Zamenhof.info

Collection of ideas

We all agree that we are part of one big family...

L. L. Zamenhof

The creator of the international language, Ludwik Zamenhof, considered Esperanto the first step towards peace among the entire world's population. He himself asserted that the whole of Esperanto affair is but a part of a universal idea, which he first named Hilelism and afterwards Humanitarianism. The goal of the project was the unification of mankind and because of that it was necessary to first create a human neutral population, whose members would be only divided by geographically and politically but not by their language and religion.

Russian edition of "Hilelismo"

In 1901, April, Zamenhof proposed a project which would solve the Jewish question. The project received the name Hilelism. Having resigned of the zionist measure in 1886 already, Zamenhof remained loyal to his original ethnicity, whose fate in Eastern Europe seemed more and more hopeless. The most encompassing idea of Hilelism is found within the sentence "What is not liked by you, do not do onto others". Everyone themselves has to consider but a part of the whole. However the idea did not find many supporters. In fact it was not liked by many, and many were critical of it for its great idealism.

Having met opposition against Hilelism, Zamenhof momentarily retracted only to reappear with the same project several years later. The Russo-japanese war which started in 1904 and later the first Russian revolution had shown Zamenhof that an international language was only the beginning, which empowered one to effectively communicate and clarify one's opinion. An international language was a great measure for solving many problems. But the war and the revolution prompted Zamenhof to take the next, the second step towards attaining peace among all people. It convinced Zamenhof that he must return to the idea Hilelism, understanding, that it requires a great reform. And so he decided to propose Hilelism not only for the Jews.

Edition of "Homaranismo" from 1913

In January "Ruslanda Esperantisto" (1906) he anonymously unveiled his doctrine under the title "Dogmas of Hilelism" with parallel Russian and Esperanto texts. Zamenhof quickly understood, that the name of the doctrine was too Jewish and that the foreword too Russian, and so a brochure with the name "Homaranismo" appeared in March in Peterborough. He brought one's attention, in the new foreword, that Hilelism concerned only one group of people, while Humanitarianism concerns all people of all religions. It contained new teaching of relationships regarding the home, people and humanity. The core set of beliefs was declared in twenty two paragraphs. If Zionism came from the romantic paradigm, seeking that one would speak about a jew with the same respect as one would about a Frenchman, a German, a Russian etc, Zamenhof pleaded that one would completely forget about the fact that things such as a Jew, a Russian or a German even exist. He called for us to understand ourselves not as a part of a religion, language or a race but simply as human beings.

Here are the first four dogmas, the most principal and general:

  1. I am a human and I exist solely for purely human ideals; I view all sorts of ideals and targeted nationalisms as nothing but group egotism and hate towards people, which sooner or later must disappear and their disappearance I must be a catalyst to, to the best of my ability.
  2. I believe, that all populations are equal and I evaluate all people only by their personal value and deeds but not according to descent. For this I regard all persecutions carried out against others based on the fact that they were born to a different race, with a different language or religion as barbarism.
  3. I believe that every country does not belong to one or another race, but more justly to all its inhabitants, regardless of language or religion; I view the shuffling of interests of the land and the interests of one or the other race, language or religion as leftovers from barbaric times, when the fist and sword right was solely accepted.
  4. I believe that in one's own family one has indisputable, complete and natural right speak whichever language and dialect they may desire, and adhere to whichever religion they themselves choose, but in communications with people of different descent one should, when possible, use a neutral language and live according to also religion neutral principles. All striving of one person to impose one's language or religion onto others I view as a barbaric act.

Zamenhof intended to launch the project Humanitarianism in the Geneva congress (1906) and found the first Humanitarianism community. However someone convinced him not to read the second part of the speech, in which he identified the internal idea of Esperanto with Humanitarianism. Zamenhof conceded. He began to understand that esperantists, although euphoric in Bullion, were not ready to accept humanitarianism and "reuniting the people", even his closest esperantist acquaintances strived to persuade him not to link Esperanto with a religious doctrine. So during some time he refrained from mentioning humanitarianism to the public and preferred to speak about one cloud "internal idea", in some way a replacement of humanitarianism. In 1912 Zamenhof defined the internal idea like this:

The internal idea of Esperanto, which has absolutely no intention of compelling every individual esperantist, but which fully governs and must always govern in esperanto congresses, is: on neutral language foundation remove the walls between people and get them used to seeing the one beside them as their brother or sister. All, that is built on this internal idea of Esperanto, is only a personal matter which may be based on that idea but must never be viewed as identical to it.

Zamenhof, born and educated in the multinational Russia, did not realize, linguistic diversity hardly existed in Germany, France and many other western-European countries, and that religion no longer possessed the same role as before. For having paid too much attention to language and religion, he paid hardly any attention to political, economical and psychological factors. According to him, the cause for inter-racial division and hate isn't political, economical, geographical, anatomical, logical or based on descent. The main cause is the difference of languages and religion and so the "inter-racial division and hate will completely disappear for the humankind only then, when all of humanity will have one language and one religion".

Having shown that by Esperanto one could eradicate linguistic division, Zamenhof presented the solution to the religious division. In 1913 he proposed to organize a Congress for a human-neutral religion in Paris linked with the 10th Universala Kongreso of Esperanto (1914). His idea was unusual: He wanted to speak not to those, who believed that their religion was the only true religion given to them by God, but to open-minded people, whom have left behind the religion of their fathers. Of the four thesis of his Declaration, three more or less followed the religious dogma of the humanitarianism and the fourth thesis was organizational.

The call to diplomats "After the great war"

By the end of 1914 Zamenhof wrote his call to diplomats "After the great war" and sent it to several Esperanto editorial offices, so that they would publish it in Esperanto and also in national languages. He foresaw, that after the war the diplomats would redraw the European map and he proposed to found United States of Europe. Understanding that this plan could never come to fruition, he at least demanded that they would proclaim and guarantee in all European countries the principle: "Each country, morally and materially, fully and equally belongs to all its children."

Zamenhof did not stop working on his Humanitarianism project, and two months before his passing, he finished its last version. It also consisted of a foreword and declaration. The foreword contained clear distinction between the idea of Esperanto and Humanitarianism and completely redesigned clarification of the doctrine:

Under the name "Humanitarianism" (...) I want to speak about the striving to "humanity", to the removal of inter-racial hate and injustice and to that sort of way of life, which bit by bit could guide us not theoretically, but practically to the spiritual unification of mankind

It's remarkable, that's it's no longer about "the people will once become merged into a single neutral civilization", which foresees the first edition of humanitarianism. It's all about striving for "a spiritual unification of mankind".

Analyzing the fourth four versions (Hilelismo 1906, Homaranismo 1906, Homaranismo 1913, Homaranismo 1917), one must notice that Zamenhof always gave less attention to the language problem. Esperanto overall wasn't at all mentioned in 1913 and 1917, and the mention of a neutral-human language is completely missing in 1917. The target group changed. The first universal proposal ("Hilelismo" 1906) also considered the interest of Russian Jews, but that consideration later disappeared. As for the last version of Humanitarianism, Zamenhof didn't plan on spreading it in the Esperanto circles, but in the whole world and not in Esperanto, but in great national languages.

Indeed the striving to being human, to the riddance of hate and spiritual unification of mankind is a thing that's much more general than linguistic and religious unity. And the Humanitarianism's main principle (last version: "Do onto others, as you would wish for them to do onto you") is not religious but moral. The striving towards being human and the practicing of the aforementioned principle (also of the "lovingly tolerant" - implied in Humanitarianism but never explicitly named) could have the effect of luring normal, progressive and open-minded people to Esperanto, unlike the usual Esperantists and men of religion, for whom linguistic and religious problems weren't of grave importance.

Several weeks before death he began to write his last essay "About God and about the deathless", which he himself considered very important, although he foresaw that his sudden conversion into the belief shall cause much criticism. It remained the last (and unfinished) of his idealistic works. In it, Zamenhof wrote that he "meditated and read various scientific and philosophic works", but one shall forever be left in the dark about which works he meant.

Zamenhof passed away, but his children remained (all of which were later murdered by the Nazis in the WWII), his language Esperanto, which he presented to the world, his translations and his ideas which inspire, to this day, those who consider themselves not only members of their nation or religion but also members of humanity itself - members of mankind, who believe in its unity and diversity.

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