Vilna [Lithuania; Vilnius]: Di Velt, 1906. Paper Wrappers. Item #41994
1st edition. Lacking original front wrapper (Original front wrapper was likely an identical imprint of the title page on colored paper), 8vo 64 pages, 21 cm. In Yiddish. Bikher ferlag "Di Velt," no. 49 in the series. Not to be confused with the 18-page pamphlet of the same name and year by Engelbert Pernerstorfer (which is OCLC: 122915520). This is Sarah Fell Yellin’s copy, with her ownership stamp on front cover (and also that of a family member, Mendel Yellin). Sarah Fell-Yellin (1895–1962) grew up in the “revolutionary atmosphere of Krynki at the beginning of the 20th Century….She started a women’s self-defence group against pogroms and worked in left-wing organisations. She continued her educational and social activity as an émigré in the United States, teaching at the Yiddish socialist Arbeter Ring schools (Yid.: Workers’ Circle). She also established a periodical called Kalifornier Shriftn (Yid.: Californian Notes). Her poems were published in the communist gazette Morgen Fraykheit [sic] (Yid.: Morning Freedom) and in Yiddishe Kultur (Yid.: Jewish Culture). She published nine volumes of poetry” (“Shtetl Routes Travels Through the Forgotten Continent,” ed. By Emil Majuk, 2018, p. 30). The author, Vladimir Davidovich Medem (1879–1923) was the main theorist of the Jewish Labor Bund, in Russia and in the Bund’s early years in Poland, and arguably the party’s most famous and celebrated leader.…he spent most of his childhood and youth in Minsk. Medem’s parents had converted to the Lutheran Church, and his father, David Medem (1836–1893), was one of the first graduates of Jewish origin of the Russian Military Academy of Medicine. The young Medem grew up as a Christian surrounded by Christian people. Despite his later prominence in Jewish politics, as an adult Medem never found it necessary to convert to Judaism, as Jewish culture, not religion, was at the basis of his choice to join the Jewish nation. ….in Minsk, he was exposed to Jewish culture and life and developed, as he stated in his memoirs, 'a warm feeling for Jewishness' and a profound sympathy for the suffering of Jewish workers. He became active in the Bund, at the time the Jewish section of the RSDWP [Russian Social Democratic Workers Party]. As a result of his revolutionary activities, Medem was imprisoned in the winter of 1900–1901. Having been informed, shortly after his release, that he was in danger of being arrested again and deported to Siberia, Medem fled Russia and lived in exile in Bern until the 1905 Revolution. There he continued his studies and political activities in the context of the Bund and the RSDWP. Medem also lived in exile in 1908–1913, during the repressive reaction that followed the revolution. Only five days after his return to Russia in June 1913, he was arrested and sent to jail, this time in Warsaw. He remained a political prisoner until August 1915, when Poland was conquered by the Central Powers. In the following years, Medem was the unofficial leader of the Polish Bund, which became a separate party after Poland’s independence in November 1918. Medem’s first appearance in a major political gathering was at the Bund’s Fifth Congress in June 1903. His proposals and interventions shaped the debate on the national question at that congress and in the following years. The 23-year-old Medem caused such an impression that he was nominated as one of five Bundist representatives to the RSDWP’s Second Congress (Brussels and London, 30 July–10 August 1903). After this heated congress, which resulted in the break between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, the Bund left the RSDWP. Throughout his political life, Medem maintained a critical attitude toward Bolshevism, which Lenin reciprocated with frequent vitriolic attacks against the Bund and against Medem himself. Medem’s disapproval of communism increased after the October 1917 Revolution, which he deemed adventurist and authoritarian. He repeatedly criticized the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' and Red Terror, which, in his view, directly contradicted the fundamentals of socialism as the political regime that would genuinely give power to the masses. Medem grew increasingly disenchanted with his own party when in the early 1920s the Bund made great efforts to join the Communist International (Comintern)....Although during his lifetime Medem was never the Bund’s official leader, after his death he became, in the words of his tombstone epitaph in New York, the 'legende [legend] of the Jewish labor movement.' Medem’s cosmopolitan experience and outlook, together with his personal decision to join a national (Jewish) party, contributed to his interest in the 'national question' and the set of problems arising from the coexistence of different national groups within one state. The most influential of Medem’s works was his 1904 pamphlet Di sotsyal-demokratye un di natsyonale frage (Social Democracy and the National Question), which earned him recognition as the Bundist authority on this issue. He sought to outline not just the Bundist view but also the foundations for a general theoretical analysis of the nation from a social democratic (i.e., Marxist) perspective. …Medem’s pamphlet preceded Otto Bauer’s Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie (The Nationality Question and Social Democracy; 1907), whose analysis and conclusions were very similar, with the important exception that Bauer explicitly excluded European Jews from the status of nation.….Medem considered three possible solutions to the national question, two of which he dismissed out of hand: nationalism and assimilationism. His rejection of nationalism was absolute, and he saw little difference between the two forms that nationalism usually takes—the form of oppression and the form of a struggle for liberation. All nationalists aspired to the victory of their language and culture to increase the national bourgeoisie’s economic control; in Medem’s words, 'this is the common characteristic of nationalism, at the basis of all its forms; it is common to Bismarck and Dubnow, Rochefort, and Ahad Ha-Am.' Medem’s choice of examples is meaningful: even the most moderate Jewish nationalists were in essence indistinguishable from the most fanatic, aggressive, and militaristic non-Jewish nationalists. According to Medem, social democrats should neither 'strive to preserve and reinforce the differences' (nationalism) nor 'regard diversity with disapproval' (assimilationism). Medem adopted a neutral position regarding the assimilation of Jews (or any other national minority), a doctrine that became known as 'neutralism'; yet despite Medem’s status as the main Bundist authority on the national question, neutralism was never officially approved as party policy, and indeed it was later rejected by many Bundists” (Roni Gechtman, in YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews of Eastern Europe, 2010)For more on Medem, see:Jonathan Frankel, Prophecy and Politics: Socialism, Nationalism and the Russian Jews, 1862–1917 (Cambridge, 1981); Roni Gechtman, “The Austro-Marxists, the Jewish Labor Bund, and the Theoretical and Programmatic Foundations of National-Cultural Autonomy,” Jahrbuch des Simon-Dubnow-Instituts / Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook 4 (2005): 17–49; Roni Gechtman, “National-Cultural Autonomy and ‘Neutralism’: Vladimir Medem’s Marxist Analysis of the National Question, 1903–1920,” Socialist Studies 3.1 (Spring 2007): 69–92: Jacob Sholem Hertz, Gregor Aronson, Sophie Dubnow-Erlich, E. Mus (Emanuel Novogrudski), Hayyim Solomon Kazdan, and Emanuel Scherer, eds., Geshikhte fun Bund, 5 vols. (New York, 1960–1981); Jack Jacobs, ed., Jewish Politics in Eastern Europe: The Bund at 100 (New York, 2001); Vladimir Medem, Zikhroynes un artiklen: Mitn bild un biografye fun oytor (Warsaw, 1918); Vladimir Medem: Tsum tsvantsikstn yortsayt (New York, 1943); Moshe Mishkinsky, “Vladimir Medem—ha-ish ve-tenu‘ato” , in ‘Iyunim be-sotsyalizm ha-yehudi: Asufat ma’amarim, pp. 151–158 (Beer Sheva, 2004). SUBJECT(S): Socialism. OCLC: 970835759. OCLC lists only 1 hard copy anywhere worldwide (at YIVO). Lacks original front wrapper (probably identical to the title page which is present); rear wrapper is present with extensive repairs. Spine crudely repaired with brown paper, previous owner’s notes on front cover, some edgewear to title page but no loss. Paper toning but strong, Good Condition Thus. Very Rare and very important important. (YID-42-30-’+).