Panel 1 | Place, Protest, and Poetry: Foundations of Yiddish Anarchism



good morning I'm Christine card Natsuki just a few sort of housekeeping notes before we start this is the first panel it will go our lunch break is at 12:30 we hope to end a little bit before that the way the panels are arranged each speaker will have not more than 20 minutes 15 to 20 minutes I will introduce them each individually for their presentations and will have questions after everyone is finished 20 minutes is the firm ending so I ask you to be mindful of that and I can actually be helpful in reminding you ok Kenyon Zimmer will start us off with the lost world of Yiddish anarchism an introduction Kenyon is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas Arlington and is the co or organizer of the Yiddish Anika's and conference as we've heard he's the author of immigrants against the state Yiddish and italian anarchism in America and numerous articles on the history of anarchism he's currently working on a book about the deportees of America's first Red Scare [Applause] all right thank you everyone for showing up for this fantastic event thank you to Evo thank you to spencer sunshine for kindly making an offer I couldn't refuse to help co-organized this conference so my role here is to sort of introduce in in relatively broad strokes some of the history that many of the subsequent speakers would go into in more detail so why is the conference refer to you – anarchism as I've forgotten tradition because although many people are vaguely aware that it existed maybe in the 1890s there's not a whole lot more that's remembered other than a few figures like Emma Goldman so I want to start right here in Manhattan with the Manhattan Bridge because the chief engineer on the Manhattan Bridge was a Latvian Jewish immigrant named Leon Moiseyev who if you google his name you'll find a couple of short biographical things for instance on the PBS website about the Golden Gate Bridge because he was one of the consulting engineers on the Golden Gate Bridge and it'll tell you things like he was a native of Latvia who immigrated to the United States in 1891 and then as the PBS website puts it he was so happy about living in America that he named his daughter Liberty so that's an inference by whoever wrote this that is not entirely correct because Leon Moiseyev was he became an anarchist shortly after moving to the Lower East Side of New York where he first encountered anarchism like most Yiddish speaking anarchists he was not an anarchist when he arrived although he had some radical sympathies beforehand in fact he named his first daughter Liberty because he was an anarchist he and he edited the Yiddish language anarchist journal de Freya Gessle shaft the free society that was the Liberty he was thinking of was that of a libertarian socialist society not what he found in the United States but that's been erased literally his Wikipedia page similarly makes not one single mention of his politics which he held throughout his life and if you walk across the the Manhattan Bridge you'll you'll find his name on a plaque or two on there of course with no mention of his political affiliations similarly in 2016 verso books published a book called revolutionary Yiddish lond a history of Jewish radicalism which contains not one single mention of a single Jewish anarchist with which prompted the anarchist collective crime think to write a review in the form of a satirical letter to the publisher asking for a refund for the defective book that they had received so what exactly is it that's been erased what's been erased is a one time thriving vibrant and quite influential segment of both the American left and the American Jewish community this was a movement that you could find coverage on in Harper's Weekly for example that was once in the public spotlight and even more so in the Yiddish public spotlight this was a movement that lasted from the 1880s when the the very first Jewish anarchist group in the world was formed in the Lower East Side in 1887 in response to the ongoing Haymarket trial where that eventually resulted in the Haymarket anarchist being hanged and lasted persisted with some members of that first generation of Yiddish speaking immigrant Jews into the 1970s and Beyond even into the 80s as some of those as Spencer mentioned then they became mentors to subsequent generations and yet is speaking anarchist played crucial roles in Yiddish life Yiddish language and Yiddish culture in the United States and the world people like David Adel shot the Yiddish sweatshop poet Joseph of Bob sugar who we're going to hear more about the sort of founders of modern yiddish poetry were dedicated anarchists or alexander harcavy the famous yiddish lithographer whose Yiddish English Hebrew dictionary is still in print and in use today most people don't know was himself an anarchist he wrote for and contributed to and are – anarchist newspapers so they played a role in literally helping build Yiddish language and culture in the United States and elsewhere and there's more poets playwrights cultural critics and translators the Yiddish speaking Jews were prolific translators of great works of literature and science and philosophy from other languages they were also prolific publishers and writers of newspapers the very first Yiddish newspaper Yiddish anarchist newspaper in the world was published in New York City VAR height founded in 1889 a paper on which David a Dulce among others worked this first generation of Jewish of Yiddish speaking Jewish anarchists on the Lower East Side and places like Philadelphia was profoundly influenced as we're going to hear from Tom Goins by their German anarchist neighbors as the two languages are linked and somewhat mutually intelligible but by far the most important yiddish anarchist newspaper in both the United States and the world was the friar Arvid estima the free voice of labor which persisted with brief interruptions from 1889 to 1977 the friar Arbutus Timah was both the largest circulating and longest lasting anarchist newspaper in American history and yet only about half a dozen scholars have ever read it its readership extended across the globe but was particularly concentrated of course in the United States and places like New York these are the circulation figures for the flesh Timah which peaked at about 30,000 copies per issue in 1914 which various estimates place at a readership of a hundred 150 thousand or so just to put this into perspective as late as 1904 1905 1906 the Yiddish daily forward only had a circulation about three times that of the friar our British Duma the longtime editor of the friar arbiter steamer was the anarchist solid y'know ski who was profoundly important not only as a commentator on anarchist ideas on the Jewish labor movement but also on Yiddish literature and poetry he was renowned for discovering new yiddish poetic talent and first publishing it in the anarchist friar british Timah as one of his late contemporaries put it for a few continuous decades he was the spiritual trailblazer for innumerable Jewish journalists writers actors trade union organizers and community leaders in Jewish society and hence in the social life of millions of immigrant Jews in their new home yet well I imagine everyone in this room has heard of Gahan of the Jewish daily forward the name of y'know he will be new to probably at least some of you over time the Yiddish anarchists developed a particular shared understanding of Jewish identity and Jewishness or Yiddish Kyte this was defined by Yiddish language was one of the defining characteristics which of course that's a whole exclude Sephardic and other Jewish groups absolutely was based in secular Yiddish culture and in a common enemy in anti-semitism fact one early Yiddish an ark a statement on Jewishness stated that it was anti-semitism in particular that bound Jews together as a group what it was not defined by importantly was any sort of territorial homeland this was a very explicitly non-zionist non-territorial efficient of Jewishness it was largely a definition that rejected Judaism as part as a essential core of Jewish identity but there's an Asterix there because there were some important exceptions some of which we'll hear about later and later panels with individuals like Abu Gordon who very much tried to link Jewish religious tradition to anarchism and it also did not define Jewishness by biology or dissent this was a flexible cultural and linguistic definition of what it meant to be a Jew or at least a Judas anarchist it was flexible enough to include people who had no Jewish ancestry people like Rudolph rocker who was a German Gentile who will heal more about from been get Leon on a later panel who after moving to London and encountering you – speaking Jew anarchists there taught himself Yiddish and went on to become editor of the arbiter find an important Yiddish anarchist newspaper there eventually he was deported to Germany during World War one and then fled Nazism to the United States in 1933 and remained a towering figure in Yiddish anarchist circles referred to by many as in anarchist rabbi but a very peculiar rabbi with no actual Jewish ancestry also the native-born American anarchist vulturing declare who was a major figure in Philadelphia's anarchist movement and was very close to the Yiddish speaking anarchist movement there she taught Jewish anarchists like Joseph J Cohen who was a successor of Janoski at the friar arbiter Timmer taught them English and they taught her Yiddish she learned to write yesh we have handwritten Yiddish letters and articles of her here held in yivo in a collection that's a shared collection with her and Joseph J Cohen whose great-granddaughter is with us today and she wrote original Yiddish language articles for the friar Arbutus Duma so you could be a Yiddish anarchist without being actually a Jewish anarchist in other words voltaren declare also belonged to the Philadelphia anarchist branch of the workman Circle the Jewish Socialist fraternal organization which actually had more than a dozen explicitly anarchist branches some of which like the radical hybrid group in Philadelphia included non-jewish members which was unusual of course the most famous Jewish anarchist in American history is in the Goldman if you've ever heard of one single Jewish anarchist it's Emma Goldman who had a long storied well-covered career that led to her being arrested at least 16 times on various charges that I don't have time to enumerate but they're there on the screen and which eventually resulted in her deportation in 1919 although even that did not cease her activity she of course went on to become a very early and influential left-wing critic of the of Soviet Communism now one of the peculiar things about Emma Goldman who's often pointed to as a sort of quintessential Jewish anarchist is although she was multilingual she spoke Yiddish German Russian and English she didn't feel comfortable speaking in Yiddish so though she delivered yet less lectures in Yiddish she preferred other languages and increasingly over time preferred to focus on english-language propaganda to try to reach english-speaking American workers so she was actually really sort of on the margins of the Yiddish and Argus movement so to speak there are many other Yiddish speaking anarchist women who have been largely forgotten by history women like Katharina Yevseyev who was a remarkable educated Russian Jewish woman she earned her medical degree at NYU in 1893 she was an official in the workmen circle she wrote on women's issues on so for example she wrote a book de Fora under ghetto chef the woman in society which is anthropological evidence to argue essentially to argue for in favor of a critique of patriarchy she I've learned from that from dr. elena torres is rumored to be the inspiration for the original short story Yentl by singer she also was intriguingly although an anarchist a proponent of women's suffrage involved in the suffragists movement and she also helped her husband the prolific anarchist writer and translator Jakob marason produced the first and only Yiddish translation of Marx's Das Kapital but you'll find many women many of whom whose names have been forgotten and lost to history in the rank and file of the Jewish anarchist movement the Jewish anarchist movement in the United States had by far the greatest gender representation of women of any ethnic or linguistic segment of the movement and that has to do partially with the demographics of Jewish immigration but also to a real commitment on on many participants part to women's equality so here for instance we have a group of Jewish anarchists in Chicago and in the front we have two organizers Aaron Barron and his wife Anya Barron who were organizers with organizers for both the Industrial Workers of the world and also an organization called the union of Russian workers which were going to learn more about later today they were involved in the International ladies garment workers union you would find them on the front lines of the great uprising of 1909 in the 1910 or sorry the uprising of the 20th at 20,000 1989 the great uprising in 1910 in fact the head of the picot Committee for the 1910 garment workers strike was the anarchists more sigmund who ended up having to fight a false murder charge along with some other organizers as a result of that the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 one of the survivors of that fire who was just exiting the building when the fire broke out and who witnessed more than a hundred and forty of her co-workers plummet plummet or burn to death was the anarchist Mary Abrams who was part of a four-person bargaining committee informal bargaining committee within the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire she eventually was deported from the United States with her husband Jacob Abrams during the first Red Scare that they ended up living in Mexico City in exile after leaving the Soviet Union where according to one story Jack Abrams used to play chess with Trotsky and they would argue about Stalin and Kronshtadt more Sigmund went on to become president of the International ladies garment workers union from 1923 to 1928 so for most of the 1920s the president of one the most important unions in the country was that you – speaking Jewish anarchist although in a lot of historical works to find him referred to as a right wing socialist somehow he's also the only anarchist to have a Liberty ship named after him during World War two a very peculiar honour Rose Posada is one of the most famous anarchist members of the algae w issue as an organizer eventual vice president of that Union and I want to talk a little bit about the persistence of Jewish anarchism even in the face of the enormity of the second world war and the Holocaust so after the Second World War the I'll GW you sent rose basada and some others as part of a group to go to post-war Europe to visit devastated Jewish communities and figure out the best way that the Union and its membership could aid those communities so Posada among other places visited what remained of the Jewish ghetto in woods Poland or Lodge and she wrote in an unpublished account that as they were visiting places she encountered a man who had under his arm a copy of the friar arbiter Shima turned out he was a friend of a friend he asked how the Union could help them he was involved in a Jewish underwear making cooperative that they had started up and he introduced her to the other surviving members of his anarchist group and this is what she wrote curiously enough none of them asked for help for themselves or for visas but all they wanted was moral support literature a printing press and a limit Linotype machine in Polish not yiddish polish also new material as well as old books and pamphlets by Kropotkin Rudolf rocker Carla Bernie Airy and others to be reprinted in Polish so in other words in the aftermath of the Holocaust in Poland the survivors of the Jewish ghetto there wanted nothing more than to reach out to their polish speaking neighbors with the message of libertarian socialism and mutual aid and I can't think of a more profound illustration of the commitment to these ideals than that so in short this is a remarkable history that's been largely forgotten made up of people who as a summed up in the epitaph on Saul you note his grave over in Mount Carmel cemetery where art ardently and unselfishly devoted toward establishing human society on principles of no coercion and no exploitation and I think for that alone they deserve our recognition and remembrance to say nothing of their actual major contributions to the Jewish culture and the Jewish labor movement that I've very briefly run through here thank you Thank You Canyon Tom Goins will speak next on radical neighbors New York's German and Yiddish anarchists 1880 1906 tom is an associate professor of history at Salisbury University in Maryland his research focuses on immigrant anarchism in the United States he's the author of this is a good beer and revolution the German anarchist movement in New York City 1880 1914 editor of Helene mning minkins memoir storm in my heart memories from the widow of Johann most an editor of radical Gotham anarchism in New York City from Schwab's saloon to Occupy Wall Street his articles have appeared in social anarchism rethinking history the Journal of theory and practice and the journal for the study of radicalism he's currently writing a new biography of Johann most alright thank you for coming and honored to be here so I my my paper is I'm going to just give some aspects of this symbiotic relationship between the German and Yiddish anarchists there's a lot to say here and I can certainly elaborate a little more later I I basically argue that broadly speaking the single most important legacy of the German anarchist movement in New York was to lay the groundwork for the Yiddish one and the Yiddish anarchist movement then sort of transmits anarchism into the 20th century I think and that's a really broad lines here I we have heard a little bit this okay that's that's supposed to be Manhattan and the Lower East Side but you can I don't know if you could sort of make out here's the East River there but we've heard a little bit so a Anika's emerges in in in New York City like the 1880s it's in the little Germany section of lower Medard climbed Outland and Yiddish was adopted by that movement as I think they go through sort of those russian intellectuals and in almost via german adopt sort of the Yiddish language of the rank-and-file and it's so with this slide I've doesn't come out very well but them and if you could see the black the black dots and the red dots and so the black dots are German this is selective the German meeting places that I've said this is a map of used in in my first book and I've sort of mapped on some of the Yiddish meeting places that are sort of in the lower Lower East Side and so I I think I think Kenyon Zimmer in this book has called it sort of a geographic and linguistic proximity of the two movements okay so I think the affinity between the German and Yiddish anarchists is best embodied in the person of Johan mistype I don't have time to do a broad biography here but he was a German atheist firebrand anarchist speaker who arrives in New York City in December 1882 he had just finished a 16 month prison sentence because he had publicly celebrated the assassination of the Czar and and and so this this caused including in Russia caused many Russian Jews and revolutionaries to immigrate to the United States so most comes a bit sort of a bit later in ATL late 1882 so one one thing that's particularly important here is most fiery oratory we have lots of commentary on this that that seem to have really sort of mesmerised not just Yiddish speaking anarchists but many and so I have a few sort of eyewitnesses there there are a number of them Coppola for example are called most a giant of the revolution and he remembered code the audience was as if in a hypnotic spell hime Weinberg of of Philadelphia recalled that must quote all but bewitched every listener opponent as well as friend and Julius Seltzer stated that quote most more than anyone else made an anarchist out of me it's it may be you know it's very important to stress how important oratory was in these movements most also employed a young Jewish activist named Alexander Berkman who some of you know in his freiheit office so most published had been publishing this German language anarchist socialist first but then anarchist newspaper ok sticking with Johan masa for a minute there were many well not many there were a few sort of intimate connections between most and Jewish activists one Kenyan mentioned Emma Goldman and there there is there's more to this than that I perhaps have time for now but they later on have a falling out over a number of issues in terms including gender political violence as a tactic I do want to mention one thing that's sort of relevant here I think that when this sort of blows up at a meeting of the pioneers of Liberty this was one of the first Yiddish anarchist groups in in New York at one of those meetings Goldman horsewhipped most in public on the stage we have a few accounts of this this made a sensation and I've always sort of wondered what was the what was sort of the the fallout in internally and in the movement about it so in the wake of this this was in 1892 the pioneers of Liberty basically condemned Goldman as they called it wickedness does this behavior in return Goldman publishes a small what does I call rebuttal I guess in in another German anarchist newspaper not freiheit there was there was a rival of right hand and she in which she claimed that most yeah he always had the court is the greatest contempt for Jewish anarchists and so that's sort of intriguing I think it's a little bit over over the top because there were somebody close relationships between Boston Jewish anarchist he after that he does regular lecture series on topics of history in many of these yiddish anarchist groups then so the other person here in the middle is helena mingkun who was a roommate of Goldman and and Berkman are believed to in a better Arab moment she was also an anarchist but she and most really became a couple she was a common-law wife and becomes the mother of their two children and unlike the previous anarchist who named a child most and and Lincoln named their children John Jr and Lucifer so I John Jr is is I think he become he grows up it comes of dentist I think he's involved in and double-a-c-p but so I've been in touch with a grant child of them have that right and he emailed me that they that he still has these little what does I call these little pins which is the photograph of mauve Johan most on it he still has it so I used the same hoop this is all a little washed out I'm sorry so this Kenyan has used this was often used the Harper's Weekly I believe so Yiddish anarchists didn't just attend lectures they also organized their own groups in their own language I think one of the impetuses is Haymarket they learned from their German comrades about the International Working People's Association the I WPA was which was this anarchist American anarchist Federation set up in Pittsburgh in 1883 the Pittsburgh manifesto which was basically a distillation of most's ideas was by many groups adopted just a few quotes was translated into Yiddish in 1887 the present system was quote unjust insane and murderous and must be destroyed through both called peaceful education and revolutionary conspiracy so to two-track strategy here it was really the Haymarket trial and executions that really sort of made the Yiddish group sort of get organized the pioneers of Liberty were founded on Yom Kippur Day which I'll have a but more about that shortly after the death sentences were were announced in fact um I hope this map so imagine sort of again the same kind of lower Manhattan there so in fact the first commemoration of the executions so the year after 87 this was held on November 11 1888 it seems to meet one of the first joint public demonstrations by German and Yiddish anarchists it's it there's what I have some really good descriptions of this and so basically they start off at Felix Brecht zinger challah which is which was a main German anarchist beer hall really and then so they marched the Cooper Union but they make a detour to pick up the the Yiddish marchers right odd like right on fourth side Street on in Houston and then they go to Cooper Union and have their big public commemoration all right the representatives of both groups were on the organizing committee for this this was a big big headline-grabbing sort of demonstration and they jettison German delegates were involved in this Yiddish anarchist club life was always advertised in FRA hide the pioneers of Liberty financially contributed to FRA hide until they had their own newspaper and then most would raise money for that new Yiddish language newspaper I think at the heart of the bond between most and the Yiddish anarchists was militant atheism I think it's a bit of an under research aspect of immigrant anarchism it was really integral I think it's important to know that most became an atheist before becoming a socialist it's probably true with some other figures in 1883 so here is this this is an announcer you can I don't know what's wrong with the slides but they so this is simply announcing in FRA height in German the the sort of the the meeting times of the Yiddish anarchist groups so here's another in FRA hide muscle lecture these were lecture series he would talk about the French Revolution and old he loved history and so this is the pioneers of Liberty that's the German of course but this is the most important leaders anarchist group so a very symbiotic sort of relationship okay back to militant atheism so it's an important pamphlet that he writes most rights in 1883 dakotas past or the god pestilence it's it's really quite had a real sort of impact it it is translated in Yiddish by the London comrades in 1888 kind Weinberg remembered that this pamphlet is that that did it that made me not not just an eighty but made made we adopt anarchism so must attacks basically the sort of man made as he sees that monotheistic God as a brutal despot holding humans quote under eternal divine police surveillance he argued that religion is always served the powerful and for these reasons this is important anti religious militancy must be part of the anarchist movement so quote every person released from the istic superstition for bearing to oppose priesthood where and when and however an opportunity presented solves as a traitor to his cause so you have you you it's not this is the gate for immigrant anarchists not it such as an intellectual debate right you have to be a militant about it and and a direct action against capitalist oppression so beginning in 1889 New York's Yiddish anarchist organized the ball with food and drink on yom kippur day day of atonement with the express purpose to mock and undermine orthodoxy the london comrades had sort of initiated this and this are this is in depressed almost every year there's a comment and there's always a confrontation but that's what they what they want they to my knowledge the the Jewish Chanukah Sunni or keep this up there's maybe some years where it's like prevented but until 1909 and it spreads to other cities like there I found that an episode like that in in Baltimore in 1890 so this is fright so most of my sources of course German sources but this is FRA hide basically you know if you could read this but but sort of announcing it but also say yes good good thing most always thought it was a great idea he participated and almost every one of them this is enough time to go through it if you know German it basically is here's how we fundraise off of that and then divide the funds so you see there are ten dollars for freiheit ten dollars for fry a ghazal shaft which was the Yiddish another Yiddish publication and then five dollars we sent to London so they that's that's this is a thing I could maybe quickly tell you about the 1890 Brooklyn Yom Kippur ball was was prevented because the rabbi's had complained to the police and this became a huge story not just in the anarchist press and there's a protest meeting and they I think fried called the called the shut out they were shut out fried called it laughs I terrorism and one one other that sort of must have stung was czar ism in America so okay a few last remarks this is about the passing of the torch that I think happens in the late 1890s from the aging splintered German movement to a youthful Yiddish movement little Germany had become the Jewish ghetto friar our British team was revived in 1899 I think there's a number of reasons for a wonderous sort of been alluded to the rank and file was really important for the yiddish movement was was in the sort of garment workers the exploited garment workers the german movement was really rooted in the sort of narrow craft based industries the historian Paul Buell has argued that one of the strengths of Jewish radicalism is it's a peculiar cosmopolitanism and the German one became sort of insular insularity was sitting in their beer halls and there is I want to quote a this is 1895 this is a Staten Island mainstream newspaper it used to be said a few years ago that the rallying point of the red flag socialists in New York was always a lot of German lager beer saloon but nowadays one does not look in New York for anarchist among the Germans but among the Russian Jews on the east side so if I may wrap up here with the bit about how I started I think anarchism endured in America largely because the Yiddish movement sort of carried it into the 20th century the ideas and practices don't have to take my word for it crime Weinberg again was 45 years old when most died he wrote the German amicus workers with must as writer and speaker not only created a powerful influential German anarchist movement in America but also helped create a Jewish as well as an American anarchist movement that's it thank you for listening [Applause] thank you very much uh uh Elena Torres will present on the horizon blossoms and the borders vanish anarchist aesthetics in Yiddish poetry she is an assistant professor of comparative literature at the University of Chicago her forthcoming book is titled any minute now the world streams over its border anarchism and Yiddish literature this project examines the literary production language politics and religious thought of Jewish a darkest movements from 1870 to the present in Moscow Tel Aviv London Buenos Aires New York City and elsewhere Torres's work has appeared in Jewish quarterly review in github nassim makeshift and the anthology feminism's in motion a decade of intersectional feminist media hi everybody how are you doing today yeah it's really beautiful to see you all here and it's also beautiful to come down from the microfilm machine upstairs and get to share downstairs some of all of the treasures that are that we have in the archives so thank you you've oh and to the organizers and to all the brilliant co-panelists hi mom hi poppy thanks for coming I'm really excited to be here today and to talk about the literature and the aesthetic influence of Yiddish anarchism this was a movement that made the struggle for artistic expression and the struggle for free speech one of its central aims and its press spanned the continents from Moscow and tel-aviv to Buenos Aires in New York City today I want to give you just a taste of what's a very deep and very rich archive of Yiddish anarchist literature so I'm going to start briefly with the earlier period of anarchist writing in the 1880s and 1890s when the relationship between poetry and the movement was most explicit then I'm going to speak more about the experimental and modernist trends and talk about how anarchists thought in aesthetics persisted after World War one in World War two within Yiddish literature by focusing on the poet parrots Marc Esch who I argue was profoundly informed by anarchist aesthetics and his later work in Deitz the Soviet state control of art as has been outlined earlier anarchism refers to a whole constellation of aspirations working towards bodily autonomy towards ethical consensus towards a world without borders and domination art and literature played a key role in developing the imagination of this kind of radical future for the Yiddish anarchists they were able to use poetic techniques effects like bending time on border in nature in order to prefigure a world after and beyond the state yes so what do the Yiddish anarchists say about poetry I would argue that we can't simply transfer models of yiddish communism or socialist poetry on to the anarchists because the anarchist ideal of art is liberation diverged from these communist models of art as duty artists propaganda for example the poet Aaron Glantz Leigh Ellis maintains that quote poetry must be a helping tool not to mention the maidservant of the labor movement and all leaders must make it a part of socialist duty to compose poetry in contrast to that communist model of what art or poetry has to be the Yiddish poet and editor Yosef luden describes quote a deep bond between anarchism and literature the difference is that Marxists mainly assail economic facts and concern themselves with a material side of the state regime whereas anarchism is not content with that but occupies itself passionately with intellectual production anarchism has never been an established policy but a movement in process according to Youssef luden and his Kenyan said Yiddish anarchists published more than 20 newspapers in the u.s. 12 of them founded between 1889 and World War one during this period a movement flourished that we call sweatshop a proletarian poetry a strident and yearning sweatshop poetry is epitomized by the work of Morris Rosenfeld David Edelstein and Morris Finch EV ski whose did soo Conte the feature foretells a transformed world where the mourner will become a singer all will become brothers and truth will grow dearer dear like a friend and in these verses we can hear the echoes of Isaiah 60:1 – about the restoration of ruined cities when mourners will be comforted and captives will be freed I'm so thinking also about this is a kind of Jewish 'anarchist poetics David Idol stats poem doses anarchy this is Anarchy idealizes a future where quote freedom will bring fortune for all the weak and the strong the he and the she and in Yosef both shivers poem revolution which is behind me he writes quote I come like a comet newborn like the Sun that arises at morning I come like the Furious tempest that follows a thunder clouds warning but I want to say that despite these very ecstatic visions of the future Varys was not necessarily an absolute revolution as the Yiddish anarchist editor Rudolf rocker has been mentioned earlier Rutger said quote I'm not an anarchist because I believe in Arc ISM is the final goal I'm an anarchist because there is no such thing as a final goal the sweatshop poets Futurity echoes both what Rucker's saying and also contemporary theorists such as Jose Esteban Munoz who says quote the queer Futurity that I'm describing is not an end but an opening or horizon it's a being in being towards and a being for the future so I want us to kind of think also about these kind of radical echoes between between these movements well the the sweatshop poems are often anthologized as though there were only historical documents about labor rather than as themselves having integrity as literature I want to emphasize that they were politically they were poetically innovative in their disruption of capitalist time Rosenfeld's poem the sweatshop for example is structured as a schedule of the working day where the clock becomes anthropomorphised as a boss and the clock starts to scream so so at the workers when the lunch hour strikes in that hour of freedom the dead come to life and visions of the world to come appear time was liberated flowing beyond the clocks regulation the lunch hour becomes an island and time hours a stream with no dam and so just from that that brief caption right you can hear that Rosenfeld is capturing the ebb and the flow of an alienated self over the course of the workday not through repetitive slogans or flat language but through inventive metaphor right and here are just a couple images from Alberts our friend edited by Rudolf rocker who I quoted you can see some of the aesthetics right this is a very kind of romantic aesthetic that they have and here's a beautiful photo of the editors having a picnic in 1905 from the from the London paper yes the style of the sweat shop poet spanned languages and Emma Goldman's english-language paper mother which is here tended to print poetry in a very similar style of liberal romanticism which is to say that there was a kind of single style spreading across each language and English language anarchist poetry and this affinity between the Yiddish and the an edition English anarchist literature continued in the modernist period kennyon mentioned fra advatage dima which was as much a literary journal as it was a radical broadside and while Salian offski the editor was launching the careers of yiddish modernist writers the most influential english-language modernist journal in the US which was Margaret Anderson's the little review was largely an anarchist publication as well so I want to emphasize thinking comparatively about what was happening in anarchist literature both in English and in Yiddish at the same time and here we have the two editors who are also partners Jane Heep and Margaret Anderson Anderson serialized publication of James Joyce's Ulysses until 1921 when copies of the magazine were confiscated by the post office for obscenity and Anderson and Jane Heep were charged with indecency from looking at the addresses on the correspondence of the Yiddish anarchists because this is what historians do were very nosy we go through your mail a hundred years later but from looking at all of the addresses on the envelopes I can see that some of the Yiddish anarchists were actually working out of their offices we have check stubs showing that they were materially supporting the editors here in their fight for free speech and so there are very particular physical and material ways in which you know sonic ism was trying to make the world safe for literary modernism in the same time oh yes and here's a passage from Margaret Anderson which has this quotation right most people know that most enlightened people know that anarchists are usually timid thoughtful on violent people dynamite is not a part of their intellectual but not their physical personality right all right and so in the same period we can look and I don't have time unfortunately today but this very striking illustration of kind of judge death is illustrating poetry and documents about the Sacco Vanzetti trial there was something like 144 poems written about the sukkah Vanzetti trial so again literature was a form of a poetic response to what was happening in the indian ocean turkish movement yiddish modernism also blossomed in europe and russia and one of the most significant journals was kali aspre the gang which appeared in warsaw in 1922 one engraving depicts three boisterous figures and marching for net formation arms aloft in the shape of the letter Alif and that's this one you can see they're literally on the vanguard right the title of the journal Holley Astra proclaims their identity as a band roaming like medieval guilds of troubadours beyond the frontiers of accepted taste one of its editors patterns marcus published a manifesto on the first page declaring Ana's o again Mia Savarin in sick violin a name in an acoustically ostlers Bundys and Federer Deus and so we go scattered one by one and all together in anarchist bands and federations and so we here have a moment of an experimental manifesto write written in Warsaw that's explicitly identifying themselves as an anarchist group mark ich also came in contact with n arc ISM when he lived in the city of a Katarina Slav which was a key site for the black army the Ukrainian anarchist army led by nestor makhno the so called Cossack of Anarchy who personally saved the life of Peretz Marcus's father-in-law so there all of these historical echoes between Marcus and and the anarchist movement as well here he is in all of his glory well primarily canonized as a communist poet Marcus's work is also deeply informed by anarchist aesthetics and ideals especially his posthumous masterpieces hours before his arrest at Stalin's order in 1949 Marcus gave his wife Esther several manuscripts among these was deference to Gattaca man the man of 40 a virtuosic and deeply enigmatic 80 page poem the poem moves between expression scenes of war in revolution two visions of borderless space radical temporality and erotic liberation as he handed her the manuscript Marcus told his wife quote this is the best thing I've ever done and I want you to take special care of it his wife arranged for the many scripts to be smuggled out of the country in a potato sack saving work that Marcus had begun in 1922 while editing Callie Ostra the journal and continually rewrote over 27 years the poem was finally published in 1978 in television tel aviv the man of 40 pulses with the sounds and images of unfinished insurgency often recalling the sweatshop poets revolutionary temporality as in these lines quote smashed are the clocks of capital and cities smashed as the order of hours and days overturned the calendar hangs on the other side already withering melting and so here you can see some of echos right of the Rosenfeld poem that I read earlier this idea of overturning time overturning capitalist time and the structure of wage labor for decades Marcus kept the poem hidden deep in his desk drawer fearing the state's response to its subversive politics the scholar Hana kronfeld writes quote the man of forty is at once his most Jewish and his most anarchist book and I believe it's the key to his life's work its anarchism I argue may be located in its poetic defiance of totalitarianism its exuberant subversion of state communist iconography and its central concern with the figure of the refugee against the USSR's policy of closed borders the poem rhetorically abolish –is all borders of time and territory quote Sbrocco understand and serve olga did some Moroccan in Shangai inebolu Ibrahim notorious cane Aegon's notorious confirmed village oysters and why reveal Toya hemmed the obstacle is smashed and the borders demolished we can pass now through air oversee property is no more there's no hours no there's and I take off my grief like I take off my shirt in a recently Declassified 1949 report written to Stalin he urged the dismantlement of the Jewish writing associations in the Soviet Union and sited marcus specifically for quote expressing nationalist tendencies because of the jewish content and some of the vocabulary of Marcus's poetry and if you look at the galley proofs of Marcus's last book you can see where the censor crossed out in red every time he were uses the word Yid Jew and recommended that it be replaced with an a Universalist term like men or passerby and we can also know because of these galley proofs as his wife recalled quote the only thing we could count on was the abysmal ignorance and stupidity of the censors they couldn't make head nor tail of difficult poetry so they gave it's okay right so they they didn't understand the metaphor but this other word Jew and they would take that out censors let's lit by a section containing coded but furiously anti-communist passages in this poem marcus depicts red monks mannequin as self castrated bureaucrats quote by knocked in the highland and helmet alexis 1915 qaeda hostess kiss last night in the caverns in a cave with a piercer piously they excised their sex so this is his metaphor of censorship and the pettiness of these red monks with stars on their sleeves he describes his very inhuman but the poem ends quote nor young is that ogen flesh as their tog and subglottis aids is no noise reflect infant old but young is the day and fresh is the day and the sun will scorch them to stains in the valley but the bureaucratic censors couldn't recognize these trifling doomed monks as portraits of themselves and so they let the poem be published because they didn't understand the metaphor but also in this passage marcus takes up the style of both shiver and Edel shot deploying it taking up the proletarian style and deploying it against state censorship adapting the original form of sweatshop poetry into a new and baroque level of metaphor in short Marcus's poetry was also formed as a response to the condition of censorship in poem 40 of part 1 the poetic speaker encounters the body of a soldier left by the side of the road the corpses bones resemble Swift's or handwriting in a manís gripped the refrain of the yom kippur prayer who by water and who by fire is parodied by marca Shaz who by hammer and who by sickle well the profound erasure of jewish anarchist history has obscured these aspects of Marcus's writing in his own era critics recognized the anarchist character of Marcus's poetry in 1923 the London newspaper ad words of lines I showed it's beautiful banner before reviewed Marcus's poetry claiming quote Marcus the Jew the anarchist walks with a heavy baggage of his people a bleeding and wounded vagabond like Shimon among refugees and ruined ones Marcus's depth of being together with comrades as a parent here he is more comrade than poet here he is hours from his very first published Russian poem as a teenager which was titled granites a– or border to his last ye – work the theme of the borderland remained central this enthronement is striking for a poet in a country with the world's longest border where free movement was made illegal barely two months after the Russian Revolution and Jews freedom of movement had been restricted earlier as quote an incitement to sedition against such realities in 1935 Marcus published a poem titled Moscow imagining that city is the site from which Redemption bursts into the world quote the horizon is putting on blossom the realms are opening and the borders are vanishing the contemporary anarchist philosopher Thomas nail writes quote borders are more like motors the mobile cutting blades of society and in Marcus's poems the border is often rendered as a space of violence for London London a wound on the edge of the earth yet that wound can be healed as in poem 33 where he is describing dawn and now I'm going to read you some poetry quote a waving a winging a twittering strikes the forest is filled with joy replenished by song any minute now the world will stream over its border anointing with shine and golden drink just reach out your hands and tug at the mouth of the bare body at the bare skin I'm here to I'm fated to be upon earth at joy of daybreak in another poem in the same book marker shells human kinship with land beyond property and ownership quote is this not spring heaped and multiplied upon spring when children gather they flock together and what is a border and what is a limit when children are springing from land to land and what could be forbidden to them after all when the earth rushes to meet them and in its final pages the man of forty returns to this radiant eroticism foretelling an ecstatic feature quote multitudes upon multitudes arrived with joy you hear no ripple of air no flutter of flag faces bright as the flags of dawn all is knowable and sunlit and clear a day like a watermelon sliced open juice streams out bright streams out sunset pours for sunset gushes one wants to take the whole world in one's hands slowly take her together as one oh there's still a wound here it still aches here it's unhealed eye there's still a scar and somewhere a flesh wound still oozing she's barefoot she steps on glass stung by a wreath of thorny wire and where it's neglected where it's burnt up still take her in your own hands and so this is the final the final passage of this eighty page poem that he rewrote for 30 years and hid and his wife had to smuggle out of the Soviet Union and it and it ends on this kind of erotic utopian note where masses assemble without energy without ideology you hear no ripple of air no flutter of flag faces bright as the flags of dawn and in this moment of lucidity banners and slogans are replaced only by the irreducible human face in contrast to the image earlier in the poem where there's a flag shoved into the armpit of a soldier's corpse reducing the fullness of life to a single symbol here at the end of the poem the smuggled poem the body of the earth remains libidus and resilient unboard the wounded on by a land strewn with weapons this female figure walks on into the future and I want to end by saying that the man of 40 was written by a deportee who was held behind the Earth's longest border yet he's still prefigures a restless space with no flutter of flag where the earth exceeds and overthrows its own borders taking up in a modernist and experimental fashion the style in the form of earlier generations of anarchist poetry especially the proletarians like both shiver as a reviewer at our Buddha friends wrote in 1923 quote Marcus sings with wind and hurricanes with a creative unrest of a furious world carrying within himself a strength of prometheus to hasten and scorch worlds and build other more beautiful worlds in their place and so I would say that in spite of or perhaps to spite Soviet state ownership of time of his time Marcus's writing can still prefigure another temporality neither the untroubled utopia deferred after the Revolution nor a kind of co-opted nationalist past but rather a present that contains all possibility within itself despite it all a day like a watermelon sliced open juice streams out bright streams out [Applause] thank you very much to all the panelists we are ready to take your questions I think we have do we have two people who will run the microphones and if you raise your hands so I can Oh will you come down yeah a question on on the Yiddish as a defining characteristic did the did this generation aspire to sustain Yiddish so that and expanded to to include non Yiddish speakers in any way or did they think that they were moving toward English which would be more expansive and be able to to cross language borders how important was Yiddish to them are you are you addressing your question to a particular speaker to the to the speaker who's nodding and recognition note that's a fantastic question so really up until immigration restrictions are imposed in the 1920s it seems like a perfectly sustainable and reasonable strategy to invest in Yiddish culture Yiddish language and to sort of Yiddish IDEs anarchism for Jewish immigrants because you had them streaming in now of course after World War one and and immigration restrictions that no longer becomes sustainable and it creates sort of a long-term crisis for the you know speaking anarchist movement but so the but up until them at that point right the idea of fostering and specifically yiddish anarchist movement they did wasn't that they were going to universalize Yiddish or that they or that they were going to adopt a universalized English it was it was really a vision of a cosmopolitan multilingual multi-ethnic multiracial anarchist movement in the United States and the world right and so at the same time that these anarchists are investing in Yiddish and building Yiddish culture they are you know they're also applauding other linguistic and cultural groups that are doing the same they don't see these as contradictory or in competition but rather right sort of each linguistic and cultural group should focus on fostering culture and radicalism in its own language and of course what we haven't really I mean Tom talked about this a little bit multilingualism is sort of in the background here because almost all of these people were talking about are multilingual they're just so some speak Russian and Yiddish some speak German you know some speak English and Yiddish so even as they're sort of sort of throughout putting their eggs in the basket of Yiddish anarchism many of these people also have one foot in right in Emma Goldman circle around mother earth or in Johan most circle around freiheit so in other words you could be a Yiddish anarchist and an American or English speaking anarchist you could be a goodish amicus and a Russian anarchist at the same time it sort of exists and move between those two spaces but there is very much a focus and it became more explicit over time of fostering and keeping alive the sort of linguistic and cultural diversity as a positive good in and of itself I think if I can add to that one of the interesting things about Yiddish anarchist language politics to me is that there was not a debate about what will be the Jewish language right the way that there was a bundes debate about how how Yiddish will become the International Workers language or a Zionist debate about how there can only be a single language of the State instead we had Harkavy is Kenyan mentioned writing a trilingual dictionary right Rudolf rocker who was German speaker but he also in accounts of his son Fermi and rocker Fermi and discusses how his father also spoke Spanish and would organize with comrades from Spain in London although he's he's really remembered more for his ganache but he also had you know these multilingual spheres so it was not a debate about what will be the Jewish language the way that we had in other Jewish political movements what I preach I could maybe something I thought about in this with this question is what I remember one of the so the Yiddish an ark has organized an annual convention of all the Jewish groups and they in the u.s. really and I one issue that came up is like we we need an English language speaker to come to the US and there wasn't there weren't that many indeed and in I guess in the US but and I think Charles Mowbray who was one of the English that if you eventually come but they're really discussing this not not because yet ish is sort of not a good language but just for propaganda purposes in the u.s. language that's a big discussion among the Germans too and by the way must never learned he dish unlike rocker for example another interesting thing is that there was some backlash against the Yiddish speaking anarchists by Jewish english-speaking anarchists who saw the fact that they were using a minor language to evade censorship as a kind of sellout or something rather cowardly about the fact that they weren't writing in English when they could and the Goldman for example refused at a certain point to speak Yiddish in public because she said she wanted the FBI to know exactly what she was saying [Applause] but we can also look at some of the bilingual Yiddish and anarchists newspapers for example freiheit from 1918 and see what was it that they could say in Yiddish they couldn't say in English what was it that they were saying in English that they were not saying in Yiddish yes what was their position on non political economic radicalism like Henry George of linguistic radicalism like Esperanto did I mean it was this seems to be a comfort zone that they might have been you know friendly with yeah so Henry George is an interesting example because you do have examples of Jewish anarchists and and other anarchists who largely subscribed to Henry George's sort of single tax movement as a sort of intermediary step you know a short term reform on the road to anarchism you even had NR guests who were members of George's settlements and colonies in the United States but I would that was difficult with within both the larger movement and Esperanto yes lots of anarchists were were for gaga for for Esperanto you know they held Esperanto classes they publish newspapers in Esperanto although none published in the United States that I can think of but for example the first anarchist newspaper in China was published in Esperanto and correspond with immigrants mother earth because they could write bridge that gap with Esperanto but of course Esperanto never really took root the way that that they hoped I think that there was just speaking to the language politics aspect of your question there was some some resistance towards having a politics of language in the same mode for example when I interviewed Audrey good friend many years ago and I said for Albert their steamer continued to run from 1890 to 1977 and a half why is it that why did you continue to write in Yiddish did you have a politics of Yiddish did you see Yiddish as a kind of holy language in a secular way and Audrey said to me in her Bronx accent we spoke I wrote in Yiddish because Guinness is the language I spoke best what are you an academic fortunately at that time I was not but there was also I think we can't really import some of the language politics of the Bund to talk about the Yiddish honored guests context but there were certainly utopian aspects for example as I've Gordon the brother of avec Orden in Moscow and on Archaea he had this idea to invent what he thought would be the most perfect language mathematically and it would communicate with this was kind of the beginning of a space race and so the idea was that they would have a mathematical language that could if we ever meet the extraterrestrials communicate with them so perfectly so this will be a new cosmic scientific language he wrote a whole dictionary and you have Kenny fixed the artist who's here today is also very interested in this and has been doing some beautiful artwork around Yiddish space utopian language so check it out I don't have I mean all I know I mean most the only thing mustard with Georgia thing is just bash him I I mean he I remember most writing something about him because of his mayoral campaign in 1886 which went on I believe right when the Haymarket trial was but he because most was not for the ADA or day if necessary in that period and I think that was a big part of Georgia's campaign the Messianic vision of Isaiah which was mentioned in your lecture it's also used extensively on a regular basis voting Christianity in Giudice but in a real world of what you have to deal with death and taxes this is this is a great idea which is very difficult to realize so when we look at the practicality of the world one has to wonder how the analyst ideals which are similar to Isaiah can be realized in a practical way so can you I mean there was not a system in the world you know coming we had communist right and which is failed what what would be the practical reason to put an artistic ideals into reality [Laughter] culture right if you are saying that anarchism is an anti political movement it's not about party politics it's about the sphere of culture and culture is going to be the realm of transformation of society then art and literature is extraordinarily important in developing and kind of everyday culture and part of it is about the transformation of kinship and comradeship and a different mode of relating between individuals and I think that's part of what they saw art doing right if you go on a on a steamship up the Hudson River with your Italian comrades and your Yiddish comrades and you sing together this is trying to form a new everyday life right it's trying to form a kind of anarchists min hug right a kind of daily practice and through that everydayness through the kind of mundane details of life there can be some form of transformation yes I don't have an answer to that but I can tell you the answer that the Yiddish anarchists sort of eventually settled upon because in the early years when they were very close to Johan most of the dream influenced by them there's a lot right the conspiracy and and sort of right dynamite but that rather quickly faded and that the you to speaking anarchist movement and its organs like the Friday arbiter Shima developed a sort of evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach to right social transformation that begin to realize this transformation is a long way off still it's not just around the corner like we initially thought and they sort of developed a you could say tapes of a four-pronged approach which was one right being active in in the the union movement the working-class movement and trying to radicalize it and and right infuse it with anarchist ideas second was the realm of culture and very much yes right changing how people thought about the world around them and interact with it education so this was both educating adults but but more importantly educating children in a sort of libertarian manner founding the the the ferrer modern school initially in Harlem and then it moved to stove in New Jersey and really trying to read educate subsequent generations in a different way that would make these sorts of social relations possible and then finally trying to find build alternatives outside of capitalism in the form of of cooperatives be they're living cooperative productive cooperatives or consumer cooperatives and that was sort of what they saw as a long long term strategy to try to achieve that end yeah i i ii both both of those and i mean it's it's even so yes you're right yon most was it was in the eighties especially sort of known for this insurrectionary talk and dynamite and condoning certain political violence and assassinations i but I think in this is what I get in my book beer revolution which is available in no but I argued that even so there is that rhetoric but then there is this other I think in what isn't in the 6e they call it prefigurative politics so it's it's so they have these you know like the beer the saloons and I think I argued those were little sort of mini anarchists worlds if that make sense in the here and now so we practice and you know theater groups and picnics and so that I think it's it's supported to get past some of the rhetoric sometimes that most was really good at although I into my knowledge she never really committed a violent crime so hi this is mostly for professor Torres but I think in a lot of sort of leftist or radical Jewish spaces now there's a sort of idea maybe we'll have more about this later but the Yiddish is intrinsically or historically a political or subversive or anarchist language and then I think also at least in a large part of sort of inertia modernism the Yiddish language was heavily theorized in Thema ties in various ways and I wonder if we find that kind of work going on in the anarchist tradition of literature or if there's a totally different approach to the language and these questions I'm just thinking so of the the very long poem that I mentioned the 80-page poema that was smuggled out it was published in tel-aviv in 1978 and it includes facsimile copies where you can see Marcus's own handwriting and then it's published in typeface and it and this is very interesting too because as some folks might know books Soviet you – had its own orthography well actually there were four different kinds of Soviet orthography one aspect of it was rewriting lotion Kadesh words so the Hebrew Aramaic component of Yiddish into a morph-o-matic phonetic way is a way of kind of visually cutting the umbilical cord between a religious component of the language and the Soviet language of the day and so the book becomes an interesting document of the peregrinations the journeys of Yiddish because you see that Marcus is writing in Soviet phonetic type and then it's being published in an Israeli book Reis pelled into standard Yiddish so perhaps we could even think of that as a kind of multilingual text you know in that it preserves the accent or the dialect or the place in which it was written in that way Thank you very oh this is for annum tourist lasts I'm mistaken I read in Joshua Rubinstein's stolen secret but there well a book about Stalin killing the the Irish poets and also a biography of Paul Robeson that Peretz Marcus was a functionary in the NKVD if you could comment on that and what the relationship is between that and his anarchist and a secret political work sure so I would not be so bold as to say that parrots Marcus was a straight-up and a guest who as a member of any anarchist Federation any more than I would say that Beyonce is a member of the Black Panthers because she wears a beret in her music videos right I think I think that there's there's a kind of aesthetic this is operating on an aesthetic level there's a kind of play with the movement and invocation of anarchist ideals he was he was an anti-fascist she as a member of the Communist Party however what I do want to nuance is the fact that he received the Stalin prize in the Lenin prize and this was sometimes seen as evidence of him as a state functionary however Avram's it's cavalry calls at the moment when he was informed that he was being given the Stalin prize he went completely gray in the blood drained out of her face because this is actually a way of controlling him by giving him the award rather than lifting him up this was a way of controlling his movement of reminding him that the state's eyes were on him so sometimes said yes he was only a communist poet in fact he was lauded by by the state and he was a state poet right he did write these these ODEs which I find less poetically interesting but but I also want to say that you know there were these accounts for example that he was the only person who would refuse to clap in events honoring honoring state functionaries so I'm not sure about that particular passage that you cited but I do want to say that there's quite quite spaced and similar Whitley with mayakovsky is early anarchism and then mayakovsky later becoming a state poet I'm interested in in that yeah thank you thank you for coming to the morning panel this is your time for lunch thank you to all the speaker [Applause]




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