions among non-immigrants (i.e. WASPs and others of Northwestern European extraction), and by intellectuals among the new immigrant groups, e.g. Israel Zangwill's "melting pot" vs Horace Kallen's conservative ethnopluralism.

It is also noteworthy that there have been ideological conflicts of this sort throughout the history of Esperanto. The implications of Zamenhof's own position, which after all grew out of the conditions of the Czarist empire, require a fair amount of analysis. It is not immediately apparent either what "internationalism" implies, and it was opposed by sennaciismo (anationalism), which in turn finds its polar opposite in etnismo. And then there's the ridiculous position of Giorgio Silfer (one incarnation of raŭmismo), culminating in the supremely ridiculous Esperanta Civito. (I'm a minister in the Esperanta Respubliko, but the less said about that, the better.) The nation-state still being the pivotal determining variable in language policy puts the kabosh on both sennaciismo and etnismo. As for the rest, the social organization of economics and technology as well as where history has left us determine what is going to happen internationally, and the pretensions of the mainstream Esperanto movement both to universalize the role of Esperanto as medium of international communication and to conserve national/ethnic languages and language rights within the boundaries of the nation-state are, to put it as politely as possible, quixotic. What remains unquestionably practical about Esperanto is its niche as a voluntary international speech community, which is nothing to sneeze at.

*     *     *

The fragments above were written on 4 December 2010. I have digitized the Esperanto version of Zamenhof's contribution:

Gentoj kaj Lingvo Internacia (1911) de L. L. Zamenhof

Gentoj kaj Lingvo Internacia (1911) de L. L. Zamenhof

Jen la retligo por:

Papers on Inter-Racial Problems,Communicated to the First Universal Races Congress, Held at the University of London, July 26-29, 1911 edited by Gustav Spiller (1911)

. . . kiu enhavas la anglalingvan version de la kontribuo de Zamenhof al la Universala Kongreso pri Rasoj de 1911. Mi ne trovis la esperantan version interrete, do mi mem skanis kaj enretigis ĝin:

Gentoj kaj Lingvo Internacia (1911) de L. L. Zamenhof

Mi jam komentis pri ĉi tio anglalingve. Mi ne ripetos mian argumenton nun, sed, relegante la tekston, mi perceptas en la argumento de Zamenhof multe da ironio, eĉ se senintenca. Jen ŝlosila ĉerpaĵo:

Ĉu efektive pro kaŭzoj ekonomiaj ekzemple la milionoj da rusaj malriĉuloj malamas la milionojn da ĥinaj malriĉuloj dum, por defendi siajn rusajn premantojn kontraŭ fremduloj, ili tiel volonte verŝas sian sangon? Kompreneble ne, ĉar la rusa soldato, mortigante ĥinan soldaton, scias tre bone, ke tiu ĉi lasta neniam farus al li tiom da malbono, kiom lia samgenta “pugno”. Sekve ne kaŭzoj ekonomiaj kreas la intergentan malamon.
En la senmistifikigaj asertoj pri raso, klimato, ktp., Zamenhof celas senmaskigi pretekstojn de konflikto kaj antipatio, t.e. pruvi ties malraciecon. Sed eĉ malracia preteksto povus esti kaŭzo, aŭ, kiel implicas en la Zamenhofa argumento, simptomo de kaŭzo ne nomita. Fine, en la supre citita rezono, Zamenhof prezentas puzlon kiu restas en sia argumento enigmo. Zamenhof ne blagas, sed oni povus legi ĉi tiun aferon ĉi tiel.

Strange, Zamenhof konkludas, ke la fundamentaj kaŭzaj faktoroj estas lingvo kaj religio, ĉar temas liaopinie pri la fundamentaj psikaj aŭ fremdigaj ligiloj de homaj grupoj. Do ĉi tiuj du facetoj de socio/kulturo estas abstraktigitaj kiel fundamentaj sociaj motoroj. Sed estas strange en la kazo de lingvo, kio estas diferenciga faktoro same kiel iu ajn do povus esti fundamente neŭtrala same kiel Zamenhof argumentas pri fizika tipo, klimato, ktp. Kompreneble, religio neniam estas neŭtrala, sed oni devas ekkoni la historian, socipolitikan enradikiĝon de religiaj institucioj por kompreni la fonton de religiaj ideologioj kaj rilataj sociaj konfliktoj. Ĉiam Zamenhof pensas pri baroj al interkomunikado kaj interkompreniĝo, do li obsedas pri lingvo kaj religio, kvazaŭ tiel oni subfosus la aliajn pretekstojn de socia konflikto.

La kerno de la tuta Zamenhofa ideologio troviĝas jene:
La intergenta diseco kaj malamo plene malaperos en la homaro nur tiam, kiam la tuta homaro havos unu lingvon kaj unu religion; ĉar tiam la tuta homaro en efektiveco prezentos nur unu genton. Daŭros tiam en la homaro tiuj diversaj malpacoj, kiuj regas interne de ĉiu lando kaj gento, kiel ekzemple malpacoj politikaj, partiaj, ekonomiaj, klasaj k.t.p.; sed la plej terura el ĉiuj malpacoj, la malamo intergenta, tute malaperos.
La blindeco de ĉi tiu skemo estas mirinda, sed notu la logikan ordigon de sociaj konceptoj fare de Zamenhof.

Vere, kiam Zamenhof alvenis Usonon, li ne komprenis tute novan socimedion. Post du jardekoj, kiam filino Lidia enmigris Usonon, ŝi pensis sekvi esence la saman logikon, sed per Bahaismo anstataŭ homaranismo. Bahaismo iomete utilis en la usona kunteksto, sole pro ĝia interrasa inkluzivema politiko, sed kompreneble kaj Esperanto kaj Bahaismo estas ĥimeroj en usona medio.