You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
I — The Esperanto Ideologies
In Esperantujo (“Esperantoland”), there are three main ideologies:
- Finvenkismo — the idea that we must convince everyone to learn Esperanto, and convince the governments that they must adopt Esperanto as a second language, so that the world will become a better place through Esperanto.
- Raŭmismo — considers the language of Esperanto to be its own minority language, and one should act in order to protect it as a minority language.
- Sennaciismo (Anationalism) — the smallest ideology of the three. The idea that workers must strive to make Esperanto the common language of the global working class, in order to create a global government. For this purpose, it completely rejects nationalism.
Esperantuanism (Esper-ant-uj-an-ismo; Esperanto-land-member-ism) is a synthesis of these three ideologies.
Esperantujanismo strives to motivate others to learn Esperanto so that they become members of Esperantujo, and thus, enlargen our community. Contrary to finvenkismo, we do not want all people to learn Esperanto (would you like it if some prick spread hatespeach through Esperanto?), but only the good people of the world, who already have a natural tendency to join Esperantujo, if they only knew about it.
We consider raŭmismo to be aimless, but we agree about the importance of protecting the Esperanto culture.
Finally, sennaciismo has some excellent criticisms against nationalism, and we agree on the benefits of a monolingual world, but its one-sided focus on the working class is restricting.
We strive to make Esperantujo itself a sufficiently interesting and welcoming place that others would want to join voluntarily. The goal is for Esperantujo itself to grow more and more until it is a strong enough force that we can guide the evolution of the world. To improve the world by we ourselves becoming the world.
We want to emphasize that Esperantujanism is not a big deviation from the already mentioned ideologies, but only a new path to similar goals. We do not consider other Esperantists adversaries, and we do not tell others to «stop everything and do like this instead!». If you like what we stand for and want to join, you are very welcome! If you don’t, we still consider you a friend and potential ally. Only those who want to join, we want as members.
II — Nation, Nation-State and Oneworldism
Identity, whether you can describe it scientifically or not, is important to us humans, because it helps us make out who is a «friend» and who is not. It is the force that turns your unfamiliar neighbor a compatriot. Although we cannot accurately describe this force, it does indeed exist, and because of it, conflicts that would not exist without certain identities emerge.
One of the biggest and most powerful identities is nationalism. It is the biggest reason for many bloody conflicts.
A nation is a collective sense of identity, based on e.g. history, religion, culture, language and/or territory. A nation-state is the idea that a state’s territory should be based on a nation. For a few states this is suitable, but many countries are too ethnically diverse and/or territorially too spread-out to be true nation-states. Such a state is either too small to be independent of the will of more powerful states, or has more than one nation (or ethnic group) within its borders. Moreover, the concept of nation, due to its need to create boundaries between «here» and «other countries», tends to divide people between «us» and «them», based on differences that most often are not important, but become important in the minds of nationals.
Therefore, a nation-state is an impossible concept in most parts of the world, and only by being dishonest about these serious shortcomings can nationalists continue to praise nationalism.
For the above reasons, organizing oneself socially and culturally by nation can work smoothly, but not territorially, economically nor politically. For these purposes, other forms of organization are needed.
We Esperantuanists supports oneworldism (that the world be united through the idea of a common humanity). But not an oneworldism this is like a «boring Maoist jacket». We want an oneworldism in which all the various cultural and national treasures are made colorful, cheered and cherished, and only those parts that make us look at each other as not part of the same humanity are to be eradicated. Organizationally, such a world can not of course be divided according to nation-states, but according to organizational forms that allow us to work together harmoniously. In such a world, we probably do not live under just one form of organization, as in the current states, but under several (one for economy, one for culture, one for language policy, etc.), which may or may not correspond with each other, and they may be of different sizes. How they will function should be according to the will and needs of the people who will live under those forms of organizations. We do not call for everyone to live under the same system. There are many ways to do wrong, but there are also many ways to do right. Let’s support every organizational alternative that fits our general goal of unification, because we all have our own ideas for solutions to our daily problems.
We must eradicate the notion of a nation-state, but not of nations. We are one humanity, but we are also children of our countries. Let’s look at our cultures only as local varieties of the shared wide world, our languages as only dialects of a long-forgotten Ursprache, and the different people around the world as members of the same big family.
III — The Road to Unilinguism and Esperanto
At the beginning of the 21st century, 50% of the living languages in the world had less than 100 native speakers (less than even Esperanto). Linguists estimate that 90% of the current living languages will be extinct by the end of the 21st century. The force that pushed this development ever more forward is the need for intercultural and economic connections. In the battle between the languages, the language that has greater influence over cultural and economic affairs squeeze out the others. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but always with the same result. This development is an undeniable fact, and, more importantly, it can not be stopped.
Many linguists, however, imagine that after the extermination of all smaller languages, the world will stabilize and divide into a few linguistic groups of the winners, and, presumably, after that they will live side by side with each other, as if time had stopped.
We think otherwise. Most likely, at that time the world will stabilize somewhat, yes, but the battle for linguistic dominance will not stop. The need to communicate and connect will be even more important in that world, not less, than it is now. In that world, it will be the language that has more cultural and economic influence over the others that will grow continuously. Little by little, the will to protect one’s own language weakens because of this, and eventually the speakers will no longer feel that their language is worth preservation and stop protecting it, even after several centuries of staunch love to their language. Then, the extinction of the language is only a matter of time, and not a great many speakers will mourn its death. The current great languages, which are easily and vainly imagined existing forever, will experience the same suffocated death that many dying languages are experiencing today, perhaps even within the next 500 years (a short time in the history of mankind).
In the end, only one language will win, and the world will become effectively monocultural. Local variations will probably exist, but they will be similar to the differences between, e.g., the English, American, and Australian cultures. Not quite the same, but not so different either. But nothing of the defeated cultures will remain. And no one will mourn that, in the same way that we do not mourn the death of Latin or Sanskrit. We have certainly lost cultural treasures through their deaths, but that does not matter to us, because we have our own cultures and languages. Dead languages do not affect our daily lives.
We want to emphasize that the future loss of the many colorful cultures and languages is a very regrettable thing, and we do not celebrate this at all. However, it is not worth fighting the inevitable. We can only adapt. Therefore, we must carefully document the languages and cultures for posterity, and encourage people to learn, use and preserve their languages and cultures for as long as possible.
Even if that future looks unappealing, it also presents us with an opportunity: we, the humanity, can influence the evolution of the process of monolingualism. We can decide if development should really continue according to the chaotic processes of history, that doing nothing is the most appropriate choice. Shall the victor gain all, and the vanquished nothing?
We are saying no to that. We can choose another path. The path of inclusiveness. That we choose a language in which we can preserve all the treasures of the world’s cultures and languages.
But which language?
We Esperantuanists propose that the language Esperanto be the future single global language. We have three reasons for choosing it:
- Esperanto is a mature and a relatively easy to learn language. All people all over the world can learn it well enough to participate in every imaginable conversation. Esperanto is, yes, originally from (mainly) European languages, but that fact does not prevent it from being able to include all parts of other languages that should be preserved, and thus, consequently, their cultures. Other languages are not as inclusive, because they have not evolved to be the global language, which is the stated goal of Esperanto. Many critics claim that Esperanto is not perfect, nor the easiest language to learn, and therefore there are more suitable languages than Esperanto for this end. Maybe, but they lack something more important than just ease of learning: a global culture.
- The Esperanto culture contains the ideas (even if not so concretely) that we think are important for the unified world: unification of humanity, curiosity, tolerance, cooperation, progressiveness, etc. After more than 130 years of development, this ideology is now incorporated in the language and culture. It is much easier to walk on an existing road than to build a completely new one.
- Esperanto can also preserve existing cultures and traditions as parts of our Esperanto culture, treating them as local varieties. Esperanto doesn’t have to be the same everywhere. On the contrary, it can be as diverse as in the world we know it today. We must remove only the parts that build walls between people, and keep the parts worth preserving, as parts of our community.
If we succeed, the world will be as colorful as in today’s world. Spaniards, Chinese, and Congolese will continue to enjoy their own cultures, but in Esperanto.
Everyone will speak a local dialect of Esperanto (or a local dialect of some offspring of Esperanto) as their first or second language, and eventually, after a long time, as their first. That world will value differences highly, and no one will be considered the loser in the battle for linguistic and cultural dominance. Everyone’s voice matters, everyone’s differences matters, everyone’s propensity matters. Everyone will be a full participant in society, as an equal.
IV — How Are We to Act?
So far we have described the axioms of Esperantujanism. However, theory without a program for action is useless. It is a common problem in progressive movements that all they do is endlessly criticize the problems of this and that, without offering any usable proposals to move forward, except for some vague proclamations about the importance of being in agreement, and about how to act. Or they may insist that one should act without contemplation or theories, because theories «obviously inhibit immediate action».
Both points of view are often the result of smallness and lack of influence. It is the refuge for those who wants to change the world, but feeling that it is impossible, and thus chooses to devote themselves to fantasies, in which one is not powerless and insignificant, but some kind of hero. Tired rituals and platitudes become what’s most important. This is the usual final stop of once dynamic movements, including the left on one side, and the conspiracy theorists on the other. And the same tendencies are also thriving in the Esperanto movement. Let’s not fall into the same trap!
The Esperanto movement was never large, but it was once relatively influential. But that was then. Now the movement is largely forgotten and ignored. Moreover, even if the number of new speakers, thanks to the internet, is growing, apart from lip service to the goals of the Esperanto movement, the majority seems to learn the language only for their own amusement. That is not a criticism of them; you don’t necessarily have to be an Esperanto advocate to learn Esperanto. This is no more than a comment on the current state. That, currently, the original idea of human unification through Esperanto is not being treated seriously.
Thus, our starting point is one of smallness and lack of influence. We have to start almost from the beginning. We must act both patiently and with determination. Many require immediate results, but we simply cannot change the world, not today, not tomorrow. However, it is better if we can change the world in 50 years from now, than never.
Let’s not view ourselves as heroes in future history books. Our actions will likely be forgotten, unappreciated, and quite possibly, fruitless. But we will still continue to work, because we know that our efforts are not destined to be in vain. We may never achieve our goal, but we will probably be able to change a few other people’s lives. And if we can’t do even that, we can at least learn something new about ourselves. Let’s not forget that even a small improvement is a success, and this can manifest itself in time and places that are not obvious from the start. And sometimes, not often, but sometimes, you can even achieve everything, to the complete surprise of even the ones involved.
First, we Esperantuanists must learn the language correctly, not as everyone’s second language, but as the language of our community. We must treat the language as our first language when we reach a sufficiently high level. This is important to deepen our sense of community.
Second, let’s create our own traditions, holidays, celebrations, clothes, food, culture, etc. Not by command, but by the same natural development of any other culture. Let’s look at each other and copy the parts we like, and thus, like a puzzle, gradually add the parts that should be important parts of our community, not forgetting at the same time that we strive to be a global community. Everyone can contribute, and everyone should contribute!
Thirdly, let’s create relationships with other Esperantuanists. Not only online, but also face-to-face when possible. This is important to transform the idea of community into a true sense of community.
Fourth, let’s create our own valuables that make our lives happier. Here we are talking about culture, art and entertainment: music, movies, books, comics, stories, paintings, gatherings, courses, schools, information centers, idioms, businesses, etc. No one has the strength to continue working if they cannot enjoy the fruits of their participation. One beautiful song, one funny video, is more attractive than ten books about the greatness of the Esperanto language. Let’s create an atmosphere through which other people starts wanting to be participants, voluntarily. Let’s act outward to invite in. Optimistically and confidently, let’s show the alternative world that we ourselves want to experience.
Fifth, when we have grown enough to have real influence in the world, let us use that influence to propagate more effectively for our cause. Our final goal is that we substitute the current slow development towards one global language and culture of some national language and culture, with our language and community. Instead of letting, for example, the English culture and its language win, we aim for victory of Esperantujo and its language. Not through violence and coercion, but through the peaceful creation of an alternative that is more inclusive, joyous and attractive. Let us be like a global proto-culture, or even a global proto-ethnicity, so that one day we transform from Esperantuanists to Esperantujans, and the world will join us!
For that purpose, let’s first look for people who are naturally inclined to become Esperantuanists, and only after then should we aim to persuade other people who need more convincing to become Esperantuanists. Not everyone has to become an Esperantujanist, so let’s focus on people who will benifit our community. Then, in the end, it will be the bad guys who have to adapt to our community, and not the other way around. We will not win because we talk about virtue, but because we show virtue.
Is this a utopia? Maybe. Even probably. Must it be one? Who knows? We only know that if you don’t want virtue to win, the best way is to declare all action useless, utopian, futile, and then do nothing yourself. That way, the defeat of virtue is absolutely certain. However, even if the present world looks so hostile and indifferent to our cause, this is not the inevitable state of the future. The world can change, and it has changed many times throughout history. Not only because of the actions of great people like Napoleon, but more especially because of the actions of great dreamers, who worked quietly, but eagerly, for some greater good. They are too often forgotten, but we live in the world that they also helped to create. Without them, the world would be in an even more dire state, and we must thank them for ignoring the claims that their actions would be futile, and acted anyway.
Remember that every event in history seemed impossible until the moment it actually happened. After that, people consider it being inevitable.
Written by: Johannes Ĝenberĝ
Proofreading and cleanup: Kurtiso Ŝepardo