Usona Esperantisto № 2019:1 (jan-feb)

How much neutrality?

Our latest trip into the archives takes us all the way back to January of 1953, when the fledgling ELNA (later to be called Esperanto-USA) published the very first issue of its newsletter — including the following essay by James D. Sayers, its very first editor.

Our newsletter doesn’t typically contain expressions like “wholesale murder” and “satanism incarnate,” but № 1953:1 was not a typical issue. The early fifties were the height of the McCarthy-era, and the founders of ELNA had just broken free of EANA in response to the latter’s attacks on UEA for its alleged toleration of Communist subversion in the international Esperanto movement. EANA’s leadership had also implied that ELNA’s founders were themselves Communist sympathizers.

Sayers’s first editorial was a stark repudiation of that idea. It was also written before ELNA’s strictly apolitical editorial policy had been firmly established.

For more information about the split in EANA that led to the establishment of ELNA, see David Richardson’s ELNA kaj EANA: Fondo kaj malfondo in issue 1992:1. — Ed.

How neutral can Esperantists of the “neutral” world movement be? We declare ourselves in full accord with the Zamenhofan principles of neutrality as to race, religion and politics. We care not what the color of a man’s skin is, nor which religion — if any — he supports, nor to which political party he gives his allegiance, if he is earnestly dedicated to the Esperanto movement in its continuing effort to bring greater unity of understanding to all mankind through the adoption of our neutral, secondary language for all nations.

Nevertheless, Esperantists cannot, and in actual fact, do not remain neutral as between good and evil. The very heart and soul of Esperantism, as formulated by that noblest of all Esperantists, Dr. Zamenhof, himself, is a dynamic contradiction of all systems of hatred, class divisions and subjugation of the minds and bodies of men to coercion and slavery. It, by its essential expression of being condemns these things, as it naturally must condemn murder, wholesale or retail.

Naziism and Fascism, of wilted power but still too much alive in the world, and Communism of the Kremlin school, and any and all advocates of “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” “Rule of the Intelligentia,” Ku Kluxism, having red flags, white robes, brown shirts, black shirts, silver shirts, or just plain dirty shirts of any variety, so long as they seek the enslavement of free men to one man, or a few men, in seats of power over mind and body, cannot be recognized by free men anywhere as political parties deserving the advantage of neutrality.

The world is face to face today with the greatest struggle of all the ages of mankind. On one side of this climactic battle are the democratic free nations, where men are still free to criticize and change their governments; where they are free to stumble along in their clumsy pursuit of the distant ideal of genuine democracy, making mistakes and paying for their own mistakes; inching forward in social gains for the masses, however slowly, but ever going forward, just the same, with infinitely greater comforts and luxuries of life than exist in any nation under the iron heel of totalitarianism.

On the other side of this battle are the forces of real imperialism of the Attila-Gengis Khan-Hitler-Stalin type, now Stalinism supreme over the fearfully enslaved third part of the human race. During the recent Moscow world conclave of Stalin’s puppets, the piping voice of a Chinese stooge was heard boasting that they (the Communists) of China had liquidated (murdered) over two million of their opponents — and reliable reports indicate that in each passing month thousands more are added to those two million.

This satanism incarnate, stalking abroad over the earth, seeks with devilish, lying cunning in the free countries, by open wholesale murder, or by the enslavement of millions of forced laborers, in already subjugated countries, to extend this totalitarianism to all peoples, including our own in America.

We have recently gone through with the painful task of reorganizing our Esperanto movement in North America to defeat dictatorial power. We have adopted, by an almost unanimous vote of the membership, a thoroughly democratic Constitution. The Constitutional Committee, at the behest of a great many members who read, criticized and offered suggestions for changes, or additions to, the tentative copy of that Constitution as sent out to them, included in the final draft the provision: “… totalitarians are not eligible for membership.”

Now two members have written objections to the inclusion of that provision. They declare that it is a deviation from the Zamenhofan principle of neutrality. These two members, and any others who may be likeminded, shall certainly have the chance to offer a motion to the membership before the 1953 Congress to repeal this provision. That is democracy. I am convinced that neither of these two members, both old and sincere advocates of Esperanto, both native-born Americans, is an apologist for Stalinism. I believe they are just leaning over backwards in their dedication to a phantom “neutrality” which cannot find room in any Esperantist bosom.

The Kremlin has long ago forbidden the once lively Russian Esperanto movement; it is gradually, but firmly, rooting it out of all enslaved satellite countries. They do this for the same logical reason Hitler had for trying to destroy the vigorous German Esperanto movement: Esperantism is one of the most effective instruments for a worldwide democracy of international understanding. This feature of the Esperanto movement is anathema to the Communist dictators. I saw many instances of this Communist dislike for Esperanto during my years of service with our forces in Europe. We do not have to be super-patriots to take our stand against the evils of totalitarianism. But for all of its blundering, slow progress, I am, and shall always be, a patriot of Human Freedom.

This is my personal statement, with no presumption of stating a policy for the ESPERANTO LEAGUE FOR NORTH AMERICA. It is too close to press time to secure a formulation of policy from the newly elected officers and executive committee. That will come in a later issue if deemed necessary.